Borneo makes a rewarding holiday destination at any time of the year. Visitors should understand, though, that the country has two very different seasons of climate. From March to August, Borneo is in a dry season. September to February is the wet season. While overall rainfall is heavy in the wet season, it is also sporadic, with some weeks experiencing torrential downpours and others being rain-free. Trips to Borneo in the wet season generally enjoy smaller crowds and fewer tourists.
“The temperature visitors experience in Borneo is dictated more by altitude than by time of year. The coastline is significantly warmer than the highlands. Temperatures are fairly consistent year-round: 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the lowlands and 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the mountains,” explains dive experts at Borneo Dream.
What Sort of Accommodation Does Borneo Offer?
Borneo presents a very broad range of accommodation options. The choices range from luxurious world-class island hotels to utterly individual family-operated bed & breakfasts. Accommodations hold to a generally high standard; hot water, private baths, and a certain level of comfort are the rule. Rougher accommodations – like rural guesthouses or the climbing huts at Laban Rata – do not conceal their shortcomings. Borneo offers good hotels sited conveniently all over the country; whether your interests are focused on the cities or the jungles, you can always find comfortable and convenient accommodation. In the more metropolitan areas, large hotels are usually the only available option.
What is Borneo’s Cuisine Like?
Bornean food is a sprawling panoply of tastes and cultures, and it does not fit easily into a single category. The state of Sabah (northeastern Malaysia) alone is home to a half a million ethnic Chinese and 28 different indigenous groups. Every one of Borneo’s diverse cultures has its own culinary styles. Regional variation tends to be the only identifiable trend. Seafood and freshwater fish, for instance, are staples in Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu. Pork sometimes substitutes for fish, and the meat may be barbecued, grilled, served over rice, put into a soup with spicy noodles, or sauteed with vegetables. Sauces tend to be rich, and in most regions ginger and garlic feature heavily. Most Bornean dishes can easily be made vegetarian, and most restaurant workers have a strong grasp of English. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and customise your order!
Is Borneo Safe?
Malaysia is, by and large, a safe country, both within the major cities and out in the countryside. It is important for travellers to exercise basic common sense and be aware of their surroundings, especially at night. Crime rates are very low, and crime against tourists is exceptionally rare. The biggest threats are occasional pickpockets operating in both urban and rural marketplaces. Protecting yourself against this danger is relatively simple. Simply conceal your possessions beneath your outermost layer of clothing in order to enjoy complete protection from pickpockets.
Does the Altitude Present any Danger?
Borneo offers a few attractions at high altitude: trekking the Crocker Range and climbing Mt. Kinabalu. Most of the island’s high-level attractions sit around 5,000 feet: This is the altitude of most of the Crocker Range and of the Kinabalu National Park Headquarters. Mt. Kinabalu rises to 13,435 feet. Altitude sickness is extremely rare, but not impossible. Visitors who experience any adverse symptoms should descend to lower heights immediately. Note that high altitudes can be more stressful on individuals with pre-existing conditions. Consult with your doctor if you plan to visit the highest parts of the island. Conditions which can increase your risk include asthma, angina, and high blood pressure. Ask also about Diamox, a diuretic that can ease the transition to higher altitudes. Many veteran travellers swear by Diamox.
Is Borneo’s Water Safe to Drink?
The overriding rule is that it is NOT safe to drink tap water anywhere in Borneo. Bottled water is easy to come by in tourist-friendly areas, and restaurants generally offer either hot tea or boiled water. Travellers who wish to be especially cautious will want to rely on bottled water when brushing their teeth.