If you think of Borneo as merely a jungle with leeches and mosquito bites that requires one to live off-the-grid, think again. Borneo has so much to offer including a scenic view from the highest peak in Malaysia, azure blue sea, amazing wildlife, scrumptious seafood — all in one go. It is definitely worth your time to disconnect from WiFi and reconnect with Mother Nature. These eight places in Borneo that we’ve shortlisted will make your jaw drop and fall right in love with this natural haven.

8 Reasons To Visit Borneo

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Mount Kinabalu: The Mystical Hike

If you want a complete Borneo experience, you must hike to the peak of Mount Kinabalu. The two-day hike may be challenging for beginners, but when you reach the top, the mind-blowing view (and sunrise, if you’re early enough!) is worth the lack of sleep and muscle aches. You will be humbled by the magnificence of Mother Nature, and the sense of accomplishment, once you are at 4,095.2 m high, will etch in your memory forever.

Mount Kota Kinabalu

Top of Mount Kinabalu, photo source: Wikimedia

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Sipadan Island: Top 10 Best Dive Site in the World

Have you ever imagined swimming with a shoal of fish and other sea animals? There is plenty of marine life that you may not know waiting for you to discover, and Sipadan Island will be an ideal place to embark your diving journey. The mesmerising blue water hid tons of marine creatures such as green turtles, shark, bump-head parrotfish, rainbow parrotfish, and many more. The government authority issues only 120 dive permits daily to 12 selected dive resorts as a move to preserve the beauty of this underwater heaven. So book your trip with diving resorts early to avoid disappointment!

Sipadan Island, Borneo

Barracuda at Sipadan Island, photo source: Wikimedia

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Island Hopping in Kota Kinabalu: Tropical Island Escape

If diving is not your cup of tea, you can still marvel at the wonder of the water landscape by hopping between islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Your starting point is Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal where it offers you various packages — between two to four islands — depending on your budget. The must-visit islands are the Manukan Island, Sapi Island, Mamutik Island and Sulung Island. Get a beautiful sunkissed skin as you discover the uniqueness of each island. You may get bumped out by the crowd, but you can always avoid them by hopping over earlier or by travelling in the off-peak period.

Manukan Island Beach

Manukan Island Beach, photo source: Wikimedia

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Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre: Home of the World’s Smallest Bear

One of the reasons to love Borneo is because of its unique wildlife. Do you know that Malaysia has sun bears? Sun bear is the smallest bear in the world, and its existence has been threatened by rampant deforestation and poaching activities. Thanks to Dr Wong Siew Te who founded the conservation centre in Sandakan, Sabah, many sun bears have been taken care to restore their lives back in the wild. Be sure to catch a sight of this rare species!

Bornean Sun Bear

Borneo Sun Bear in the conservation area, photo source: Wikimedia

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Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre: The Best Orang Utan Conservation in the World

Similar to the plight of sun bear, the orangutan is also an endangered species. The setup of this rehabilitation centre is excellent as it helps the orangutan to enhance its innate survival instincts before going back to the wild. It is fascinating to see some orangutans swinging happily in front of you, and you can even see them closer during feeding time.

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Orang Utan at Sepilok Orang Utan Wildlife Centre, photo source: Wikimedia

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Imbak Canyon Conservation Area: Borneo’s Forest Heritage

Getting to the 30,000-ha Imbak Canyon requires four hours of bus ride from Kota Kinabalu and two hours of four-wheel drive from Kota Marudu, Sabah. The most rewarding part is seeing the gorgeous 30m-wide waterfall where the water cascades from the natural rock formation that resembled a stepped wall. Besides recreation, the forest reserve’s authority also allows camping in the premise. The experience is unique as you will wake up by gibbon’s call in a misty environment. Make early booking as the authority limits the number of visitors in order to preserve this area.

Imbak Canyon Conservation Area

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Kinabatangan River: The River of Life

Lady luck is on your side if you spot the endangered Borneo pygmy elephants during the cruise on Kinabatangan River. The elephants would mischievously shake their bums to you as well — a sign that they are happy. Besides, you will also see the big-nosed proboscis monkeys, hornbills, and many other bird species that you have never seen before. Just do not hesitate to ask the local guide and attain new knowledge on wildlife!

Kinabatangan River

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Welcome Seafood Restaurant: Reasonable and Delicious Dinner

Malaysia is a food heaven and one of the must-eat food in Borneo is seafood. Don’t hesitate to feast upon seafood here because the fresh local seafood will render your city’s seafood spread overpriced. Welcome Seafood Restaurant has its seafood caught locally and is very prompt in preparing their food. The large crowd here is a proof of how delicious the food in this famous restaurant – don’t miss this out!

Seafood feast in Borneo

Recommended hotels:

1. Gaya Island Resort: A 5-star resort close to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, Likas Stadium and Sabah State Mosque.

Gaya Island Resort, Sabah

2. Poring Hot Spring: Enjoy the peaceful and rustic environment surrounding this pleasant guest house

Poring Hot Spring