There are so many reasons why you should visit Borneo, it’s hard to choose just one. Borneo is a magnificent island full of life and wilderness and is home to some of the most endangered animals in the world. Located off the eastern coast of Malaysia, Borneo combines modernism and forward thinking along with adventure and exciting ambiguity. Even if you’re based in Kota Kinabalu or Kuching, two of the main hubs in Borneo, you’re only ever a short ride away from mountain climbs, dense rainforests and extraordinary wildlife if you want a quick escape from the bustle of these energetic cities.
Borneo is a place graced by few backpackers, partly due to its isolation and partly because its Southeast Asian neighbours such as Thailand and Indonesia steal the limelight with beautiful islands, famous beach parties and the ultimate backpacker lifestyle. Compared to countries less advanced in their development such as Vietnam and Cambodia, Borneo offers a refreshing experience with stability, organisation and a huge emphasis on wildlife protection and conservation.
Borneo offers tropical climates, lush greens and an abundance of wildlife. Only here could you witness a wild a sun bear and orangutan eating fruit together in the jungle, capture a macaque and monitor lizard in the same snapshot or rub shoulders with a family of Proboscis monkeys.
The beautiful and inspiring thing about Borneo is that the people truly care for their country. Wildlife is heavily protected, natural environments are maintained and although development is fairly constant, it’s done in a way that respects the island’s natural habitats and creates employment for the communities around it.
Unlike other countries in Southeast Asia, Borneo doesn’t appear to alter its core values, culture and ways of life solely to suit tourists. Although travellers are welcomed with open arms and visitors are drawn in from around the globe, the conservation and protection that Borneo practices seems to be done in the interests of the island rather than just for tourism. It’s evident that it recognises the need to conserve and protect the island for a sustainable future, whereas many other surrounding countries have yet to recognise and adopt this attitude.
Another thing that Borneo offers is some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. The locals are benevolent, helpful and extremely genuine, and unlike other places around Asia their intentions are seemingly to provide you with the best possible experience rather than to con you out of a few Dong or Dollars. It’s even customary for locals to offer you a ride if they’re heading in the same direction, without intention or agenda, which is a custom that is fairly non-existent back in the West.
If you’re looking for a place to party all day every day until the early hours, perhaps this isn’t the destination for you. But it you want adventure, diversity and some of the best wildlife in Southeast Asia, Borneo is a place that should definitely sit high on your bucket list.