Unforgettable Travel Company

Luxury Borneo Vacations & Tours

The steaming jungles of Borneo are synonymous with adventure and intrigue. Home to the most biodiverse patches of forest on the planet, the island’s equatorial forests teem with life: roaming pygmy elephants and sun bears, a rainbow of hornbill species, swinging langurs, macaques, and endemic proboscis monkeys, and of course – most enchanting of all – our closest primate cousins, the magnificent orang-utan.

The island of Borneo is split between Malaysia and Indonesia, with the Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak to the north, and the largely untamed Indonesian state of Kalimantan to the south.

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As a whole, Borneo is the third-largest island on the planet, much of which is a dense, uninhabited jungle. The vast majority of Borneo’s accessible tourism – and everywhere mentioned in these pages – is based in the Malaysian half of the island.

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Luke Stapylton-Smith

Asia Specialist
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Curated Borneo Tours, Exquisitely Crafted for Your Exploration

There are many different ways to approach the forests, reserves, lodges, and beaches of Malaysian Borneo. Some sample tour ideas are found below.

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Why we love private tours of Borneo

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Luke

Asia Specialist

The wildlife is the star of any trip to Borneo of course. The jungles of Sabah and Sarawak are absolutely teeming with tropical mammals, birds, and creepy crawlies!

But while immersive wildlife encounters are the backbone of any trip to Borneo, its greatest appeal may actually be its variety. Come out of the jungle and you’ll find eclectic, multicultural cities, fascinating indigenous tribal culture, and blissful tropical beaches. Accommodation throughout is of an extremely comfortable standard, with typically generous service and outstanding food as standard. Taken together, Borneo offers a truly thrilling trip with fresh excitement each day: perfect for an adventurous honeymoon, family vacation, or introductory wildlife tour.

Combinations with Peninsular Malaysia (also referred to locally as West Malaysia) are very possible and very attractive: most flights to and from Borneo will go through the capital Kuala Lumpur, or the dazzling city-state of Singapore at the southern tip of the peninsula.

Best places to go in Borneo

Malaysian Borneo is split into two provinces: Sabah to the east, and Sarawak to the west. Both are carpeted in dense rainforests and ringed by beautiful beaches. When designing your customized trip it is interesting to consider the differences between the two.

  • Orangutan, Sepilok, Borneo

    Sepilok

    Usually the first stop on your Borneo itinerary, Sepilok – with its world-famous Orangutan Rehabilitation Center – is the ideal gentle introduction to Sabah’s nature tours.

  • Kinabatangan River, Borneo

    Kinabatangan River

    Malaysian Borneo’s most famous wildlife area – and for good reason. The lush banks of the Kinabatangan teem with proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, and tropical birds.

  • Danum Valley, Borneo

    Danum Valley

    The pristine, primary rainforests of Danum Valley are a 130-million-year-old ecosystem, packed with awe-inspiring nature and wildlife.

  • Gaya Island, Borneo

    Gaya Island

    Kick back at the end of your wildlife adventures in this tropical haven just off Borneo’s coast, with white sand beaches and vibrant marine life.

  • Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

    Kota Kinabalu

    This eclectic coastal city is framed by lush mountains and the South China Sea. It offers a blend of urban vibrancy, cultural richness, and access to natural beauty.

  • Kuching, Borneo

    Kuching

    Provincial capital of Sarawak, Kuching is a richly historic and highly diverse port city, famed for outstanding cuisine and a rich heritage of indigenous and colonial influences.

Kinabalu National Park, Sabah, Borneo

Best time to visit Borneo

The most important thing to remember when traveling to Borneo is that fast-changing weather is a feature of the environment and all part of your adventure. Rainforests are so-called for a reason: the island has a truly equatorial climate in which the day can shift from scorching sunshine to thick, cloud-heavy humidity, and then to spectacular electrical storms all in the space of a couple of hours.

Your highly experienced naturalists and lodge staff live with these conditions, and will always be ready to adjust your itinerary according to weather conditions.

Check out The Best Time to Travel to Borneo for more details.

What to do in Borneo

Your adventures in the jungle can range from the gentle to the truly immersive. For first-time tours, we’d recommend the former: hiking an established forest trail from your lodge or skimming along a languorous river by speedboat. For the latter, you might attempt a vigorous multi-day hike through the jungle, camping out along the way, or a challenging summit of soaring Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia.

  • Elephant, Kinabatangan River, Borneo

    Boat tours on the Kinabatangan

    The Kinabatangan – Malaysian Borneo’s most renowned wildlife destination – snakes through the teeming jungles of inner Sabah. Staying at a comfortable riverfront lodge, you’ll take boat safaris up and down the river catching sight of proboscis monkeys, wild orangs, hornbills, pygmy elephants, and crocodiles.

  • Canopy Walk, Danum Valley, Borneo

    Canopy walk in Danum Valley

    Suspended high above the rainforest floor, this extraordinary canopy walk offers a bird’s-eye view of interior Borneo’s incredible flora and fauna. Cross from bridge to bridge and truly connect with the lush wilderness, watching hornbills fly and orangutans swing past at eye level.

  • Sarawak Laksa, Kuching, Borneo

    Food walk in Kuching

    Borneo’s most historic and diverse city, Kuching offers equally excellent dining to cities in Peninsular Malaysia. Navigate bustling markets and quaint eateries to savor an array of delectable dishes like laksa, kolo mee, and Sarawak layer cake.

Borneo advice from the experts

  • Proboscis monkeys in Kinabatangan River Sabah Listing

    Complete Guide to Sabah’s Forest Reserves

      Sabah, the eastern half of Malaysian Borneo, contains the region’s premier wildlife and jungle experiences.  The coast of Sabah is ringed by coral reefs and white sand beaches, with off-shore ‘turtle islands’ making a diver’s dream.  The interior could not be more contrasting: dense, primordial jungle, teeming with tropical flora and fauna, a series of protected reserves making up the most biodiverse corner of the entire planet. Read on for our guide to the very best national parks in Sabah. 
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  • Tranquil sea Tioman Island Malaysia Listing

    The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Malaysia

    Malaysia is one of the planet’s most ecologically and culturally diverse countries: rich in adventure, and packed with breathtaking natural beauty. 

    Your tailor-made tour of Malaysia will include an enticing variety of experiences and locations. Whether you’re looking for a straightforward city and beach break, or a more complex multi-stop tour, our specialists will delight in using Malaysia’s many attractions to put together the perfect itinerary. 

    Read on for our guide to the most beautiful places across both Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo.

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Your Borneo questions answered

What is the best time to visit Borneo?

A rainforest destination just north of the Equator, Borneo is hot and humid year-round. The best months for wildlife tours of Borneo are between March and November; December and January see a notable increase in rainfall, and February is taken up by drying and patching up of the rainforest trails. Note that as a prominent family destination, the summer months of July and August see higher rates and increased visitor numbers.

What wildlife can we see in Borneo?

Borneo is best known as the home of the orang-utan: our closest relative in the animal kingdom. Other primates include endemic proboscis monkeys, macaques, and the tiny tarsier. Larger mammal life in the forests includes Bornean pygmy elephants, sun bears, clouded leopards, marbled cats, loris, and flying squirrels. Birdlife includes eight species of hornbill, plus broadbills, fish owls, serpent eagles, and kingfishers.

How does Borneo combine with other countries?

There are no long-haul flights into Borneo – travelers must always transfer through Kuala Lumpur across Peninsular Malaysia or the buzzing city-state of Singapore. Pre or post-stopovers in either make perfect sense and strike an attractive contrast to the forests and rivers of Borneo. Wider tours of Peninsular Malaysia can also include the historic ports of Malacca and Penang, or the island paradises of Langkawi, Tioman, or the Perhentians.

Is Borneo expensive?

Package prices to Borneo can be higher than nearby Southeast Asian destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam, or indeed Peninsular Malaysia. Remember though that your Borneo package will include all of your guided wildlife tours, all meals at the jungle lodges, and all your transport and transfers. Once in situ, you’ll find that your day-to-day spending is minimal, thus evening out the overall trip cost. Compared to similar wildlife trips in Africa and the Indian Subcontinent, Borneo is a terrific value.

What is the perfect first-time trip to Borneo?

Borneo’s principal attraction is its incredible biodiversity. The ideal first-time trip would focus on the key wildlife reserves of Sabah, on the eastern side of Malaysian Borneo. Starting in the provincial capital Kota Kinabalu, we’d recommend moving through Sepilok, the Kinabatangan River, and then heading deeper into the jungle in one of the key reserves – Tabin, Danum Valley, or – for the more adventurous – Deramakot or the Imbak Canyon.

Does Borneo have good beaches?

With a setting in the South China Sea in the heart of the tropics, it’s no surprise that the island of Borneo boasts some magnificent beaches. An easy extension to the above tour would see you return to Kota Kinabalu and hit one of the excellent beaches just outside of the city. A short boat ride across the water also brings you to the coral-rich waters of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, which contains several outstanding island resorts.

What’s the food like in Borneo?

Malaysia is world-renowned for its mouthwateringly diverse and delicious cuisine. Malaysian Borneo’s principal cities Kuching and Kota Kinabalu are just as impressive dining destinations as their counterparts across in Peninsular Malaysia, with bustling food courts and dining streets showcasing the best in Chinese, Indian, Malay, and indigenous dishes. Food in the interior jungle lodges tends to be simple and hearty fare, but equally delicious.

How hard is it to climb Mount Kinabalu?

Soaring to just over 4,000 meters, Mount Kinabalu is Malaysia’s tallest mountain and is a tempting challenge for adventurous travelers. With well-marked trails and good guides, a climb to the summit is certainly doable, but the challenge lies more in the logistics than the climb itself. You’ll need two nights to attempt the climb, both of which are in very simple park accommodation, and very early morning starts on both days. We generally recommend the climb only for our most adventurous clientele.

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