This lush land of jungles, unique wildlife, mysterious head hunters and far-from-home war heroes has intrigued adventurers, anthropologists and explorers for centuries.

Borneo is an island like no other. From steamy jungles to blissful mountains and balmy beaches to peaceful villages. Anthropologists, adventure-seekers and animal-lovers are drawn to these tropical shores for its glorious diversity. Float down the Kinabatangan River known as the most biologically diverse rainforest in the world; see the sun rise over Mt Kinabalu; meet mischievous orangutans in Sepilok; chow down on a tasty laksa or take in the incredible underwater scenery snorkelling in Tunku Abdul National Marine Park. Borneo has a bounty of exploration awaiting.

Top Borneo travel deals

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10 $2,280
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Borneo tour reviews

Articles on Borneo

Borneo travel highlights

Accommodation in Borneo

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Borneo you may find yourself staying in a:

Dusun village homestay farmhouse in Borneo

Homestay

See what Borneo hospitality is all about by sharing a home-cooked meal with a local family.

Malaysia's Ultimate Adventure

Best of Borneo

Borneo : Hike, Bike & Kayak

Sabah Adventure

Longhouse in Sarawak Borneo

Longhouse

Staying in a longhouse, the traditional dwellings of many ethnic groups in Borneo, is an immersive and fascinating experience.

Best of Borneo

Wild Sarawak

Jungle camp acccomodation in Kinabatangan Borneo Malaysia

Jungle Eco Camp

 Spend a night in a community-run traditional-style eco lodge in the heart of the jungle.

Essential Borneo

Best of Borneo

Sabah Adventure

Borneo Family Holiday

Jungle Resort

When you’re so close to paradise, why would you want to leave? Getting shuteye at a lodge keeps you close to the action so you can maximise time spent in the jungle.

Borneo holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit Borneo

Culture and customs

Eating and drinking

Geography and environment

History and government

Top 10 Nature Spots of Borneo

Shopping

Festival and events in Borneo

Health and safety

Further reading

Borneo travel FAQs

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Check the Essential Trip Information section of the itinerary for more information. 

Tipping isn’t customary in Borneo but leaving a small token of appreciation is always welcome if you feel the service has been particularly good.

Internet is easy to access in large cities and tourist areas, though it can be quite slow. Access is more limited in remote and rural areas.

Mobile phone coverage is good in major cities, but there is little to no coverage in the mountains and in remote areas. Ensure global roaming is activated with your service provider before leaving home.

Squat toilets are the norm in Borneo, though some hotels and tourists areas have Western-style, flushable toilets. It’s a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as these are not always provided.

The currencies of Borneo are the Indonesian rupiah, the Malaysian ringgit and the Brunei dollar in each of their respective countries.

Bottle of beer = USD 3
Laksa from a food stall = USD 1–2 
Simple meal at a local restaurant = USD 5–12 

Tap water is not considered safe to drink in Borneo. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, pack a reusable bottle that can be filled with filtered water. Your leader can tell you where to find filtered water or pack your own purification tablets.

Most places only accept cash, especially small businesses, though you might be able to use your credit card at larger hotels, shops and restaurants in tourist areas.

You’ll find ATMs in Borneo’s large cities and urban areas, though they are less easy to find in rural and remote parts.

  • 1 Jan: New Year’s Day
  • 5 Feb: Chinese New Year
  • 5 Jun: Eid al-Fitr
  • 11 Aug: Eid al-Adha
  • 31 Aug: Islamic New Year
  • 9 Nov: Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
  • 25 Dec: Christmas

Since Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei all have claim to Borneo, different parts of the island celebrate different public holidays. The ones listed here are celebrated in all three nations. For a more complete and current list of public holidays go to:

Indonesia – https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/asia/indonesia/public-holidays/

Malaysia – https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/asia/malaysia/public-holidays/

Brunei – https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/asia/brunei/public-holidays/

No vaccines are required in order to enter Borneo but some are recommended for protection against disease. Always visit your doctor or travel clinic for up-to-date advice and make sure to schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective.

Discretion is highly advised for LGBTQI-travellers in Borneo. Homosexuality is illegal in both Malaysia and Brunei, where it can be punished with long prison sentences or even death. While homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, few people are openly out. Regardless of which part of Borneo you are visiting, discretion is strongly suggested.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Traveller with local women in Borneo Malaysia

Top responsible travel tips for Borneo

  1. Be considerate of Borneo’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
  2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
  3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
  4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
  5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
  6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
  7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
  8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
  9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
  10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Baby orangutan in Borneo

Palm oil

While travelling through eastern Sabah, you will likely notice that much of the land is covered in palm oil plantations. Palm oil is used throughout the world in a range of products from biscuits to cosmetics, and its use is on the rise. This growth comes at the expense of large areas of tropical forest and other ecosystems, cleared to make room for vast monoculture oil palm plantations. The clearing has destroyed critical habitat for many endangered species – including rhinos, elephants, tigers and the Borneo orangutan – and, if this wasn’t bad enough, the burning of the forest to make room for crops is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Since palm oil is a significant contributor to Malaysia’s economy, consumers have the power to change the above practices by only purchasing Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) approved products. Sustainable palm oil production is legal, economically viable, environmentally appropriate and socially beneficial and helps prevent further illegal forest clearing. Currently, it is estimated that around 50% of the palm oil in Malaysia is currently RSPO approved. Purchasing RSPO-approved products will help shift plantations and producers that are non-certified to become more sustainable. RSPO-approved products have a certification on the label (a small palm tree) – keep an eye out for it.

To learn more about palm oil production and the issues surrounding it, visit:
http://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/palm-oil 
http://www.rspo.org/

Travellers hiking in Mt Kinabalu in Borneo

Birds Nest Soup

Birds nest collection is an ancient tradition dating back to 500AD which is used to make bird nest soup. Today birds nest collection is a regulated practice with locals requiring a Government Harvesting licence to climb to the roofs of caves to collect the birds nest. The first collection takes place early in the breeding season before the swiftlets lay their eggs. The birds then make another nest in which they lay their eggs. After the young have left the nest the 2nd collection is made. Care must be taken to assure that the nests are collected only after the young swiftlets have abandoned these nests. Edible birds nests are protected under the Birds Nest Ordinance and the Forest Enactment of 1968. There are heavy fines and penalties imposed on unlicensed collectors and Intrepid Travel asks our passengers to refrain from consuming birds nest soup to discourage unlicensed collection.

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.

In Borneo, The Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:

Orangutan in the trees in Borneo

HUTAN

The Intrepid Foundation has teamed up with HUTAN, a local community-run organisation based in the Kinabatangan region of eastern Sabah, which runs a conservation programme to protect orangutans. Their work has led to improved land management and reduced degradation of orangutan habitat.

To learn more or donate, visit: theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/hutan/

To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org