BEST TIME TO VISIT BORNEO

BY ESTELLE EILISH S GEORGE, 05 OCTOBER 2018
Borneo is made out of idyllic islands and wealthy biodiversity

Borneo is well known for its beautiful beaches, rich biodiversity and is home to a number of rare and endemic species of flora and fauna but when is the best time to visit Borneo? One thing you can be sure of in the tropics is rain but don’t let that dampen your sense of adventure. Rain or shine there is still tons of things to do and places to see, scrumptious food to taste, and activities to partake no matter the weather! We’ve designed an easy guide to ensure your travel plans to Borneo are aligned with the important on-goings in Sabah and Sarawak.

Weather

Going for outdoor adventures is not a problem when the weather is good

In general, any time is the best time to travel to Sabah and as a tropical destination, we get to enjoy warm weather year round. If you’re looking forward to trekking through the jungle, climbing Mount Kinabalu or witnessing wonderful species of wildlife, best to travel during dry season occurring from March to October. Avid divers and island trippers might want to plan a sea adventure from April to December as the water visibility is considered favourable. Even if you do get stuck in the rain don’t let the weather dampen your spirits as a tropical downpour usually doesn’t last too long and you will always find something to do no matter the weather.

Figure 1: Monthly Average Temperature (oC), Average Temperature (oF), and Precipitation/Rainfall (mm)

Figure above is a visual representation of the annual average rainfall and temperature in Sabah. Drier months are from January to September but other than that, the temperature is fairly consistent throughout the year. June marks the start of peak tourist season and concludes in August due to Northern Hemisphere summer. The best time to travel to Sabah is at the beginning of the year when there is less of a crowd and the rain tends to stay at bay. If you are planning to head over during the peak season, bear in mind bookings might not always be available due to high occupancy. It’s best to plan your trip with plenty of time to spare in order to avoid missing out on bookings and to ensure your trip is organised smoothly. For full weather data. Click here.

Festival

Another factor to consider apart from the weather forecast is the annual celebrations here in Borneo. Every year, globetrotters are given the opportunity to engross in customs and traditions as well as gorging on a variety of local specialties and rare delicacies. These are some of the festivals you wouldn’t want to miss!

Harvest Festival

Burst of colours and happiness can be seen and felt during this joyous celebration
Photo Credit: Augustine Jumat

Pesta Kaamatan, is an annual harvest festival celebration in Sabah by the Kadazan-Dusun ethnicities and goes on for a whole month in May. This is a great opportunity to feast on local grubs especially the famous ‘Butod’; a local writhing delicacy. There are also other exciting small celebrations to take part such as beauty pageants and singing competitions.

Mountain Kinabalu International Climbathon

One of the runners during the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon in 2008
Photo Credit: Rabani HMA

What started out as an effort to improve mountain rescue attempts in 1984 has now become an international mountain race. The next climbathon will be in 2019 after this thrilling race became a biennial event in 2017. The climbathon divided into two categories – men and women. Men are given 2 hours 30 minutes to complete the race whereas women are given 3 hours 30 minutes.

Gawai Dayak

gawai-dayak-women-©SRT
The men and women donning beautiful attires and cheerfully celebrating Gawai Dayak
Photo Credit: Daniel Bayley

Every year on June 1, a religious and social event called Gawai Dayak is celebrated in Sarawak by the people of Dayak origins. Cultural activities begin a week earlier and on Gawai eve, a beauty pageant takes place to crown each Gawai Queens from the Iban, Bidayuh, and Orang Ulu communities.

Rainforest World Musical Festival

RWMF is a festival you don’t want to miss as it is packed with workshops and talented performers

Rainforest World Music Festival or commonly known as RWMF, a 3-day music festival packed with workshops, stalls, as well as the main highlight, the concert. The festival is held at Kuching, Sarawak with a variety of performances from international performers and local artists.

Fruits of Borneo

Looking to tantalise your tastebuds in Borneo? With an array of exotic colourful fruits often sold at the back of mini vans parked roadside and at local markets the tropical fruits of Borneo are sure to delight. We have prepared a list of local fruits to keep a lookout for that is available all year round; regardless if it’s fruiting season or not.

Durian A green and thorny fruit that is an all time favourite among the locals but not so much for foreigners. It is considered as “king of the fruits” and due to its strong odour, some find it unpleasant and other find it delightful. Despite the smell, the flesh is creamy and sweet when it’s ripe.

Mangosteen The “queen of the fruits”, mangosteen is best to feast on when you’re craving for a taste of bursting flavours. It’s striking purple exterior makes it easier to spot and the sweet and juicy flesh will leave you wanting for more. It is said that one should eat mangosteen right after eating durian.

Rambutan If you’ve never come across a rambutan before, you will definitely get the chance to get a glimpse of it when traveling to Borneo! The outside of the fruit is covered in “hairs” and the name derives from the Malay word which translates to hair. The flesh is sweet with a hint of sour and slightly resembles a lychee.

Cempedak Cempedak is versatile fruit as it can be eaten raw or fried. The flesh is dipped in flour batter and then fried in oil and served for evening tea. Even the seeds are edible and can be cooked either by frying, boiling or grilling it which softens it. Cempedak is a tasty fruit no matter how it is devoured.

Durian might not have the best smell but it’s what inside that counts. To end this on a sweet note, we present you a video of Nicca, a team member from the Sales department, enjoying a big chunk of this thorny fruit.