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“Wouldn't recommend this place to my worst enemy.” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

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Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge
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Malaysia   |  
Hotel amenities
Manchester
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Wouldn't recommend this place to my worst enemy.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2011

We stayed here for two nights as part of Thomas Cook Tour's Venture into Borneo Holiday and after if we'd known what this place was like I'd have booked with a different company and avoided it completely.
I must first say that the wildlife viewing on the river from the lodge and the Gomantong Caves were amazing, the guide from the lodge was brilliant too. Saw many different kinds of birds and monkeys and had some amazing fun ( even during a torrential downpour in an open top boat, it is the rainforest after all ).
But the lodge itself let the entire experience down. It was grubby, dark ( not even enough light in the rooms to have a read before bedtime ) and downright just DIRTY ! There is no air-conditioning here but that can be forgiven. Having said that the ceiling fan provided no relief what-so-ever which made the heat unbearable and sleep impossible.
The bedding was filthy and torn and one of the pillows smelled so bad that I took the pillowcase of to look and found it was full of black mould ( picture attached ). If there was any way of getting to another hotel I would have left and paid whatever it cost to do so. I would have even prefered to have slept on the coach that in one of the rooms. When we asked for the bedding to be changed the attitude of the staff was dreadful and was the only time we saw any surliness at all whilst on Borneo.
The food here was appalling with very little choice and the mainstay for breakfast, lunch and dinner being chips !
It's such a pity that the whole Kinabatangan River experience was let down by this lodge.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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159 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
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English first
San Francisco, California
Top Contributor
97 reviews 97 reviews
91 hotel reviews
Reviews in 74 cities Reviews in 74 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2011

I would not stay here again - there are so many other lodges in the area that frequently we had 5 boats sitting in front of the same tree looking at the same monkey. It really didn't feel remote - more like a tourist spot on the river. If you want something a bit more remote, I would stay at Abai. Lodge was just ok - very rustic. We did not see any orangutans, mostly just monkeys. I felt we paid way too much money for the experience. Save your money and go elsewhere in Sabah.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
UK
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2011

My husband and I visited Borneo as part of our honeymoon in May 2011. Our trip on the Kinabatangen was organised by SI tours and our excellent guide was Leo. Our stay comprised of three nights at the Kinabatangen river lodge and one night at Abai. During our stay we went on many river trips and saw some amazing wildlife (Proboscis monkeys are now my favourite animals!). The guides and boatmen are unbelievable when it comes to spotting the wildlfe...even in the dark! My highlight of the trip was seeing a herd of ~15 pygmy elephants crossing the river, with just their trunks poking out the water.

The lodges themselves are very peaceful and relaxing places to be. On our arrival, our bed had been decorated with flowers (for our honeymoon) and our table for dinner was also decorated - it was a nice touch. When you are not on river trips, it is lovely to just wander about the lodge boardwalks and relax by the river. The lodge bedrooms are very basic and as other reviews have mentioned, only have a ceiling fan. However, from someone who really struggles to sleep in the heat or cold, I found it OK. The rooms are kept clean and the staff could not do more to help. We had to wear sarongs for dinner and, a although a little apprehensive at first, it really gave a good atmosphere at mealtimes. The food was good too,and there was plenty of it as it was served buffet style most nights. I am not a fan of prawns, but my husband nearly ended up looking like a freshwater prawn he had so many - and I have it on good authority that they were great!

I am really glad we chose to visit Borneo and to stay at the Kinabatangen and Abai river lodges. An amazing experience I will never forget.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Sydney
Top Contributor
77 reviews 77 reviews
58 hotel reviews
Reviews in 61 cities Reviews in 61 cities
114 helpful votes 114 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2011

Travelled with a group of about 40 from small cruise ship. Transferred by fast launch from Sandakan where ship berthed. Tour arranged by SI Tours - this company owns the lodge and another at halfway called Abai.

First, you are are going to see the wildlife, not for a lodge experience, so dont be too picky about the amenities. The rooms are adequate, clean and basic. No a/c, but I slept comfortably without. Couldn't coax any hot water from the shower, but never mind.

Food is tasty and served on buffet, so you can eat plenty. Bar is cash and a beer is about $3. Fulltime tea and coffee which wasn't bad either.

When going out in the open boat safari you MUST have: raincoat, binoculars, camera with long lens or zoom, wide sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent and preferably a dry bag. I would also suggest long sleeves for extra sun protection.

Guides are good, but can be a bit shy, so don't be afraid to ask questions and kick start the commentary. My guide was 'Junior' and he is one of the more outspoken and talkative. You won't miss him.

As for viewing, we glimpsed a couple of Orang Utan, saw plenty of proboscis and macaques, all species of hornbill and a gorgeous owl. The elephants were a no-show. If you are looking for NatGeo photo opps, you could be disappointed, so maybe check out the Sepilok sanctuary for a compromise experience

Room Tip: The block with rooms 18a/b/c is closest
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  • Stayed August 2011, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Top Contributor
312 reviews 312 reviews
109 hotel reviews
Reviews in 122 cities Reviews in 122 cities
142 helpful votes 142 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2011

The hotel was more than adequate, clean and the food was good. Nothing amazing, but good. They have you wear local clothes for dinner, which was nice-more fun than hokey.
I did not love the guides, just that they were not a good fit personality wise. But we ended up seeing pygmy elephants, loads of proboscis monkeys, and other animals. I spent one night here and one a Abai Lodge downriver, which was a good, although most of the animals are up here in Sukau it seems.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Altos, California
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2011

We travelled up the Kinabatangan River with S.I. Tours (see my review on their sister lodge, Abai Jungle) and once again were delighted with their excellent service and knowledgable guides. This time Eric led our tours and we could not have asked for anyone more experienced in both culture and nature of Sabah. If you're lucky to get Eric as your guide, be sure to ask him about his own family, his wife's family and their customs...he will be happy to share.

As we left Abai the boat ride upstream to KRL was about 1.5 hours. The entire time Eric and the boat operator had their eyes and ears out for wildlife. We spotted a lot of birds and monkeys. We even saw a crocodiles basking in the sun on the bank of the river. As we arrived to the lodge, we were greeted by the warm staff and felt welcomed right away. We were escorted to our room and told to meet up in the later afternoon for our boat ride.

We started going into Pitas lakes where we spotted Probocsis monkeys, snakes, baby crocodiles, and many other monkeys. Eric got a call and the tip came in the the pygmy elephants were nearing the riverbank upstream. He asked if we were OK cutting our trip into the Pitas lake (we would return later) to go upstream to see if we could spot elephants. Naturally we were all excited and happily agreed. It started pouring...not just raining, pouring cats and dogs and Eric asked if we all wanted to continue. We all did. About 15 minutes upriver we came across a family of pygmy elephants, 13 in all including 1 infant. We all sat there, quietly, in a thunderstorm for about 1/2 watching them in awe. It was absolutely incredible.

We came back to the lodge and were told to meet for dinner at 8:00 pm. Oh, you will find sarongs on your bed and the policy at KRL is "no sarong, no dinner". Eric showed up how to wear our sarongs, girls style and boys style. The entire lodge met for dinner in sarongs; great fun!

We met up early the next morning again for another river cruise. We once again headed up the river and saw 3 wild orangutans in addition to other wildlife. Later in the afternoon we found the family of pgymy elephants again (this time without rain) and witnessed in awe once again. We saw more crocodiles as well and a python.

KRL is not as secluded as Abai even though it is deeper into the rainforests. There is road access which will take you to Gomantong Caves (about 20 minutes away) but on the way there you will witness plantations which is completely heartbreaking. I literraly cried as we saw deforestation happening before our eyes to make way for oil palm trees.

I hope that when I return next, the rainforests and Kinabatangan river in Sabah will be as rich with wildlife as it was today, but I know that is unlikely.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Top Contributor
190 reviews 190 reviews
46 hotel reviews
Reviews in 56 cities Reviews in 56 cities
132 helpful votes 132 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2011

The jungle sounds, the hornbills viewed from our porch, and the ability to take evening and early morning river cruises made this a perfect place to be for two days. We enjoyed the very nice staff, they even moved our room for us as we didn't want twin beds. The food was very good for a buffett style meal and our guide for the river cruises was superb.

I would recommend that you try to stay at Abai river lodge as well for one night if you have time. We spent two nights at Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge and would have liked a different locale for one of those nights just to explore other parts of the river.

I would recommend staying here and using S.I. Tours to book it all. Very professional, great english, great showing us around, and very good coordination even when we changed our itinerary from their normal schedule.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

Address: Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Kinabatangan District
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Kinabatangan District
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 22
Also Known As:
Kinabatangan Riverside Hotel Sabah
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge Kinabatangan District, Sabah, Malaysia

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