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“An experience you won't regret if you love nature/jungle/animals”

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Tabin Wildlife Resort
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“An experience you won't regret if you love nature/jungle/animals”
Reviewed August 20, 2012

Accommodation is not luxurious, but amazing considering this is 18km or so into the jungle. wireless Internet connection is extremely poor (use it to send/receive emails without pictures only), but you won't need it. Nature experience here is top-notch. Mostly secondary forest (stopped lodging in the 80s, so forest quite thick). Rooms are clean, beds big and comfortable and all have aircondition. Bathrooms are so-so but clean. Food is basic, western style with a hint of Malay - it won't earn any Michelin stars, but you won't go to bed hungry.

We stayed 3 nights at the resort and experienced at plethora of things. From watching a pack of elephants graze for a hour just before nightfall, to close to a hundred long-tail and pig-tailed maccaques cross a dirt road. Gibbons, snakes, monitor lizards, leopard cats, flying squirrels and a flying mouse, mouse deers and many other animals we spotted. It was truly amazing to see animals in their natural habitat in the middle of the jungle.

The most amazing non-animal thing we did was go to a waterfall in the middle of the jungle which was W-O-W!! Like the blue lagoon (only the water wasn't blue - but still clean and lovely), where we swam for an hour - we had it all to ourselves.

This is a hidden gem of Borneo!

Room Tip: If you have good legs, choose a hilltop lodge - at the top if you are honeymooning - it's quiet...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank barelyadraft
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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142 reviews from our community

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English first
Perth, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
24 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed August 12, 2012 via mobile

Tabin resort is in a spectacular setting.  The rooms are lovely, ours was overlooking the river.  The bathrooms are a only ok and not in line with the upmarket feel of the accommodation.  The common area is also lovely.  
However, we were disappointed with our jungle experience.  Many of the guided tours are on roads which follow the edge of the jungle and the plantations so you never really get the jungle feel of the area.  We were taken into the primary jungle once and that was wonderful, the trees are huge and the diversity of plant life is amazing.  We were also taken on walking tours, the majority of these were around the resort with us often looking for wildlife in and around the staff quarters which I found totally unacceptable.  I did not understand why we were not utilizing the forest for our walks.  We did request that we went into the jungle and were told that wasn't part of our itinerary and that there were elephants in the region so we couldn't walk in the area.  I understand their reluctance to take us in the jungle if elephants are around as someone was killed last year at the resort because of an elephant, but the reason we were there was to see elephants and the jungle.  When we booked the trip to tabin the literature also gave the impression that guests were able to do independent walks at their own leisure, and the information around the resort showed that there were other short trails near by, we asked if we could do these and were told that we were not allowed to go on any of the trails without a guide.  Eventually we got very annoyed with the locations we were being taken (2 trips in and around the staff quarters and walking down a heavily used road in the plantation) That  we requested an extra trip outside of our "schedule" into the primary forest.  The guide did accommodate us and we thourally enjoyed that.  
We got the sense that tours are very set, on the first day you go to x and do y, regardless of sightings in other areas or interests.  
Whilst the guides are as helpful as they can be and try very hard we found that the knowledge of our guide was very limited, my traveling parter and I both have environmental back grounds and we found that the information given by the guide was basic.  Later we discovered that our guide had only been a year in the job with no previous guiding or nature experience.  This guide should have been a trainee guide and not assigned solely to guests for their entire stay especially when we were paying a premium to access the forest and the information on the region.
All in all we were very disappointed with tabin, if you want to go to a nice location and stay somewhere nice and eat lots of food then go, but we found that if you are really into your environment and want to see and do things and be informed this is not the best place for it.

Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank Soihok
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sheffield
Level 5 Contributor
92 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
Reviewed July 31, 2012

I stayed for the 2 night, 3 day package in July 2012, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Everything was professionally managed and executed, and some of the comments in other reviews leave me wondering whether people actually stayed in the same place...

I was met at Lahad Datu airport and driven by Henry in a very comfortable vehicle along the main road then bumpy tracks to Tabin, stopping along the way when Henry spotted a long-tailed macaque by the track with her infant clinging on as she walked along. The macaques are common, but for a driver to recognise that, for me, seeing one at such a close quarters would be fascinating shows the quality of the staff and their pride in working at Tabin. Once at the centre I was given a welcome drink and a briefing by one of the guides, then shown my room. I had one of the River Lodges, which was wonderful and which had a private balcony overlooking the river.

The central hub of Tabin is the open-sided dining area /seating area. This is well done, with comfortable sofas in the lounge area plus swinging seats from which you can watch any wildlife that might come down to the river below (a gibbon obliged when I was there). A small shop sells souvenir T shirts and leech socks, which were highly recommended. Racks of wellies were available to be borrowed, though the smaller sizes were in short supply (no pun intended!).

There isn't much time for relaxing on the 2D3N package, and early starts are the norm. A mixture of activities, including morning and night walks, afternoon and dusk drives, all led by guides who have an amazing ability to spot wildlife and to pass on information, gave me the chance to see a wide range of amazing creatures. This is not some controlled zoo so there is no guarantee that you will see even what your fellow-travellers see (such as me not being in the right place to see the elephant that others saw) but I saw long tailed and pig-tailed macaques, gibbon, orangutan, snakes, spiders, geckos, owls, hornbills (galore!), huge moths, flying squirrels, black squirrels, mouse deer, eagles, monitor lizards, leopard cats, plus many footprints of wild boar and elephants that showed how close by they were.

All of the staff at Tabin were friendly and efficient, and worked hard to make our stay pleasant. The guides are good at remembering names, and chat sociably. The food was plentiful, with sufficient variety, and tea and coffee plus water were available all the time. The prices for other drinks were reasonable and matched all other hotels I stayed in - 3MYR for iced tea, 9.5MYR for Tiger beer, and 70MYR for a bottle of wine. Small water bottles were left daily in the bedroom, and ecologically friendly shower/body gel was provided in the bathrooms.

The noise of the jungle is incredible, and it reaches a crescendo at night time. It seemed a shame to block it out, but in order for you to be able to sleep enough to enjoy the following day, earplugs are a must!

Room Tip: The River Lodges seem best. There are ten, with the lowest numbers closest to the communal areas. I...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Ttravellingfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm, Sweden
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed July 1, 2012

We spent two nights at the Tabin Wildlife Resort and we loved every minute of it. After a bumpy 1,5 hour drive through the palm plantations we got to the resort. What we didn't know was that we would have our own personal guide throughout the whole stay. Asnah, our guide, deserves a lot of credit for us having such a wonderful stay.

The standard is fairly basic, but the setting is nothing short of wonderful. Make sure to check what to bring in terms of clothing on their webpage. Don't expect to much of the food served during lunch and dinner. It was just ok, but then again you don't come here for the fine dining.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank JakobHagman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hannover, Germany
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed March 11, 2012

We have stayed at a number of "jungle lodges" in different countries, most of them equally or even more expensive than Tabin,  so we know what to expect and we can tell a good guide from a bad one.
For Tabin, my expectations were more than fulfilled, the wildlife we saw was superb and Ricky, our guide,was very dedicated and knowledgable. 
I think it is important to read the itinerary carefully to know what to expect and what not. We had an italian couple with us who clearly hadn't done that and was complaining all the time that there was no trekking (but also found 2km too long) and telling us to go to the zoo if we wanted to take pictures. Very unpleasant but that had nothing to do with the lodge.
We talked to our guide and apparently it is possible to change the itinerary (for more trekking or special interests) but of course you have to discuss this with the managment beforehand. Maybe also important is that, although this is the only lodge within the wildlife reserve, you are still very close to the depressing palm oil plantantions, actually all the drives are on the road between the plantations and the reserve. This does, however, not affect the wildlife, which is still plentiful.

We had very heavy rain during both days, still we managed to do all the activities. As for wildlife, a lot can be seen right FROM the lodge like gibbons, eagles, long tail macaques as well as many birds and butterflies. We had one night drive and one dusk drive where we could see civets, monkeys, frogs, three different species of owls and a leopard cat as the definite highlight. It is right that there is very little walking, one short stroll after arrival, and a walk to the mud volcano, which is nice but neither challenging (only not to get stuck in the mud, maybe) nor particularly rewarding for wildlife. We could not go to the waterfall because the water was too high but it didn't seem too interesting

The lodge itself is beautiful, very well maintained, and the little huts you're staying in come with aircon and warm showers and are very luxurious and cosy concerning the location. 
The food was superb, lots of veggie options, free water, tea and coffee at all times. They even have a first breakfast at 5:30 before the bird watching with cornflakes, cookies and pancakes, and a bigger one with eggs, toast, noodles etc. when you come back. Beer was around 9 Rm I think. The restaurant area is equally beautiful and when you're lucky you can spot the gibbons and hornbills from the open cafe with a cup of coffee in your hand!

All together it was an amazing experience, we can clearly recommend this lodge, it is really worth the money.

Room Tip: they have river huts and hill huts, all have balconies but at the river huts its completly private...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank I J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 24, 2012

I went with a group and while the place was OK it was expensive especially since the only wildlife we saw were birds. I am not a twitcher and while the birds were great, a small dot in a tree doesn't do it for me. Why no salt licks, fruit trees or anything to attract the wildlife to an area where they can be seen.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank luc R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed December 30, 2011

The rainforest was fantastic, the guides excellent and we understand that animals can be unpredictable. However, the amount of wildlife we saw was depressing. After the first few, elephant footprints are not exciting. How hard would it be to plant some native fruit trees close to the resort so that at least the monkeys and wild boar come close to the resort. The management needs to visit Bako in Kuching to see how to get close to wild animals. The other recent review by alexandrasboyfriend sums it up, - paradise mis managed.

No photos because we didn't see anything that wasn't a vague shape in the distance.

Beware of the bone shattering road to the resort.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank aphanius
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tabin Wildlife Resort

Property: Tabin Wildlife Resort
Address: Jalan Tunku, Lahad Datu 91125, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Lahad Datu
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 7 Specialty Lodging in Lahad Datu
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Tabin Wildlife Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tabin Was declared a wildlife reserve because of the large numbers of animal species inhabiting its forest, including several which are highly endangered. With a protected forest area of 120,500 hectares, Tabin plays an important role as a dedicated ground for the breeding of endangered wildlife and protected mammals in Sabah. Tabin Wildlife Resort offers visitor facilities and accommodation within the wildlife reserve to provide a comfortable stay whilst experiencing the spectacular Borneo flora and fauna. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tabin Wildlife Hotel Lahad Datu

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