• Hornbill, Borneo

the best time to go to borneo

Borneo lies within the tropics and for this reason you should expect high humidity and rain at any time of the year. The wettest months are generally between December and February when the Northeast Monsoon hits, with the milder better months for travel being between March and October.

We are experts in creating holidays to Borneo and we often get asked a few questions from people planning their trip so we've put together some practical planning FAQs to help you. 

  • March to October is the dry season, so you are likely to experience smaller amounts of rain. This is the peak time, and also the best time to see orang-utans in the wild.
  • April to December is considered the best time to dive, with July and August having the best visibility, sometimes up to 40 metres. March to May is the best time to see whale sharks.
  • June to September is the best time to see turtles on Lankayan Island.

WHEN TO AVOID

The months of January and December can see higher rainfall and rougher waters. It is possible to travel, but conditions are not favourable for wildlife and much of it hides in the dense jungle. We usually recommend you avoid travelling during Dec-Jan where possible.

NEXT STEPS

• Browse our Borneo holidays
• Download our free Borneo travel guide
• Contact our Borneo Destination Specialist for advice

Asia 1

When to go

Click on a month to gain an overview of Borneo's weather at a specific time of year. This is a guide for the country as a whole, indicating good times to plan a holiday, taking into account popular places to visit, wildlife encounters and overall weather. 

When to go to Borneo if you want to see..

Birdlife: You can see the avian natives year-round. October to April is the best time to see migratory birds.

Pygmy Elephants: The dry season from the end of March to the beginning of October is the best time to see them when the weather is more comfortable. 

Orangutans: April to August has the driest weather giving optimal chances of good sightings of orangutans in the wild. At Sepilok Sanctuary, sightings are practically guaranteed, although less so from June to August when there is an abundance of food in the forest. 

Proboscis Monkeys: The dry season from the end of March to the beginning of October is the best time to see them when the weather is more comfortable. 

Borneo hornbill

when to go by season

The Best Time to Visit: between the months of March and October is considered the dry season and so the best time to visit Borneo. It will be hot and humid throughout, with temperatures rising towards the end of the season before the rains come. This is the best time as the trees are fruiting, meaning the orangutans come lower to the ground to eat, resulting in better sightings especially for photography.

The seasons do not vary as dramatically as they do in other parts of the world, and it is hot and humid year round, however the dry season is a lot busier and can be more expensive. Be prepared for rain at any time of year as you’ll be exploring rainforest, and the rainforests in Borneo are by no means afraid to live up to their name.

March to October

This period is known as the ‘dry’ season in Borneo although being rainforest there is a possibility of rain at any time and it is generally hot and humid even in summer. Specifically, the peak tourism season is between May and September, and accommodation can be booked up well in advance for these periods, particularly in the rainforest areas such as Danum Valley where there are less lodges, making early booking highly recommended. This period is also the best time to see Orangutans as the trees are fruiting in the summer months, particularly between June and August. These popular primates venture down from the trees to feast; they would eat a diet consisting of 100% fruit if they were able to! Please browse our orangutan holidays page for further information on where and when to see these remarkable "men of the forest".

Read more about each month on the following pages:

November to February

Despite being commonly perceived as the ‘wet’ season in Borneo, travel to the world’s third largest island during these months is still completely possible. Rainfall is generally unpredictable at any time of year so you should be undeterred by 'wet' season forecasts. Lodges, parks, dive sites and attractions, however, will be less crowded which can have huge advantages, and prices of flights and accommodation are also likely to be lower when you are planning your trip.

Read more about each month on the following pages:

Clouded leopard as seen on Borneo vacation

When to go if you want to experience…

Rainforest Adventures: Danum Valley is a pristine primary rainforest. The dry season from the end of March to the beginning of October is the best time to visit as the weather is more comfortable and there is a better chance of seeing the local wildlife.

Cruising up the Kinabatangan River: The dry season from the end of March to the beginning of October is the best time to visit to avoid getting caught in the rain whilst in a boat. 

Learning Local Bush Craft: The dry season from the end of March to the beginning of October is the best time to visit as the weather is more comfortable and more of the activities can be undertaken in the dry conditions. Leeches and mosquitos are also less abundant during this time.

Seeing the Sunrise from MT Kinabalu: The dry season from the end of March to the beginning of October is the best time to make the ascent up Mount Kinabalu as the humidity is more comfortable and there is less chance of being caught out in the rain. 

Climbing Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

climbing mt. kinabalu & borneo events

A few quick pointers on when to climb one of the highest peaks in South East Asia as well as the key times to enjoy some of the local music and cultural festivals.

Mount Kinabalu

The obvious exception to the typical weather patterns of the lowlands is in Mount Kinabalu, which whilst providing a welcome respite to the humidity in the day can at times drop to below freezing at night due to the altitude of 3,500 metres above sea level. It can also be an area of heavy rainfall. This is worth bearing in mind when planning to include this as part of your itinerary.

Events

Borneo is an excellent location for outdoor festivals, with such laid back residents and excellent scenery; you can expect any event to be unique and vibrant. The Rainforest Music Festival, which takes place in July, is the largest music festival in South East Asia, held each year just outside of Kuching. There is also the Miri Jazz Festival, International Kite Festival, Cultural Festival, Arts Festival and much more.

Experts View

Tom, one of our Borneo experts states ‘my best time to visit Borneo would probably be August. The trees are fruiting so the orangutans are out in force but it is also a time when baby turtles are likely to be hatching so it’s the best time for all round Borneo wildlife!'

Clouded leopard as seen on Borneo vacation

Your Next Steps

Talk to one of our specialists for further details on travelling to Borneo.