Best places to see orangutans in Sabah on Borneo Island, Malaysia

Best places to see orangutans in Sabah on Borneo Island, Malaysia

Planet of the Apes made orangutans famous.

Heading to Malaysian Sabah and not sure where to see them? That depends on what you want!

Rasa Ria’s Nature Reserve, in Maylasia’s Kota Kinabalu, boasts the closest look: its simple but fun wildlife show allows visitors to get up close and personal with the cuddly-looking creatures. Their habitat is also mesmerizing – watching the flexible orangutans swing through the trees can easily take up a good chunk of an hour.

On the other side of the island, still in the tip of Borneo’s Sabah state, check out the famous Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. (Fly into Sandakan, or road trip from Kota Kinabalu.) The world-famous conservation effort offers one of the best ways to see orangutans in the wild. (There are two other conservations efforts in Malaysia, both in the neighboring state of Sarawak.) The only downside? The great apes don’t ever come that close, and standing in the heat for an hour can zap the energy of even the most enthusiastic tourist.

Also on the huge island: the strange-looking proboscis monkeys (the ones with the enormous noses), which are unique to Borneo. Activities on the Kinabatangan River offer glimpses of the endangered beasts in the wild, or head back to the Rasa Ria.