What You Need to Know About a Borneo Holiday


When is the best time to travel to Borneo?

It is possible to travel to Borneo any time of the year, however, the country does have two distinct seasons to be aware of: There is a dry season that runs from March to August, while the wet season runs from September to February. During the wet season, rainfall is quite sporadic; there may be weeks without any rain while other weeks see complete downpours. During this time, it is possible to plan a trip to Borneo with fewer tourists, and potentially incredible weather. The temperature is affected by the altitude in Borneo, the elevated parts being significantly cooler than the coastline area. However, the region does enjoy consistent temperatures all year long, ranging from 27 to 32°C in the lowlands to 18 to 24°C up in the mountains.

What accommodation can I expect?

There are many choices to be found in Borneo from traditional family-run bed-and-breakfasts to luxurious island hotels. The vast majority of hotels on Borneo have hot water, private baths and are clean and comfortable. Keep in mind that there are some exceptions, such as the Laban Rata climbing hut, which is located on Mount Kinabalu. You’ll find hotels at some of the prime locations in Borneo within walking distances to many of the main attractions, as well as those that are located deep in the jungle. If you are planning to stay in the metropolitan area, you will typically find many of the larger hotels there.

What type of food can I expect in Borneo?

It is almost impossible to classify cuisine into one category, due to the fact there are 28 recognised indigenous groups as well as over 500,000 ethnic Chinese offering their distinct styles throughout the area. If you’re going to be dining on the Kinabatangan River Tour cruise, you will typically find that one of the main ingredients of the dishes is fresh seafood. Most proteins are either barbecued, grilled, fried with rice or placed in a spicy soup with noodles. Often, you’ll find that they are sautéed with local vegetables and topped off with delicious rich sauces. However, the vast majority of dishes in Borneo are vegetarian and almost all of the restaurant staff will speak English, so do not be afraid to customise your order to your liking.

How safe is Borneo?

Malaysia is a rather safe country both in the larger cities as well as the rural countryside. However, as a traveller in a foreign country, it is essential that you are always aware of your surroundings and use common sense while walking about. Typically though, crime rates are generally very low, particularly against tourists. One of the most common issues reported is pick-pocketing in crowded marketplaces and shopping areas. It is advisable to keep your possessions hidden under clothing to help prevent your items from being stolen during your stay.

Should I be concerned about the altitude?

If you are planning to travel to Crocker Range, Kinabalu National Park, or climb up Mount Kinabalu, is important to understand the altitude differences between these locations. For example, the headquarters of Kinabalu National Park is situated at least 5,000 feet above sea level, whereas the summit of Kinabalu is 13,435 feet above sea level. However, for most travellers, to climb to the summit, severe altitude sickness has been rare. If you do find yourself feeling unwell while climbing, it is advisable to return to a lower elevation as soon as possible. Travellers with a pre-existing condition of altitude sickness are advised to consult a doctor before travelling to any high-altitude environment. This is especially recommended if you have a pre-existing lung or heart condition, high blood pressure, angina or asthma. You may want to ask your doctor about diuretic medication to help adjust to the higher altitude more readily.

Is the water safe?

It is important to be aware that tap water in Borneo is typically not safe to drink. Bottled water is readily available at hotels, restaurants and tour sites and you can find hot water at most restaurants. As an extra precaution, you may want to consider using bottled water while brushing your teeth.