There are no direct flights to the huge, rugged island, so it’s best enjoyed as part of a twin trip, with Kuala Lumpur being a popular stop-off point. Part of the Malay Archipelago, Borneo has one of the oldest rainforests in the world (it’s been around for 140 million years); a bio-diverse environment that’s home to rare species such as the orangutan, sun bear, pygmy elephant and clouded leopard. Indeed many travellers come to experience the rare wildlife, as well as one of the globe’s largest flowers and its tallest tree. The jungles of Borneo offer a bucket list-worthy adventure and here’s where to stay when you come here.
Shangri-La Rasa Ria, Kota Kinabalu
Set on two miles of clean beach, this resort has two areas – the Ocean and Garden wings – designed for adults and families respectively. There are enough amenities to ensure you never need to leave, other than for an excursion further into the rainforest. Lagoon style swimming pools, croquet and putting lawns, tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, a spa, a watersports centre, a children’s club and creche are all found onsite. Guests can dine in Malaysian, Indian and Japanese restaurants, with snacks on the coffee terrace and drinks in the lobby lounge.
Shangri-La Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu
Also part of the Shangri-La, the sleek Tanjung Aru, like its sister property, has extensive facilities for recreation and dining. This hotel is a short walk from the beach but has clear views of the South China Sea from many of its public areas and Tanjung wing bedrooms. Popular with families, the themed parties at the Cool Zone Kids’ Club and the water play area (with three slides, a giant bucket splash and a water balloon war station) are a hit with little ones. Meanwhile, parents can bliss out at Chi The Spa, with Bornean treatments, yoga, t’ai chi and pilates classes.
Gaya Island Resort
An island off the coast of an island, this idyllic 40 acres resort, is part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and is an excellent choice if you’re keen to spot some of the native wildlife, not least as the hotel provides its own guided nature walks. Guests are hosted in 120 contemporary villas, crafted using locally sourced materials — book a Canopy Villa to be close to the beach, a Bayu Villa if you’d like an outlook of the tropical mangrove or a Kinabalu Villa for lofty sea views. Several restaurants include the adults-only Fisherman’s Cove, serving freshly caught seafood.