Ask for the gift of travel this Xmas 🎁 >
Orangutan at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Borneo

Borneo Travel Guide

Travelling to Borneo is an incredible journey that unveils a myriad of highlights for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. One of the most captivating experiences is encountering the fascinating orangutans in their natural habitat. Borneo is home to these magnificent primates, and places like Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre offer a unique opportunity to observe these gentle creatures up close. Witnessing their playful antics and observing their interactions is a truly unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression.

Another highlight of travelling to Borneo is exploring its breathtaking natural landscapes. From the lush rainforests teeming with diverse wildlife to the awe-inspiring Mount Kinabalu, there is no shortage of natural wonders to discover. Borneo's stunning biodiversity offers opportunities for thrilling adventures, such as river cruises along the Kinabatangan River to spot proboscis monkeys and rare bird species. Additionally, the island boasts mesmerizing underwater ecosystems, making it a dream destination for diving enthusiasts. Exploring the vibrant coral reefs of Sipadan and Mabul Island reveals a kaleidoscope of marine life, including colourful tropical fish, graceful sea turtles, and even majestic manta rays. Borneo's natural beauty and rich wildlife make it a truly remarkable destination for those seeking unforgettable experiences in the heart of nature.

Key Facts

Time Zone



Indonesian Rupiah, Malaysian Ringgit & Brunei Dollars

Dialing Code


  • Borneo has some of the most wildlife-rich rainforests and a variety of different animals inhabit this island, many of which are incredibly rare.
  • The island is a cultural melting pot and you will come across many indigenous tribes with different traditions and cultures. 
  • There is a variety of different foods to try.
  • It's the perfect country to include in a multi-country Asian itinerary.
  • Borneo also offers plenty of opportunities for thrill-seeking activities such as scuba diving and mountain climbing.

Borneo does not have an official capital city, but Kota Kinabalu is the state capital of the Sabah region of Borneo.

  • Visit the orangutan rehabilitation centre in Sepilok.
  • Learn all about turtles at the hatchery on the island of Libaran.
  • Explore the Sabah Capital of Kota Kinabalu
  • Stay in a jungle lodge and head out on a river safari.
  • Sample the many different cuisines this island has to offer.

Borneo has a wide and delicious variety of foods thanks to its different regions and many tribes and indigenous groups. Much of the food is heavily influenced by Chinese and Malaysian cuisines. Like much of Asia, you will find lots of delicious street food options as well.

Some popular dishes include:

  • Laksa - a noodle dish in a coconut milk broth, usually served with either fish, prawns or chicken.
  • Rendang - a spicy and fragrant curry usually made with beef or chicken
  • Kolo Mee - stir-fried egg noodles with barbecued pork and vegetables. A street food staple!
  • Lok Lok - skewers of fish, meat or vegetable are deep-fried or boiled and usually eaten with either a satay or sweet and sour sauce.
  • Kek Lapis Sarawak - or Sarawak Layer Cake. Colourful slices of cake are sandwiched together with jam or condensed milk to produce beautiful geometric designs. 

Borneo has a tropical rainforest (or equatorial) climate, with high humidity and hot temperatures throughout the year.

Sarawak receives substantial rainfall year-round, with the wettest time being the Northeast Monsoon months of November to February. The driest time of year is June to August. 

Sabah has noticeably wetter and drier seasons than Sarawak. November to March experiences less rainfall but cooler temperatures, whereas May to September is warmer but with increased rainfall.


Visas may be required in order to enter or transit through certain countries depending on your passport nationality, your reason for travel and how long you intend to stay.

Visa, passport and entry rules are subject to change and you should check the most up-to-date information from the relevant embassy or visa specialist.

To make things easier we have teamed up with The Travel Visa Company who are one of the UK’s leading travel visa specialists. You can use their website, alongside embassy websites, to find out the specific entry requirements for the countries you intend to travel to.

For a fee, their dedicated team of experts can also apply for visas on your behalf, taking away the hassle and streamlining the process for you if you wish. For more details on the services they provide please click here – The Travel Visa Company


Passports must be kept in good condition. Travellers with damaged passports may be refused entry at immigration. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that all travel documents are in good condition before they travel. Most countries will also require at least 6 months of validity on your passport from the time you finish your trip. 

Further Entry Requirements

Some countries will require proof of certain vaccines, such as yellow fever or covid, in order to gain entry. Please check with the relevant embassy or visa specialist before travelling.

The official language of Borneo is Bahasa Malaysia.

Plug sockets in Borneo tend to be the same as that in the UK (Type G), but you may also come across some two-pin outlets like those used in Europe (Type F). 

Like the rest of Malaysia, much of Borneo is Muslim (approximately 60%) and you should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. 

You should dress modestly, especially in more rural areas, and when visiting places of worship.

All drug-related offences carry severe penalties. Drug trafficking incurs a mandatory death penalty. Drug possession incurs a custodial sentence and possible whipping. 

Homosexual acts are illegal in Malaysia and punishable under federal law. It would be best if you avoided any behaviour which could attract unwanted attention, including public displays of affection.

Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty crimes such as bag snatching. You should avoid carrying too many valuables or large sums of cash. Incidents of bag snatching are common, in the bigger cities and including by thieves on motorbikes. Bags with shoulder straps should either be carried with the bag towards the pavement rather than the road or tucked under the arm.

Take particular care of your passport whilst walking, in aircraft, cafes, airport and railway terminals, and hotel rooms.

Do not open your hotel room door to strangers, especially late at night. This applies particularly to women travelling alone.

Credit card and ATM fraud are present so take care when using your card.

Taxi coupon systems are in place at airports. In other areas, taxis should use a meter. Do not use an unmetered taxi. 

Always buy your own drinks and keep them in sight at all times, to avoid the risk of spiking. 

If you’re a victim of a crime, inform the local police and get a police report.

Related Articles

Esra Osman: Turtle Island Adventure

Last updated: 24th Sep 2013

Esra Osman did our Turtle Island Adventure in Malaysia and wrote this fantastic case study for her university: The idea of living in a postcard, one with turquoise oceans and white sand, seems like too much...

Trip Inspiration: Komodo Island Hopper

When we're dreaming of white-sand beaches and shimmering turquoise waters, there’s one place that truly delivers on all that paradise: Indonesia. Say Indonesia to a traveller and they’ll most likely think of Bali...

5 of Bali's Best Beaches for Island Vibes

If you’ve heard anything about Bali and its surrounding islands, chances are you’ve heard of its stunning beaches. With some of the most iconic beach bars in the world in Seminyak, hidden gems in...