CULTURE AND CUISINE IN BORNEO

Explore tiny rural villages, tribal homes in the Bornean rainforest, bustling multicultural cities and stunning natural vistas on this cultural tour of Malaysian Borneo

10 Days, 9 Nights     CONTACT US FOR PRICING

Taking you from the fragrant excitement of an open-air spice market to the kaleidoscopic wonder of Borneo’s lush, unspoiled rainforests, this tour is perfect for travelers who wish to explore the island’s rich history and culture in addition to its famed natural attractions.

While the tour includes visits to unmissable natural attractions in Malaysian Borneo – such as pristine coral island beaches and jaw-dropping wilderness preserves where orangutans swing from looming trees – the most exceptional experiences in this culturally themed adventure will almost certainly be your strolls across striking historical buildings, visits to lively and delicious night markets, and your homestays in tiny Bornean villages.

Our exploration of Borneo’s multicultural landscape begins in Kuching, the former home of the colonial White Rajahs of Sarawak. A city tour will take you through Kuching’s stately buildings and energetic merchant streets. Stopping at a stunning rainforest preserve on the way to visit an orangutan sanctuary, we’ll venture to Mongkos Bidayuh village, where you’ll see a traditional Bornean longhouse, tour village farms, and enjoy home-cooked Bidayuh cuisine.

Next, we’ll fly to Kota Kinabalu to explore the riveting night market, participate in a cooking lesson, and savor fresh Bornean seafood dishes. In the countryside, stay with a local family and accompany villagers as they fish, farm and go about their daily lives in the rainforest. After an adventurous white-water rafting expedition, you’ll spend the last day in Borneo relaxing on the pristine coral islands in the South China Sea.

 

Each of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and our destination based teams will start planning a unique and personalized trip.

The Backyard Travel Team,

UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES

Venture deep into the Bornean rainforest to visit a preserved Bidayuh longhouse and explore the cuisine and culture of the Dayak tribes.
Delve into rural life in a small Bornean village, staying with a host family and even working alongside villagers as they fish and farm.
Shop for local produce and spices, and try your hand at Borneo’s exquisite cuisine with personalized Bornean cooking lessons in a local family home.
Relax with perfectly white sand and crystal-clear water on a coral island off the northern coast of Borneo.

Daily Itinerary

CULTURE AND CUISINE IN BORNEO

  • Daily Itinerary
  • Day 1: Kuching

    Your adventure in Borneo begins with the friendly welcome of Backyard Travel’s local experts at Kuching Airport. A travel representative will meet you at the gate and accompany you on your transfer to Batik Boutique Hotel.

    A city rich in history and multicultural tradition, Kuching is one of the most charming cities in Southeast Asia. The former center of English colonial power in Borneo, the seat of power of James Brooke, the first White Rajah of Sarawak, and the setting for countless colonial adventures and intrigues, Kuching boasts some of the most grandiose examples of British colonial architecture in Malaysia. In the multifaceted capital of Sarawak, the rigid white columns of English colonial buildings sit against the iridescent pagodas of Chinese temples, sumptuous mosque minarets, the overflowing storefronts of centuries-old Indian shops, and aromatic spice markets and food stalls. The alluring city of Kuching is both a convenient base camp for exploring western Borneo and a fine attraction in itself.

    Overnight at Batik Boutique Hotel in Kuching.
    No meals included in the day’s itinerary.

  • Day 2: Kuching

    You’ll delve into dynamic Kuching on our second day in Malaysian Borneo.

    After a leisurely breakfast, the city tour starts with a drive out to the Cat Statue at the end of Jalan Padung street. Kucing means cat in the local Malay language, and this colossal feline is only one of the many monumental tributes in Cat City. We continue on foot down Jalan Padung, to one of the liveliest districts in the city, energized by a recent wave of trendy new coffee shop and small restaurant openings. We’ll conclude our walk with a chance to visit the Tun Jugah shopping complex. Named after a Malaysian national hero, this huge mall is a mecca for local shoppers. Even for travelers looking to escape shopping malls, the bustling pace of the Malaysian version can be a riveting cultural experience, and the mall’s frenzied food court offers a great introduction to the vast and varied flavors of Bornean cuisine.

    Next, we’ll drive to the Main Bazaar, where your guide will point out some of the best places for Bornean handicraft shopping. From the Old Courthouse, dating back to the rule of the White Rajahs and one of the finest examples of English colonial architecture in Malaysia, we’ll walk down Gambier Street, through the delicate aroma of spice markets. Gambier Street ends in Kuching’s open-air food market, the best place to appreciate how Borneo’s multicultural blend of local tribes and immigrant groups has shaped one of the most exciting culinary traditions in Southeast Asia. Must-try local delicacies include manok pansoh, a traditional Iban dish consisting of chicken, lemongrass, tapioca leaves and mushrooms grilled inside a bamboo tube, and Sarawak’s signature laksa, a zesty soup with rice noodles, coconut milk, fresh Bornean seafood and distinctive local spices.

    Our city tour continues down India Street, Kuching’s only pedestrian street, where you can glance into old Indian storefronts, many still selling the same products that Indian traders brought to Borneo centuries ago. We’ll then drive to the Sarawak Museum, housed in a handsome 19th-century colonial building and containing the finest collections of Bornean archeological findings and ethnological artifacts on the island. After a drive to the General Post Office, another magnificent example of colonial architecture in Borneo, we’ll stroll down picturesque Carpenter Street, flanked by historical buildings and iconic shops. You’ll have the rest of the day to explore Kuching on your own or stop into any of the many handicraft and jewelry shops in Kuching’s city center. Alternatively, you can return to the hotel or speak to your guide to arrange optional activities in Kuching.

    Overnight in Batik Boutique Hotel.
    Breakfast included.

    kuching street scene, Kuching, Borneo Malaysia
  • Day 3: Semengoh Wildlife Center and Mongkos Bidayuh Village

    On our third day in Borneo, you’ll travel to a lush Bornean rainforest preserve and experience traditional life in the rainforest with a homestay in a longhouse village.

    After an early breakfast, we depart for the Semengoh Wildlife Centre, a wilderness preserve and orangutan rehabilitation center 24 kilometers outside of Kuching. Here, a population of over 20 orphaned orangutans is trained for survival in the wild. After a briefing from the park rangers, we’ll head down the trail to admire the verdant surrounding forests and even get a chance to see orangutans descend from the trees at one of the park’s feeding stations.

    We depart Semengoh just before noon and head down the road 80 kilometers to Mongkos Bidayuh village, near the border between Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo. Along the way, we’ll survey the abundant natural beauty of rural Sarawak, an exuberant tapestry of virgin forests, pepper gardens and rice fields. The village is home to a thriving rural Bidayuh community and one of the few remaining traditional longhouses in Sarawak. The Bidayuh are the second largest Dayak tribe in Sarawak. Although most have abandoned longhouses in favor of single-family homes, they preserve central elements of their culture and continue to practice a centuries-old lifestyle in harmony with the rainforest

    Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by cheerful villagers and led to the guesthouse or family house for your homestay. Once you’ve had time to settle in, we’ll sit down to a delicious home-cooked Bidayuh meal. Bidayuh cuisine is world-famous for its use of rainforest ingredients - such as bamboo shoots, tapioca leaves and a number of exotic fruits and vegetables - to achieve flavors distinctive to the region.

    After lunch, we’ll take a tour of the village and visit Mongkos Bidayuh’s preserved longhouse. This 24-door wood and bamboo longhouse once served as the communal home of several village families. Today, the exhibits and preserved artifacts inside provide insight into rural life in Borneo. For a glimpse of the village’s history, a guide will even show you the remaining bullet holes on one side of the house, the result of an Indonesian attack on Mongkos during the undeclared war that raged between Indonesia and Malaysia from 1962-1966, known locally as the "confrontation."You’ll have the rest of the day to explore the village at your leisure, chat with villagers, observe traditional farming and fishing activities, or take a refreshing dip in the village river. At nightfall, we’ll taste the new and exciting flavors of yet another traditional Bidayuh meal before settling into our Bornean village homestay.

    Overnight in a Bidayuh village homestay.
    All meals included in the day’s itinerary.

    Sepilok Borneo Tour - Orangutan in this North Sumatra tour - Backyard Travel
  • Day 4: Mongkos Bidayuh Village

    Adjusting to village life in Borneo, we get off to an early start on the fourth morning to take full advantage of our last day in Mongkos Bidayuh village.

    After breakfast and a cup of local Bornean coffee, we embark on a guided walk through the village’s farming trails. Our nature walk in Borneo will take you past farmers hard at work cultivating durian, rubber, rambutan, mango, oil palm, rice, pepper, bananas, cacao, jackfruit and a colorful variety of local produce in small rainforest plots. Just before lunch we’ll reach a picnic spot by a small waterfall, and you’ll have the chance to cool down with a refreshing dip before sitting down to a lunch of rice, bamboo chicken and jungle ferns.

    We’ll then walk back to the village to say goodbye to our gracious hosts and begin our drive back to Kuching. We arrive in Kuching in the late afternoon and you’ll have the evening to freely wander the city.

    Overnight in Batik Boutique Hotel.
    Breakfast and lunch included.

  • Day 5: Kota Kinabalu

    On our fifth day in Borneo, we travel to Kota Kinabalu, capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah.

    Kota Kinabalu, or KK as it is more commonly known, is a sprawling modern town set amid a spectacularly beautiful natural setting. Sitting between the jagged peak of Mount Kinabalu and the clear, gentle waters of the South China Sea, this former trading post of the British North Borneo Company had to be almost completely rebuilt after repeated bombings during WWII. KK, as a result, is short of the colonial architecture of cities like Kuching, but more than makes up for its lack of architectural flare with gorgeous natural attractions and some of the most animated street life in Malaysia. Home to buzzing commercial districts, busy coffee shops, a frenzied riverside night market and - as the locals insist - the best seafood in Malaysia, KK makes for a captivating and convenient launch pad for exploring the rainforests and beaches of eastern Borneo.

    We reach KK by air, driving to Kuching airport after breakfast and flying to Kota Kinabalu around noon. A Backyard Travel representative will greet you at the airport and accompany you on a transfer to the Jesselton Hotel to settle in.

    After a few hours to rest or enjoy free time in the city, our brief city tour of Kota Kinabalu begins with pick-up at the hotel in the late afternoon. The undisputed highlight of the tour is a visit to KK’s elegant waterfront park. At nightfall, the riverside comes to life as the city’s night market awakens. In a wild display of local Bornean style, eager salesmen at open-air stalls sell everything from fresh fish and exotic fruits to fine handicrafts such as beadwork and weavings. For curious gourmands, food stalls also sell local delicacies such as grilled fish, fried rice and noodles, satay, barbecued beef, sweet doughnuts, and banana fritters well into the night.

    You’ll want to save room for dinner, however, as KK is reputed for some of the best seafood in Malaysia. Our day in Kota Kinabalu ends with a delicious and unbelievably fresh meal at a local Bornean seafood restaurant.

    Overnight in the Jesselton Hotel in KK.
    Breakfast and dinner included.

  • Day 6: Bornean Cooking Class

    Today we’ll delve into the rich aromas and flavors of Bornean cuisine through cooking classes in Kota Kinabalu.

    After breakfast, you’ll be picked up at the hotel by your cooking instructor for the afternoon, a knowledgeable home cook selected from a local family. Alongside your host, you’ll tour a local Bornean market for an introduction to several exotic local ingredients. As with other activities on your customized vacation in Borneo, you’ll be able to discuss options with your host to design a menu suited to your tastes and interests.

    Back in your host’s home, the cooking lesson begins as you prepare selected regional specialties and a traditional Malaysian home-cooked meal. After learning about the fragrant spices and distinguishing ingredients that make Malaysian cuisine so delicious, you’ll sit down to enjoy your creation with your host.

    You will return to the hotel after lunch and have the rest of the afternoon to explore Kota Kinabalu freely.

    Overnight at the Jesselton Hotel in Kota Kinabalu.
    Breakfast and lunch included.

    Borneo family holiday - spices of borneo - backyard travel
  • Day 7: Kampong Tulung-Mantob Village

    The seventh day of the tour features another opportunity to explore traditional village life in the Bornean countryside. After an early breakfast, we’ll head out on a scenic hour-long drive through the countryside of Borneo to Kampong Tulung-Mantob village in Kiulu. After welcoming refreshments, join the villagers in traditional rural activities such as palm roof-making and rice pounding and sieving. You’ll then have a leisurely typical meal with a Bornean host family.

    We’ll then tour the village and have another opportunity to participate in traditional afternoon chores such as rubber tapping, fishing, planting and harvesting. After some free time and an optional dip in the river, you’ll rejoin your host family for a hearty dinner. Finally, we’ll spend the evening relaxing and socializing with villagers before settling in with our host family.

    Overnight in a Bornean family homestay.
    All meals included.

  • Day 8: White-Water Rafting Tour and Return to Kota Kinabalu

    After an optional morning nature walk in the countryside of Borneo, you’ll have breakfast with your host family and bid farewell to Kampong Tulung-Mantob village. We’ll proceed to the Kiulu river for a novice white-water rafting trip through rainforest landscapes that house thousands of species of plants and animals, many purely indigenous to Borneo. To relax, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the river before heading back to KK.

    We arrive in Kota Kinabalu in the late afternoon and check into our hotel.

    Overnight in the Jesselton Hotel.
    Breakfast and lunch included in the itinerary.

    Do rafting on wild rapids during a Bali adventure tour
  • Day 9: Tanku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

    On our final full day in Borneo, you’ll have the chance to unwind on one of Borneo’s best beaches. The postcard-perfect coral islands of the Tanku Abdul Rahman Park are just a 15-minute boat ride from Kota Kinabalu. Famed for their dazzling white-sand beaches, clear waters and breathtakingly surreal coral reefs, the islands make for an amazing, relaxing day-trip from Kota Kinabalu.

    After breakfast, we’ll take the ferry out to the outlying island of Mamutik and enjoy a luxurious afternoon of swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling. We’ll even have a barbeque lunch before returning to KK in the late afternoon.

    Overnight in the Jesselton Hotel in Kota Kinabalu.
    Breakfast and lunch included.

    Snorkeling-in-Borneo-Malaysia_0.jpg
  • Day 10: Kota Kinabalu

    We wave goodbye to the friendly, vibrant island of Borneo on our tenth and final day of the tour.

    A farewell breakfast is included before transfers to Kota Kinabalu airport for departure flights.

    Sabah tour: scenic seaside view at Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia - Backyard Travel

All of our Tours can be Tailored, Just Ask!

Local vietnamese woman

Tour Details

All of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and we’ll start planning your unique personalized trip!

Tour prices are a guideline only, and are based on two persons travelling together, sharing a double or twin room. Each tour price and can be adjusted depending on budget, activities included and standard of accommodation desired.

Tour and airfare prices include all applicable taxes and are subject to change without prior notice until services are booked.

You, your holiday and booking direct: Backyard Travel are on the ground year-round in Asia, which means you are booking direct with a local travel company, allowing you to save on the cost of your holiday. Our tailor-made tours are designed by local Travel Specialists who investigate every aspect of the trip themselves, giving you a unique view of each destination.

icon Included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
Private tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
Services of a private driver and air-conditioned vehicles
Service of English speaking guides in every location
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

icon Not included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Domestic and international flights
Departure taxes if applicable
Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
Early check-in and late check-out at hotels
Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
Tips for guides and drivers
Personal travel insurance
Visa fees (contact us for further information)



Talk to us about Your Holiday

Our advantage lies in having local expertise to create unique, bespoke tours. Whether you’re looking to cruise down Asia’s tranquil rivers, bike the peaceful rural roads, or eat at bustling night markets, Backyard Travel’s in-country Travel Specialists can plan your ideal trip. Send us a message about your ideas, and we'll send you our best suggestions.


 

 

Why Backyard Travel?


Our experienced travel specialists possess years of local insider knowledge, because they live here.

We have offices in all of our destinations in asia, fully staffed and open all year-round.

With backyard travel you are booking direct, allowing you to save and benefit local residents.

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Backyard Travel Head Office: Level 18, Park Ventures Ecoplex, 57 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Bangkok, Thailand 10330. Tel: +66 (0) 26339074

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START PLANNING
YOUR DREAM HOLIDAY
Ask your obligation-free itinerary
  • Local travel specialists
  • Private tour guides
  • 24/7 on-ground assistance
  • Insider experiences
  • Excellent value for money
  • Personalized itinerary
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