Cycle Borneo, Malaysia - Wilds of Borneo
Borneo Cycling & Trekking Tour - Sabah, Malaysian Borneo
Trip Notes • Back to this tour's main page
|1||Arrival Day||Kota Kinabalu||D|
|2||Cycle to Tauran||Tauran||BLD||48|
|3||Cycle to Teluk Usukan||Teluk Usukan||BLD||62|
|4||Cycle to Kota Marudu||Kota Marudu||BLD||68|
|5||Cycle to Kudat||Kudat||BL||49|
|6||Kudat & Tip of Borneo||Kudat||BL||70|
|7||Cycle to Rungas||Rungas||BLD||42|
|8||Mt Kinabalu National Park||Rungas||BL|
|9||Cycle to Poring||Poring||B||39|
Day 1 - Kota Kinabalu
You are free to arrive any time throughout the day. In KK, as it is known to the locals, we will stay in a centrally located hotel with a pool. We will meet at 6pm for a group briefing and our first dinner together. If you are arriving early and want extra nights at the starting hotel please let us know and we can book this for you.
Day 2 - Tauran
We start the cycling with an easy half day ride out of Kota Kinabalu to a beach resort north of the city. Cycling directly out of our hotel will mean riding through some traffic to get out of the city but once you’ve seen Kota Kinabalu you’ll realize that despite it being the capital of the state, it is little more than a large town. Today you’ll ride along the coastline and see you first mangroves - two features that you’ll be seeing a lot through the coastal section of the tour. The Tauran Beach Resort is a great place to spend the afternoon slowing down, taking a swim in the ocean or enjoying a beer next to the pool.
Day 3 - Teluk Usukan
Today is an incredibly varied day with all types of riding and a little test of balance along the way. The first 16km take you along smaller back roads before we hit a larger road with medium traffic. There is one 4km hill to contend with along this stretch. 10km later we get off the highway and into some very interesting terrain. A village road leads us to a local suspension bridge, a common feature in Sabah where rivers are many and road bridges few. These bridges are important for the local people but only serve as foot bridges - they are narrow and sway with your steps. We will cross the bridge with our bikes while the support vehicles go the long way around. After the bridge comes a short mountain biking section of 4km. This is a fantastic stretch of road that takes us well away from settled areas and even for those not used to mountain biking most of this section can be ridden rather than walked. After this small ‘lump’ we take tiny village roads to Teluk Usukan, our overnight stop. The beach resort is simple but on a great section of beach which is good for a swim after a challenging ride. Tonight’s accommodation has shared bathroom facilities but the rooms, while simple, are very comfortable and have air conditioning.
Day 4 - Kota Marudu
A meandering back road makes for a wonderful morning as we ride through villages, farmland, alongside rivers and if the weather is clear all under the gaze of Mt Kinabalu. The second half of the ride takes us along a more main road into the ‘thumb’ of north Borneo. There is a significant hilly section that needs to be crossed to get over to our destination of Kota Marudu. There is not much to Kota Marudu which makes it all the more interesting. Few visitors stay here so expect a few looks. There is a great night market to check out but otherwise enjoy being in a rare little corner of the world. Our accommodation tonight is the best in town - a simple hotel that is clean and functional.
Day 5 - Kudat
We have some nice variety on our travels today starting out on the back roads around Kota Marudu. For those looking for a bit of extra fun we have an alternative route that is no longer than the regular route but takes you over a local suspension bridge and along a short section of single track - a nice little adventure before rejoining the group. Once out on the main road we ride on to the end of the cycling section of the day at a restaurant and jetty. After lunch at the restaurant we leave the bikes and take to boat to cross the Marudu Bay directly to Kudat - about a 1 hour cruise. In Kudat you can relax in the relative luxury of the Kudat Golf Club and Resort which even has a pool! In the event of bad weather we will transfer to Kudat.
Day 6 - Kudat & the Tip of Borneo
Borneo is the 3rd largest island in the world and today you’ll find yourself at its most northern point where the south China Sea and the Sulu Sea merge - not that amazing really but the site of this point is actually quite worth the trip. We will cycle sealed and unsealed roads during the day stopping at some beautiful secluded beaches for a swim. This is one of the best sections of riding of the trip. At the Tip a thin finger of land juts out and takes the honour of the most northern point. The beach here is a delight - beautiful clear water, some surf for body surfing and no one there! We'll enjoy a bbq on the beach before returning to Kudat.
Days 7 - Rungas Longhouse
Another day of options gives those looking for easy or harder riding to decide their fate as we head back south. Take sealed roads all the way or take off onto the dirt back roads for something a little more challenging. Our destination tonight is a stay in a Rungas village. We will be staying in a traditional longhouse which means very basic conditions in a bamboo hut that is long (hence the name) and divided into separate rooms. Conditions might be simple but it will be a great cultural experience. Mattresses and mosquito nets are provided. In the evening we will be treated to a cultural show and dinner by the local villagers.
Day 8 - Mt Kinabalu National Park
A day off the bike makes for a nice break. We will take a vehicle transfer to the entrance to the Mt Kinabalu National Park and have a free afternoon to walk the trails, enjoy a massage or just relax. If the weather is clear you will have the 4100m front of Mt Kinabalu in your sights from the lodge. It is amazing to be sitting under the gaze of such an impressive peak.
Day 9 - Poring
The final ride of the trip is a mostly downhill ride to Poring Hot Springs where it is finally time for a full rest day. There are two route choices again today so you can choose to extend your efforts a little if you wish. During the ride we will look out for flowering Raffelesia flowers that are known to bloom in this area. The Raffalesia is the world’s largest flowering plant. It flowers grow up to 90cm and only last a few days before dying so to see one will be a special bonus. Locals who own land in the area keep their eyes out for blooms and set up little ticket boxes to their land for the passing tourist trade so we’ll easily know if there is one close to our cycling route. At Poring you'll hav ethe afternoon to relax in the hot springs or take a walk in the surrounding jungle.
Day 10 - Sandakan
As a final treat today is monkey day. Departing in the morning from Poring we drive across Sabah to Sandakan, a coastal town with a large Chinese community. On the way we will make a visit to the famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre located near Sandakan. The Centre is fighting the battle for the orang utans which are facing habitat loss and capture. Everyday the feeding platforms are visited by the orang utans that have released back into the wild. Over time many orang utans return to a complete wild existence and stop relying on a daily feed from humans. It is a popular sight but highly entertaining. In the evening we will enjoy our last night together and celebrate the end of the tour.
Check out time is midday. If you require extra nights in Sandakan or assistance with onward travel please let us know.
- 10 nights accommodation
- Meals: 10 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 6 dinners.
- Bike & bike tools
- Support vehicle
- All water and snack food whilst cycling & trekking
- Local guides
- Tour leader (for groups of 5+)
- Entry fees and permits
Bike Asia Travel Style
We think cycling through a region for the first time with a group of like-minded people is a great way to travel in Asia. Our aim is to provide you with the opportunity to meet new people, learn about new cultures, experience different landscapes and most all to have some fun. Cycling is a major part of our trips – they are cycle tours after all. We have designed them so that they are accessible to people with a reasonable level of fitness. Different trips will require varying degrees of physical ability. Each trip dossier has specific details on terrain, cycling conditions, distances covered each day and an altitude profile. All of our trips are fully supported, so should you want or need to take a rest, there will be a seat for you and a place to put your bike. Our trips are also designed to allow you the opportunities and time to appreciate the environment, scenery and culture around you, and to participate in any activities that may be on offer.
An integral part of travelling is to have a positive impact on the country that you are visiting. On this trip there are a number of things you can do to have a positive impact on the communities that we visit.
Dress: Borneo is still quite a conservative region. In rural areas and temples overly revealing clothing is considered offensive. You should make an effort to dress more conservatively in these situations. Walking around a village in bike shorts is not appropriate so if you wish to cycle in just bike shorts you should have something with you, on the bike, to put on over the top (long loose shorts or a skirt/sarong). When visiting temples shorts are acceptable providing they cover the knee. Singlet tops are not acceptable in temples.
Phrase Book: A highly memorable part of your travels will be the local people you meet. In the tourist areas some people will speak English but away from these areas you should learn a few words of Tibetan. We will teach you some of the basics but if you want to really interact we recommend bringing a phrase book.
Donations: Often when coming on trips overseas people like to bring items such as sweets, pens and books for children or old clothing for families. While this is a fantastic idea, if distributed in the wrong way it can actually create more problems. Giving away anything to local people can create an expectation that visiting foreigner equals free give-aways. In some communities in Asia this has created whole villages where the only interaction is the locals asking for things. If you would like to donate anything to the communities that we visit we suggest that you give the items to us and we will then pass them on to development organizations, schools or whole communities. In this way items are distributed to those really in need by those working in the communities.
Poverty: In Borneo there is poverty which you may see. If you choose to give something to a beggar you must bear in mind the value of money in the country you are visiting. There are organizations which are working to alleviate this poverty and may be able to do more good with donations that you make. Your Tour Leader will be able to provide more information about this.
Support Organisations There are a number of organizations which we hope you can support in one way or another. Your Tour Leader will provide more information on these as you travel.
For more information about Bike Asia's commitment to ethical and sustainable travel practices, please read our Responsible Travel Policy.
6 nights comfortable hotel, 1 night simple hotel, 2 nights guesthouse with shared bathroom, 1 night longhouse (basic bamboo building with shared bathrooms).
Due the nature of cycling trips we stay in some towns where the general standard of accommodation is quite low. In these places we have chosen the best possible place to stay - trust us there's nothing better!
All transport listed is included in the trip price. For the cycling days we will have a backup support vehicle that will carry our luggage, snacks and water, and anybody not cycling. We also use boats, our feet, plane and anything else that we might see coming.
Bike is not included - bring your own or rent one for USD150
Food is a very important part of any travel experience. Most of the meals on this trip are included in the cost. To see which meals are included, read the inclusions list or the itinerary. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for and should you have any other dietary restrictions, you just need to inform us.
You will need to bring money on the trip to pay for some meals, drinks, activities in the free time, departure tax and of course shopping.
The official currency is the Malaysian ringgit which should be used for all transactions. Malaysia has a modern banking system with ATMs and money changers everywhere. When coming to Malaysia (Borneo) it is possible to use Visa/MasterCard or Cirrus/Maestro cards to access cash from an ATM. You should, however, carry travellers' cheques as a backup. Most international currencies can be exchanged so it is not necessary to bring only US dollars - AUD, EUR, CAD, NZD are all accepted at banks in major centres.
The amount you bring is going to depend on how much you plan to spend. To give you an indication of prices
Beer would cost ~ 6 R
Meal at local restaurant ~ 5-10 R
Meal at foreign restaurant ~ 10-15 R
Whilst cycling, there will be few opportunities to spend money and most of your shopping will need to be done in Kota Kinabalu.
Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) Exchange rates at the time of writing are:
1 AUD = 2.8
1 USD = 3.1
1 EUR = 4.6
1 GBP = 6.8
1 CAD = 2.5
1 NZD = 3.4
We also recommend that you bring US $100 in emergency funds, to be used when circumstances beyond the control of Bike Asia necessitate a change in itinerary.
Obtaining your own travel insurance is required in order to participate on a Bike Asia tour. It will need to include a minimum coverage of medical expenses with emergency evacuation, personal liability and accident insurance. Your group leader will need to see a copy of your insurance at the group meeting on the first day.
Joining Point Instructions
Meeting Point—this trip will begin and end at a central hotel in Kota Kinabalu. There are many shops, restaurants and facilities located nearby. The hotel has comfortable rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, TV 24 hour reception and a great breakfast! It can be easy to get lost in any new city so make sure you take a hotel card and a map when you go out exploring.
On arrival at the kota Kinabalu International Airport you will find a pre-paid taxi counter outside the terminal. A taxi on the hotel should cost apprximately 20 MYR (about US$6). If you arrive by Air Asia you will land at Terminal 2— this is the same airport, just a different terminal and the taxi situation works the same.
Pre/post trip accommodation
We can book additional accommodation before the tour in Kota Kinabalu or after the tour in Sandakan at competitive rates. Should you wish to extend your stay we can organise trekking at Mt Kinabalu and snorkeling/diving at Sipadan Island.
This trip involves some off-road riding and/or longer days over 80km on mountainous roads. Riders should be of reasonable cycling fitness. The trek up Mt Kinabalu should not be treated lightly. You will be climbing to over 4000m where altitude with have an impact on your body. The fitter you are the better able your body will be to cope. We are required to inform you that if you have a history of suffering from the following ailments it is highly recommended that you should refrain from climbing: hypertension, diabetes, palpitation, arthritis, heart disease, severe anaemia, peptic ulcers, epileptic fits, obesity, chronic asthma, muscular cramps, hepatitis, or any other disease that may hamper a climber.
The first two days of riding are on well made highways. The two days in Danum Valley are on well maintained forestry roads and basic tracks. You should have some experience in off road riding for this trip.
In order to make the most of your holiday, the healthier you are the more you will enjoy it! For a list of vaccinations we recommend that you seek advice at a travel clinic at least six weeks prior to departure. Our group leader will have Senior’s Level first aid training and will travel with a first-aid kit, however it is also recommended that individual travellers have a basic first aid kit with any personal medical requirements. Our group leader is not authorised, for legal reasons, to administer any kind of drugs, including pain relief tablets, antibiotics etc so be sure to pack a supply of your favourite pain-killers. Pharmacy products vary in different countries and you may not be able to buy products that are widely available at home. Include the following: plasters, dressings, bandage, calamine lotion (a must for soothing sunburn), oral re-hydration treatment (in case of bouts of diarrhoea), insect repellent, insect sting relief, antiseptic cream and antiseptic wipes.
For more information on travel health, you can click on the links below:
In Malaysia, 60 day single entry visas are free on arrival for many nationalities. Check with your local travel agent to see if you require a visa.
Before you travel check your passport to ensure that there is room for a visa and entry/exit stamps (at least 3 pages) and that it has at least 6 months validity remaining.
Luggage / Packing List (Guide Only)
We strongly advise against using a hard shell suitcase for this trip. Tibet is not suitcase or wheelie-bag friendly country. We will be camping most nights and the ground will be grass and earth. A soft backpack would be the most suitable, and the easiest to transfer in/out of the trucks in the morning and evening. Keep in mind when you are packing that often our local crew are lifting our bags before we cycle into camp, so try to pack as lightly as possible. Please check our climate charts to assess your clothing requirements, or contact us if you are unsure.
- Long trousers
- Woollen socks
- Sandals/light shoes
- Swimming costume
- Rain/Wind coat
- Small towel
- First aid kit
- Mosquito Repellent
- Camera and film
- Alarm Clock
- Contact solution
- Medication (eg. cold tablets, headache tablets, sleeping tablets)
- Passport with 6 months validity and spare pages
- Passport photo
- Travel insurance details
- Flight tickets
- Money - travellers cheques / cash / credit card
- Guide/phrase book
- Money pouch
- Sleep sheet
- Walking Shoes
- Warm fleece
- Head Torch
- Waterproof Gloves
- Optional daypack, bumbag or handlebar bag.
- Cycling gloves
- Water bottle/bladder
- 2 x Padded bike shorts with something to put on over the top when off the bike
- Light wind-proof, rain-proof jacket for cycling
- Cycle shoes
- Own pedals, seat, bar ends etc.
- Optional gel seat cover
One of the reasons that our trips run so well, and are so much fun is the effort and energy put in by our local crew. On this trip, we will have drivers, and a local guide. Their mix of professionalism, enthusiasm and sense of fun are infectious. We recognise that the wages in an economically developing country are vastly different to ours and ask that if you are satisfied with the service you show your appreciation with a tip. Your group leader will collect this at the end of the trip and organise a small thankyou presentation. As an indication only, we recommend you allocate USD 20. Tipping is NOT compulsory and it is meant to be a reward for good service.
Our cycling tour leader has the authority to change or cancel all or part of this trip if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. This decision would not be taken lightly, and where possible it would be made in consultation with our local crew, local operator and Bike Asia management. Your leader will be present on all included activities, staying at all the same hotels, guesthouses and of course cycling with you. During free time, should you choose to participate in any optional activities that are not part of our itinerary, please note that we cannot give any representations or guarantees about the safety of the activity, the standard of the operators running them or the equipment that they use.
In the group meeting on day 1, your tour leader will run a session on cycling safety. Whilst some travellers will have had years of touring experience, for others this might be their first cycling trip. We need to cater for a range of abilities and experience and it is in everyone’s interest to learn about the particulars of cycling in this region from someone who has already done it. It goes without saying that by running and participating in a cycling trip, both parties accept an inherent level of risk. However, we take the safety of our passengers very seriously and we ask that you cycle in a safe and responsible manner and that you look out for the well-being of your fellow travellers. Cycling helmets must be worn by all cyclists at all times whilst cycling.
Most national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest information before departure. The links for some major travel advisories and updates are listed below
We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling in cities, for the safe keeping of your passport, money, credit cards and traveller's cheques. Utilise the hotel's safety boxes or safe where these are available.
In Kota Kinabalu you will be able to access email, phone, fax and post offices. Elsewhere there will be fewer chances to email and the main communication will be phone. You should leave your family or friends the Bike Asia contact details. Our office staff will be able to get in touch with us in an emergency.
Cycling Tour Leader
Our leaders are passionate about Asia and cycling... phew! They love what they do and take their job seriously. They will make every effort to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable trip with as much fun as possible. They bring many qualities and skills to this role; knowledge of group cycling, safety, management, and liasing between you and the local crew. In working for us, they have made a commitment to learning as much about the culture, language and customs of Borneo as possible, and they are happy to share any of this knowledge with you. However, please keep in mind that they are not local and will not know everything.
We don't have many, but the ones we do have are important. We always abide by the laws of the country that we are travelling through. This means you are not to use any illegal drugs or use prostitutes. Any passenger who does so will be asked to leave the tour immediately.
After you have completed the trip, we want to know what you thought about it. This is important to us, as it is through your feedback that we monitor our trips and make improvements for the future. Log on to our website and click on the feedback link. It will take you a minimum of 3 minutes, or should you feel like writing in more detail, then a little longer. If you fill in the feedback form, we’ll give you an automatic 5% discount on any of our trips in any other region.
We are always looking for good photos of the regions which we travel through. If you have some that you would like to send us, we would love to have a look.
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