Orlando’s global fame as a center for unbridled enjoyment is largely due to one name: Disney. On paper, it’s a small city in Florida with just under a quarter of a million residents, but as every child in America knows, it’s much, much more. Although the city enjoyed some minor popularity as a resort in the early 20th century, it wasn’t until the 1960s that its reputation was sealed, when Walt Disney announced plans to build his theme park there. Its inland location meant a reduced threat of hurricane damage, and in 1971, the resort and park opened to universal acclaim, ushering in an explosion in investment and population. Tourism became the overriding economic driver, resulting in today’s position as arguably the leading theme park and family attraction destination worldwide.
No vacation in Orlando is complete without a visit to a theme park—and that’s why the vast majority of the crowds orbit the big-ticket parks: Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, and LegoLand. But more determined travelers will uncover a surprisingly sophisticated, albeit lesser-known city rooted in Old Florida values if they take the time to seek it out. Walt Disney World may have put Orlando on the map, but beyond Disney World, there are world-class shops and restaurants in downtown Orlando. That’s where the business districts are, as well as a more laid-back portfolio of hotels and entertainment options, many of which don’t feature a single mouse.
What to Expect
On your maiden visit to the Big Apple, be sure to allow a minimum of three days so you can take a breath and enjoy all the city has to offer without being in transit every moment of your trip. The following will only scratch the surface of what to expect but will arm you with information to feel confident during your time in New York City.
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you have any free time beforehand, why not get out and explore this intriguing city that was born between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea.
Modern-day ‘KK’ is a vibrant modern metropolis, having recovered from World War II bombings – the Sabah State Museum is a great place to immerse yourself in its backstory.
Leaving Kota Kinabalu behind, you’ll head for the hills and travel towards the unspoiled wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Mt Kinabalu National Park (approximately 3 hours). You will stop off en route at a local home in a Dusun Village. Sample the local foods with a home cooked lunch to get some insight into what it’s like to live in a rural village.
Later you can stretch your legs and soak up the mountain scenery with a stroll through Mt Kinabalu National Park. There are many walking trails from which you can bird watch. The Mt Kinabalu Botanical Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the park has been replanted here. Spend the night in a mountain lodge close by to the park in Kundasang.
You might wake to the call of a Bornean gibbon, or perhaps a hornbill. Enjoy an early morning cruise down the river, searching for more birds and wildlife. Keep an eye out for Long Tail Macaques and Pig Tail Macaques – your expert leader can tell you the difference. Later that morning, take a walk to Bilit Village, home to the local Orang Sungei community.
The Orang Sungei, which translates to ‘River People’, are one of Sabah’s many indigenous communities and are very hospitable with a diverse cultural heritage. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon before another river cruise to see wildlife along the riverbank. This final river cruise will be your last chance to photograph or simply marvel at your surrounds. Spend one more night in your lovely accommodation right in the heart of the jungle.
Head back to Kota Kinabalu today by boat and minivan. This will take around 40 minutes. Optional activities include a visit the intriguing Mari Mari Cultural Village, nestled deep in the countryside. Here you will see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live. Or a visit to the Sabah Museum to learn about Sabah’s past or do some last-minute souvenir shopping at the Filipino market. Tonight, perhaps head out for a meal with your group to celebrate your Borneo adventure.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.