Making the best of Borneo: Why March is hailed as the start of the best time to visit
Dreaming of a trip to exotic, beautiful Borneo? To see it at its best, wait until March – the start of the dry season.
Between March and October, Borneo’s intense rainy season abates. The skies clear, the sun comes out and the country’s climate becomes ideal for wildlife spotting, lazy beach days and gentle boat trips. You’ll find it much milder at this time of year, and makes Borneo one of the only true summer holiday destinations in Southeast Asia.
To help you plan your dream trip to this rainforest-covered island, let’s take a look at some of the very best nature and wildlife experiences in Borneo – and when to do them.
When to see Bornean orangutans in the wild
Visit between April and August and you’ll have the best chance to see Borneo’s world-famous orangutans in their natural habitat.
The place to go is the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, in the Malaysian Sabah District of North Borneo. Go early enough in the season (before the orangutans retreat into the forest) and sightings are almost guaranteed.
You’ll love strolling through the maze of wooden walkways that cut through the dense jungle, as these magnificent bright-orange creatures swing past you on the vines in search of the ripest fruit. You may also see bearded pugs, hornbills and other native creatures along the way.
The best times for diving adventures in the Pacific
Borneo is also famous for world-class snorkelling and diving, in the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the island. If you’re a diving fan, go to Borneo in July and August. These months are considered to be best for visibility, where you can sometimes see as much as 40 metres ahead. But for sightings of whale sharks, visit between March and May.
The best dive sites in Borneo are the islands. In particular, Sipadan, Kapalay and Mabul in the northwest, which are surrounded by spectacular reefs and colourful marine life. However, the small island of Layang Layang in the South China Sea is also a good spot – where you can occasionally see reef sharks, whale sharks and scalloped hammerheads.
Turtle-watching on Lankayan Island – when to go
Another popular activity during the Bornean dry season is turtle watching. The place to be is Lankayan Island, a small tropical coral resort in the Malaysian Sabah District. For the best chance of seeing these beautiful creatures, plan a trip out to the island between June and September. To avoid the crowds, September could be your best bet.
Feeling the heat? Where to seek cool breezes and refreshing relief in Borneo
Even with the relatively milder weather of the dry season, Borneo’s climate is still a scorcher. Its tropical rainforest climate can be close, humid and extremely hot.
The best way to stay cool is to break up your trip with visits to the beach, to take advantage of those refreshing sea breezes and diving in the clear waters surrounding the island. You can also take on a hike up Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Borneo. Make it to the top and you’ll be rewarded with blissfully cool temperatures and unbelievable panoramic views.