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Cruising the Kinabatangan River

Best Time to Visit Borneo

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Best Time to Visit Borneo
Unlike its Southeast Asian neighbors, Borneo lies south of the typhoon belt and enjoys relatively dry weather while the rest of the region is drenched in torrential rains.  Nicknamed, “The Land Below the Wind,” Borneo has long been a haven for seafarers seeking refuge from typhoons and is now a year-round destination for adventurous travelers.  

Temperatures are steady throughout the year, regardless of precipitation.  The lowlands (Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, coastal areas) enjoy 80 - 90F year-round and the highlands (Renau, Kinabalu National Park, Crocker Range) maintain 65 - 75F monthly.  

Depending on the activities you are planning for your Borneo tour, you will want to keep the following “seasons” in mind:

Wet Season - Late September through February.  Rainfall is typically quite sporadic in the wet season, with some weeks seeing no rain and others hosting frequent downpours.  This means you can enjoy smaller crowds, lower “tourist prices” at local markets, and generally great weather.  During the wet season, there is an average of 15 rainy days per month, with sunny mornings and showers lasting a few hours in the afternoons.  
Dry Season - March through Early September.  Short rain showers are frequent in the afternoons, but hot, humid conditions will make you happy for the precipitation and a chance to cool off!  April is the driest month, averaging fewer than 10 rainy days.  This is a great time to see wildlife along the Kinabatangan River or set out to summit the towering Mount Kinabalu.  This is also the best time to visit Gaya Island, as sea conditions are calm.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu - Generally, you will want to avoid October, November & December in order to minimize the chance of cancellation due to heavy rainfall.  Many travelers summit Mount Kinabalu during the shoulder months of the wet season, but we recommend planning your climb between March and late August.  
Flowers & Wildlife - For those planning a visit to the Kinabatangan floodplain or Sukau Rainforest Lodge, the flowering season is from April - October and wildlife can be seen year-round.  While rainfall can open up river channels that are not accessible during the dry season, heavy rains can make wildlife difficult to spot.

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