This lush land of tribal warriors, mysterious head hunters and far-from-home war heroes has intrigued adventurers, anthropologists and explorers for centuries. From steamy jungles to blissful mountains, balmy beaches and peaceful villages, travellers love Borneo s bolunty of natural treasures seemingly tailor-made for fun, relaxation, exploration and adventure.
Articles on Borneo
- Get steamy in the Poring Hot Springs
- Cool off in the waters near Kota Kinabalu
- Visit the temples and markets of Sandakan
- Relax on the stunning beaches of Sabah
- Meet the orangutans of Sopilok
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport – which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you re on while in Borneo, you may find yourself travelling by:
- Speedboat – Get out on the water and experience the thrill of a zippy speedboat ride on Borneo s pristine coastline.
- Local Bus – Rub shoulders with locals and practise your Bahasa language skills when travelling on a humble bus in Borneo.
- Longtail boat – A ride on the aquatic transportation icon of South-East Asia is a must when travelling on the coast of 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:
- National Park Lodge – Enjoy the comfort and convenience of staying in a lodge located within one of Borneo s national parks. Staying close to the action is a beautiful bonus.
- Homestay Longhouse – Homestay Spend a memorable night with the Iban people of Borneo, sleeping in a traditional longhouse.
- Jungle camp – Get back to nature and camp in the wilds of Borneo. What s missing in modern conveniences is made up for in wildlife encounters, serenity and natural beauty.
Best time to visit Borneo
Borneo s climate is typical for a tropical region – generally hot and humid all year-round. Temperatures are usually in the high 20s for most of the year, dropping back to the low 20s at night. Rainfall tends to be in short, heavy bursts followed by sunshine. The wet season runs from November through to February but it does rain throughout the year, although our itineraries are rarely affected. The state of Sabah is known as the land below the wind as it s below the monsoon belt.
Culture and customs
Although an overused term, the island of Borneo truly is a melting pot of cultures, customs and religions. Home to more than 18 million people, a large majority of the population is Muslim, so most of society is quite conservative in accordance with Islamic law. Dressing modestly is recommended (covering legs and shoulders), as is being careful with public alcohol consumption and displays of affection. Indigenous people (like the Dayak and Penan people) make up the rest of Borneo s population, many of whom have either been converted to Christianity or hold animist beliefs. While many indigenous people rely on farming as a way of life, Borneo is still home to small numbers of tribal people who live a nomadic, hunter-gatherer existence. Unfortunately, deforestation and mining have encroached upon their traditional lifestyle (particularly in the last 30 years) yet despite this, many are still able to hunt and gather as their ancestors have done for centuries.
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you re sampling street food, savoring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world. Borneo s cuisine has a distinctive Chinese/Malay influence, and with many night markets around the country, finding freshly prepared, low-cost food is simple.
Things to try in Borneo
1. Fresh Fruit Take the chance to try fruits endemic to the region like rambutan, banana, jackfruit, salak, durian and mango.
2. Sarawak Laksa While laksa is available all over Borneo, a spicy Sarawak laksa filled with chicken, prawns, chilli, coriander, coconut, rice noodles and lime is a filling and tasty meal to remember.
3. Seafood Crab, prawns and whole fish are popular, particularly on the coast. Try whole steamed fish or otak (fish wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over coals).
4. Tuak This locally brewed rice wine is popular in small villages around Borneo. Try it if you dare!
Geography and environment