Best time to visit Borneo

Best time to visit Borneo


temperature & rainfall

Temperature charts: Sepilok | Kuching | South Kalimantan
A true tropical island, Borneo hovers between 27-32°C year-round, with frequent rains replenishing its verdant jungles. Those here to hike, bike or volunteer should be aware that they’ll be doing so in a near-sauna – although Mt Kinabalu’s chilly summit provides some respite. Apr-Sep are the driest months, and generally considered the best time to visit Borneo but showers can occur at any time. Thankfully, the island is sheltered from the worst of SE Asia’s weather – so although monsoons occur, cyclones don’t.

When to visit Borneo & when not to


month by month guide

If you're travelling around Borneo during January, February or March then be aware that this is pretty much mid-rainy season with areas around Kuching tending to get the worst of the afternoon downpours.

Things are starting to dry out across the island during April, May and June with resplendent flowers and jungle foliage providing a totally tropical backdrop to any hiking or wildlife watching trip.

July is Borneo's festival month with loads of local holidays across the island meaning shops and banks maybe closed so bear this in mind if hoping to secure accommodation on the hoof.

August and September are still relatively dry, especially in the south of the island, but being prepared for a shower or two is definitely the best way forward. Forest fires will also become more prevalent during the dry summer season so please take all due precautions if you suffer from respiratory problems or want to avoid the, often stifling, smog.

October, November and December will see rainfall charts start to creep up again the further north you are but don't let this put you off as there are plenty of rooms available for what is generally considered to be Borneo's low season.

Mount Kinabalu's summit can be off limits at any time of the year due to poor weather conditions so keep your eye on relevant reports or opt for alternatives, such as Laban Rata, where climbing may still be permitted.

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Best time to visit Borneo


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN

Kate Tyler, from our supplier Odyssey World, shares her best time to visit Borneo:
“If you are looking to go to the Kinabatangan River area in Sabah I would avoid going between December and April because the weather is atrocious. The rain is so heavy. Borneo is a a year-round destination but when the rain is at its heaviest it can really hinder your experience. It can be really humid. The best time is probably from end of April through to October, so it’s perfect for a summer holiday destination.”
Our wildlife pick:
Diving with whale sharks
Borneo’s clear waters are idyllic for diving year-round, but scuba divers in search of some of the more impressive species should head to Lankayan in April-May to glimpse enormous whale sharks, or to Sipadan in July-August for the best chance of swimming with turtles heading to the shore to nest.

Festivals & events


Our cultural picks from the Borneo calendar

Gigantic, flying works of art are created each September at the Borneo International Kite Festival. Held at a disused airport in Bintulu, Sarawak, the festival has grown enormously since its inception in 2005, and there are kite making competitions and kite flying championships – fliers come from across the globe to compete.
Each September, the town of Tenggarong in East Kalimantan hosts one of Indonesia’s oldest festivals: Erau. Held since the 16th century, Erau’s modern incarnation sees traditional performances from the region’s Dayak people, as well as folk festivities from several invited countries around the world. There are also food and craft markets and sporting events.

Did you know...?


... that the Rainforest World Music Festival is held in the Sarawak Cultural Village? During the second week of July each year, indigenous musicians in wonderful costumes along with performers from across the world come together in this three-day celebration of the diversity of world music, attended by up to 30,000 people.
Photo credits: [Temperature chart image: Dustin Iskandar] [Kinabatangan River: Rob and Stephanie Levy's photostream] [Kite festival: Kaushik Patel] [Erau festival: id:Pengguna:Agri]
Written by Vicki Brown
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