Few places in the world today retain their sense of exotic mystery as much as Borneo does. This vast island, located in South East Asia, is divided between three countries, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Home to unique flora, fauna and culture, it is growing in popularity with holidaymakers from around the world. Listed below are just five of the numerous reasons to visit Borneo.
The Wildlife – Borneo is famous for its wildlife, and perhaps the most well known of these is the Orang-utan. This “man of the forest” is distinct from other apes due to its reddish brown fur and long arms, and perhaps fewer than 50,000 of this endangered species now survive in the wild. For the tourist, it is possible to see them both in their natural habitat and also in protected sanctuaries, providing a memorable experience. In addition to the orang-utans, there are also countless other monkeys, birds and lizards to see, as well as rarities such as pygmy elephants, leopards and rhinoceros.
The Landscape – If Borneo boasts a huge diversity in wildlife, the same can certainly be said of the landscape. For the most part, the island is covered in dense rainforest, and this is ringed by beaches and peppered with mountains. In fact, South East Asia’s highest mountain can be found in Borneo, and Mount Kinabalu attracts many people who are keen to make the trek to the summit. No special equipment is needed, but the two-day trek up and down again can be tougher than many imagine, although the views more than compensate for this.
The Beaches – Anyone who dreams of spending time on unspoilt beaches backed by swaying palm trees will thoroughly enjoy a holiday in Borneo. Turtle beach and Golden Beach are highly regarded, although there are countless others all around the island. Most of the beaches near resorts also offer the chance to take part in water sports, and scuba diving in Borneo is particularly popular.
The People – The people of Borneo are as diverse as its landscape, with local indigenous peoples living alongside Chinese, Malays, Indians and others from around the world. Most people (apart from those in the out of the way villages) speak English to some degree or another, and when they do not, the universal language of smiling comes into play. They really are some of the friendliest people on earth.
The Culture – Borneo is rich in culture almost beyond belief, with many towns and even villages keeping their distinct and unique heritage alive. It is possible to visit communities still living in traditional longhouses in the jungle, or water villages where the homes are built on stilts. In addition, there are buildings that date from the colonial period such as forts and courthouses, and these sit close to religious temples from all faiths. This cultural diversity helps to make Borneo a fascinating place to visit, and visitors invariably return to their own countries with memories that last a lifetime.