When is the Best Time to Visit Borneo?
Published on: January 30th, 2018
Last modified: July 27th, 2023
The best time to visit beautiful Borneo is when the warm weather arrives in March through to October and the island is hot and dry. It’s perfect for climbing Mt Kinabalu, searching for whale sharks, turtles and seeing endangered orangutans in the wild.
March marks the end of the rainy season so the vegetation will be lush and the rivers and waterfalls full. Danum Valley Rainforest naturally continues with a more humid climate. A must stop for all wildlife lovers as you have the chance to find rare Sumatran rhinoceros, elephants, clouded leopards and orangutans as well as take a dip in the refreshing and overflowing waterfalls.
May is overall the best time to visit Borneo, no matter what part of the country you’re heading for. The dry, sunny season extends all the way into September. This is a great time to adventure to Sandakan and onto the Kinabatangan River for a wildlife cruise like no other. Look out for proboscis monkeys, gibbons, pygmy elephants, hornbills and hopefully more orangutans.
From June on, you can expect afternoon downpours. December is the wettest month of the year, when most wildlife will be out of sight. The wet and windy weather that carries into the monsoon season makes January an inadvisable time to visit. However, in February you may find some drier days that are perfect for visiting the beaches near to Kota Kinbalu.
When to Visit for...
Diving and Snorkeling
Head for the beaches of Kota Kinabalu, Gaya Island and Lankayan Island in April and May, when this part of Sabah experiences its lowest rainfall. You’ll also find that this is the best time for snorkeling and diving around Lankayan Island. However, the best time to go diving is in July when the water is warm, and visibility is up to 40m. Diving season lasts until September. The beaches along the north coast are great in August, but expect short thunderstorms in the late afternoons and evenings. If you’re wanting to go diving while visiting in October, the conditions in the Sidapan and Mabul Islands will be best.
The best time of year for exploring Mulu National Park and Batang Ai is April. Bear in mind that tropical storms can sometimes occur so go prepared with clothing for wet weather in case. Sunny days, blue skies and minimal rainfall makes August a good time for jungle walking in the Danum Valley, Tabin, and Kinabatangan River. As the dry season draws to a close in September and October, you can still go walking in the parks, but be sure to be prepared for wet weather. While Mulu is not too affected by the monsoon conditions in November and December, the wet weather makes trekking unwise.
Visit in May and your chances of spotting orang-utan in Danum Valley and near the Kinabatanagan River are great. And fruiting season starts in June and runs into July, so be on the look out for the apes foraging in the forests. This is also a good time of year to witness turtles laying eggs on the beaches of Selingan Island. Turtle season stretches into July on Sipadan Island, and you may spot babies starting to hatch in August.
Climbing Mt Kinabalu
If you have your sights set on climbing the spectacular Mt Kinabalu, March and April are good times to visit. The minimal rain and comfortable daytime temperatures make September and October great months for both climbing the mountain, and going jungle trekking. By the time the wet November weather arrives, it is not advisable to go climbing or trekking around Mt Kinabalu, as paths and trails will be muddy and dangerous.