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Borneo Destination Guide

Exclusively Elegant Travel Since 1988

For more information, please call our Luxury Travel Specialists on:01244 897 551

Your guide from the Luxury Travel Specialists

Welcome to the Elegant Resorts Destination Guide for Borneo, created to help make your choice of luxury holiday as easy as possible. Here, you will find more detailed factual information about the destination you have selected.

If you require further information, not featured on this page, please call one of our Luxury Travel Specialists.


Capital Malaysian Sabah's capital is Kota Kinabalu
Language Bahasa Malaysia
Time Difference 8 hours
Currency Malaysian Ringgit
Voltage 240 volts

Renowned for its ancient, untouched rainforests, home to myriad rare and endangered wildlife species, Borneo is a truly captivating island – that belongs to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia – where tribes still practice their ancient ways and lazy rivers snake through the jungle en route to the South China Sea.

A spectacularly natural environment perfect for luxury beach holidays, cultural discoveries and wildlife encounters alike, Borneo’s hospitable cities brings together an astonishing array of cultures, whilst the magical wilderness and surrounding ocean are unrivalled in their abundance of flora and fauna. Kota Kinabalu city is fast becoming a popular destination due to its proximity to tropical islands, lush rainforest and Mount Kinabalu, whilst the little-known forested island, Pulau Gaya, is part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.


Whilst lush rainforests and dramatic mountains might initially spring to mind when you think of Borneo’s landscape, the multi-dimensional island is also a spectacular beach destination. Borneo’s best beaches are mainly clustered in the eastern state of Sabah, home also to the luxurious Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, a haven of tropical paradise that overlooks the soft white sand and crystalline water of secluded Pantai Dalit Beach. Meanwhile, Gaya Island’s pristine powdery sands are surrounded by vibrant waters filled with enchanting marine life, offering some of the very best snorkelling in the area.


A melting pot of various cultures, religions and languages, Borneo will never cease to fascinate. Explore the array of captivating and artfully crafted religious buildings – including mosques, cathedrals and Hindu, Chinese and Buddhist temples – before educating yourself on beguiling Borneo in the countless museums and art galleries. Live like a local and shop for pearls at the bustling Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market, or visit the grizzly, yet undeniably fascinating, Monsopiad village – home to a former spiritual headhunting tribe – where a collection of forty-two human skulls hang from the rafters.

Mount Kinabalu

Utterly mesmerising, Mount Kinabalu – the highest on Borneo – is an absolute must-visit. The striking 4095-metre peak – that is amazingly growing by around 5mm per year – is the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Malaysia, reached by a scenic walk past Alpine jungle and surrounded by a large network of fascinating nature trails in Kinabalu National Park. Hike up to the low peak for (on a clear day) amazing views over to the Philippines or spot the staggering six-hundred species of fern (more than in Africa) and over eight-hundred species of orchid flora.

Wildlife Encounters

A rugged island known for its ancient, bio-diverse rainforest, Borneo is home to an abundance of rare and endangered animals. Look up at a marvellous array of colourful birds, watch the protected Orangutan swing through the jungle canopy, spot playful Irrawaddy Dolphins in the South China Sea, or encounter a saltwater crocodile or the, bizarre-looking, Proboscis Monkey as you sit back on an unforgettable river cruise at Klias Wetland Mangrove Forest Reserve. The wonderful Orangutan Sanctuary at Sepilok rehabilitates orphaned Orangutans, providing access to the jungle in which you can view these captivating 'people of the forest' in their natural habitat.

National Parks

One of the most naturally striking areas in the world, Borneo houses a number of glorious national parks. Among the best destinations on the island, Gunung Mulu National Park is bursting at the seams with natural marvels – from breathtaking caves and enchanting tropical rainforest, to the unique limestone karst formations (named the Pinnacles) on Mount Api. In Kalimantan, Tanjung Puting National Park, set aside as a wildlife preserve by the Dutch in 1939, is understandably popular. Board a klotok – a traditional river boat – and take a storybook journey up the jungle river, spotting orangutans, kingfishers and much more!

Travel Gems+

Nature Interpretation Centre at Shangri La's Rasa Ria Nature Resort
As you can imagine, feeding time for the orphaned Orangutans at the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Nature Resort, is extremely popular and visits are limited to fifty people per daily feeding session (10am and 2pm), with bookings taken three days in advance (charges apply). We strongly recommend you do this prior to your arrival to guarantee your place, and our Travel Consultants will happily arrange these for you.


Rainforest areas have a wet climate, remaining hot and humid for most of the year. From March to October is probably the best time to visit, but as these areas can be unpredictable, it's best to expect the possibility of rain, at any time.

Temperature Guide

These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Borneo.

  Temp °C Rain mm

Getting There+

Flight Information
Malaysia Airlines direct from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur; British Airways from London Heathrow to Singapore and Hong Kong; Singapore Airlines from London Heathrow and Manchester to Singapore.
Onward connecting flights with Malaysia Airways from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu.

Flight Time
From London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur: 12 hours, 20 minutes. London Heathrow to Singapore: 12 hours, 35 minutes.
Onward connecting flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu: 2 hours 35 minutes.

Travel Documentation+

Travelling With Children or Without an Adult

Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.

Visa and Advance Passenger Information

All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.

Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.

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Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit Insect and tick bite avoidance. In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations i.e, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling. Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.

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Our dedicated Asia, Australasia and Africa experts are ready to help you design your luxury holiday to Borneo.

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