Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is situated between the Phillipines to the Northwest and Java to the south. The Island is divided in to three regions, between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The Indonesian region of Borneo is to the South and East and is called ‘ Kalimantan’. Malaysian Borneo can be found in the North and West of the island and this area is split into Sabah in the North and Sarawak in the south. Brunei is a small independent nation in the also in the northwest. The highest mountain in Borneo is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, at the Northern tip of the island. Here the mountains reach over 4000m above sea level making this also the third highest island. Much of the island was covered with dense rainforest, however significant deforestation in 1980’s has endangered some of the most diverse areas of Flora and Fauna. Most significant is the plight of the Bornean Orang-u-tan, and the Bornean Cloud Leopard, for whom the bornean rain forest is there only natural habitat as they are both endemic to the region.
The time in Borneo is GMT +8 hours.
The national language of Borneo is Malay. Malaysia is a culturally diverse country with strong influences from the mix of Malayan, Chinese and Indian people. In tourist areas locals can speak good English. However, we recommend that you take a pocket phrase book and try to learn some simple phrases and greetings before you go. Any attempt to speak in the local language is usually much appreciated.
The weather is pretty constant throughout the year in Sarawak and Sabah. It is generally hot and humid, with daily temperatures varying between 23 and 33°C / 73 and 90°F at sea-level. It can rain at any time, although showers tend to be short-lived and heavy. On Kinabalu, we can expect clear mornings, clouding over in the afternoons. Temperatures at Laban Rata Lodge on Kinabalu range from 10°C / 50°F during the day to 2°C / 36°F at night. Pools of water near to Kinabalu's summit occasionally freeze.
The unit of currency in Borneo is the Malaysian Riingit. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash rather than travellers cheques, since you will exchange the majority of this on the day of your arrival in Miri. It is not necessary to obtain local currency prior to travel. Sterling and US Dollars are readily exchanged in Malaysia. Cash can also be obtained from ATM machines at banks in Miri, Limbang and Kota Kinabalu.
A valid passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity) is required for entry into Borneo. Visas are not normally required by British or Commonwealth citizens, or by citizens of most European countries, the USA and Canada.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, and Hepatitis ‘A’. Malarial prophylactics are recommended. A very good online resource is the Scottish National Health Travellers website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Insight Pocket Guide – Sabah. Wendy Hutton.
Insight Pocket Guide – Sarawak. Wendy Hutton.
Footprint – Malaysia Handbook.
Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Lonely Planet
Malaysia . Nelles Guides and Maps.
Malaysia (and Brunei). Nelles Maps. 1:1,500,000.
Lonely Planet - www.lonelyplanet.com
Rough Guides - www.roughguides.com