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“Best experience in Sabah!”

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Bilit Village Homestay
Ranked #2 of 22 Sandakan B&B and Inns
Reviewed 26 January 2013

My fiancé and I spent 3 days and 2 nights in Bilit. We were welcomed into a local families home and got to know them and their children between river cruises and bush walks. We spotted orangutans and proboscis monkeys in the wild as well as an array of bird life. I highly recommend the experience for any travelers who want a taste of Malay life and a chance to see amazing wild life. Also the guides are fantastic, friendly, knowledgable and entertaining.

Room Tip: After the Bilit home stay I recommend visiting the gomantong caves. The driver from the home stay ca...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Pjmarment
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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32 - 38 of 44 reviews

Reviewed 6 January 2013

Super!
The host family was great. Warm welcome. Memorable stay. Our guide was excellent, funny and left us plenty of time to observe and enjoy nature. Wonderful experience.
The room was very correct. The family bathroom was rudimentary (no hot water, no shower) but it was sufficient for 3 days. The food was simple but good.
We recommend to all those who seek authenticity, kindness and sharing with people. We had the opportunity to discuss with tourists who stayed in nearby hotels and we definitely do not regret our choice.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Marie R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 December 2012

Doing a homestay gives you the opportunity to experience the daily life of people who live on the banks of the Kinabatangan river, fishing and harvesting for a living. Their houses are built along the river, using the simplest materials: expect the floor to be shaking when anyone walks in the house, and expect to bump into a python if you wander out at night...

The homestay experience was great all in all: there are some downsides, such as lots of free time (get some books and be ready to spend a few hours in a hammock reading), not-so-great activities (the "cooking lesson" boiled down to chopping big pieces of pumpkin into smaller pieces), a sometimes varying command of English in the family, but that's what makes the experience a memorable one. If you can, I would recommend going with a friend, as it makes the whole experience better if you've got someone to share the idle times with.

As to the wildlife, the other comments are pretty clear about it: it simply is amazing. During a three-day-two-night stay, I saw pygmy elephants three times, standing as close as 10 meters to them, all sorts of hornbills, storks, kingfishers, apes (gibbons, macaques, orangutangs), snakes... if you can, ask for a night trip on the river, it really is worth it.

I was taken care of by a super-friendly guide all the time (who spoke English very well), so this was no problem at all.

Stayed: November 2012, travelled solo
1  Thank Jonathan P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2012

We spent 3D2N in Bilit Village Homestay (http://bilithomestay.wordpress.com/) towards the end of a 8-day family holiday in east Sabah.

It was an experience that both adults & children would cherish for a long time. We went there for pygmy elephants (it would be a huge disappointment to our 5-yr son without seeing them). And our first taste of it was literally after we went in to our host's house - a group of them were shouting in the forest just behind house. I had no idea how far they were but it was loud & clear. Our guide, Aloy, who later told us he used to work in some elephant conservation project many years ago, told us that because the elephants were around that area, we could not go to the oxbow lake and night walk (which was a bit disappointing to the adventurous me). We had high hopes of seeing them face to face in our first cruise that same afternoon. Unfortunately, none turned up in the river bank and in fact not for the next 2 cruises. Even though we saw other wilidlife - rhinosaurus hornbills perched on top of a tree plus other types of hornbills, proboscis monkeys. long-tail macaques, 3 species of kingfisher, eagles, a crocodile etc, we all knew what we went there for. In our 4th & last cruise (usually only 3 cruises but we had an extra 1 to compensate for the cancelled oxbow lake & night walks), we were joined by another Swiss couple. Aloy was as anxious as we were, partly because he wanted to make our stay memorable but also because he'd seen a group swim across the river (>50m wide) the day before we arrived. But none turned up at the usual places after about 1.5 hrs on the boat. So just as were looking at some macaques on one of the river, Aloy suddenly told us to be quiet. We wondered why. Then probably a minute later, we heard elephant's shouting agaoin and pointed in the direction of the shouting which is from the other side of the river. We sped off for about 300-400 metres and stopped by a mud bank with what the locals called 'elephant grass'. The shouting continued from time to time although they were still in the forest. Over the next 10 mins, 6 or 7 other cruise boats arrived as well. At the same time, Aloy & the guide of the second boat that arrived did what we never anticipated. They went into the forest to try to get the elephants out. This was a dangerous act since we are talking about wild elephants. But they were bold enough to do that because they had experience (the other guide was also with the conservation project mentioned above). Aloy even asked me to pass him my camera with which he took few pics in the next few minutes when they both disappaered into the forest. When both of them eventually came out, we started to see trees shaking. The few minutes later, we smelled elephants, then shortly after that a group made their way to the bank. Wow, that was unforgettable! We saw about 8 of them, including a young elephant staying with the mother. Eating grass yet allowing us to watch them from 5-6 metres, they seemed to be oblivious to our presence. It worked out well since we just took our time to enjoy their company.

Another big plus about this homestay is that our host have 5 children, 2 of them are staying home with mom and grandparents (the other 3 older ones staying with the father in another village downstream for school reasons). Our 4 & 5 yr children had a great time with the 2 kids, so that my wife & I could just relax knowing that they were in good company.

Overall, we highly recommend this to family who'd love to have a different holiday experience!

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled with family
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3  Thank AliceTYL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 September 2012

My wife and I stayed at the Bilit homestay for their 3 day/2 night package. We stayed with a local family who welcomed us with courtesy and friendship and we had a really good experience. Everything about it worked like clockwork, from the pick up to the drop off. We had three river cruises, a longish daytime jungle walk and a shorter night time walk, and our guide was excellent- for both the walks and one of the cruises we were the only guests, and we saw a huge range of wildlife including orang utan, proboscis monkeys, silver leaf and macacque monkeys, pygmy elephants, hornbills, leopard cat, crocodile (just)..... And a couple of impressive tiger leeches whoc wanted to get up close and personal!
The living and sleeping conditions are nothing like a lodge or a hotel- you live as guests of the local family and eat with them, but that is part of the interest and pleasure of the experience. As a previous reviewer said- if you are an adventurous traveller and can cope with a more basic lifestyle for a couple of days, this is not to be missed. And the money is going to the local community directly.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank RobPrim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 August 2012

My friend and I recently spent two nights and three days at a homestay in Bilit and would highly recommend it for the more adventurous traveller. This was one of the hi-lights of our 2 week trip in Borneo! The accommodation is basic, but authentic and you get to experience local living conditions, customs, fabulous food - and the generosity of some amazing people. We had our own guide and boat which meant that we could be more flexible with our boat trips and jungle treks. People staying in many of the lodges were 'locked in' to set routes on the river - and have up to 20 people in their boats. We saw an abundance of wildlife (especially proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and horn bills) and we were really impressed with our guide's knowledge. We really enjoy cooking - and were lucky to get to do some cooking with our homestay mum which was lots of fun. Apart from the enjoyment we can get from homestays, it is great to know that our money is also helping local families and communities. Í have stayed at homestays in other countries in Asia, but this was by far the best experience!

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with friends
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4  Thank RubyMelbourne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2012

The homestay program is a very good alternative for the many resort packages in bilit. The program is quite similar to the other packages, but the thing we really liked was the small scale of the organization. Instead of sitting in a fully loaded boat during the cruises, we were often the only two in the boat, together with our guide and the boatmen.

The guide was very good. He explained everything clearly and took a very personal approach. For all activities he came to pick us up and showed us very cool nature.

You stay at one of the families in bilit. It depends a bit on at which place you stay, but we got our own room in the house. Of course it is all very basic, but in return you really see how the people live. At the family you also eat your breakfasts, lunch and dinner. The food was really delicious!

Conclusion: very recommendable, especially since it is also quite cheap compared to the touristic lodges and in our opinion it is better organised and next to seeing loads of animals you will also experience the village culture!

  • Stayed: March 2012
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5  Thank Thomas1704
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Bilit Village Homestay

Address: Kampong Bilit, Sukau, Sandakan, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Sandakan Division > Sandakan
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 22 B&Bs / Inns in Sandakan
Number of rooms: 28
Also Known As:
Bilit Village Homestay Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

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