For a fantastic family holiday, the core ingredients are Beach, wildlife, sun & a great pool. But how we can enjoy all these at once? Yes, we can. Just switched off the TV, came out the atlas and the marvelous idea of holidays to borneo instantly drew me in.
Because of its Famous orang-utans, it’s been a destination where I always want to go. For years, I’ve been guiding customers to Borneo, the Malaysian side, but now when our kids aged 7 and 5; I thought it was right time for our own family fun and adventure.
We decided to spend 3 weeks over Easter between Borneo and Bali & pushed the boat out. We dusted off the backpacks, packed light (you really need flip flops and shorts), and set off.
How to get to Borneo
Our first stop was Kota Kinabalu because of the reason that most of the action is in north eastern state of Sabah, Borneo. A main element of a family holiday (particularly long haul) is to the right time of flights. And for a successful one, we book a decent airline and try to avoid long connections every time. We always try to arrive in the early evening especially when travelling with children.
My 7 year old boy is fascinated by the A380 in particular and a bit crazy about planes, that’s why I made sure that we used one. From Heathrow to Kota Kinabalu, we took an outstanding Malaysian Airlines flight, via Kuala Lumpur.
Fly direct into Kota Kinabulu
The new A380’s are extremely family-friendly; they’re quiet enough and our kids slept a good sleep for 7-8 hours each on the flight at night. You also enjoy from touch-screen TV’s with the classic video games, recent movies and plenty of space. There’s a useful side-storage bucket, on the economy upper deck of the A380 for your convenience and all your in-flight bobs & bits. With only 10 rows, we reserved the upper deck in the economy cabin & 3 loos. We reached in the evening and afterwards being picked up for the splendid Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort.
Choose a family-friendly hotel: The Shangri La
The Shangri-La is flawless because we just wanted a great hotel to relax, as Borneo was the first leg of our trip. Great pool and Lovely rooms, where the adults as well as the kids can play for hours, the stunning sunsets and the beautiful beach. There are little nearby places around this larger resort. You can get numerous family-friendly places to drink and eat on site, astonishing service and the kindliest staff. We felt like each and everything we required was here. It was 4 days into the trip before we left from the hotel!
As a base Using Shangri-La means there is loads to do more. To see marine life and other fabulous beaches between the Rasa Ria, Kota Kinabulu and the other Shangri-La Tanjung Aru (approx. 1 hour), use shuttle. From there you can head out to the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.
If you decide to stay in other resorts then you can feel isolated (cut off) from the beautiful local area. However, local culture in the Shangri-La is reflected and celebrated in the menus, even the evening music and dancers. The service of local staff was perfect. Their guest services manager is an admirable example of this, nothing was excessively trouble.
Enjoy the Rasa Ria’s on site nature reserve
Beyond everything, the nature reserve on site is a major reason for families to go for this particular hotel only. In a hillside rainforest sanctuary, 3 orang-utans live there. We went to have a look and waited for half an hour before one of them started swinging his way over the canopy, but it was much better to see them in their own natural environment rather than to see them in a zoo. Our son participated in their ‘Ranger Experience’, where he meet a 3 year old orang-utan, helped prepare her food and make her milk. This is truly an memorable experience in the life of any child!
Visit the orphanage for baby orangutans
At Rasa Ria, the nature reserve serves an orphanage for baby orang-utans. They’re moved to the larger Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre from here, which houses 60 orang-utans (living free in the reserve).
You appreciate the superb work done in these centres, only when you consider that there are near about 20,000 remaining orang-utans in the wild living. Sepilok, you can fly into nearby Sandakan, is well worth a visit. For Kinabatangan River, it’s a great starting point. You’ll find Turtle Islands Park also a bit further north where Green and Hawksbill turtles thrive.
Climb Mt Kinabulu, Malaysia’s highest peak
Apart from the wildlife nature and environment, a trek up the 4000m Mount Kinabalu is achievable. This is the highest peak in Malaysia. But if you maintained a good health and great level of fitness too, you can enjoy all this. For smaller children, there are several viewpoints and sunrise hikes which you can visit to have a wonderful sight of the mountain.
Visit ‘Turtle Island’
You must visit Turtle Island if you love these little cute creatures – offering an unusual chance to view turtle landings. No doubt, they hatch there all year round, but July-Oct is the best time to visit because at this time the seas are calmer.
You need to book well ahead. The reason behind this is numbers are restricted to avoid noise and overcrowding. Otherwise, the accommodation on Selingan Island is basic. Day trips are also possible but if you want to see more, an overnight stay is recommended.
Why visit Borneo with a family?
Our kids were so happy and of course happy kids makes their parents happy. That’s why for a family adventure this place is perfect. The amazing job of Shangri-La Rasa Ria making things ‘family friendly’ with fun loving activities and fantastic pools. Depending on time you have, a stay in Borneo could be an adorable trip.
Interested in planning a family adventure or a trip to Borneo?
If you’re thinking of taking your family to Borneo or planning a family adventure then we can help you in this. We used to plan trips which take into consideration kids’ abilities and interests.
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