Borneo luxury travel guide


You could argue that just being in Borneo is a luxury. The sheer wealth of natural wonders here is a never-forgotten treat. In Sabah, mighty Mount Kinabalu tempts hikers to its summit, while cruises along the Kinabatangan River drift past remarkable flora and fauna, much of it unique to Borneo. Sarawak, meanwhile, boasts 30 national parks that protect some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Meet Borneo’s celebrated orangutans, too, and spend a night in a traditional longhouse, a thrilling way to learn about the indigenous Iban people.
Tourism is on the rise in both Sabah and Sarawak, but these are not easy places to travel around independently and it’s worth spending the time, and money, to get a trip here right. A luxury vacation will do the heavy lifting for you, securing the best experiences and accommodation, with an eye on responsibility, too. Then all you have to do is enjoy it.
Find out more in our Borneo luxury travel guide.

Best time to visit Borneo


Click on a location: Sepilok | Kuching | South Kalimantan
Borneo hovers between 27°C and 32°C for 12 months of the year, with exhaustingly high humidity. If you’re here to hike and spot wildlife, be aware that you’ll be doing so in a near-sauna with very little breeze – although Mt Kinabalu’s chilly summit provides some respite. Apr-Sep are the driest months, generally considered the best time to visit Borneo, although ‘dry’ is a relative term – showers happen any time, keeping the jungle lush and verdant. Thankfully, the island is sheltered from the worst of SE Asia’s weather, so no need to worry about cyclones.

Why choose a luxury vacation to Borneo?

Responsible Travel

The key benefit to a luxury Borneo tailor made vacation is the flexibility. Extend your stay at the beach, delve deeper into the jungle, join a trek off the beaten track or enjoy a stopover en route, in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. This is your vacation, and your hard earned cash, so you get to decide what you consider to be a luxury!

The expertly devised itineraries that luxury trips to Borneo offer help you get the most from your time here. This is really invaluable, because Borneo tends to be a once-in-a-lifetime destination, whatever your budget. You can’t fly direct to Sabah or Sarawak, so it takes time and money just to get here. Once you’ve arrived, it’s important to see and do everything that interests you, but at a pace that suits, too. Luxury itineraries take care of all this, booking beautiful accommodation in often remote locations, providing brilliantly informed guides who can help you understand the country’s wildlife and wonders, and organising domestic flights so you won’t waste time reaching the best bits. Result? A rich, varied taste of this wonderful island in just 12 days or so.

Responsible tourism

Unlike in mainland Southeast Asia, where tourism has expanded at a fast and often insensitive pace, tourism in Borneo is largely being developed thoughtfully and sustainably. Sabah and Sarawak are now well equipped for visitors, with wildlife reserves, world-class dive sites and mountain treks. Most luxury itineraries explore the wonderful wildlife of Borneo, and entrance fees to national parks and visits to rehabilitation centers such as Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary provide money to help endangered wildlife and protect against deforestation. Some vacations go further, taking part in a tree planting scheme, for instance, to help with reforestation.


Luxury vacations give you access to some of the most beautiful accommodation in Borneo. Island resorts with spas and infinity pools beckon, as do remote jungle lodges, perched on stilts and accessed by river boat. Splashing out on top end accommodation also feels so much more worthwhile after you’ve tramped through a jungle, dodging the leeches, or scaled a mountain.
Some accommodation has great eco credentials, too: harvesting rainwater, using solar power, recycling as much waste as possible and employing staff and guides from local villages. It may also donate a portion of its tourist income to conservation charities and local initiatives in the area. Some hotels are even locally built and run, so with this range of accommodation possibilities, it’s worth quizzing your vacation provider about the hotels and lodges used, as paying more does not necessarily guarantee a more environmentally friendly approach.
A true luxury experience in Borneo isn’t elitist, though. A stay with an Iban tribe in their traditional longhouse doesn’t rate as a four-star luxury experience, but it features in luxury trips because it’s a treat in terms of cultural enlightenment. In addition, each visit contributes financially to the medical and educational needs of the Iban.
Photo credits: [Top box: Angelo Zinna] [Temp chart: whatapar] [Responsible Tourism - Sepilok: IIP Photo Archive] [Accommodation: Talisen]
Written by Joanna Simmons
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