Explore the city, jungle and beach on this Hong Kong and Borneo Holiday. Begin with a city break in Hong Kong, a bustling city where east meets west and twinkling skyscrapers light up the night sky. Grab dim sum for lunch before discovering the city – the views from Victoria Peak, watching locals practice Tai Chi in the park and the magnificent Symphony of Lights show from a harbour cruise.
Fly on to Borneo where you’ll spot orangutans in the virgin jungles of the island. Look for rare pygmy elephants as you cruise down the Kinabatangan River and hike through the lush rainforest in the Danum Valley. Finish your trip in luxury on Gaya Island where you can split your time between snorkelling on the house reef and relaxing by the pool watching the sunset – this is the perfect way to experience the city, wildlife and beach in two weeks.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport.
On arrival in Hong Kong you will be met at the airport and driven to your hotel, where you will check in for three nights.
Hong Kong is a world-class city and two days gives you plenty of time to explore. Wander around the design hub of PMQ, where you can shop for unique items and feast on delicious food before taking the tram up to Victoria Peak for views over the city. Grab some dim sum for lunch before getting the bus to Aberdeen where you can explore the markets and harbour.
If you want to venture further afield you can even take a day trip to Macau, where Portuguese influence collides with Asian or Lantau Island where you can sail to the top of the mountain on the cable car to visit Big Buddha at the summit. On your second evening, you will enjoy an evening cruise around one of the most spectacular harbours in the world! Enjoy an uninterrupted view of ‘A Symphony of Lights’ show from Victoria Harbour whilst on a traditional Chinese style tour boat – the perfect way to end your time in Hong Kong.
After breakfast, you’ll be driven back to the airport where you will catch your flight to Borneo. On arrival in Sandakan, you will be taken to your hotel where you will check in for two nights.
Enjoy an early breakfast before visiting the central market to see the local produce and fresh seafood being sold. After exploring the market you’ll continue to the Sepilok Orangutan Reserve and at 10am the first feeding of the day occurs, so make sure you have a front row spot to get the best views of these magnificent animals. Later you’ll visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre where you can learn about the plight of these endemic creatures and meet some of the resident bears.
After lunch, you will visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre where you can embark on the Plant Discovery Walk to find out about the medicinal and traditional uses of herbs and leaves. Next, you can stroll along the 87-metre-high canopy walkway, where you can spot colourful birds and maybe even a wild orangutan amongst the rainforest tree line.
Return to your hotel to spend the afternoon at leisure.
After breakfast, you’ll leave the lodge and travel back into Sandakan. You’ll visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary for the morning feed, a fantastic opportunity to view a troop of these endemic monkeys up close. In Sandakan, you’ll visit the Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple which sits atop a steep hill with magnificent views overlooking Sandakan Bay.
In the afternoon, you’ll begin the 2.5-hour journey down the Kinabatangan River. Eight species of hornbills, Bornean pygmy elephants, orangutans and proboscis monkeys make their home on the river, making it one of the most diverse habitats on the planet. On arrival at the river lodge you’ll check in for two nights. Later in the evening you can go with a local guide along the Kinabatangan looking for nocturnal activity.
The dawn chorus will wake you early today to take a cruise to Kelenanap oxbow lake, a haven for animals and plants away from the normal river ecosystem. After returning to the lodge for breakfast you’ll take a guided tour along the Hornbill boardwalk, learning about the plants around you and looking out for the swooping colourful birds.
Spend your day at leisure enjoying the lodge before heading out on the river later in the day to look for primates – the afternoon is the best time to find them and the light makes for great photos!
After breakfast, you’ll travel to the Gomantong Caves. This intricate limestone system is surrounded by a thick rainforest where you might spot a wild orangutan and the two main caves – Black and White Caves – are home to around two million bats as well as a few opportunistic bat-hawks.
Next, you’ll begin your journey into the virgin rainforest area of Danum Valley, one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. Around 30km of this 85km journey is on sealed roads, and the last two hours is along a gravel road – it is bumpy but worth the effort!
On arrival at the lodge you’ll check into your hotel for two nights before enjoying a late afternoon walk along the trails and up to the canopy walk, 130 metres up in the trees where you can hear the jungle humming with life. After dinner, you’ll board of the open top 4WD vehicles for an exhilarating night spotlighting tour – you can look out for nocturnal animals including samba deer, civets, leopards and a dizzying array of insects and frogs.
A symphony of sound will wake you today - gibbons calling, birds chirruping and insects buzzing. Taking a packed breakfast, you’ll travel to a 200-year-old burial site, known as “Coffin Cliff” where you will see the hanging coffins that the tribes hung from the cliffside to get their loved ones closer to heaven. The end of the trail results in spectacular views over the million-year-old jungle and on the return walk you can take a refreshing dip in the waterfalls.
This afternoon is at leisure; however, there is a range of optional activities available, such as private trekking, tubing on the Danum River and specialized guided tours. There is also a series of tracks leading around the Canopy Walk that you are free to discover at your leisure. This evening you’ll enter the forest on foot with a guide who will help you identify some tiny species of insects and frogs that usually go unnoticed in the jungle.
Your time in the jungle has come to an end and you will be driven to the airport for a short flight to Kota Kinabalu. On arrival, you will be met and driven to Jessleton Point Jetty where you will catch a boat to your hotel on Gaya Island, checking in for three nights.
You’ll have two days of relaxing on the pretty beaches of Gaya Island; swimming, snorkelling or enjoying water sports from the hotel. We’ve included a snorkel tour to the Marine Park – you’ll take a speedboat over to Manukan Island where you can snorkel amongst the hard-coral gardens looking out for spiny sea urchins and colourful clouds of butterflyfish in the turquoise water. Spend the rest of your time relaxing by the pool and eating delicious local food whilst watching the sunset.
After breakfast, you’ll catch a boat back to the mainland and be driven to the airport, in time for your departure flight home.
Hong Kong is a year-round destination with distinct seasons – our favourite is between October and March when the temperature drops a little to reveal fresh warm days. Cyclone season runs between May and September – they don’t often make landfall but thunderstorms are more common. Borneo is wet between November and February but the temperatures remain pretty constant year-round. From May to September the days are generally dry and warm but rain still isn’t unheard of – this is a tropical island after all!
If you'd like to get a feel for this trip, read our blog post Perfect companions: my Borneo and Hong Kong multi-centre holiday - written by one of our consultants who's been there.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion, and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.