Starting to plan my next trip - Borneo?

For a long time I’ve wanted to see Orangutans in the wild. Or at least at one of those rehabilitation places where they go out on excursions. It’d also be pretty spectacular to see a Sumatran Rhino. Not to mention all the amazing birds and all the other awesome wildlife.

I’m thinking Northern Borneo into Malaysia. Maybe Sabah. I think I’d also like to spend a few days in Brunei while I’m in the area.

Anybody been? Any thoughts?

Sabah and Sarawak are both high on my list.
I’ve done a lot of peninsular Malaysia and enjoyed it enormously.

So I’m keen to hear all about it, if you go!

I’ve spent a few days in Brunei and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, about 15 years ago now.

Best advice I can give is don’t accidentally go to Brunei during Eid, almost everything shuts down. Oops.

I’m afraid I didn’t do all that much there, as there had just been heavy rains, so some of the central roads were flooded out and it was just a stopover on my way out for a year’s trip to Australia because Royal Brunei airlines were the cheapest option, so I’d not booked anything and was being quite cautious about accidentally missing my flight.

I did have a lovely boat trip from Bangar Seri Begawan, seeing proboscis monkeys and a pretty impressive amount of wildlife within about 15 minutes of leaving the town, and did get to see a bit of the Sultan’s palace, as they allow people to come in and meet the sultan/his wife, which was a HUGE queue, but I didn’t realise how long it would be, as it went through multiple rooms, so I also had a 3 second chat with the sultan’s wife. It seemed a pretty weird place.

From KK I did a boat trip to see the fireflies, which synchronise, and are pretty impressive and did some diving, which was pretty good for fish, if not for coral. I’d like to go back and see more of the inland area.

Some 15 years ago I went to Borneo (Malaysia) to go diving at a place called Sipidan (highly recommended if you’re a diver).

We flew into KK (Kota Kinabalu), and then over to Sandakan. We stayed a couple nights at this lodge outside Sepilok, where we visited the preserve to see the orangutans. Though not “in the wild” (although they were free to go if they wanted to), we did get to see them come out to eat breakfast at this little feeding station. We also did a night tour (also recommended), and when you shown your light up to the canopy above, you’d see their eyes light up.
We hadn’t planned it, but when we arrived this guy at the lodge offered to take us to a place to see probiscus monkeys. Apparently this place is one of the few places where the wild monkeys will come by to hang out. It was maybe an hours drive from the lodge, but well worth it. There was quite the colony there - like at least 30 or so.

A couple other memories: probably the hottest and most humid place I’ve been to (and I’ve been to other parts of Indonesia and the tropics).
As we flew over northern Borneo from KK to Sandakan, I was amazed at how much of the jungle had been converted to palm groves - all the trees in neat rows and evenly spaced. I had these images of continuous rain forest, but it was not like that.
We took this morning jungle hike from the lodge (you literally stepped 10 feet from the lodge grounds and were in thick jungle). We did see some birds, but it was tough to get a clear view with all the branches and leaves. At one point we noticed these odd almost slug-like things on the leaves, and when you’d walk by, they would “track” your arm. When we finally asked the guide, the told us they were leeches ! (Still wigs me out to this day, and you better believe we did full body checks after we got back !)

If you’re a diver, I can tell you all about diving Sipidan.

Thanks for the replies!

I love reading about peoples’ experiences there because I don’t really know a lot about Borneo. My basic idea is to stay in maybe two or three lodges that provide tours. I want to do a boat tour/bird tour/orangutan tour/wildlife tour and night tour.

I’m thinking a one or two night stay in Brunei to do the touristy things like the palace etc.

I don’t dive or snorkel because I just can’t get control of my breathing but I’m going to try to learn to at least snorkel.

Now I have to try to find someone to go with me!