Christmas holidays are an occasion for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In Sabah, and even other parts of Malaysia, many people, even if they are not Christian, participate in the acts of gift giving, preparing special meals and decorating their homes with Christmas cheer. Perhaps the season is so inclusive because the Christmas Holidays […]
Christmas holidays are an occasion for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
In Sabah, and even other parts of Malaysia, many people, even if they are not Christian, participate in the acts of gift giving, preparing special meals and decorating their homes with Christmas cheer.
Perhaps the season is so inclusive because the Christmas Holidays take place during the school holidays. Children enjoy exchanging gifts, setting up wood fires and even decorating Christmas trees.
If you’re still not sure where to spend your Christmas holidays, why not consider Borneo and the beautiful islands just off Kota Kinabalu?
Island-style Christmas Holidays
Mere minutes from the capital of Kota Kinabalu, the tropical islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TAR Park) is about as far as you can get from a typical, snowy European Christmas holiday.
Yet, your island-style Christmas holiday will be the vacation of a lifetime.
TAR Marine Park (Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park)
Literally just 10 minutes from the city, the TAR Park islands are easily accessible by boat.
The islands offer various options: either a day-trip to 1 island, a day of island hopping between various islands, or perhaps a night or two on one of the islands, which offers high standards of accommodation or even camping overnight.
Pulau Gaya, as it’s locally known, is the TAR Park’s largest island, covering 140 hectares outlined by 25km of shoreline.
It’s a veritable playground for divers with beautiful, healthy coral reefs and home to no less than 3 island resorts.
The island is also ideal for some moderate jungle trekking, with tens of kilometres of hiking trail that offers unique species of plants and animals such as hornbill, proboscis monkeys and even very shy, wild boar.
If you’re aiming for your Christmas holiday to have a sweeping, sandy beach as a backdrop, then Pulau Manukan is the best choice.
The 51-acre, boomerang-shaped island is the second larges in the TAR Park, boasting a 1km long stretch of sandy beach.
It offers good snorkelling opportunities thanks to the many, colourful fish that are not human-shy and also diving further away from the shoreline.
The island boasts excellent beach and jungle-type accommodation, the perfect way to have the island almost to yourself after the throngs of tourists return to the mainland at about 5pm.
Although quite small at only 25 acres, Pulau Sapi is the 2nd most popular island after Manukan.
Although not as big as Manukan, Sapi offers one of the nicest beach in the TAR Park. Its clean white sand and crystal clear water teems with tropical fish who play along the coral reefs that frame the shoreline, making for perfect Christmas holiday photos.
Sapi is great for swimming, snorkelling and diving and is the ideal day destination thanks to facilities such as toilets with running water, picnic shelters, BBQ pits and tables.
The island offers a few short hiking trails with beautiful tropical jungle to experience and even wildlife in the shape of exotic birds, a monitor lizard or two or even crab-hunting monkeys, rumoured to swim (!) between Sapi and Gaya island.
Pulau Mamutik is the smallest of the 5 tropical isands in the TAR Park and covers a mere 15 acres.
Due to being relatively undeveloped compared its bigger cousins, it attracts less tourists, but because of that, offers great coral reefs for a snorkelling and diving Christmas holiday.
During the day the island does offer some water sports and scuba diving, along with BBQ pits, picnic shelters and toilets with running water.
Completely undeveloped save for a jetty and a ranger hut, Pualau Sulug is furthest away from the city.
The shoreline is mostly rocky and offers some of the best coral reefs for diving.
More popular with the intrepid explorer looking to get away from it all, Sulug offers a tranquil, untouched, tropical beach Christmas holiday.
The island is home to naughty, long-tailed macaques who know how to part unsuspecting visitors from their food (and potentially shiny valuables too).
So, it all depends on how you want to spend your Christmas holidays. Diving, snorkelling or just chilling in your tropical island-based room? Romantic and quiet, or jovial and celebratory with a warm gathering of family members, friends and yes, even a few random strangers.
Whatever your choice, have a look at our Borneo Holiday packages, or contact Rustic Borneo and let us help you put together the perfect tropical island Christmas Holiday.
Rustic Borneo actually came to be during my involvement working with a NGO at the northern part of Borneo near Kudat. I had the intention of using it as a vehicle to help eliminate poverty amongst the local community and help build their economic capacity by making their handicraft accessible to the world. My methodology […]
Rustic Borneo actually came to be during my involvement working with a NGO at the northern part of Borneo near Kudat.
I had the intention of using it as a vehicle to help eliminate poverty amongst the local community and help build their economic capacity by making their handicraft accessible to the world.
My methodology revolves around connecting the local community, the indigenous people of Sabah, to buyers by leveraging the great revolution of social media, networking and the power of Information Technology.
My little ability was amplified through a concerted effort and in-depth knowhow of few a good friends: Peter Stenberg, Reita Rahim from Gerai OA and the Borneo “Sindak Pagazou” or The Burning Sabah Warrior and young native leader, Richard Nelson Sokial.
For Rustic Bornoe’s Vision to take flight it required a lot of resources, genuine information and plenty of research to be able to offer conscientious buyers the behind-the-scenes story of the products on offer. Be it a storage item, kitchen utensils, cutlery or even beauty accessories, every item embodies beauty and functionality through the knowledge that once they were useful tools used in daily life.
Here are some pictures extracted from my family heritage collection show how many elements of life have slowly turned into unappreciated fashion.
The native heritage is now the lifestyle of modern society. It’s now more than ordinary functional items – it is art, and the beauty of the art is the enchanted, sustainable economy for the local community of Borneo.
In the Malaysian state of Sabah, on Borneo’s east coast is the Kinabatangan River – a river whose district has one of the world’s richest ecosystems. The main attraction here, the reason you come here, is the river cruises on Kinabatangan River. The wildlife in this area is amazing and if you are lucky you […]
In the Malaysian state of Sabah, on Borneo’s east coast is the Kinabatangan River – a river whose district has one of the world’s richest ecosystems. The main attraction here, the reason you come here, is the river cruises on Kinabatangan River. The wildlife in this area is amazing and if you are lucky you can see wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys, macaques, crocodiles, the rare pygmy elephant and a lot of endemic bird species.
Just a few weeks ago, I was here to get my first experience of this famous destination that seems to fascinate all types of people. After our lunch it was time for our first trip on the river. Our guide gave us a quick introduction about the area and told us about the conditions:
“We hope we will be seeing a lot of animals today, but remember that it is nature we are dealing with. We cannot decide and control what we’ll see …”
The dream for me personally was to see one of the elephants that are very rare. After only five minutes in the boat the guide shouted at us and pointed towards the surface; “Elephant in the water.” The boat made a change of direction and ran toward the river’s edge where a small elephant came walking in the water on the way up towards the land. Our smiles were big and we were so happy after the fantastic experience. On hot days like this, they are sometimes heading to the river to cool off in the afternoon – lucky for us!
An incredibly good start to the tour that only continued to impress me. We got to see incredibly much wildlife and at such close range. We looked at large families / groups of macaques from just a few meters away. Some monkeys even jumped on the boat that we had to chase away. Macaques are really entertaining and curious of the boats and are happy to perform a little show for their audience.
We saw lizards that walked the shoreline, proboscis monkeys that swayed high up in the canopy and birds of all kinds who played beautiful melodies. What we did not see this day was the orangutan and the crocodile. You cannot get everything on the first river tour, but fortunately we have more river cruises left during our days on the river.
But I have to recommend everyone who goes to Borneo to come here and experience the river safari. It was magical! You are able to come so close to the wildlife. It gives you a genuine and personal experience. One of the best experiences I have ever had during my travels – Amazing is all I have to say!
You are able to do river cruises during morning, afternoon and evening – all different times of the day attracts different animals so each cruise is unique and exciting every time. There are several lodges that offer “all inclusive” packages that includes all meals, guides and accommodation with a high standard.
Are you interested in wildlife and nature, this is absolutely a must if you are visiting Borneo. Contact us if you want to know more, check out our package tours containing Sukau or use our Holiday Creator to create your own dream holiday!
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is a center in Sandakan that takes care of abandoned, injured or displaced orangutans. They help them to learn everything they need to be able to survive on their own – like climbing, what to eat, what is dangerous, how to build their nests, etc. Things that their mother normally would […]
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is a center in Sandakan that takes care of abandoned, injured or displaced orangutans. They help them to learn everything they need to be able to survive on their own – like climbing, what to eat, what is dangerous, how to build their nests, etc. Things that their mother normally would have taught them.
The aim of the organization is to teach them everything they need to survive on their own in the jungle and drop them back into the wild. Many orphans have undergone the process of rehabilitation and have been released into the 4.292 hectare Kabili-Sepilok Forest, a virgin jungle reserve rich in tropical rainforest and mangrove swamps.
The tourists get the opportunity to have an educational visit here and take part of how the orangutans live. A short information video is shown before entering the area and provides you with a general background information about the centre and the history of the orangutans. You can witness the feeding twice every day, either 10 am or 3 pm.
The tourists begin to wander in to the platform and are encouraged along the way to not feed or touch the orangutans if the opportunity would be provided. The signs on the short walk in to the platform inform us to observe in silence. So there are many quiet, excited tourists standing and looking out over the treetops minutes before the feeding begin.
Bananas, sugar canes and other fruits attract the orangutans. They come swinging from all corners of the jungle to the plateau where the animal keeper is standing. You can see orangutans all sizes – from babies clinging to the mother’s belly to the big males. They do not devote much attention to the audience. They rather sit and enjoy their food. The macaques that comes to the platform and with some sneakiness and creativity succeeds to steal some fruit does not seem to disturb the orangutans either.
Orangutans are very inspiring to look at – they are incredibly similar to the humans. Their body language is almost identical except for its limberness when they swing freely from tree to tree. The orangutans have also learned to communicate with their keeper and I cannot help being totally fascinated by these animals.
Want to pay the orangutans a visit? Contact us and we will make your wish come true!
Are you still wondering where to spend your Christmas holiday? We have some of the best options for you – the islands of Borneo. Forget about the snow and the cold winter in Europe – these tropical islands will provide you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. In Borneo the Christians celebrate the birth […]
Are you still wondering where to spend your Christmas holiday? We have some of the best options for you – the islands of Borneo. Forget about the snow and the cold winter in Europe – these tropical islands will provide you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
In Borneo the Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, the 25th of December. In Sabah, which is known for its multiethnic community, many people celebrate Christmas even if they are not Christians. They give each other gifts, prepare nice, traditional meals and decorate their homes.
This is however not to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is because Christmas occurs at the same time as the school holidays. Exchanging of gifts, making wooden fires and even decorating the Christmas tree is all enjoyed by the children. Borneo has a lot of amazing tropical islands. The TAR islands, (Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park), are located only 15-20 minutes outside of the coast of Kota Kinabalu.
It is up to you to decide whether you would like to stay one day, visit one or more islands in a day or maybe even spend a night on of the islands to enjoy the tropical moonlight.
Pulau Gaya is one of the largest islands at the park – with astonishing 25km of shoreline. The coral reefs along the island offers excellent diving as well as snorkeling, the untouched forest offers a great environment for trekking or studying the flora and fauna.
Pulau Manukan has the shape of a boomerang and is the second largest island in the TAR Marine Park. Manukans southern coast has beautiful beaches that is ideal for diving, snorkeling and of course – relaxing.
Pulau Mamutik is the baby amongst the islands, the smallest of the five. However it has a rich coral life that surround the entire island. During daytime you can enjoy various sea sports – such as banana boat, canoeing and water skiing. If you are interested in taking a diving course, this is the place for your PADI scuba lessons.
Pulau Sapi has one of the nicest beaches in the park – clean white sand, crystal clear water and coral reefs following the shoreline. A perfect place to be for snorkeling, diving, swimming and just relaxing.
Pulau Sulug is located farthest away from the city and is also the least developed. The shoreline is rocky and has some coral reefs in the southern end. However – this is a very popular destination for those who are looking for a tranquil and untouched, genuine, tropical beach.
All of these islands are very easy to access, perfect for divers as well as for non-divers. Depending on how you want to spend your Christmas you can design your own island package. Romantic, quiet, adventurous or thrilling – it is all up to you. Make your way to Jesselton Point in Kota Kinabalu and your Christmas holiday is just a boat ride away!
Merry Christmas from Rustic Borneo!
Gomantong is located on the east coast of Sabah and we got here by car, driving through these bumpy, bumpy roads. We passed the palm groves, mountains, small rustic villages and lots of other things that made the journey more fun than boring. After the hours spent in the car we finally came up to Gomantong […]
Gomantong is located on the east coast of Sabah and we got here by car, driving through these bumpy, bumpy roads. We passed the palm groves, mountains, small rustic villages and lots of other things that made the journey more fun than boring. After the hours spent in the car we finally came up to Gomantong Caves, after not having taken a wrong turn once (we were quite impressed with ourselves)!
After a brisk hike through the jungle, we came to the first cave, a giant one. As we approached an obnoxious odour spread. We both believed that it was something that came from the swamp next to the cave but it would soon turn out that we were wrong…
We stepped into the cave and quickly noticed the thousands of bats that housed the cave and the loud noise they made. It was all black and dark, it was also only on selected areas where the hole in the roof let in sunlight from above that lit up the area. When we started walking on the wooden deck inside the cave I quickly noticed that the path changed, it became soft and pretty slippery. That´s where the stench came from! A thick layer of bat poop! I can also add that this adventure was made in flip-flops, which is not recommended.
A bit into the cave I decided to take a picture of my flip-flops in the poop – Big mistake. The gaps between the floorboards lit up from my flash and showed me lots, and lots of cockroaches. With this in mind I got more and more careful on where I put down my feet. Again, flip-flops were a poor choice of footwear.
You cannot go too fast without slipping and fall off into the poop and you cannot have one foot on the ground for too long because then the cockroaches climb up on you.
Apart from this, the cave was incredibly cool. The environment is like taken from a horror movie set in the jungle. We were also pooped on during our time in the cave, not fresh, but it just dripped down from the ceiling of the cave. Pleased and a little scared and disgusted with the cockroaches made us leave the cave. Despite the scary scenery it was an incredible experience.
Flipflops was the wrong choice of shoes to wear – the pathway is covered by batshit.
We woke up early at Sabah Tea Garden and were welcomed by blue skies and sunshine. We had spent the night in one of Sabah Tea Gardens beautiful and modern cottages. Fresh, newly renovated bathrooms and a small living area with a sofa and TV for those who want to relax a little in front of […]
We woke up early at Sabah Tea Garden and were welcomed by blue skies and sunshine. We had spent the night in one of Sabah Tea Gardens beautiful and modern cottages. Fresh, newly renovated bathrooms and a small living area with a sofa and TV for those who want to relax a little in front of the TV in the evenings.
The views you encounter when you step out of the door is fantastic – large, open fields of lush green tea plantations. Mount Kinabalu boasting away in the horizon and the small villages in the surrounding valleys. Beautiful is an understatement!
After breakfast we met Hamid, our guide who showed us around the area and gave us a guided tour through the factory. We got to see how all the different elements of how the production works and acquired a lot of new knowledge about the tea. It’s a huge process, with percentages here and there, humidity, drying, harvest at the right time and so on. Here at Sabah Tea Garden they harvest 2000 kg leaf daily that goes into production and two days later results in the finished end product – 400 kg tea. A very fun, interesting and educational visit.
Please contact us if you would like a stay Sabah Tea Garden. It is not far from Kinabalu Park and a night at the tea plantation can easily be combined with a visit to the park. You can also use our Holiday Creator. Just mention it in the text area and we will include it in your tour itinerary.