Skip to content
Female orangutan at Semenggok

When is the best time to visit Borneo?

The best time to visit Borneo is between March and October, when the island is hot, humid, and at its driest. This makes it one of Southeast Asia’s few summer destinations. It is also the best time to see orangutans in the wild, while turtles can be seen on Lankayan Island between June and September.

During the rest of the year, Borneo experiences a tropical climate, and the rains come to water the forest below. It’s hot and humid, with temperatures averaging 27°C to 32°C, and humidity usually at around 80%.

However, there’s always somewhere to break up the trip. Trek up Mount Kinabablu to be rewarded by stunning views and a cooling breeze, or head to the beaches for some swimming and world-class snorkeling.

Speak to someone
who's been there

Audley Travel specialist Sophie

Start planning your tailor-made trip by contacting one of our Borneo specialists

Borneo Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Brunei 30°C 306mm 30°C 161mm 31°C 150mm 31°C 195mm 32°C 243mm 31°C 211mm 31°C 230mm 31°C 212mm 31°C 298mm 31°C 324mm 31°C 367mm 31°C 348mm
Danum Valley 27°C 221mm 27°C 165mm 28°C 179mm 28°C 162mm 29°C 211mm 29°C 170mm 28°C 168mm 29°C 168mm 29°C 178mm 28°C 194mm 28°C 197mm 28°C 210mm
Gaya Island 30°C 160mm 30°C 80mm 31°C 88mm 32°C 143mm 32°C 257mm 31°C 289mm 31°C 262mm 31°C 264mm 31°C 301mm 31°C 344mm 30°C 307mm 30°C 250mm
Kota Kinabalu 30°C 162mm 30°C 85mm 31°C 93mm 31°C 151mm 32°C 264mm 31°C 293mm 31°C 264mm 31°C 269mm 31°C 302mm 31°C 347mm 30°C 307mm 30°C 253mm
Kuching 30°C 681mm 30°C 532mm 31°C 339mm 32°C 277mm 32°C 245mm 32°C 199mm 32°C 194mm 32°C 228mm 32°C 255mm 32°C 317mm 31°C 345mm 30°C 509mm
Mulu National Park 28°C 283mm 28°C 237mm 28°C 274mm 28°C 288mm 28°C 330mm 28°C 253mm 28°C 228mm 28°C 250mm 28°C 317mm 28°C 321mm 28°C 321mm 28°C 351mm
Sepilok 29°C 449mm 29°C 279mm 30°C 199mm 31°C 120mm 32°C 158mm 32°C 207mm 32°C 198mm 32°C 248mm 32°C 248mm 31°C 243mm 30°C 310mm 30°C 439mm

Month-by-month guide to travelling in Borneo

Kinabalu National Park, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in January

During January, Borneo sees some of its highest rainfall for the year; particularly in Sarawak. Sabah will most likely receive less rain at this time, but storms and high winds can make sea travel and reaching the more rural areas difficult. The poor weather also means that much of the wildlife remains hidden from view as animals shelter in the dense forest.

Events & Festivals

  • Chinese New Year (date varies): Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout Borneo with the usual festivities of singing, dancing and merrymaking.
Turtle, Sipadan-Mabul, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in February

You should still expect to see some rainfall in Sarawak over this time, but it shouldn't impact your exploration too much. Lower visitor numbers and drier weather in Sabah - particularly in the north - make February an appealing month to visit if you are looking to take advantage of low season promotional offers; with Kota Kinabalu and the northern coast, including Gaya Island, being warm and relatively dry at this time. However, southern areas such as Danum Valley and the Sipadan Islands are still likely to receive heavy rainfall.

Events & Festivals

  • Chinese New Year (date varies): Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout Borneo with the usual festivities of singing, dancing and merrymaking.
Lankayan Island, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in March

Visitor numbers are still relatively low at this time of year, and for the most part, the island is dry. As such, this is a wonderful time to visit; taking advantage of shoulder season offers and lower crowds. This is also the start of the whale shark season.

Events & Festivals

  • Chinese New Year (date varies): Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout Borneo with the usual festivities of singing, dancing and merrymaking.
Female orangutan, Kinabatangan River, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in April

April is one of the best months to visit Borneo, as dry weather dominates. It also has some of the best conditions for trekking, and you'll have a good chance of seeing some orangutans.

Flying Lemur, Kinabatangan River, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in May

During May, Borneo should have good weather all round, making it a perfect time to visit before high season prices set in. Orangutans are out in full force, making jungle treks extremely rewarding. This is also a good time to visit the beaches as their white sands are basked in sunshine.

Events & Festivals

  • Gawai Dayak/Harvest Festival (31st May - 1st June): An annual festival celebrated by the Dayak people in Sarawak, where it's a public holiday. It's marked with the sharing of food, decorated longhouses and traditional dress.
  • Malaysian Labour Day (1st May): A national holiday throughout Malaysia - including Borneo - in celebration of the economic and social achievements of workers.
  • Miri Jazz Festival (May): A two day festival where local and international jazz musicians perform for visitors from around the world.
Turtle, Sipadan-Mabul, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in June

Hot, dry weather is present across most of Borneo in June, with the occasional rain shower occuring on Borneo's northern coastline. June marks the start of turtle season off Lankayan Island, while the fruiting season is in full swing in the forest, causing orangutans to venture closer as they forage. All of this makes June an extremely attractive time to visit.

Events & Festivals

  • Gawai Dayak/Harvest Festival (31st May - 1st June): An annual festival celebrated by the Dayak people in Sarawak, where it's a public holiday. It's marked with the sharing of food, decorated longhouses and traditional dress.
  • The King's Birthday (first Saturday in June): A national holiday marking the birth of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malaysia's head of state.
Female orangutan, Kinabatangan River, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in July

July is perhaps the most popular time to travel to Borneo as it experiences near perfect conditions throughout. Turtle season continues to enthrall visitors, and orangutans are still active amongst the fruit trees. You should expect greater crowds and high season prices during this time of year.

Events & Festivals

  • Borneo Cultural Festival (July): Annually held in Sibu, this ten day festival includes traditional music performances, various contests and plenty of good food.
  • Rainforest Music Festival (July): Renowned world musicians and indigenous musicians of Boreno gather in Kuching to perform, with lectures and workshops also taking place for visitors.
Mataking Island, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in August

With conditions similar to July, if not better, booking far in advance is recommended as jungle lodges and beach properties fill up fast. Baby turtles begin to hatch on the beaches and fruit is still abundant in the forests, making this a great time to visit for wildlife enthusiasts.

Events & Festivals

  • Borneo Arts Festival (August or September): A variety of performances celebrating the arts take place over a week on the island of Labuan.
  • Hari Merdeka (31st August): Malaysian Independence Day commemorates the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule in 1957.
Boat trip on the Kinabatangan River, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in September

It's the end of turtle season on Langkayan Island, and hotel prices start to return to normal. However, the weather remains fine and dry throughout, so it's still a very appealing time to visit for relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, and wildlife watching on Kinabatangan River.

Events & Festivals

  • Borneo Arts Festival (August or September): A variety of performances celebrating the arts take place over a week on the island of Labuan.
  • Borneo International Kite Festival (September or October): Hundreds gather at Old Bintulu Airport, Bintulu to fly colourful - and often complex - kites.
  • Hari Raya Haji (September): Celebrated by Muslims around the world, when those who are able are required to undergo the hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
  • Malaysia Day (16th September): Commemorates the establishment of the Malaysian federation in 1963. It marked the joining together of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia.
En route to Mataking Island, Borneo

Visiting Borneo in October

October is a great month to catch the last of the good weather prior to the rains setting in. Shoulder season prices take effect, and orangutans can still be seen in the wild. This is also the prime time for diving at Sipadan.

Events & Festivals

  • Deepavali/Diwali (October): The Hindu 'Festival of Lights' is celebrated throughout Borneo as families gather to pray and give gifts.
Pygmy Elephant Calf on the Kinabatangan River

Visiting Borneo in November

Visitor numbers decline as rainfall and thunderstorms return to Borneo. The rains create lush jungle, attracting an abundance of wildlife. Fewer people at national parks and sanctuaries may mean that this is a favoured month for keen wildlife enthusiasts who don't mind getting wet.

Kinabalu National Park, Malaysian Borneo

Visiting Borneo in December

Thunderstorms and rainfall during December can hinder access to parts of Borneo and mean that wildlife sightings are not as common. We would therefore avoid travelling to Borneo at this time.

Why travel with Audley?

  • 100% tailor-made tours
  • Fully protected travel
  • Established for over 20 years
  • 99% of our clients would recommend us
Travel advice aircraft image

Travel advice

Practical tips for travelling to Borneo, from social protocols to guidance on money matters, with a link to the latest government travel advice.

Audley Southeast Asia Brochure Cover
Audley Asia Cruises

Request a brochure

Our detailed brochures feature trip ideas and travel experiences recommended by our specialists.

View itinerary ideas