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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Borneo in 2023

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Borneo in 2023

Borneo, the third biggest island in the world, is part of the Malay Archipelago in Southeast Asia. Breathtaking vistas and a wide variety of fauna call this island home.

This lovely island has a wide variety of ecosystems, from lush rainforests to rocky mountains, just waiting to be explored. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to the main island; off the coast of Borneo are several tiny islands that are well worth exploring.

The rainforest on the island of Borneo is 130 million years old, making it older than the Amazon Rainforest in South America.

Travelers visiting Danum may learn more about the rainforest by staying in remote eco-reserves and seeing the nearby ecological research center. You must also try some of the island’s delicious local cuisine when visiting Borneo.

The number of travelers drawn to this forest paradise changes dramatically throughout the year. You must know the best time to visit Borneo to get the most out of your vacation.

Why You Should Visit Borneo

When it comes to cuisine, Borneo isn’t precisely a hotspot. But the blend of Indian, Chinese, and Malay elements keeps things interesting. Locals often use spices found in the jungle to season their cuisine, giving it a unique flavor.

The best way to learn about the jungle’s favorite herb is to track down the famous Nasi Lemak hawker and ask him to show you around.

However, the orangutan, often known as the “old man of the forest,” is the main attraction for most tourists. This is unlikely to occur in the wild because of the rapid pace at which their habitat is being destroyed.

However, you may get up close and personal with an orangutan at the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Sarawak or the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, where you can also find out more about the efforts being made to conserve these animals.

Travel to Mount Kinabalu National Park if hiking up the tallest peak in Southeast Asia is something you’re interested in doing. However, it isn’t as easy of a climb as it seems.

Additionally, Tun Sakaran Marine Park is home to a collection of islands with tropical beaches and vibrant coral reefs.

The beaches in Borneo are among the nicest in Malaysia. The beaches offer something for everyone, whether you’re searching for a place to relax or a snorkeling destination.

After spending the day wandering, a trip to Hawaii Beach, which is just 15 minutes away, is precisely what you need. Unwind on the powdery beaches and take a dip in the refreshing water.

Overall Best Time to Visit Borneo

Amazing sunrise in Borneo pictured during the best time to visit with low clouds and fog over the mountains and sun peeking out from behind the hillside


The period from March to October is the best time to visit Borneo since the island is the warmest, most humid, and driest. It’s one of the few places to visit in Southeast Asia during the summer.

June through September is the prime season for seeing wild orangutans and turtles on Lankayan Island. From March through October, you’ll be amid the dry season, when precipitation is at its lowest.

This is the busiest and greatest time of year to see everything Borneo offers. If you’re trying to find a place to stay on the fly, keep in mind that July is festival month in Borneo, with several local holidays around the island, and stores and banks may be closed as a result.

While August and September remain dry, particularly in the southern part of the island, it is crucial to be prepared for a rain or two.

During the dry summer months, forest fires are more likely to break out, so those with breathing issues or who wish to escape the suffocating haze should take extra care.

Rainforest experiences, Kinabatangan River cruises, native bushcraft lessons, and Mt. Kinabalu sunrises are all best experienced during the dry season.

Due to the lack of precipitation, it is warmer and drier, making it possible to engage in more outdoor activities. There are fewer leeches and mosquitoes to deal with as well.

Cheapest Time to Visit Borneo

Dusk view of the Village of Tambatuon pictured during the cheapest time to visit Borneo


If you want to avoid paying more for your hotel room and navigating larger crowds, be sure to visit from May to June or September to October.

These times are ideal for wildlife viewing since there won’t be too many other tourists, and the weather will be pleasant if you combine your vacation with beach experiences.

The weather in Borneo should be pleasant throughout May, making it an ideal time to go there before the onset of the peak season. This is a great time to go on a forest excursion since orangutans are abundant.

The beaches, with their pure white sands, seem particularly attractive when bathed in sunlight. May is one of the greatest months to visit Borneo because of the pleasant weather in Sarawak and neighboring Sabah.

There is a good possibility of beautiful, sunny days across Sabah in September, and the dry summer season frequently continues into the latter half of the month. However, the potential of an afternoon rainstorm is always there, particularly as the dry season winds down.

September is an ideal month to climb Mt. Kinabalu because of the decreased chance of rain and the warmer average daily temperatures. While turtle season has ended in Selingan and Lankayan, the diving and snorkeling conditions remain excellent.

Least Busy Time to Visit Borneo

Lots of little boats on the water docked in a gypsy village during the least busy time to visit Borneo

Yusnizam Yusof/Shutterstock

There are fewer tourists in Borneo during the low season, from July to October and November to March. People who want to see turtles hatching on the beaches should go there between July and October.

There is still a fair possibility, particularly on Lankayan Island and Turtle Island, to watch the turtles being released outside the season.

It’s true that the farther north you go in Borneo, the more rain you’re likely to see in November, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting since it’s still considered the off-season and hotels have lots of empty rooms.

Keep an eye on weather forecasts or consider other routes, such as Laban Rata, where ascents may still be allowed at different times of the year when Mount Kinabalu’s summit is closed.

Worst Time to Visit Borneo

Sunrise pictured over Mount Kinabalu in Borneo pictured during the best time to visit


More precipitation and rougher seas are possible throughout December and January. You can still visit, but the weather isn’t great, so many of the local animals have taken refuge in the thick jungle.

If you can help it, try to avoid taking a trip at this time. Although June through August is known as the “wet” season in Borneo, visitors may still enjoy their time on the third biggest island in the world.

Predictions of rain during the “wet” season shouldn’t put you off since precipitation varies at any time of year.

However, there are significant benefits to traveling in the off-season, as lodges, parks, diving sites, and attractions will be much less crowded, and airfare and lodging costs will likely be much cheaper.

Things to Consider

There are a few things you really must know before visiting Borneo:

  • The distance between cities means domestic flights are necessary for most trips. These may be taken care of before going at a relatively low cost.
  • Use private cars with drivers for the majority of your transfers. It allows you to go anywhere your fancy takes you, and you may even pick up some valuable tips from your driver.A good telephoto or zoom lens is essential for wildlife photography. If you prefer not to bring along a heavy camera, a decent set of binoculars may help you detect animals from a distance.
  • Loose-fitting clothing with lightweight materials is recommended in the hot and humid conditions of the jungle. Wearing light colors like khaki and beige can help keep the annoying mosquitoes at bay.
  • The weather makes the sidewalks and roads slick, so wear shoes with high traction. If you have them, lightweight boots are excellent as well.
  • No matter where you travel in Borneo, you’ll be surrounded by exotic and fascinating animals, while jellyfish and leeches may be a problem in some areas. We suggest hiding your long socks under your pants to avoid getting leeches on your skin. This isn’t the most stylish look, but it’ll save you money and may be just as effective.
  • If you plan on snorkeling on Lankayan Island, bring along a rash guard or a thin diving suit to protect yourself from the stings of the tiny jellyfish that inhabit the area.
  • If you want to dine like the locals, go to the busiest eateries in town. Smaller, locally owned restaurants are where you’ll get the most authentic food and the best value when comparing prices to Western establishments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Neat view of an orangutan swinging from vines during the best time to go to Borneo

Fish Ho Hong Yun/Shutterstock

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Borneo:

What language is spoken in Borneo?

In Sabah and Sarawak, Bahasa Malaysia is used as the language of official communication. Aside from Mandarin Chinese and Tamil, English is also spoken by many people. Borneo’s indigenous communities all have their own distinct languages.

What currency is used in Borneo?

Depending on where you are in Borneo, you’ll be dealing with the Malaysian Ringgit, Indonesian rupiah, or the Bruneian dollar.

Can I travel to Borneo without a visa?

Visitors from the vast majority of nations may simply show up at the airport or other point of entry to acquire an immigration stamp and a stamp in their passport. Western visitors may remain in the country visa-free for up to three months.

Is tap water in Borneo safe to drink?

In urban areas of Sarawak and Sabah, residents may drink the water straight from the tap since it has all been purified.

It meets the World Health Organization-inspired Malaysian National Standard for Drinking Water Quality. Although technically safe, most Malaysians choose to either filter or boil their tap water before consumption.

Do you tip in Borneo?

In Borneo, tipping isn’t as widespread as in other Southeast Asian nations. A 10 percent service fee may be added to your bill if you are dining in a popular tourist area.

Otherwise, tipping is entirely at the guest’s discretion, even though guides and drivers depend on gratuities to supplement their incomes.

Should I bring cash to Borneo?

You should bring US dollars to Borneo to easily convert them to the local currency. Getting Ringgit from your account before you go is another option.

Is it safe in Borneo?

Over the last several years, Borneo has become a haven for tourists seeking peace of mind. Safety measures should be taken before traveling to Borneo, particularly on more isolated islands.

So, When Should You Visit Borneo?

The weather may be more agreeable on one side of Borneo than the other, depending on when you choose to go. Still, the rainy season is a popular time to come because of the lower humidity, albeit monkey sightings may be more scarce.

Overall, if you want the best experience of the place, March through October is the best time to visit Borneo. So, what are you waiting for? Get ready to explore all that Borneo has to offer and book your trip today!