In the old days, mention Borneo and words like “intrepid”, “dangerous” and “wild” might come up. It was definitely not a place that you would take your children to visit. Parents worry about their children a lot. They might worry that the young ones would contract a mysterious disease from the jungle. Or end up at the wrong end of the food chain of Borneo’s giant snakes and crocodiles. Or get kidnapped and adopted by an orang utan and forced to live in the jungle like Tarzan. And then there’s the worry that headhunters might take a liking to a cute foreign kid’s head.
None of those things really happened of course (not to a tourist, anyway). Borneo is as safe as Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. The only giant snakes and crocodiles that you wil see in the city are in the zoo. And headhunters only exist in museums now.
In fact, in this modern day and time, Borneo could not be safer. There are 5-star resorts with kids-friendly activities and kids room in Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Brunei and all major cities in Borneo. Children can frolic in the pool while their parents relax and leave their children in the able hands of the resorts’ trained staff. If the food here is not to their liking, there are plenty of restaurants serving Western, Japanese, Korean, and Italian food. And then there’s the always dependable McDonald’s and KFC. Air-conditioned shopping malls provide a welcome respite from the tropical weather.
While all the above-mentioned comforts puts the kids at ease, the main reason for coming to Borneo is to explore the bountiful nature that this island is blessed with, and it is these natural attractions that will leave a happy memory in your child’s head. There is one man-made theme park in Brunei, but it is the “natural” theme parks that will make the children even happier.
Children can easily spend a day just playing in the beautiful islands and beaches off the northern coast of Borneo. Sapi Island, only 15 minutes away by boat from Kota Kinabalu, has shallow waters and plenty of tropical fishes. Marine sports like parasailing and banana boat are safe for children.
Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Springs is a gentle introduction to the jungle for kids. The trails are easy to walk, and if you stick to the well-used trails, there are no leeches.The canopy walk, a suspension bridge above the forest, is as thrilling as any ride in a theme park.
No child can resist seeing the adorable orang utan and funny-looking proboscis monkey, whether they are in zoos or (even better) in their natural habitat. Shangrila Rasa Ria’s Nature Reserve in Sabah, and Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sarawak are two places where you can see the orang utan easily. A river cruise is the best way to see the proboscis monkeys and children will love the boat ride. A cruise along Garama River is often described by tourists as better than the man-made jungle cruise at Tokyo Disneyland.