This is a summary (with some details) of all our travel expenses for the 9 nights / 10 days we spent in Malaysian Borneo (Sabah only) during September / October 2019. We actually spent a full month in Borneo, however, 3 weeks of that time was spent volunteering at a Jungle Camp at the Northernmost Tip of Borneo, so we have excluded this time from the budget report and are only reporting on the 9 nights / 10 days that we spent exploring Borneo. You should keep in mind that if one travels at a slower pace it's easier to make savings as especially transportation can eat into your budget quickly. In this case, we moved around a lot over the 10 days which resulted in much higher transportation costs. We also found that even though we managed to contain our accommodation costs and avoid specialised or fine-dine restaurants, “sightseeing” activities in Borneo are relatively expensive. There were many other activities that we would have liked to do, but we also wanted to limit overall spending.
Travelling full-time changes the way one travels and it becomes less of a quest to tick off the 'popular' sights than it becomes a way of experiencing your surrounds in a slower, relaxed fashion. Many further cost savings are indeed possible, but one should also not completely deprive oneself of uniquely local experiences that ultimately add value to your visit to a foreign country. However, more often than not, the events, encounters and connections with people that stand out, are those that you do not foresee or could even have planned for. Like most things in life, a balance between being frugal and making use of opportunities should be sought.
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(Note that the following spending does not include flights to and from Borneo, but does include local flights within Borneo.)
Kota Kinabalu, 2 nights - Halo Hostel
(1 Bedroom en-suite including breakfast)
Very basic and small en-suite hostel room. The bathroom has a wet room style shower. Simple breakfast was included. Location was not in a great area, but was convenient for being able to walk around Kota Kinabalu and to the informal transportation hub (where we needed to catch a bus from).
Northern Tip of Borneo, 21 nights - Tampat-Do-Aman
We were in one of the 10 very basic “Longhouse” style rooms all adjacent to each other in the main Longhouse. Each room contains a bed with overhead mosquito net and a fan. The room construction is of timber and bamboo, with natural ventilation through the slatted windows (which do not close). Ablutions are in the form of outside, open-air, cold water showers and individual composting toilet cubicles located interspersed in the jungle. Especially considering the heat and humidity, this type of accommodation is no doubt more suited to a short term “jungle stay” experience than for long term stays! It's well located to explore the northern tip of Borneo.
Sepilok, 2 nights - Sepilok B&B
The en-suite room was very spacious and comfortable with a working desk space and two relaxing chairs on the balcony. The bathroom has a separate shower, basin and toilet. Breakfast was a limited buffet style, mostly Asian, but eggs could also be ordered. Location was perfectly suited to us just 500m from the entrance to the Rainforest Discover