There is a long list of reasons why Malaysia Borneo is such a brilliant destination for a honeymoon. Not only does it have fantastic weather during our summer months, when the rest of the southern hemisphere is enduring wet or colder weather, but you can mix relaxation with activity very easily. There is an abundance of wildlife including elephants and cats so you can get the safari vibe without having to pay the higher prices of an African lodge and if you really want to put your new husband or wife to the test then the Mount Kinabalu climb is quite a challenge!
It's an easy flight to Kuala Lumpur (and yes, BA starts flying there as of 27th May so Avios points can now be utilised) and then a short hop on to Kota Kinabalu. Borneo and Malaya (as it was called) was a British colony from 1846-1963 so pretty much everyone speaks English, meaning you can converse with the locals and fully understand the guides; you will learn a whole lot more about the culture and local people as a result.
If you have 2 weeks and want to go somewhere a bit more exotic than the closer shores of Europe then Malaysia and Borneo Malaysia are the answer. Once in Kota Kinabalu, there are a number of hotels that we use on the beach, a mere 30 minutes by boat and car from the airport over on Gaya Island. I always recommend for honeymooners to spend the first few days relaxing, getting over the jet lag and the wedding festivities. You are far more exhausted than you ever think you will be.
Fancy a Challenge?
After your body clocks have fully adjusted and you have regained strength, there is the option of taking on Mount Kinabalu. It's not a walk in the park by any means but for keen hikers, it's a rewarding challenge. On my recent trip, my sister and I took on this adventure. With our rucksacks packed, walking sticks at the ready, essential head torches in place and energy bars stuffed in pockets, we commenced the climb to the Laban Rata guesthouse, 2000m up from where the car dropped us and 3000m above sea level. On arrival at the guesthouse, dinner was served at 4.30pm and we were in bed by 5.30pm, ready to wake and reach the summit by sunrise, which we did for 5.30am. I had not taken on board (or more importantly conveyed to my sister) just how high up we would be and that it is much harder to take in the little oxygen there is at 4095m (only 800m short of Mont Blanc!). It was well worth every step.
From Kota Kinabalu it is a short and easy flight to Sandakan, which is where the real wildlife activity kicks in. I recommend a visit to the Orang-Utan sanctuary to see the rescued and orphaned Orang-utans and then a quick stop by the newly opened bear sanctuary too. It's all in one place and a great stop off before heading to the Kinabatangan River. All of the lodges that line the river follow a similar schedule with early morning and afternoon boat safaris. At the Myne River Resort, they have the added bonus of having quite a bit of land along the river so night drives are also included on the schedule - this and a great view point on the bend of the river so you can look down both sides from the restaurant. The list of animals you will see is endless; monkeys, cats, elephants, wonderful birds, crocodiles, snakes...
And if you haven't had your fill there, you can head over to Lahad Datu and into the Borneo Rainforest. The Borneo Rainforest Lodge is spectacular with its canopy walk ways and river that runs in front of the hotel. Here you are able to get your walking boots back on and go in search of the wild Orang-utans (avoiding the leeches!). Activities include a romantic swim under the waterfall, tubing down the river (at the right time of year), walks through the canopy and night drives. The sense that you are completely isolated, right in the heart of the rainforest without any other people in sight, is hard to beat.
A good tip for potential honeymooners is to end with some time on the beach relaxing before returning home to take on married life feeling fully rejuvenated. Cue Peninsula Malaysia. End your honeymoon being spoiled and pampered - there are a number of fabulous beach hotels to choose from. My favourites are the Datai and the Four Seasons in Langkawi (which would be a flight from KL), or Pangkor Laut which is a 3 hour drive and 15 minute boat ride to your own island paradise.
To summarise, Malaysia has all that you need for a honeymoon and a perfect way to relax after the festivities and spend some well earned time together before taking on newly wedded life.