Borneo, the world's third largest island, conjures up images
of lush tropical rainforests, exotic and rare wildlife and the infamous headhunters of days gone by.
While there is no possibility of losing one's head anymore, a journey to Borneo is an exquisite glimpse
into a land of rich diversity. Visitors can combine the delights of crystal clear waters, tropical islands
and mainland coastal bays, with extraordinarily diverse mainland beauty - the highest mountain in South
East Asia, Mt. Kinabalu, virgin rainforest conservation areas, waters, canyons, exotic wildlife, flora and
fauna, and a myriad of adventure, cultural and eco-tourism activities to truly experience this tropical
Three countries are represented on the island of
Borneo, Indonesia to the south, Brunei in the middle and the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah to the
north. While each country has its own charms, it is recommended that the most hassle-free itinerary for a
journey to Borneo focus on Sabah.
Sabah, know as the Land Below the Wind, for its positioning outside of the typhoon belt, is located on the
northern tip of the island of Borneo. During the colonial era, Sabah was controlled by the British North
Borneo Company, drawn to these shores in search of timber, spices, coffee and rubber. It is under the
auspices of the Company, that the 36 ethnic tribes found within its borders gave up their head-hunting
ways and became "civilised". While head-hunting is now a thing of the past, it is still possible to
experience the rich cultural heritage of the peoples of Sabah, that now blend into a harmonious community
of ethnic tribes, predominantly Kadazan, Dusun, Rungus and Murut, living peacefully alongside Chinese,
Malays and Indians.
Sabah's rich cruising waters from Labuan to Kudat offer some of the most spectacular and beautiful waters,
islands and mainland attractions in South East Asia and can possibly be seen as the most diverse cruising
playground in the world. A journey around the Tip of Borneo is also worthwhile, and the East Coast is
renowned for diving, particularly the world-famous Sipadan, ranked amongst the world's top-five dive sites
Know Before You Go:
Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) can easily accommodate private jets, and local agent can arrange VIP customs and immigration clearance
You can send ship parts to Malaysia via the agent. All packages must be marked 'Yacht in Transit' or 'Ship's
spares in transit' to avoid customs fees.
Sabah has excellent wet and dry markets, and good quality import items are readily available, or can be
specially ordered within days. Good quality wine is available. Note that Labuan, to the south of Kota Kinabalu,
is a duty-free port, so a stop is worthwhile if the vessel requires alcohol/beer/cigarette stocks.
Harbour fees and Immigration:
Leave your clearance to the agent! Visas are not required for most visitors, and members of the Commonwealth,
USA and many other countries are given 3 month visiting visas upon arrival. Check in advance for visa
requirements for visits over 1 month.
Admiralty charts of the area are quite thorough, but attention should be paid for passages through heavily
reefed areas. Charts are not readily available for purchase, but the agent can assist with the necessary
Malaysian Ringgit is presently 3.6:1 USD. There is little transaction in USD, and the local currency is
preferred. Banking facilities can be set up by the agent to help bring money in if required.
MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. American Express and Diners Club are only accepted in 5* Resorts.
There are multiple GSM networks available with full international roaming agreements with most countries.
Pre-paid phone cards are readily available. Wireless Internet is available in many outlets and hotels.
There are no specific vaccination/medical requirements for visiting Borneo. If extensive time is spent in the
jungles, Malaria pills may be considered. Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei have excellent medical facilities/hospitals
and medevac facilities.