Diverse experiences from the jungle to the sea!
Malaysian Borneo is the most visited part of the island of Borneo which is spread over three countries – 73% of the island and the least developed is part of Indonesia, while Brunei is now an independent state
It is the third largest island in the world, and one of the world's truly fascinating travel destinations. The South China Sea is to the west, the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea to the east.
I will be covering information on Sarawak and Sabah in Malaysian Borneo here.....click this link for information on Brunei which I have covered separately.
Just north of the equator the climate in Malaysian Borneo is hot year round with temperatures ranging from around 23oC to mid to high 30oC....74-90oF.
The rainy season is supposedly heaviest during the monsoon months of November – March. But don’t be fooled. This is rainforest area. Be prepared for rain and lots of it any time!
Attractions and Activities Overview
Malaysian Borneo is most reknowned for the gorgeous, though endangered, orangutans..... for many people, a live encounter with these beautiful creatures in their own habitat is the major attraction for taking a trip to this fascinating travel destination.
I must confess that for me too, seeing the orangutans was the major attraction. Yet Borneo is an amazing island with a wonderfully diverse array of experiences.
Those who love wildlife will be excited to discover all kinds of animals in the jungles and along the river banks.
Jungle walks, canopy walks, and going through magnificent caves....all impressive, each unique... will keep you enthralled.
If you like tough physical challenges... climbing Mt Kinabalu is definitely a highlight for many tourists when they visit Sabah in Malaysian Borneo....but it is an endurance test and an achievement to get to the top.
For more physical punishment, climbing the Pinnacles at Mulu will be another test....these really are only activities for the very fit.
Malaysian Borneo offers divers some of the best diving in the world in ...Sipidan...Jacques Costeaus favourite island, Layang Atoll, Mabul Island, Langkayan Island are all popular diving spots.
If you don’t dive you can relax on any of the many islands with beautiful white sandy beaches and magical snorkelling out from Kota Kinabalu, the largest city in Sabah and once called Jesselton.
are all only a 15 minute boat trip from the city.
Another very popular experience is visiting Selingan Island to see the turtles lay their eggs each night on the beach. Limited to only 20 guests at a time, it pays to book early.
If you are wanting to experience a more primitive lifestyle, you can visit and/or stay in a Long house of some of the many tribes of Malaysian Borneo...Iban, Penan, Dayak..... are but three possibilities of tribes who still live a relatively simple life in the interior of Borneo.
Popular Destinations in Malaysian Borneo
Markets, parks and gardens, mosques, shrines, temples and museums make interesting sightseeing in Kuching... capital of Sarawak. The "City of Cats" is a mix of historic and modern architecture sitting on the Sarawak River. Based in Kuching you can do an interesting range of activities including visiting
- Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre - Orangutan
- Long houses including Annah Rais
- Permai Rainforest
- Sarawak Cultural Village – by Permai
- Bako Rainforest - see Proboscis Monkey's in the wild if you are lucky!
- Wind and Fairy Caves
- Padawan Pitcher Plant and Orchid Gardens with the famous pitcher plants at Bau
- see the raffalesia in flower – if in season
...are just some of the activities in and around Kuching.
Mulu is a popular destination for the
- Many caves – Lang, Wind, Clearwater, Deer Caves
- The canopy walk
- For those wanting a more remote experience... walking and boating into Camp 5
- The Headhunters Trail
- Climbing the Pinnacles.
En route to Mulu, is an interesting old oil town for those with time to explore.
KK as it is often called is the capital of Sabah, and once called Jesselton....will also offer many nearby tours:
- Mt Kinabalu National Park
- Poring Springs
- Islands and beaches for snorkelling including Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik, Gaya
- Islands for diving
...the list is long.
Sandakan is a small historic town on the eastern side of Sabah.
- The Australian War Memorial Museum is a moving visit.
- The home of the American author Agnes Keith House and Museum gives a fascinating insight into the lives of early expatriates in what was once a very wealthy community which had to rebuild after being almost totally wiped out in World War 11
- Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre will be a highlight
Botanical Gardens and Exotic Flowers
- Kinabatangan River is the place to see the many fascinating wild animals found in Malaysian Borneo. Stay in a lodge on the edge of the river and spend your time exploring the river by boat looking for wild animals. You get up very close and personal to proboscis and many other kinds of monkeys, elephants, otter, snakes, crocodiles, hornbills...Borneo’s national bird, all kinds of colourful birds including kingfishers....it is the wild and therefore the luck of the day what you get to see.
- Gomantang Caves where the birds nests are reported to make the best bird’s nest soup is a short boat trip and 27 kilometers by road.
The rafflesia is the largest single flower in the world ....it can grow up to a metre across and is only found in two locations in Borneo.
With only one month when it flowers...staying open for 4 days after a nine month incubation, it is a real thrill if you are lucky enough to get to see one as I was! Pitcher plants come in many sizes and colours and are another unusual plant found in Borneo.
Rhododendrons and many other colourful tropical flowers fill the gardens.
RAFFLESIA FLOWER - Borneo
Malaysian Borneo has Hotels to suit all budgets ranging from 4-5 star Lodges and hotels, to backpackers and cheap longhouses.
Rainforest lodges are all inclusive including meals in a package price. Some of the more remote places such as Sukau or the islands have nowhere else you can eat. But most of the accommodation is very comfortable with all amenities provided.
Because the roads are not wonderful you do more flying between destinations than you might expect... and this does push the price of your holiday up if you plan on seeing a lot of Borneo.
NOTE:After much discussion with travel agents we found we could book flights much cheaper ourselves on the internet and saved over $1,000 by doing this. I recommend you look at this option.
You will have to co ordinate flights... especially flying to Mulu which goes via Miri, and to Sandakan where you will need to be on certain flights to be met for tours out to Sukau.
There are plenty of taxis for both local transport and day tours. We found negotiating a price for a day....they base the price on how many hours you will hire them for, with 4 people worked out to be a very cheap way to do an independent day tour.
You do need to be sure you are booking a taxi big enough for 4 as some are too small.
More Borneo Information
Mulu National Park
Mulu Canopy Walk
Kinabalu National Park
Orangutans in Borneo
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