Family Borneo

The two Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up the northern third of the island of Borneo and are famous for the natural wonders of their rainforest national parks, unique fauna and flora, fascinating indigenous peoples and white sand beaches.

But forget all that - what the children will really want to see are the orang-utans.

The best place to see the so-called 'men of the jungle' is at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, located in an area of virgin equatorial rainforest. Sadly, this is one of only a few places remaining on Earth where this endangered species are protected.

Borneo's rainforests also contain a stunning biodiversity of other plant and animal life, and the forest itself is some of the most ancient on the planet - far older even than the equatorial forests of the Amazon or the Congo. If your children are budding naturalists they'll love knowing that new species of beasties from bugs to carnivores are discovered here every year. The Kinabatangan River, which lies just South of the Sepilok sanctuary and involves a trip up river by boat, is home to an impressive array of wildlife including macaques, monitor lizards, pygmy elephants, wild orang-utans and most famously, the proboscis monkey, with his unique colouring, large nose and harem of 'wives'.

Moving further south again, the conservation area of the Danum Valley has been set up to protect the area from the destructive impact of the logging industry. Not only is this area teeming with a huge variety of birds and wildlife, but there are canopy walkways high above the jungle floor and the option for night safaris into the surrounding rainforest.

For marine wildlife, the island of Lankayan has some of the best dive sites for beginners (children as young as eight can try diving with PADI's excellent Bubblemaker course at Lankayan) but there are also fantastic snorkeling opportunities. Nearby Selingan Island is also a favourite nesting place for giant turtles who travel hundreds of miles to lay their eggs on the same beach on which they hatched years before.

Finally, for a bit of relaxation and indulgence after action-packed wildlife adventures, Original Travel recommends a stay at either of the Shangri-La hotels in Sabah, both of which have superb family facilities. The Tanjung Aru is conveniently located just 15 mins from Kota Kinabalu's airport and right by the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Alternatively, the Rasa Ria is about 45 minutes away and has a beautiful private beach and its own orang-utan sanctuary - just in case you haven't had enough of them yet.

Perfect for families

Family activity

Original Travel has teamed up with the much loved children’s party people Sharky & George to inject some (much needed) creativity and fun into the family holiday process.

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Where to stay

Gaya Island Resort

Gaya Island Resort

Gaya Island Resort is a luxury resort on the little known Pulau Gaya, the largest of a cluster of five islands that form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Gone are the days where visitors to the island had to settle for a rustic beach hut, Gaya Island Resort has set the precedent for hotels in one of Original Travel’s favourite destinations.

Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Borneo Rainforest Lodge is located in the heart of the Danum Valley Conservation Area – a remote 200 square mile area of tropical lowland rainforest in Sabah province.

 Shangri-La Tanjung Aru

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru

For sheer ease of access alone this resort hotel is worth considering. Just ten minutes from Kota Kinabalu Airport Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru is also within easy reach of the city centre and several pristine coral islands.

Shangri-La Rasa Ria

Shangri-La Rasa Ria

The resort is set beside the beautiful Pantai Dalit beach, north of Kota Kinabalu, and surrounded by lush tropical forest.

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