Borneo with Kids
Should you take your kids to Borneo? Yes! Borneo is an amazing destination for families to visit. The opportunities to see wildlife are everywhere. It is easy to get around once you are there and mostly inexpensive. English is widely spoken. We were there at the end of the wet season, low season for tourists and we found it very quiet, not crowded at all. I’ve heard it is quite different in the high season. This post is about our time in Kuching, Borneo with kids. for all our Borneo content visit our Borneo page.
We were so excited to arrive in Borneo. Our first destination was the city of Kuching in Sarawak state. We stayed for 3 nights as a base to explore the area. Things to see and do in Kuching are: the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre; a sanctuary for Orangutans. Bako National Park and the cultural village. We also enjoyed a one hour trip along the Sarawak river from Kuching harbour front to see local villages and fishing boats. You can see some more pictures from that trip on the gallery page.
Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
At the Semenggoh wildlife centre the Orangutans are free to live wild in the forest. Fruit is put out for them twice a day at a feeding platform. Visitors can view the platform at feeding times in the hope of seeing one or more of these beautiful ‘men of the forest’ coming to feed. We were in Borneo at the end of January, in fruiting season. During this time there is plenty of food in the forest so not as many Orangutans come to feed.
We were up early and arranged a driver to arrive for the 9am feeding. The guide’s expectations of seeing Orangutan were low because of the season. I was getting worried that the kids would be disappointed. But as we arrived at the platform one Orangutan came to feed and stayed for almost an hour, swinging in the trees. It was a magical experience and a great start to our stay in Borneo.
Bako National Park
For our second day in Kuching we arranged a guided tour of Bako National Park. Our hotel introduced us to one of the best guides in the park – we were lucky to get him. He’s been guiding visitors through Bako National Park for 14 years and he arranged a private tour suitable for a 6 year old, although still quite challenging. It is a good thing she is a strong and fit 6 year old!
Getting to Bako National Park
Getting to the national park takes a 45 min drive from the city. Then a speed boat trip upriver and into the ocean to land on the beach at the national park. Depending on the tides you land on the dock or the boat drops you into the shallows and you need to wade ashore. We got a bit stuck with the low tide and had to wait awhile into the tide came in before we could get to the beach. It didn’t matter, the boat journey itself was an experience. The ride is normally 20-30mins but ours was closer to an hour.
Wildlife in the Bako National Park
From the moment you land on the beach there is wildlife to see. The star of the park is the Proboscis Monkey, an endangered monkey with a unique nose, found only in Borneo.
We saw a bachelor pair of Proboscis monkey on the beach, in the trees right above us. These shy creatures are very difficult to photograph. The guide then took us for a walk around the visitor centre, there are also huts and a camping area for the dry season. He showed us a pit viper sitting in a tree behind one of the huts.
We spotted bearded Bornean pigs and lots of long tailed macque. A short board walk through the mangroves takes you to the start of the many walks and trails. The walk we did was only about 800 metres long, but because of the terrain it took about 45 mins. There is no path as such, you need to climb over tree roots, through streams, up and down rocky paths. All the while keeping an eye on where you are putting your hands and feet!
The path ends at a small beach with interesting sandstone formations and lots of interesting sea life in the rock pools. Tourists often do the walk and then take a swim in the sea but there had been recent sighting of salt water crocodiles so swimming was off limits. Another 45 minute walk back to the national park headquarters and we were rewarded with the sight of another group of Probiscos monkeys in the trees right above the path.
After some refreshment and rest it was time to return by boat, where we were lucky to briefly see Irrawaddy dolphins in the sea.
Accomodation in Kuching
During our stay in Kuching we stayed at the popular Grand Margherita hotel, it looks quite run down on the outside but our room was modern and very nice. We had club lounge access and 2 double beds for the impressive sum of $80 NZD per night. The location of the hotel was convenient to access the waterfront and there was a nice pool for cooling off at the end of the day. We’d highly recommend this hotel for families and other travellers.
We stayed for 3 nights, since we are travelling long term we can’t keep up an intensive sightseeing pace and need to fit in things like school work also. So we didn’t make it to the cultural village, but it could easily be fitted in to a 3 night stay. Travelling with kids in Borneo is such a special experience, allow plenty of time to see as much as possible.
Next up we fly to Sabah, the other state of Borneo to visit the rainforest… Read all our Borneo posts here.
This post contains an affilitate link, if you use it we make a small commission, it doesn’t cost you any extra.