Region: South East Asia
Although there is a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, there is one predominant religion. The Islamic faith is practised by the vast majority of Malaysians and visitors should be particularly careful not to offend local religious ideals. Please do not try to enter mosques wearing shorts or with your shoulders uncovered. Women should also be aware that a different set of rules or standards might apply to them, as opposed to men.
Malay, English and Iban are spoken in Borneo. The 'Useful Phrases' section lists some common phrases in Iban.
Area (sq. km):
20 square meters
GMT +8 hours
Two main seasons are experienced in Borneo, a rainy season and a dry. The rainy season generally lasts from October to February while the drier, cooler period spans from March/April to September. Anyone travelling in any part of Borneo should be aware, however, that rain still does fall frequently even during the ‘dry season’ and visitors should pack good quality wet-weather gear. It is generally hot in Borneo all year round with temperatures rarely falling below 20 degrees Celsius. For this reason travellers can pack reasonably lightly; however, the exception to this is for those visiting Mount Kinabalu. The peak of Mount Kinabalu is 4,101 metres high and, due to this elevation, both very wet and very cold conditions can be experienced. Subsequently, visitors to the mountain's peak should pack wet-weather gear as well as warmer clothing, including thermal underwear, warm pants, woollen or polar fleece hat and gloves, woollen jumpers or a polar fleece top. Even at the base of the mountain the conditions are cool during the day and cold at night.
The best time to visit Borneo is between March and September when less constant rain is likely, although this is far from guaranteed.
Kuching Kuching Airport is located about 7 kilometres to the south of the city centre. Airport taxis run on a coupon system here too and you will be paying about RM17.50 for a journey from the airport to the city centre. Kota Kinabalu Kota Kinabalu International Airport is located 7 kilometres southwest of the city centre at Tanjung Aru. The 15 minute taxi ride from the airport should cost RM20 for a pre-paid fixed price coupon from the taxi desk on the ground floor.
The international dialling code for Malaysia is +60 Telephone calls, especially international calls made from hotels, can be VERY expensive. Check with your local telephone service provider to arrange to put your mobile phone on global roaming or purchase a local SIM card when you arrive. There are various types of cards on the market. A local SIM card is a much cheaper option, but you will of course have a different number when travelling.
The electricity supply in Borneo is rated at 220 volts, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally.If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. You will need a UK type three square pin plug to connect to the electricity supply. A torch (or flashlight) is useful when travelling in more remote areas. Note that whilst trekking, and in more remote areas, electricity will not be available. Here, the best option is small, battery-operated appliances.
There is a wide range of food to be sampled throughout Malaysia. The country's diverse ethnic background has influenced its food enormously. Chinese and Indian meals are found in most places, and rich, spicy Malaysian delicacies are a ‘must’ to try.
Malaysian Airlines have an extensive route network around Malaysia and over to Borneo. On our tours we utilise the local buses, both aircon and local buses, longboats, planes, ferry and minivans.
There are excellent local handicrafts to buy at bargain prices. Some of these have a distinctly Malay/Indonesian flavour with batiks being widely available. And don't miss out on the fabulous pewter-ware, silverware and pottery.
Visa: Please note that visa requirements can and do change. It is essential that you confirm requirements with the nearest relevant embassy or check with your travel agent before you travel. At the time of writing, Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not require a visa for Malaysia. All other nationalities should check with the Malaysian High Commission, Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information
There are a number of books that make interesting reading and provide an insight into the history, politics and culture of the area. A few suggestions are: Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei -Lonely Planet, Into the Heart of Borneo by Redmond O'Hanlon, A Stroll through Borneo by James Barclay, Stranger in the Forest by Eric Hansen, The White Rajahs of Borneo by Robert Payne, A History of Malaysia by Barbara Andaya, The Jungle is Neutral by F.S. Chapma, Culture Shock Malaysia by Jo Ann Craig, Culture Shock Borneo by Heidi Munan