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When it comes to things to do in Borneo, visiting orangutans usually tops every travellers’ bucket list, and who can blame them?
While these creatures are most definitely one of Borneo’s top highlights (and yes, they appear first on our list too), there’s a whole lot more to see and do on this adventurous island. So get your planning notebook out and check out our list below of the top ten best things to do in Borneo.
Orangutans & jungle boat cruise
A visit to the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is not to be missed if you want to get your wildlife-fix on your Borneo travels. At this well-established centre, you can learn all about their conservation efforts and witness these agile apes eat and play among the canopy trees. For an extra dose of animal magic, you can also head out on a morning cruise along the Kinabatangan River. Here, be sure to keep an eye out for pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys in the treetops!
Staying in a treehouse
If you’re visiting Borneo, then it’s most likely you’re a wildlife lover. In that case, you’ll enjoy nothing more than getting up close and personal with nature whilst staying in a treehouse on the coast of the Damai Peninsular. Spend 2 nights in this treetop paradise surrounded by mangroves, monkeys and fireflies. It will give new meaning to experiencing wildlife on your doorstep!
We love an adventurous hike and Borneo is the place to go to do just that. Ramble through steamy rainforests and take in the sights and sounds of the jungle, challenge yourself to a rewarding climb up Mount Kinabalu or follow trails to eerie rock formations in Bako National Park. Time to lace up those hiking boots.
Meet the Iban headhunters
Stay with and learn more about the previously revered Iban tribe, who famously used to collect human skulls as they believed they held spiritual powers. These days, however, they are very hospitable and will warmly share their traditions with guests who stay in their longhouses. Known affectionately as “The Guardians of the Rainforest”, they hold annual festivals and are master storytellers. This is definitely a truly unique experience and an unusual thing to do in Borneo!
CAT-chup with cats in Kuching
Kuching is the capital of the Malaysian state, Sarawak, in Borneo. ‘Kuching’ means “Cat” in Malaysian, and this quirky city is filled with cat statues, sculptures and heaps of colourful art. We recommend exploring the city with a camera to see how many cats snaps you can collect!
Snorkelling in the Sula Sea
Lankayan Island is world-renowned for macro and micro diving sites, with wrecks, corals, and more wacky fish than you can dream up. So, if you feel at home underneath the waves, this is one Borneo experience you shouldn’t miss out on. Not only can you paddle among many rare species of fish, but there are also hawksbill and green turtles everywhere, as it’s one of their main nesting sites. Through visiting Lankayan and ‘Reef Gardens House’ you can learn more about and support the conservation work they do for turtles here.
Bird watching in Borneo
Calling all bird-brains, this one’s for you! Did you know that Borneo hosts over 680 species of bird who either call it home or pass through on migrations? Well, we think it’s pretty awesome. Will you catch a glimpse of a Bornean bristlehead, a Javan white-eye or the striking Rajah scops owl? Whether you’re an experienced bird watcher, or just fancy it as a hobby, we know you’ll find some incredible bird spots in Borneo.
Island-hopping in Sabah – Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
There are five individual islands that make up this national marine park. Millions of years ago, these islands were all linked by land, but now they stand alone and are accessible only by short boat trips. Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug are breathtakingly stunning and full of natural beauty and individual character. You’ll want to depart from Kota Kinabalu and head for the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal. Swim, snorkel and hike around the Islands, letting the day bring sights and sounds that will become lasting memories on your Borneo trip.