Divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, the island of Borneo is the world’s third-largest island packed with plenty of natural assets: underground caves, pristine orangutan-filled rainforests, dramatic waterfalls, sparkling white-sand beaches, and half of the planet’s known plant and animal species. Exceeding expectations for those with a spirit for adventure and an appreciation for endangered wildlife and cultural richness, it doesn’t get more exciting than this far-flung paradise.
An island in the South China Sea belonging to Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, a holiday to Borneo offers adventures like nowhere else - most spectacularly in its two East Malaysian states, Sabah and Sarawak.
Known as 'The Land beneath the Wind' for its location below the typhoon belt, Sabah is a nature-rich wonderland complete with luxuriant jungle and sparkling ocean. This is the place to embark on a trek to the peaks of Mount Kinabalu, spot hatching turtles, cruise the Kinabatangan River to see orangutans and baby-faced Borneo pygmy elephants, and stay overnight in a traditional longhouse built from timber, thatch, and split bamboo.
Wild adventure begins at the Danum Valley Conservation Area, an ancient forest where you can brave the 1,000-foot jungle canopy walkway to spot clouded leopards, proboscis monkeys, and orangutans. Also impressive are Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Kinabalu National Park, and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where you can see Asia’s orange ape in its native habitat.
For a barefoot luxury, the designer-led Gaya Island Resort ticks the boxes for five-star desert island decadence, whilst the chic Shangri-La Rasa Ria cuts it for those seeking sun-soaked glamour on stunning Pantai Dalit Beach. In Sarawak, coastal capital Kuching deserves a visit for its ornate temples, Chinese shop houses, Sarawak Museum, and orangutans galore at the Semenggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Beyond the city, visit Bako National Park for hiking trails and diverse wildlife including long-tailed macaques and giant monitor lizards. Also, explore Batang Ai National Park, most famous for its indigenous Iban people, rainforests, and wildlife.
For a more dramatic spectacle, head to Gunung Mulu National Park where the showstopper is the UNESCO-listed site Mulu Caves - the world’s largest underground chamber containing a number of record-breaking caverns. Marvel at the razor sharp limestone Pinnacles that soar skywards from the jungle floor, trek the Headhunters Trail and for a real “Attenborough” moment, watch in awe as over two million bats emerge from the yawning mouth of Deer Cave at dusk - a sight never to be forgotten.
We've put together a guidebook with everything you need to know about Borneo and Malaysia. Written by our specialists, it details destination information, a wildlife guide, some suggested itineraries and plenty more to inspire your holiday. Fill in the form below and if you live in UK, your guidebook will arrive by post within the next couple of days. For those who live abroad, we will send you a link by email which will allow you to download your own copy.