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Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary | 3 Day | Sabah, Borneo

(8 customer reviews)

From: $288

Join a wildlife adventure in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary as you spend two nights at a Lodge located along the Kinabatangan River. Join wildlife encounter activities, including four river cruises along the Kinabatangan River, during which you’ll have the chance to see elephants (if they are in the area), orangutans, proboscis monkeys, macaques, gibbons and lots more. This trip also includes three treks in the rainforest located in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and a visit to the Rainforest Discovery Centre.

Note – The above price is for one person based upon two people staying in the same chalet. There is also a Peak Season charge calculated for any stay between 1st July to 30th September. This booking is for 1 chalet. If you require more, then simply add the product to your cart again.

Prices are valid until 31st March 2025 (NLK02).

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1/2 Day Sandakan City Tour

Visit some of the famous sites in Sandakan including the water village, St. Michael's church, World War 2 Memorial and Puh Jih Tshih temple. This add on activity happens during the afternoon of the last day of the trip.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Visit a feeding session at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary for the chance to watch these very special monkey's close up. The visit to the Sanctuary happens during the afternoon on the last day of the trip.

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary – Join a Wildlife Adventure (Kinabatangan Nature Lodge), Sabah, Borneo

The Kinabatangan River is the longest river in Sabah, flowing 560km to the Sulu Sea on the east coast. The lower 70 – 100km of the river form the Kinabatangan Floodplain. In 2005, 26,000 hectares of the Lower Kinabatangan were designated as a Wildlife Sanctuary – known today as the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary protects the area immediately alongside the river – a ‘protected corridor’. This makes it highly likely during river cruises and short treks in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, you will see a wide range of wildlife, including elephants (if they are in the area), orangutans, proboscis monkeys, macaques, gibbons and lots more. The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to 200 species of birds, including hornbills, kites, crested serpent eagles, egrets, blue-banded and stork-billed kingfishers and oriental darters. The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is one of only two areas in the world inhabited by ten species of primate, four of which are endemic to Borneo. The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is also one of two places in the world where four medium-sized colonies inhabit the same place: namely, proboscis monkey, silvered langur, maroon langur, and Hose’s or grey langur. The Sanctuary truly is a special place for a wildlife adventure in Sabah.

Join a Range of Wildlife Encounter Activities during the 3D2N Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary Trip

During your 3D2N Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary Trip, you will join a range of wildlife viewing activities. The first stop on day one will be a visit to the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to watch the morning feeding session. “Natives” to Malaysia and Indonesia, Orangutans are only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. After lunch, on day 1, you will then be transferred to your Lodge located in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, where you will join four river cruises, two guided night walks and a guided walk to the Bilit Ox-Bow Lake.

During this 3D2N Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary Trip, you spend two nights at a Lodge along the banks of the Kinabatangan River located in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (Kinabatangan Nature Lodge located near Kampung Bilit). The Lodge offers comfortable, clean accommodation in private chalets. You will stay in an Agamid Chalet (twin or double bed, aircon and ensuite shower room). If you’re looking for high-quality accommodation for your visit to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, check out our 3D2N package at the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort.

On the last day of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary trip, you will visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre – a must-have location for nature lovers. The Rainforest Discovery Centre is an educational and conservation facility located in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. The centre offers visitors an opportunity to explore Sabah’s diverse flora and fauna and is home to the longest canopy walk in Sabah. Often, Orangutans from Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre can be seen in the rainforest canopy here – cool! You will then be transferred to your drop-off location in the Sandakan or Sepilok area.

If you want even more from your Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary trip, then why not add on an overnight stay at Turtle Island to have the chance to watch a Turtle nesting and turn this trip into a 4D3N Turtle Island & Kinabatangan River Cruise Trip – a great combination for seeing Turtles and wildlife in Sabah, Borneo.

Trip Itinerary – 3D2N Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary Trip (Kinabatangan Nature Lodge), Sabah, Malaysia

Day 1 (Meals: L & D)

Today follows the same outline itinerary as Day 1 of the 2D1N Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge Trip – find a more detailed daily itinerary on the 2D1N Trip page.

If you are flying into Sandakan Airport this morning to join the 3D2N Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary trip, you must book a flight arriving at Sandakan Airport before 8:00hrs.

This morning, you will visit Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and watch the morning feeding session, followed by a visit to the Sun Bear Conservation Centre. At Sepilok, you will come up close and personal with human’s closest relatives, the Orangutans. For most visitors to Sabah, seeing Orangutans is at the top of their list. You get to tick this off before lunchtime on day 1 – cool! It’s then time for lunch at a Lodge near Sepilok.

Early afternoon, you will be transferred to the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge located in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a ~ 2-hour transfer by minibus. You will then start your river cruise adventures with a late afternoon river cruise to search for wildlife and birdlife along the Kinabatangan River banks. Later, after dinner, you will join a guided night trek into the secondary rainforest behind the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge in search of nocturnal birds, insects and wildlife found in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Overnight at the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge in an Agamid Chalet (with twin/triple/double bed, aircon and ensuite Shower Room). Click here to see photos of the accommodation at the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge.

Day 2 (Meals: B, L & D)

06:00hrs: Join an early morning river cruise and see the wildlife as they awake from a night’s sleep. Various species of wildlife may be seen during your river cruise in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, such as Proboscis Monkeys, Leaf Monkeys, Macaques, Gibbons and even orangutans.

07:45 hrs: Return to the Lodge for breakfast at 0800 hrs.

09:00hrs: After breakfast, you will start your trek through the nearby secondary lowland rainforest to the nearby Bilit Ox-Bow Lake. You will be led on the trek by your Nature Guide, who will explain more about the plant life and insect life found in the rainforest in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

11:30hrs: Return to the Lodge for lunch at 1200 hrs.

13:00hrs: You can rest and chill out at the Lodge before your late afternoon river cruise.

16:00hrs: Join another late afternoon river cruise along the Kinabatangan River for more wildlife sightseeing in the ‘corridor of life’ alongside the river’s banks, the protected area forming the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

18:00hrs: Return to the Lodge. Time to freshen up before dinner will be served at the Lodge.

~20:00hrs: Join a guided night trek following a different trekking route behind the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge.

Overnight at the Lodge – stay a second night in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Day 3 (Meals: B)

Today follows the same outline itinerary as Day 2 of the 2D1N Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge Trip – find a more detailed daily itinerary on the 2D1N Trip page.

It’s an early start today with the last early morning river cruise of your 3D2N Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary trip. After breakfast at the Lodge, you will be transferred to visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre before continuing your journey back to Sandakan (if you are catching a flight from Sandakan Airport at the end of the trip, it is recommended you catch flight AK6497 ETD 2.50 pm or later).

Trip Inclusions – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary Trip

  • Return road transfer from Sandakan or Sepilok area and return boat transfers to the Lodge from Kampung Bilit.
  • Meals (2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunch & 2 Dinner).
  • Visit (and entrance fees) the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Sun Bear Conservation Centre and the Rainforest Discovery Centre.
  • At the Kinabatangan River, located in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary: 4 x river cruises (2 mornings & 2 late afternoons), 1 x guided trek to an Ox-Bow lake, 2 x Guided night nature walk. The Kinabatangan River cruises included with this trip will travel as far upstream as ~7km to Pontian Point and downstream a maximum of ~ 10 km to Tenegang Besar Point.
  • Two nights accommodation in an Agamid chalet (twin/double/triple beds, ensuite shower room and toilet, aircon) within the Agamid Wing of Kinabatangan Nature Lodge.
  • Guiding throughout your trip is done by an experienced, friendly, and English-speaking licensed nature guide.
  • Access to free-flow coffee/tea and fresh water is available at the restaurant at the Kinabatangan Lodge.
  • 0% Sales and service Tax on the tour price as applicable from 6th May 2019.

Trip Exclusions

Camera/video conservation fee at Sepilok Sanctuary (RM10 per item), Sun Bear Conservation Centre (RM10 per item) and the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RM10 per item), soft drinks or alcoholic drinks, flights from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. If you book this trip on your own, there is a single supplement on top of the trip price (for single sharing a Chalet). The new Tourism Tax – The Tourism Tax is currently set at a flat rate of RM 10 per room per night and will be charged to non-Malaysian or foreign tourists from 1st September 2017.

The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary Tour price is based on joining a shared trip – surcharges are applicable if you add on a private boat for river cruises, a private Guide or private minibus transfers.

Recommended Packing List – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary Trip

To get the most from this trip, please bring with you a raincoat, cap/hat, insect repellent, sun cream, good walking shoes, a comfortable cotton T-shirt, long sleeve top, long trousers (long trousers are required for the Oxbow Lake trek), long shorts, binocular for observing wildlife, head torch for night trek, camera and personal medications (if needed). Please take your passport with you on this trip – your passports will be checked at the Kinabatangan Lodge.

Notes – 3D2N Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary Trip (Kinabatangan Nature Lodge), Sabah, Malaysia

If weather or other factors (e.g. landslide) make an activity unsafe, the Lodge will adapt the trip itinerary for safety reasons. There will be no refund if a trip itinerary needs to be adapted on the day due to safety reasons.

8 reviews for Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary | 3 Day | Sabah, Borneo

  1. English

    Brian Hall – KL, Malaysia

    We did have a great time. Perfect weather – no rain! Our guide, Ramzan, had an amazing vision for animals…and we had some luck too. We saw elephants on each boat ride (they say it’s rare to see them once) and on our final morning ride we’d not seen much (well, the elephants) and were speeding back to the lodge and suddenly he stops and points to the shore and says he’s seen a baby orangutan (mind you, we had his binoculars) and sure enough, there it was, quite hidden, and even more hidden the mama. What a great ending. He was proud and we were thrilled.

  2. English

    Pamela Fruin

    My family 15 of us, spanning three generations, aged 75 to 10 years old had the most extraordinary experience at the Nature Lodge on the Lower Kinabatangan.

    Our guides were exceptional Amirul who met us and escorted us to Sepilok and then onto the Lodge was very friendly and very informative. Visiting Sepilok to see the orangutang nursery was a delight. Much to our joy, four played on the ropes, ate fruit and coconuts and tumbled on the grass. Unfortunately the orangutans didn’t appear at the feeding platform. Sunbears could be seen in the trees, stretching on the ground and one came really close and showed us how skills of climbing a tree.

    At the Lodge we were welcomed by Beatrice and her team and ably accommodated when one of the rooms was unsatisfactory The meals prepared by Helen and her team were fabulous and the children, much to their surprise were treated to milo flakes at breakfast and fish and chips at dinner. As one said, “ I didn’t even have to ask.”

    AJ and Ramzin our wildlife guides were absolutely amazing. While Ross and I visited the Lower Kinabatangan 10 years ago, this first ‘jungle’ experience for everyone else and the thrill of just being in the jungle was fantastic. The wildlife was certainly on show, with a sighting of Pygmy elephants, a mother and her calf appearing out of the mist as we approached on our first morning cruise. What a joyful moment this was for everyone as most hadn’t seen elephants in the wild before. They cruised the river shoreline feeding and then proceeded to swim across the river, bobbing up and down filling their lungs with air and spouting water. We understood that this was a very rare sight. Ramzin said that in 12 months he’d only seen elephants on 9 occasions and AJ hadn’t seen elephants since November. This gave us all appreciation of how fortunate we were seeing elephants and this phenomenal sight. Troupes of monkeys, proboscis, long and pig tail macaques and red and black and white langurs played in the trees close to the river banks performing wonderful, aerial acrobatics showing their leaping prowess. Mothers rescued babies getting dangerously close to the end of branches and cuddled them and old alpha males watched out for a lonely monkey who unfortunately missed his branch and landed in the river. Swimming against a strong current, he made it to the other side and was waiting for an opportunity to return to the protection of its troupe. Our guides also told us how fortunate we were to see this unusual sight. Orangutangs could be seen were high in the durian trees on each river cruise and a large mother and her baby were very close to the carpark at the Gomantong Caves. Proboscis monkeys performing high wire walking crossing the river was a joyful and funny for us all to see. Watching the alpha males reaching up, pulling the highest wire down so the smaller monkeys could reach it to walk upright as an alternative to balancing on a single wire, losing balance and flopping on the wire to rest before getting up and walking again. We saw a rhinoceros horn bills and about 10 oriental pied hornbills, kingfisher, egrets and snake necked cormorants, white belied sea eagle and bulbul were the main birdlife seen. AJ and Ramzin were excellent and safe boatmen and especially when other boats were around, skilled in positioning us at the best vantage point to the observe the wildlife and take memorable photographs. The guided jungle walk at night and to the lake were unique experiences too. AJ managed to have a leech encounter which was interesting for us all to see.

    In comparison to Ross’ and my first visit, the wildlife was more prolific, closer to observe and we were delighted by the unusual sightings of elephants and monkeys swimming.

    The new bathrooms in the chalets were lovely. Hooks behind the bathroom door and hooks on the walls would be helpful to hang clothes. The size range of wellington boots was excellent.

  3. English

    Ify & Ed

    We had a great time. We loved most that we got to see orangutans and pygmy elephants in the wild. Truly special! Mohammed was a great guide, very knowledgeable and friendly.

  4. English

    Jacqueline Quero Heredia

    We absolutely loved our trip on the river. It has been the highlight of out holiday so far. We are in Bali at the moment and we are diving tomorrow.

    We enjoyed everything about it and it’s hard to say what we liked the most.
    Our guide was amazing and we saw nearly everything apart from the elephants but we didn’t really expect to see them.

    There is nothing you could change to make it better, it was truly amazing.

  5. English

    Heather Livingston

    We absolutely loved our trip. Thank you so much for the great experience: lodging, food, guide, and staff. An incredible operation.

  6. English

    johnbD8832IX London, United Kingdom (TripAdvisor)

    3D2N in Borneo jungle at Nature Lodge – Enjoyed being up close to nature on the river and in the jungle at Nature Lodge. As others have said the accommodation was basic but as expected. Staff were all very friendly and seemed to know everyone’s name very quickly. Food was acceptable, though not very varied, considering they were catering for numbers. Unfortunately, the trip was let down by the poor guide called Joe (same guide for trips along the river and into the jungle). He only provided basic information on the animals we saw. For example, when he spotted a large bird in a tree he told us it was a ‘large hornbill’, that was it. He did not know what type of hornbill (there seem to be at least 8 species in Borneo and a quick Google search later suggested it was either a wrinkled or wreathed hornbill), He did not tell us what they feed on, how common they are etc…). During the jungle trip, he told us almost nothing about the plant life (which is basically most of the jungle and seemed to spend all his time looking for mammals). On the return trip through the jungle, he let us go on alone, and we got (slightly) lost, which was very unprofessional With a better guide this would have been a great trip, though you have to appreciate that you might or might not see certain animals – there are no guarantees with wildlife. Finally, 2 days and 3 nights are probably too much, a shorter trip would probably do.

  7. English

    Tammy (Melbourne, Aust)

    Stayed as a group of 3 families consisting of 6 adults and 5 kids aged 8-12. Our stay was amazing – well above all expectations. We witnessed a huge array of animals in their natural habitat, ate delicious and plentiful food (even for fussy kids), enjoyed spacious, comfortable rooms (loved the outdoor shower), appreciated the wealth of knowledge of our guides and loved experiencing the natural beauty of the rain forest. We were even treated to an amazing thunderstorm which we woke to. The friendly service and attention to detail from staff was impeccable. It truly was a wonderful life experience for all within our group. I’d definitely recommend and would readily rate it 5 out of 5. Thank you for a magical stay!

  8. English

    Jude Dawson

    Thank you for assisting my daughter and I to book online a wonderful experience along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah. The staff at BorneoDream were always very quick to return my emails, answering all queries clearly and in detail. We booked the 3D2N tour and were more than satisfied with our adventure. We travelled between each venue in a clean and comfortable vehicle. Our tour guide/wildlife spotter James was professional and reliable. All the cruises left on time and he was amazing at locating and identifying many species of wildlife on each occasion. We always felt safe on the small boat which James manoeuvred with great skill to provide the best viewing for all passengers. Our air conditioned accommodation at the lodge was better than I’d expected for a simple cabin in the jungle! I would have no hesitation recommending this trip to friends and family in both Australia and the UK. I hope one day to revisit Borneo and do it all again.

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Kinabatangan River

  • Is Kinabatangan River safe to visit?

    As far as we know looking at local papers and government announcements There has never been any history of a security or criminal acts in the Kinabatangan area. This also includes Danum Valley, Tabin, Selingan island and Lankayan Island. However, there was a very small isolated incident on the outskirts of Sandakan.

  • How far is it from Kinabatangan River to Danum Valley Feild Centre Office in Lahad Datu?

    The route to the Danum Valley Feild Centre Office in Lahad Datu is 124 kilometres and takes approximately 1 hour 54 minutes. Here is the normal route:

    Take Jalan Sukau to AH150 for 32 min (36.8 km)

    Follow AH150 to Lorong Fajar 1 in Lahad Datu for 1 hr 19 min (87.0 km)

    Take Lorong Fajar 2 and Lorong Fajar 6 to Lorong Fajar 9 for 2 min (190 m)

  • How far is Kinabatangan River from Sandakan Airport?

    The journey from Sandakan Airport (SDK) to Kinabatangan River (Bilit) is 156 kilometres and takes 1 hour 57 minutes approximately. The route it takes is:

    Follow Jalan Airport and Jalan Lintas Labuk to Jalan Ranau – Sandakan/Jalan Sapi Nangoh/Route 22 for 8 min (5.1 km)

    Follow Jalan Ranau – Sandakan/Jalan Sapi Nangoh/Route 22 and Jln Sandakan-Lahad Datu/AH150 to Kinabatangan for 1 hr 13 min (73.9 km)

    Take Jalan Sukau to Jalan Kampung Bilit for 32 min (36.8 km)

  • Where can I see orangutans in Borneo?

    Seeing an orangutan in its natural habitat is one of the top reasons for coming to Borneo. In Borneo, there are around 11,000 orangutans in Sabah and 1,600 in Sarawak. In Sabah, the top three places to see orangutans in the wild, along with other wildlife encounters on offer, are the Kinabatangan River, Danum Valley and Tabin Wildlife Reserve. 

    Kinabatangan River, Sabah

    the Kinabatangan River is one of the best wildlife-watching destinations in Southeast Asia. If you spend a few days here joining river cruises you will have a very good chance of seeing an orangutan in the wild. Wildlife watching on the Kinabatangan is done from boats making this location suitable for a range of ages and fitness levels. The Kinabatangan River is the easiest and most ‘comfortable’ option in Borneo for seeing Orangutans in the wild.

    Danum Valley, Sabah

    Danum Valley is the best place to see wild orangutans in pristine, undisturbed forest. Sightings are not ‘guaranteed’ but there is a pretty good chance of seeing an orangutan if you spend a few days at Danum. You will join guided treks into the forest in search of wildlife (including orangutans). The trekking is relatively easy so you don’t need to be super fit. 

    Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

    Tabin Wildlife Reserve is a large protected forest area covering 122,500 hectares. At Tabin, there are reasonable chances of seeing an orangutan by joining guided treks into the forest but they are not as high as Danum or the Kinabatangan. 

    Alongside these ‘seeing orang-utans in the wild’ options, you also have the chance to see orangutans at the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. At Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre illegally captured, orphaned and injured orangutans are taught to survive in the wild again. The Centre has two feeding sessions a day which is open to the public during which you can go to a raised platform to watch the orangutans come in from the surrounding forest to be fed.

    Which one of these options is best for you for seeing orangutans in Borneo depends upon your budget, how to fit you are, how much time you have and the way you want to go in search of orangutan (by foot, boat or 4WD safari). Choose one, or more, of the above options to have the best chance of seeing an orangutan in Borneo.

  • Where can I see pygmy elephants in Borneo?

    The pygmy elephant (or Bornean pygmy elephant) are the smallest elephants in Asia and are endemic to Borneo. With only about 1,500 Bornean pygmy elephants left on Borneo, they are classified as critically endangered. For those visiting Borneo to see wildlife, the Bornean Pygmy elephant is likely to be in your top 5 of things to see. Encountering a herd of these elephants is unforgettable, and often once in a lifetime, experience. Whilst Borneo is big (it’s the third-largest island in the world) the pygmy elephant can only be found in a limited area in the forests of northeastern Borneo (with most found in Sabah, Borneo). The pygmy elephants migrate throughout the year, following a traditional corridor, and the top three places to see pygmy elephants in Sabah, Borneo are as follows:-

    Kinabatangan River

    The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is a narrow corridor of Protected lowland rainforest along the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Herds of the Bornean Pygmy elephant migrate through this sanctuary and when they are passing through they can be seen for a few days along the banks of the river as they forage for food. If you are lucky to be visiting the Kinabatangan River whilst they are in the area you will have the privilege of being able to watch the elephants during morning and afternoon river cruises. As with all wildlife encounters, sightings cannot be guaranteed but the more days you spend at a Lodge on the Kinabatangan River (and therefore more river cruises you join) the increased chance of seeing the rarer wildlife finds like the pygmy elephant. 

    Danum Valley

    Danum Valley, or Danum Valley Conservation Area, is one of the largest protected areas of primary rainforest in Sabah and offers a ‘safe-haven’ for the pygmy elephant and other wildlife found here. Elephants can often be seen along the access roads into Danum Valley, as well as roaming through the forest. There are two locations tourists can stay at in Danum Valley to see wildlife – Borneo Rainforest Lodge and Danum Valley Field Centre. At both locations, you are able to join guided treks into the forest, and guided night drives, in search of wildlife including the Bornean pygmy elephant.

    Tabin Wildlife Reserve

    Tabin Reserve is considered to be the largest wildlife reserve in Malaysia and covers an area of lowland forest of approximately 300,000 acres. It is home to the Bornean pygmy elephant as well as many other endangered wildlife species. Similar to Danum Valley, the access roads and guided treks into the forest provide the best opportunities to see pygmy elephants. There is one location tourists can stay at in Tabin Reserve – Tabin Wildlife Resort.

  • How do you get to the Kinabatangan River?

    At 560 kilometres long, the Kinabatangan River is Sabah’s longest river with the lower reaches of the River being home to a rich concentration, and diversity, of wildlife. This makes the Kinabatangan River one of the most popular places for tourists to visit during their holiday to Borneo. The simplest way to get to the Kinabatangan River is too join an organised tour. As the Kinabatangan River is located towards the east coast of Sabah the starting point for most tours to the River is from Sandakan (Sandakan Airport or from a hotel in Sandakan). 

    How do you get to Sandakan?

    Sandakan is a middle-sized city located on the east coast of Sabah and well connected to Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. The main ways to travel to Sandakan from within Sabah are by plane, by public bus or by private transport.

    By plane

    Internal flights operate daily from Kota Kinabalu (BKI) and Tawau to Sandakan Airport. Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines operate daily flights from these airports to Sandakan. You can also fly direct from Kuala Lumpur Airport (KUL) to Sandakan Airport on a daily basis. Flying to Sandakan is an easy, quick option and if flights are booked well in advance you can typically pick up low price tickets with the airlines.

    By public bus

    A slightly cheaper option than flying is to catch a public bus to Sandakan Bus Station. You can catch a public bus from bus stations in Kota Kinabalu, Semporna or Tawau to Sandakan. The most popular bus route is from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. In Kota Kinabalu, you will need to go to the northern bus terminal (located in Inanam). There are several buses here going to Sandakan on a daily basis. We’d suggest you try and catch the first buses to depart in the morning as it’s a long journey to Sandakan bus station (a ~ 6 – 7 hour journey). 

    By private transport 

    This includes hiring a car to drive to Sandakan, using a local taxi or via an organised private coach transfer. 

    How do I get to the Kinabatangan River Independently?

    For independent travellers wanting to arrange their own way to the Kinabatangan River, there aren’t any direct public transport services to the two main villages on the river which provide access to Lodges on the Kinabatangan River – Bilit & Sukau. You would need to use local bus service and ask to be dropped off at Sukau Junction, followed by catching a transfer with a local van from Sukau Junction to either Bilit or Sukau (a ~ 45km journey). For this option, you still need to have booked a stay at a Lodge near the Kinabatangan River and arranged a transfer with the Lodge from your drop off point. This option may be a cheaper alternative to an organised tour but is a lot more hard work and involves more time for the amount you may save.   

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