Travel FAQs: Malaysian Borneo
Climate: Typically hot, humid and can be wet at anytime, although most rain falls between November and January and less so between June and August. Temperature fluctuates little throughout the year; the average is between 21 C and 32 C. Humidity is high. Rain tends to occur between November to February on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, on western Sarawak, and north-eastern Sabah. On the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia the rainy season is April to May and October to November. With few activity exceptions Borneo is a year round destination that is outside the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' so does not suffer from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or even tropical cyclones.
Language: Bahasa Malaysia is the official language spoken in the Sabah and Sarawak. Other widely spoken languages include Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil and English. All the indigenous tribes in Borneo also speak their own language.
Safety: Malaysian Borneo is one of the safest destinations in the world to visit, crime levels are low generally and particularly rare against visitors though of course you should exercise normal levels of vigilanace as you would at home.
Religion: Muslim 60.4%; Buddhist 19.2%; Christian 9.1%; Hindu 6.3%. Many of the indigenous groups, such as the Penan, are Christian. Borneo is a great example of a place where tolerance of religious and political views can create a peaceful and respectful society. You will be briefed on any relevant information you need to know if you are visiting local villages or centres of religion, but generally it is hard to cause true offence. You can find out more about cultural awareness in Borneo here.
Visas: Brisith Citizens do not need a visa to enter Malaysia, if you visit does not exceed 3 months and there is little red tape.
Currency: the local money is called Ringgit and you can buy these in the UK very easily at a bank or foreign exchange outlet. In all the major towns and cities there are many ATMs and credit cards are widely accepted.
Time: Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Electric Supply: Electric supply is on a 240-volt 50-cycle system. The plug type is G which is the same as we have in the UK.
International Dialling Code: +60
Medical emergencies: Malaysia has a top class medical support system, with excellent hospitals and emergency facilities. You must make sure you have travel insurance. In the event of an emergency you can go to any one of several private hospitals or clinics.
Insects, bugs and wildlife: Borneo is of course host to many thousands of animal species, and some of them are insects. It is important to be careful and maintain normal common sense. You would be very unlucky to suffer a snake bite for example, and our guide will always give briefings about what to expect in any area. The reality is that most animals prefer to avoid human beings, so searching for elusive great apes is always an exercise in patience and keeping very quiet. There is sufficient breeze on the coast for most winged insects to be blown away, and there are no insects on the mountain as it is too high and cold. Any trip into the jungle will require caution and wearing long sleeved clothes and shoes in the evening.
Flights are into Kota Kinabalu, Miri or Kuching, generally via Kuala Lumpur. There are many airlines to choose from but if you want to include the regional sector then have a look at Malaysian Airlines or Air Asia.