Borneo »City Info »Travel Tips


Borneo Island consists of three nations – Malaysia,Indonesia and Brunei,with a major chunk of the island occupied by Indonesia (Kalimantan). Since Borneo is the third-largest island in the world,it is obvious travelling such a large span involves detailed planning. Traversing across the islands involves large distances,so it is advisable to opt for air travel to save time. Borneo's transportation system is comfortable enough to allow you to move swiftly by renting cars,taxis,buses,boats and ferries.

Air Travel

Since Borneo is controlled by three countries and is a large island,it sometimes becomes essential that one choose the comforts of air travel. The small islands surrounding Borneo are accessible only by helicopter or charter flights. There are two major airports at Kuching (Sarawak) and Kota Kinabalu (Sabah). Miri,Sibu,Bintulu,Labuan and Lahad Datu also have airports. A few rural areas inaccessible by road have airstrips for communication. Countries like Brunei and Indonesia are accessible by air,sea and land. The Brunei International Airport and Jakarta's Soekarno–Hatta International Airport are the country's main airports.

Road Travel

Buses & Taxis are the common means of transport throughout Indonesia,Malaysia and Brunei. Though not exactly comfortable,travelling by local transport gives a chance to establish a rapport with the locals. In addition,the beautiful scenery one gets to capture on the camera is worth a thousand memories. Most of the overland journeys are long distances,but it is worth the tiring expedition if the taxi driver shows his willingness.

Car rental is another excellent option in cities like Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. Depending on the number of people travelling,tourists can choose the size of the car. In fact,in countries like Brunei,where the road network is well developed,driving a car can be a pleasurable experience.

Boat & Ferry

Borneo is surrounded by several small islands such as Sipadan,Pulau Tiga and Labuan that are accessible only by ferries and boats. While some are official,a few will not pass beyond the safety checks. So,make sure the boat is licensed to avoid any commotion. In addition,ensure that the operators have taken all the safety precautions such as life vests etc. In Sarawak,the boats are used to ferry passengers along the river Rajang to reach the longhouse communities inland. While in Brunei,the ferry terminal at Muara has regular speedboat trips to the island of Labuan off the coast of Sabah. Travellers are charged depending on the fuel and the number of days the boat is used.

Rail Travel

Rail travel in Borneo is used for tourism & recreational purposes to explore the sights of Sabah from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom. It is a guided tour,especially for tourists who want to soak in the rich natural heritage of Borneo.


Tourists are assured of their safety on Borneo except for freak accidents during jungle trekking,which could result in potential injury or illness. As with tourist places,the fear of pickpocketing,bag snatching & petty crime is always there. However,these situations can be taken care of by keeping the bags and valuables in the hotel. The threat of kidnapping foreign tourists still exists in some parts of eastern Sabah;tourists should stay extra careful while travelling in boats and at dive sites.

When to Travel

Borneo experiences a sunny tropical climate throughout the year,with temperatures averaging between 23°C (73°F) and 30°C (86°F). Tourists should avoid arriving during the rainy season from November to February for jungle trekking,diving,nature trails,etc. However,unpredictable rains could fall at any time of the year,making it impossible to judge the best season for visiting. Moreover,Borneo being a large island,the climate fluctuates in different areas on the island. In Kuching,the wet season is from November to February,while the dry season is from June to August. At the same time,the wet season shifts a little in Kota Kinabalu,as most rains happen in October. Therefore,tourists should be aware that Borneo gets heavy,occasional rainfalls even during the dry season. In addition,during the rainy season,it is not possible to dive or jungle camp.

What to carry

Borneo enjoys a humid climate throughout the year. So carry light,summer. Both sunshine and rain are in plenty,so prepare for a surprise shower with a poncho and not an umbrella. Carry a jacket or sweater if journeying during the rainy season as temperatures drop below 20°C (68°F) in the evening.

Jungle Trekking

Jungle trekking is one of the most coveted tourist activities on Borneo Island. Tourists who want to enjoy jungle hikes in national parks should keep a few points in mind.
  • Functional clothing to beat the high humidity sweat
  • Long pants and socks to avoid injuries from reedy grasses and thistle plants
  • Ponchos to protect from rain which is frequent in a tropical rainforest
  • Carry trail shoes or mountaineering boots with ankle protection to traverse uneven and steep paths. If possible,choose shoes that can dry quickly and are suitable for rough terrains.
  • Sunscreens and hats are necessary for tropical climates where the risk of sunburn is higher
  • Insect repellents to keep those annoying insects at bay
  • Personal belonging like wallet and passport should be kept in a waterproof bag

Social Etiquettes

Malaysia,Brunei and Indonesia are Islamic countries and follow certain social etiquettes that cannot be ignored. Locals know that foreigners are unfamiliar with their local customs and traditions. However,tourists should ensure their willingness to respect the traditions and culture.
  • Tourists should dress moderately without exposing too much skin,especially women.
  • Socialize with members of the opposite sex only if you are sure.
  • Do not point a finger;instead,use the thumb with four fingers folded beneath it.
  • While entering a mosque,remove your shoes outside the mosque and cover your head,arms,and knees. No part of the skin except a woman's face should be exposed.
  • Never refuse food. Have a bit and use the right hand to pass anything
  • During Ramadan,do not eat or drink anything in public places.
  • Consume alcohol in discreet / private or in some hotels or restaurants that have the license to serve liquor.

Emergency Numbers for Borneo





Country Code




Fire Department




Universal emergency service (Police & Ambulance)



118 or 119