You can fly in from Kuala Lumpur or Penang with Air Asia or transfer in from Brunei as other travellers we met had done. We transferred from Penang airport and it cost just under £50 pp.
Where to stay
The Shangri La Rasa Ria has an on site nature reserve and orangutan rehabilitation centre. It’s probably one of the best hotels in the world due to its super standard rooms and incredibly friendly and professional service.
What to do
This is largely resort based and Borneo itself has lots to offer but for now, see what you can do mainly at the Rasa Ria:
Play golf – the resort has an 18 hole championship golf course adjoining the hotel
See the orangutans – when we visited you were able to see the orangutans at the sanctuary attached to the hotel but they have not been there for a few years now. To see them you will need to take a very special and worthwhile trip to Sepilok.
More centrally located than the Hilton and just minutes away from the Petronas Towers and close to the monorail that runs through the city and so very easy to get around.
We love the luxurious feel to every part of this hotel (make sure you have an evening drink in the bar listening to the pianist).
What to do
Get yourself a good guide book and plan your trip well (e.g. the Petronas Towers are closed on Mondays – this is useful to know before you get there). We really like the DK guides but choose one you like and are familiar with.
You can’t go to KL without a trip to Jalan Alor. This is a bustling street with a feast of options to satisfy your stomach. Have a look at this list of foods to try and see how many you can get through!
Arriving into Bangkok and taking the first step outside the air conditioned terminal into consuming heat and humidity; this was my first taste of Asia. Bundled into taxis and staring, mesmerised, out of the window trying to keep up with what my eyes were showing me, I was excited for the adventure ahead.
Doors flung open at the bottom of the Khao San Road and bodies aching from a 24 hour journey willing themselves out, this was to be home for the next few days. A small team gathered together to seek out accommodation for our stay here; nothing had been booked and so there we were, a group of 11 people standing in the middle of the hectic Khao San Road with our rucksacks, tired eyes, feeling hot, not speaking much Thai and not having a bed for the night. How wonderful the sense of the secure unknown is.
We found a room for £2 per night and decided we’d put 3 people in each – 2 on the bed with just a sheet and the other at the foot in their sleeping bag. I hoped we wouldn’t have to get up in the night as there was no room to move, we were truly sardines. I thought I’d fall to sleep quickly having been through a tiring and emotional day but the sounds from outside kept me awake…..excitement of what was to come and my mind constantly whirring. One moment it sounded like people were taking down their stalls and packing away for the night but no sooner had this happened, they were setting back up for the day ahead. Motorbikes, shouting, singing, music……and my old tape of Gloria Estefan being played to help me get to sleep. I had a feeling that the rhythm of this trip was certainly going to get me!
That was my introduction to Bangkok and Asia 13 years ago and ever since, the travel bug has not left me. Thailand threw me into the world of exploring, discovering and experiencing cultures, new places, interesting food and people and I will always have a special place in my heart for the land of smiles. I still like to travel but my taste in accommodation has changed as I’ve become older. I still occasionally enjoy some of the branded hotels (Shangri La is my favourite) but I love the independents which are often more of secret hideaway which takes me back to my travelling days.
When to visit
Hot season – March to June (April and May are the hottest).
Wet season – June to October (although this can be earlier – May and sometimes even April). I visited in August and yes, there was rain, but it was welcome and didn’t disturb our trip.
Cool season – November to February (still warm to most although the north can be much cooler, especially in December).
Where to stay in Bangkok today
For terrific views across the city from it’s rooftop bar and restaurant – Banyan Tree
For a wonderful and budget friendly homestay – Loog Choob