When is the best time to visit Borneo?
The short answer is: any time. Borneo has a tropical climate so it’s hot and humid year-round. The sun can shine and rain can fall every day, especially in the rainforests of Mulu, Tabin, and Danum Valley. Average temperatures during the day range from 27° in January to upwards of 30° in the summer months, sometimes as high as 35° in July.
You may have read that June-October are the driest months and thus the best time to visit Borneo. At one time, this was fairly accurate but in recent years, the dry and wet seasons have not been so distinct. Even in the wettest months of December and January, there’s still an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine per day. May-July see an average of 10 sunny hours each day.
We’ve broken down the year a bit below to provide further detail but please keep in mind that every year is different and this is merely a guide.
Western Borneo – Sarawak – can be susceptible to the heavy rains that strike the east coast of Malaysia and Thailand during these months. Visits to Bako National Park can be difficult during these months if storms are churning up the ocean and wind makes the short crossing unsafe. December and January see the most rain but head east to Sabah and you’ll find it’s not that much wetter than the rest of the year. The rainforests of Bako and Mulu National Parks, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and Danum Valley can see heavy rain at any time of the year but it’s a bit more likely during these months.
March – May
Rains tend to taper off and temperatures begin to rise. These are great months to visit Borneo as crowds are thin and the weather is about as pleasant as one can hope for in the tropics with an average high of 31-32°. Historically, March and April were considered the best months to climb Mount Kinabalu as the chances of a clear sunrise were at their best. In recent years, April-May seem to be the better bet but there’s no guarantee. For those hoping to see whale sharks off the northern coast, April and May are good times to try your luck.
June – August
Many consider this the best time to visit Borneo. Peak season sets in with increasing crowds and prices in July and August. These are usually the hottest months with the most sunshine so a quick afternoon rain shower may be refreshingly welcome. Temperatures can break 35° so a bit of time on the beach or in the cooler mountain region may be a pleasant change from the heat of the jungle.
These are lovely months to visit with crowds thinning, prices dropping back to normal, and still plenty of sunshine. Rain showers may last a little longer than in the summer months but the sun still shines 8 or 9 hours a day. Average high temperatures are 31-33°.