Wildlife filled jungle, beautiful beaches great trekking and those iconic orangutans

Borneo is an island separated from Malaysia by the China Sea. The land is shared between the two Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, the Indonesian state of Kalimantan and the tiny sultanate of Brunei. Most holidays to Borneo focus on the Malaysian states but it is also possible to visit Kalimentan as part of an Indonesian tour.  We love orangutans and no trip to Borneo would be complete without a trip to one of the Malaysian rehabilitation centres. The more intrepid can visit the Camp Leakey research centre in Kalimantan. But there is a huge amount of wildlife on offer in Borneo as well as some beautiful walks, dramatic scenery and relaxing beaches. Highlights include:

  • A visit to either Sepilok or Semenggok orangutan rehabilitation centre at feeding time for your best chance to see these gorgeous creatures.
  • Two or three-day trips into the pristine Danum Valley rainforest staying in one of the lodges and looking for endemic wildlife such as mouse deer, orangutans, civets, macaques and pygmy elephants. If you are very lucky you may get a rare sighting of a clouded leopard or sun bear.
  • A stay on the Kinabatangan River, wildlife spotting on the peaceful jungle backwaters.
  • Snorkelling and diving off the white sand beaches of Lankayan Island.
  • A stay on Gaya Island just off the coast near Kota Kinabulu, a great way to relax for a few days at the beginning or end of a trip.
  • Trekking the Headhunters Trail in Mulu National Park.
  • Climbing Mount Kinabalu.


There is some magnificent walking to be had in Borneo. From trails through tangled jungles to treks up jagged mountain peaks. Wherever you choose to walk you are advised to take a guide. Not only to keep you safe from the wildlife (pygmy elephants are larger than you might imagine!) but also because their knowledge of the environment you are walking in will enhance the experience. Local knowledge means they may know where to find some of the more elusive animals.  Some of  the best walking includes:

  • Rainforest walks from Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley to viewpoints over the rainforest canopy and past Coffin Cliff (an abandoned burial site).
  • Trails in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve looking for Asian pygmy elephants and other endangered wildlife.
  • Walks through the gently rolling hills of Tanjung Datu National Park.
  • Challenging trek to the summit of Mount Kinabalu including overnighting in a mountain lodge and for the even more intrepid a via ferrata traversing the mountain.  
  • The Headhunters’ Trail – a two night trek following ancient pathways into jungle occupied by local Iban people who you will meet on this trek.

Ideas for a trip to Borneo

Here are some ideas for trips to Borneo all of which can be adapted for you and we are always happy to create a bespoke trip from scratch.

Borneo Wildlife Adventure

from £2995 per person
A private ten-day tour of the Malaysian state of Borneo, home to pristine rainforests and exotic flora and fauna. From the busy coastal town of Kota Kinabalu, explore the rainforests of the Kinabalu National Park, then head south to see orangutans near Sepilok. The wildlife adventures continue with a journey along the Kinabatangan river and overnight stays at remote jungle lodges. End with a visit to the Kiulu Valley and a relaxing stay on the beaches of the South China Sea.

The Really Wild Tour Sukau and Danum Valley

from £2895 per person
Get up close and personal on this eight-day trip with Borneo's fabulous wildlife, birds and natural wonders. From orangutans to Proboscis monkeys, rainforests to waterfalls and mud volcanoes, this tour captures Borneo's best. After a brief visit in Kota Kinabalu you will visit the Danum Valley and take a night drive in an open-top vehicle in search of nocturnal animals, stroll along a canopy treetop walkway, take a morning jungle trek or tube down the Danum River. A stay at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the rainforest beside the Lipad river will include a visit to the mud volcano and an early morning bird walk.

A week at Gaya Island Resort

from £1369 per person
Just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, lies the island of Pulau Gaya. Covered in dense tropical forest, this picturesque isle has been protected as a reserve since the early 1920s. Here, you will find Gaya Island Resort. Set between verdant rainforest and a fine sandy beach with a house reef on the edge of a 40-acre estate, this hotel has a lap pool, fantastic spa programmes at the Spa Village and a great collection of restaurants. Nestled within the rainforest and mangroves, the resort is made up of 120 modern villas that have been built using the finest locally-sourced materials.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions that haven't been answered here? Send your questions to and we'll try our best to help.

British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Malaysia. You will normally be given permission to stay for three months on arrival. For further information visit the Foreign Office travel pages.

Visit the NHS Fit for Travel pages for detail on recommended immunisations which will depend on the exact areas you are visiting on your trip.

Malaysia is a multicultural, majority Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, other religious festivals or if you intend to visit religious sites. 

You should also dress modestly, particularly in conservative and rural areas and when visiting places of worship.

For further information visit the Foreign Office travel pages.

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