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5 unique reasons to visit the island of Borneo

The sensational biodiversity of the world’s third-largest island makes it one of Asia’s natural gems.


Borneo is a far cry from anything you have seen back home. As an island of immense biodiversity, Borneo bursts with life, thanks to its array of environments. Think sandy beaches, winding rivers, jungles densely carpeted with trees, dramatic mountain peaks, and rainforests rumoured to be around 130 million years old.

If you are curious to see more of Southeast Asia, but you are looking for an experience away from bustling street markets, futuristic cities, and lively resorts, this part of the Malaysian archipelago offers an extraordinary change of pace and scenery.

That’s not to say the island won’t offer its share of excitement. With opportunities to trek in ancient jungles and spot rare wildlife such as the endangered orangutan, Borneo is sure to capture your wildest imagination. Here are some of the top reasons to experience a holiday in Borneo.

The wild rivers

The sheer range of wildlife is one of the best reasons to visit Borneo. A litany of unique and rare animals calls Kinabatangan River, one of Malaysia’s longest rivers, home. Some of the creatures which occupy the environment include pygmy elephants, crocodiles, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and many more.

There are enticing opportunities to see more of the river and its inhabitants by heading out on a sunset cruise and continuing onto one of the river’s oxbow lakes (these are U-shaped bodies of water that form when a river bend is cut off).

The jungle lodges

Another fantastic reason to take a holiday to Borneo is to experience the island's range of unique accommodation. If you fancy soaking up even more of the natural atmosphere of Kinabatangan, you can stay on the banks of the river in a jungle lodge. Borneo Natural Bilit Resort is our pick, featuring hardwood boardwalks, viewing platforms, waterfront cabins, and a swimming pool. There’s nothing quite like the natural immersion this accommodation offers.

The rare primates

With its vibrant orange hair and sweet, soft features, the orangutan is one of Asia, if not the world’s, most fascinating primates. These critically endangered animals can now only be found in Borneo and Sumatra. In Sabah, northern Borneo, lies the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where orphaned orangutans are taken care of. During the twice-daily feeding time, visitors can check out the orangutans up close. The centre is also situated within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, meaning you can explore the area on a trek and go birdwatching. 

Another incredible Bornean primate is the proboscis monkey, an arboreal Old World monkey, with its extremely large, droopy nose. The Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary offers travellers the rare chance to marvel at this monkey as it eats and plays.

The therapeutic hot springs

Another very tempting reason to visit Borneo is because of the opportunities to relax and unwind. Located within World Heritage Site Kinabalu Park is Poring Hot Spring, where you can take a long hot soak in a selection of thermal pools while enjoying views of the dense rainforest canopy.

The Sun Bears

It turns out the jungles and rainforests of Borneo make for the perfect home for the sun bear, the most tree-favouring of all the world’s bears. These Southeast Asian bears are unique in their love of sunbathing and lengthy tongues, which allow them to expertly capture honey from bee hives.

On your holiday to Borneo, be sure to check out the Sun Bear Conservation Centre which fosters the welfare of this vulnerable animal and also offers visitors the rare chance to see sun bears in their natural forest habitat.

Explore Malaysian Borneo’s incredible jungle paradise on an escorted tour with Newmarket Holidays.

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