Borneo destination guide

Best time to visit Borneo

Borneo is a tropical paradise that attracts visitors all year-round. The weather is hot and humid for most of the year, with average temperatures of 27°C to 32°C and relative humidity of 80%. Borneo has two distinct seasons: the dry season, which starts from March to September; and the wet season, which lasts from October to February when the North-East monsoon hits the island. You can expect brilliant sunshine in the morning and rain in the afternoon which generally last a few minutes to hours. However, the weather is often unpredictable and you should expect high humidity and rain at any time of the year.
For wildlife enthusiasts:
Mar to September is the best time to see orangutans in the wild, June to September is the best time to see turtles on Lankayan Island, March to May is the best time to see whale sharks.

Visiting Borneo in January
Borneo sees some of its highest rainfall in January and there may be storms brought in by the North-East Monsoon. The rains are particularly heavy in Sarawak with the beaches receiving the most rainfall of the year, and making inland travel difficult. Sabah receives less rainfall compared to Sarawak and the temperature remains hot and humid. The chance of seeing wildlife is not as good, but with fewer people visiting, you can expect a much quieter time on safari and competitive rates for accommodation.

Visiting Borneo in February
February can be a good time to take advantage of low season offers to visit Kota Kinabalu and the northern coast of Sabah. Days are warm and relatively dry with average rainfalls of 150mm compared to 300mm in January. Average temperatures hover around 28C. The southern part of Sabah continues to have heavy rainfall, making travel to the Danum Valley difficult. As with all tropical islands, the weather is unpredictable and unexpected rainfall can occur at any time. In Sarawak, the rain eases off from the January deluge, but it is still a very wet time.

Visiting Borneo in March
March is an excellent month to travel to Borneo, especially Sabah. With the beginning of the dry season, the rains have decreased and with low visitor numbers, this is a wonderful time to take advantage of offers from a wide choice of popular accommodation. Generally, March is one of the driest months in Sabah and is excellent for the northern beaches such as Gaya Island, Lankayan Island and the beaches of Kota Kinabalu. For wildlife enthusiasts, March also sees the start of the whale shark season. For mountain climbers, March is a good month to consider climbing Mt Kinabalu. In Sarawak, rain begins to decrease with opportunities for trekking and cave exploration.

Visiting Borneo in April
April is one of the best months to visit Sabah and Sarawak. The weather is dry and chances of rainstorms decreased greatly. With some of the best weather conditions for trekking and wildlife safaris, this is the perfect season to combine a wildlife and beach holiday. April also sees the start of orangutan spotting in the wild. The relatively drier conditions in Sarawak makes this an ideal time to enjoy an overnight experience with the Iban at Batang Ai.

Visiting Borneo in May
May is the start of Borneo’s peak season. The dry weather and shoulder-season prices make this a perfect time to look forward to. Unexpected rainfall should still be expected as with all tropical climate Jungle trekking in Sabah are rewarding with excellent chances of spotting orangutans in the wild. The beaches are glorious in May especially on the northern Sabah coast of Kota Kinabalu and Gaya Island. For wildlife enthusiasts, plan to be on Lankayan Island for the start of the turtle season. In Sarawak, the weather conditions remain favourable for jungle trekking, cave exploration and beach stays at Damai. The Harvest Festival is celebrated from 31st May - 1st June by the Dayak people of Sarawak.

Visiting Borneo in June
For wildlife enthusiasts, June is another perfect time to visit Borneo and is one of the best months to see orangutans in the wild. The weather is hot and dry with occasional rain showers. During June, the trees bear fruit and orang-utans can be seen feasting on them. June is also an ideal month to spot turtles laying their eggs on Selingan Island.

Visiting Borneo in July
July is the most popular time to visit Borneo’s wildlife sanctuaries. The weather is hot and dry throughout Sabah and Sarawak with occasional downpours in the afternoon. Orangutans, turtles. whales and the glorious beaches make this a perfect month for a safari and beach holiday with perfect diving conditions around Gaya Island and Lankayan.
For music fans, the Rainforest Music Festival featuring the indigenous musicians takes place in July in Kuching.

Visiting Borneo in August
August is peak season in Borneo. The weather is hot and dry with temperatures averaging 28C and occasional showers. The dry conditions make this a perfect time for jungle trekking, wildlife safaris, and sunny beaches.

Visiting Borneo in September
September sees sunny days and sporadic rains in Borneo. Prices are lower than July and August but there are many opportunities for wildlife spotting, turtles and enjoying the glorious beaches.

Visiting Borneo in October
The start of October is relatively dry and enjoys lower prices and fewer visitors. There are still many opportunities for wildlife sightings and dry conditions for jungle trekking. More rainfall is to be expected towards the end of the month as the wet season returns. Sarawak receives higher rainfall, especially on the coastal beaches.

Visiting Borneo in November
Heavy rainfall and thunderstorms signal the return of the wet season in Borneo. The wet conditions make jungle trekking difficult but it is still possible to visit wildlife sanctuaries and the National Parks. For wildlife enthusiasts hoping to see orangutans in the wild, this may not be the best time.

Visiting Borneo in December
December is one of the wettest months throughout Borneo. Heavy rainfalls and thunderstorms continue for much of the period making travel difficult and wildlife sightings limited.

Best time to go

Sabah (Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Kinabatangan River)

Sabah lies in the tropics is commonly known as The Land Below The Wind due to its strategic location just beneath the typhoon belt and is protected from cyclones. Sabah has two seasons: the wetter season runs from September to January the drier season from February to August. These seasonal periods are becoming less distinct and there is no significant division between the two. You can expect brilliant sunshine in the morning and rain in the afternoon or evening, which generally last a few minutes to hours.

 

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃
 Average maximum temperature
31℃ 31℃ 32℃ 33℃ 33℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 31℃
 Average hours of sunshine
5 5 6 7 7 7 7 7 5 6 6 5
 Average rainfall in mm
300 150 155 168 175 210 200 200 200 255 310 351

Sarawak (Kuching, Damai Beach, Batang Ai, Mulu)

Sarawak experiences the highest rainfall in January and the lowest in June and July. It is hot and humid throughout the year between 23°C and 32°C. There is higher rainfall in the inland areas eg Batang Ai but expect rain all year round.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
22℃ 22℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 22℃ 22℃ 22℃ 23℃ 22℃ 22℃
 Average maximum temperature
29℃ 30℃ 31℃ 32℃ 32℃ 33℃ 32℃ 33℃ 32℃ 32℃ 31℃ 31℃
 Average hours of sunshine
4 4 5 6 6 6 6 5 5 4 5 4
 Average rainfall in mm
690 510 366 279 262 180 196 234 218 330 358 462