Malaysian Borneo has it all
Updated: Mar 12
What’s not to love about Malaysia right? Inspiring culture, beautiful nature, pristine beaches and delicious food. It’s hard to pick favorites, but here are the must-do’s that you will not forget during your travels through Malaysian Borneo. For some reason I talk a lot about food :)
Delicious sweets during Ramadan
Eat Kek Lapis in Sarawak
Those strange looking, colorful layered cakes that you will find in the streets of Kuching might look a bit weird, but it is a Malaysian specialty you must try. This multi-layered sponge comes in different flavors. The cake is rich, moist and sweet, served best with some tea or coffee.
Eat with the locals at the Top Spot rooftop food court (Kuching)
An all-time favorite among local foodies, this food court and its amazing seafood, sits on the roof of a concrete parking garage and cannot be spotted from the streets of Kuching. Just look for the giant backlit lobster sign and you will be fine. We entered the court using one of the elevators from the parking garage. We ended up picking a foodstall without a menu and just ordered our fresh fish, vegetables and sides on the spot. Cheap and so good!
“We didn't see any bats on the first night, but they came out on the second night even though it was raining and it was already past 6.30pm and most people had already left...”
The exodus of the bats at Mulu Park
"The bats don't come out when it rains!" All those theories regarding the exodus of the bats at Mulu Park, well, you can throw them in a bin. Nature is so unpredictable. We stayed a few nights at Mulu Park, and besides from the beautiful caves and tropical surroundings, the exodus is the afternoon event most visitors look forward too. Each evening the bats gather at the cave entrance in large ring-shaped formations, circling higher and higher up the cliff face before moving out across the rainforest in spiraling ribbons. The official Mulu Park websites says the bats leave the cave on most evenings between 5.30pm and 6.30pm but on rare occasions do not leave at all. Even more rarely they sometimes leave as early as 4.30pm. We didn't see any bats on the first night, but they came out on the second night even though it was raining and it was already past 6.30pm and most people had already left..
Staying at the Waterfront hotel in Kuching
If you are tired from traveling and looking for a bit more luxury then the Waterfront hotel is your best bet. It's ideally located to discover the city's riverside quarter and the rooftop pool offers beautiful views across the water.
Street food during Ramadan
Hesitating to visit Malaysian Borneo during Ramadan? Don't! We didn't experience any kind of problems. Some cities even organize special food festivals where you can enjoy delicious street food after sunset (and before too). Try the Apam, it's a soft fluffy and moist sweet Malaysian peanut pancake turnover stuffed with a sugary, buttery peanut filling.
Spotting animals at the Kinabatangan river
There is something so magical and purifying about spotting animals in the wild. Even if you have to wake up at 6am to step on a boat with your eyes half open. The beauty of the Kinabatangan river and its animals will take your breath away. Especially when the hornbills fly over in the misty morning light. I cannot tell you which animals you will see, because that is completely up to Mother Nature. You could spot following wildlife creatures: the Bornean Orang Utan, the Proboscis monkey, macaques, Bornean gibbon, maroon langur, most of which are endemic to Borneo.
Expect to see crocodiles, hawks, eagles, hornbills, kingfishers and much more. If you are very lucky you may see the Bornean 'Pygmy' Elephant feeding and bathing on the edge of the Kinabatangan River. And we were lucky indeed. On the second day of our stay, on the afternoon river safari we could not believe our eyes when we spotted 30 something elephants. This only happens a few times a year according to our guide and he always cried while telling us ;-)
We booked our stay with Gogosabah and stayed at the basic but nice Nature Lodge.
Snorkeling at Mabul Island
Snorkeling? Yes snorkeling! Mabul and Sipadan or usually considered as great diving locations and they probably are, but joining in as snorkeler is very much rewarding as well. I have never tried diving because of an inner ear problem, so snorkeling is the next best thing. Really enjoyed the waters of Mabul island. It's a true paradise to discover turtles. You can easily spot them and are not afraid of humans.
We stayed at Mabul Beach Resort that has its own house reef and Scuba Junkie took us on day-trips to Ribbon Valley, Lobster Wall, Eel Garden and much more. You will join a dive boat or a snorkeling boat, either way, there will always be someone joining you, you are not treated less well just because you are not a diver!
Read more on the topic here.