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Best Time to Visit Borneo

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Best Time to Visit Borneo

Beautiful Borneo is at its most inviting from March through October, when the weather is warm and dry, making it the best time to go. During this time, rainfall is low and temperatures are comfortable, ranging from 70-90°F (21-32°C). One can enjoy the beautiful island in all its splendor, from climbing Mt Kinabalu (the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia) to searching for whale sharks, turtles on Lankayan island, and seeing endangered orangutans in the wild.

May marks the beginning of the high season, making it the best month to visit Borneo due to the generally dry weather. At this time, there are no school breaks or higher rates. The weather in Sabah is ideal for hiking and trekking during this time of year because rain is less likely, but it still may occur at any point. May is also an excellent season to visit Borneo for world-class snorkeling and swimming, with the sun shining and powder-white sands on the beaches of Kota Kinabalu, Gaya Island, and Sipidan.

Bohey Dulang Island, Borneo
Bohey Dulang Island, Borneo

Borneo Weather and Average Temperature

With warm spring-like and hot summer temperatures all year and little rain, Borneo is a great destination at any point of the year! 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 been a longtime 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, and coastal areas) enjoy temperatures between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit (27.0-32.2 degrees Celsius) year-round and the highlands (Renau, Kinabalu National Park, Crocker Range) maintain 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3-24.0 degrees Celsius) monthly temperatures.  

Rice paddy with Mt. Kinabalu view. Kota Belud, Sabah
Rice paddy with Mt. Kinabalu view. Kota Belud, Sabah

Borneo Seasons at a Glance

  • Wet Season (September-February): Rain with frequent afternoon downpours, less tourist traffic
  • Dry Season (March-early September): Short showers in the afternoon, along with hot & humid temperatures 
Depending on the activities you are planning for your Borneo tour, you will want to keep the following “seasons” in mind:

Wet Season in Borneo (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 fewer 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 in Borneo (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 the sea conditions are calm.

Mount Kinabalu, Sabah. Highest mountain in Southeast Asia.
Mount Kinabalu, Sabah. Highest mountain in Southeast Asia.

Best Time to Climb Mount Kinabalu

Generally, you will want to avoid October, November, and December 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.  

When is the Best Time to See Wildlife in Borneo?

The ideal time to see orangutans in Borneo is from April to August. Due to the dry weather, wild orangutans are more likely to concentrate around water and food sources now than at any other time of the year. Proper temperatures, from March to October, are ideal for viewing both proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants. Although indigenous birdlife can be observed throughout the year, October to April is the optimum time to see migratory species.

A necklace orchid gracefully spilling over a dead log along the trail in Kinabalu National Park
A necklace orchid gracefully spilling over a dead log along the trail in Kinabalu National Park (Sullivan Peraino)

Best Time to Travel to Borneo for Diving with Whale Sharks

Divers looking for some of the most gigantic whale shark species in Borneo's clear waters should head to Lankayan in April or May, or Sipadan in July or August for the best chance of swimming with turtles as they make their way to the shore to lay their eggs.

Best Month to visit Borneo on a Budget

For those on a tight budget, March is the best month to go to Borneo. As whale shark season begins, there will be fewer tourists and less rain. You'll be able to stay in some of the island's most luxurious lodges at a quarter of the normal fee during this time of year because there are fewer visitors.

Visiting Borneo for Kinabatangan River and Sukau Rainforest Lodge Flora and Fauna

For those planning a visit to the Kinabatangan floodplain or Sukau Rainforest Lodge, the flowering season is between April and October, but wildlife can be seen here 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.
If you’re interested in experiencing the wildlife, ancient ruins, and tranquility that comes with a trip to Borneo, contact Adventure Life now!

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Bohey Dulang Island, Borneo
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