My aunt and I had always wanted to explore our homeland of Sarawak. For us, the best way to do this was by going on an adventure and having our loved ones join us. Coincidentally, my uncle Laurence was back in Kuching for a holiday. Like us, he had always wanted to visit Borneo Highlands. He wanted to bring his whole family along, too.
There were other family members who were also up for the trip: my mom, aunt Roseline, uncle Anthony and cousin Leo. Why not? It’s the month of Gawai after all! This, we all thought, would be a great way for our family to get together and bond.
On the day of our departure, we woke up as early as 6 am and started our journey to the beautiful jungle resort.
About Borneo Highlands
All Sarawakians know about Borneo Highlands. It’s a perfect place for travellers looking for underrated travel destinations in Malaysia that can offer them a quiet, ‘back to basics’ experience.
To get to Borneo Highlands, it is best for visitors to have their own vehicles. Optionally, trips can be arranged and organised by any local travel agents.
The Borneo Highlands Resort and the Hornbill Golf & Jungle Club are nestled within a lush rainforest. We could see trees everywhere we went. As much as we wished to spend the night at the resort, we didn’t. Maybe next time. Despite the many unimpressive online reviews regarding the resort’s quality of service, I still hope to eat and sleep there someday.
Just like my family and me, many locals go there to enjoy its picturesque scenery. Nature lovers are going to be tempted to spend the night there. It’s not everyday that one gets to wake up happily to the surreal sight of Borneo rainforest. And the resort’s 18-hole golf course is truly every golfer’s paradise.
Apart from fun outdoor activities, Borneo Highlands also offers traditional jungle Bidayuh spa services that involve herbal treatments and calming massages.
What’s interesting about this local attraction is that it’s located at the Sarawak-Kalimantan border. So if you ever dream of stepping into another country without a passport, this is the place to do it!
Hey, Indonesia is just across the border!
- Did you know that you can rent the entire golf course for RM25,000 per day? Erm, I’ll have to give it a pass.
- Every year, the Sarawak bird race and bird watching event is held at Borneo Highlands.
Cool. I have an Australian friend who really loves birds. She’s going to love this place. To find out more about the event, visit the Sarawak tourism website.
If the weather in Kuching ever gets too hot (yeah, sometimes the temperature goes higher than 35 degrees Celsius), escape the heat and go to Borneo Highlands. Expect temperatures between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius there. Oh wow, I think that’s just perfect.
Borneo Highlands is about an hour drive from Kuching, depending on traffic conditions. Most locals travel by their own vehicles.
The trip to Borneo Highlands can be challenging for those driving their own cars. That’s because the whole place is very hilly. The resort is snuggled within beautiful hills of 1,000 metres above sea level.
But there’s no need to worry as cars are allowed to park at the car park located on the foot of the resort not far from the registration counter.
First entrance (foot of the resort):
From there, visitors can choose to park their cars and walk along the resort’s hilly and winding roads for the next 4 km or drive until the next car park before exploring the whole retreat haven.
For those who choose the first option, they can be rest assured that they won’t have problems burning their brake pads or blowing up their car tires. Many people have experienced these problems before, hence the importance of always keeping this in mind prior to driving all the way up from the foot of the resort to the main entrance.
There’s no need to walk all the way up to the main entrance if you don’t feel like it. Trust me, it’s tough! Visitors can take a ride on the resort’s 4WD van. It’s not free, though. As for those who like challenges, go ahead and take the long walk up and down the road. It’s good exercise!
Second entrance (main entrance):
From the main entrance, visitors can have their vehicles parked at the parking space available not far from the guard house. Going down is very challenging as the one-way road is very steep and narrow. So be extra careful when driving down the hilly road. Fatal accidents have happened there before.
Fun stroll around the rainforest haven
Borneo Highlands is nestled within untouched natural beauty and lush tropical rainforest. One can experience tranquility and peace there, far away from hectic city life.
Prior to reaching to the resort’s main entrance, we stopped by Simangas waterfall where the water is cool, clear and clean. We walked around and took pictures together under the morning sun. Since the weather can be quite unpredictable, we took as many group photos as possible together. It could rain anytime!
After spending 30 minutes at the waterfall, we drove to the resort’s main entrance and parked our cars. We took everything we needed such as water, snacks and so on.
While everyone in the group was walking towards the Borneo Highlands welcome sign, I kept myself busy exploring a small wooden house not far from the car park. I have no idea what it’s for, but it does look like a place for people to get together and relax.
There I found a traditional wooden staircase that leads to the upper floor of the building. Although I was curious to climb up the stairs, I chose to walk away and join back the group. I never knew what was on the upper floor, but I was pretty sure there was nothing there to see. The building looks run-down, as does the toilet not far away from it.
There weren’t many tourists around. Many of them took the resort’s van to get around. We didn’t want to do that just yet as everyone in the group came with an intention to walk around and burn some calories. After the Gawai celebration, exercise is very much needed to help us get back in shape.
As we were walking, we came across a beautiful garden where the flowers bloom beautifully. I photographed some photos of flowers for remembrance. I didn’t pluck any of them.
It was sunny that day, and although it’s true that morning sun is good for us, it can be bad especially when it’s close to noon time. I put on my sunglasses and even wrapped a scarf around my head. Apart from protecting me from the sun, I think it’s a nice style.
We sweated a lot and stopped by different rest stops from time to time. Along the way, we came across a small bridge and several beautiful country houses.
The Kalimantan viewpoint is one of the resort’s special highlights. Due to my aunt’s health (she just had a surgery), we decided to take a ride with the resort’s 4WD van service instead of walking all the way up to the Kalimantan viewpoint. The van is big enough to accommodate 10 people.
We were blown away by the view we got to enjoy. It was beautiful! Just be careful when taking photos near the sign post. It’d be horrible to fall 600 metres down! Parents with kids must always have their little ones supervised.
After our visit to the Kalimantan viewpoint, we went to Swan Lake. There we saw water lilies floating gracefully on the lake. I didn’t see any swans, though. The atmosphere at the lake was good – very quiet and relaxing.
There were mosquitoes around the area. So be sure to carry your own insect repellent body spray if you don’t want to get bitten.
There are small huts around the lake for people to relax or have a picnic. We munched on light snacks there while enjoying the view. The golf course next to the lake seemed to be empty. In fact, we didn’t see anybody golf that day.
Chilling at the waterfall
Before heading back home, we stopped by the waterfall again. It was a good excuse to stop as my aunt’s car was smoking. Her brake pads were totally screwed. That’s dangerous!
While waiting for her car to cool down, we took a rest at the waterfall. We sat on the beautiful rocks and watch my aunt Roseline and uncle Laurence play in the water. We didn’t stay very long as dark clouds were slowly covering the sky.
After a couple of hours spent at the highlands resort, we continued our journey back home. Thankfully, we arrived home safely.
Apart from the attractions mentioned on this article, there are also several others not to be missed such as the resort’s horticulture nursery, organic farm and Chinese tea house.
Overall, it was a good trip. My family and I really enjoyed our rainforest walk. With that in mind, we look forward to visiting Borneo Highlands again. Perhaps we’ll go cycling and jungle trekking at the highlands next time. That would be fun. As mentioned earlier, the next time I go there I would love to spend the night and wake up in the magical rainforest.
It was unfortunate that my aunt had to spend a lot fixing her car. The next time I go there I’ll definitely take the resort’s 4WD van service starting from the foot of the resort and stay over for at least a night. I’ll definitely write about it soon! Stay tuned.
An ENTP who’s always thirsty for new adventures. Apart from music and writing, I’m also passionate about travel, art and entrepreneurship.