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By Amber King

TWO YEARS AGO, we took our family to Disneyland and it was everything we had hoped it would be. It really is a magical place. But for our next trip we decided to do the exact opposite. We went to Borneo, an island in Malaysia!

When we told friends and family, everyone just looked at us and said, “Where??? Huh, are you sure?!” It’s not fashionable or even braggable but we were convinced it was exactly the holiday we were craving.


We had an amazing ‘soft adventure’ holiday seeing the glorious near extinct orangutans in the wild, not once but twice on our two night river stay, proboscis monkeys, kingfishers, crocodiles and baby monkeys that were so close to us we could reach out and almost touch them.

We stayed overnight at tiny Seligan Island where we snorkelled during the day and experienced the amazing sight of seeing the huge female green turtles lay their eggs late at night. We zip lined between two islands at Kota Kinabalu and travelled on the only train in Borneo to go white water rafting. Gabriel was only nine years old and he whooped just as much as we did.


We bartered for the crazy karaoke microphone, ate at local street stalls and better yet, the salt we had packed for the leeches was never used — much to the disappointment of our two boys!

We didn’t take with us any fancy jungle clothes or have a fancy camera. The locals loved the children and simply couldn’t do enough for us. We weren’t hassled at the markets if we didn’t buy anything and we even caught Ubers in Kota Kinabalu. We stayed in all different sorts of accommodation that was appropriate to where we were: The Sukau Rainforest Lodge, which is part of the National Geographic Lodges, beach huts and the Grandis Hotel which has an infinity pool where the staff made the most amazing ice-cream drinks — and poured frosty cold beers for me!

Borneo was a stunning destination for our family. A wonderful holiday and a genuine natural adventure. We feel so lucky that we have been able to travel to this wonderful island in Malaysia. 



Auckland to Kota Kinabalu in 15h 55m with Malaysia Airlines. Transfer in Kuala Lumpur.

From speed boats, trains, minivans and Uber (in Kota Kinabalu) all feel safe and are on-time.

You could do the trip in as little as 5 nights but 10 would be leisurely and well-paced.

No visas are required with an NZ passport.

April – October is considered the dry season. But it will be hot and humid.

Drink bottled water. Try taking probiotics two weeks before your trip – a precaution to kill bad bacteria.

Time to go to Borneo? Click Here for all our Borneo holiday deals. 

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