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Borneo Visa, Passport & Money Advice

In preparation for your trip to Malaysian Borneo it’s a good idea to get clued up on all things related to money, visas and passports. Below we’ve compiled all the information you’ll need.

Visa & passports

There is a lot to think about when planning your Borneo adventure, and it’s important to take care of the essentials. This includes ensuring that your passport is up-to-date, with at least 6 months validity beyond your intended return date. Depending on your nationality, you may or may not need to apply for a visa. If you’re a UK passport holder, you’ll be granted a 3-month visa on arrival, so there’s nothing you need to do in advance.

passport stamps
Local currency Borneo

Local currency

The national Malaysian currency is the Ringgit (RM) and is also referred to as the Malaysian Dollar. Be sure to always have enough money on you as it’s not uncommon for ATMs to be out of order just when you need them. All hotels and banks offer currency exchange services, but the best exchange rate can be found at smaller currency exchange desks in shopping malls.

Credit and debit cards

There are ATMs open 24/7 in the main areas in Borneo such as Kuching, Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu, but not so much in the smaller towns. Maybank and HSBC also allow you to withdraw cash using debit cards. It’s safe to use credit cards in larger hotels, fancier restaurants and, for instance, at diving schools on the small islands. We do however advise normal caution when using your cards as we have heard of instances of credit card fraud.

Person laying in hammock on beach Borneo
Traveller on jungle expedition Borneo

Malaysia tourism tax

From 1st September 2017, the Federal Government of Malaysia has introduced a new mandatory “Tourism Tax” of MYR 10.00 (approx £2) per room, per night for all foreign passport holders. This tax will be collected by your accommodation on behalf of the government, upon check-in. We therefore recommend you carry some extra Ringgit in change to cover this.

Tips and haggling

Unlike other countries in Asia, it isn’t customary to tip in Borneo, and restaurants generally include a service charge. In areas visited more frequently by tourists however, tipping has become more common, so feel free to tip what you think is appropriate. There are no guidelines for haggling but we suggest having a price in mind and trying to get as close to that price as possible. It’s OK to haggle, but remember to remain respectful.