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Malaysia is comprised of two bodies of land forming a tropical archipelago of some of the most picturesque islands on Earth. Sitting right at the heart of South-East Asia, the two lands are separated by the clear warm waters of the South China Sea.
Malaysian Borneo, also known as East Malaysia, is located on the island of Borneo and consists of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan. It lies to the east of Peninsula Malaysia (West Malaysia) on the Malay Peninsula.
Sabah is the Malaysian state located at the north-eastern tip of Borneo and is considered to be one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet. Surrounded by the South China Sea on the west and the Sulu and Celebes Seas on the east, it is covered in lush rainforests with an unsurpassed collection of plants and animal species above and below the water.
Off the coast of Sabah lie the neighbouring islands of Layang Layang, Lankayan, Mabul, Kapalai, Pom Pom, Mataking and Sipadan, the crown jewel of Malaysian diving. Any of these islands host world class diving however Sipadan is well and truly one of the most spectacular dive sites anywhere in the world. While accommodation no longer exists on Sipadan, guests can stay at the nearby islands of Kapalai and Mabul.
Sabah is also a haven for nature lovers with Kinabalu National Park an UNESCO world heritage site famous for bird watching and a huge range of endemic plant species. Visit the local wildlife parks such as Sepilok Nature Reserve and meet the prized Orang-utans of Borneo. Other exotic wildlife thrives along the shores of the Kinabatangan River including the Asian Elephant, bizarre looking Proboscis Monkeys and the rare and endangered Sumatran Rhino.
Borneo Island is the third largest island in the world and is made up of two Malaysian states, Sabah and Sarawak, the small oil country of Brunei with the remainder being Indonesian Kalimantan.
Sabah is the second largest state in Malaysia. The western part of Sabah is mountainous containing the three highest mountains in Malaysia (the highest being Mount Kinabalu at 4,095 metres). Crocker Range is the most prominent range. A lower range of hills extends towards the western coast, southern plains and to the interior. The craggy mountains and hills are traversed by a network of river valleys covered in deep green rainforest.
Central and eastern Sabah contains lower mountain ranges, plains and hills. Malaysia’s second longest river, Kinabatangan River, snakes it way through Sabah from the western ranges to the Sulu Sea.
Over three quarters of the population lives along the coastal plains. Beyond the coast lies a number of islands, sand bars and coral reefs set amongst the surrounding rich, blue waters.
The city of Kota Kinabalu is the gateway to Sabah.
Malaysian Borneo is an ideal destination for divers wanting to combine their dive holiday with some unique topside activities. Borneo is richly blessed with natural diversity, unique cultures, fun adventure, beautiful beaches and fantastic cuisines for the adventurous taste buds.
Apart from scuba diving and snorkelling, you could also:
Forage amongst the markets, shops and restaurants of Kota Kinabalu
- Climb Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest mountain at 4,095 metres
- Visit the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre at Sepilok and the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary at Labuk Bay
- Look for wildlife, flora and fauna along the Kinabatangan River, around Gomantong Cave and in the Danum Valley Conservation Area and see some ancient Kadazandusun burial sites
- Pay your respects to the fallen soldiers at Sandakan Memorial Park
- See the green and hawksbill turtles nesting and hatching at Turtle Island Park
Whitewater rafting, jungle trekking, birdwatching and wildlife encounters are popular activities.
Malaysian Borneo experiences a hot, humid climate throughout the year. The average maximum daytime temperature is 30°C, whilst overnight temperatures may only drop as low as 21°C.
November to March marks the wet season in Borneo, when the northeast monsoon is blowing, bringing stronger winds and more rain.
The best time to travel to Borneo is during the dry season which generally runs from March to October. Although it does rain in Borneo during any time of the year, the dry season has less constant rain.
Scuba diving is conducted year round in Borneo with the exception of Layang Layang Resort which is only open between March and August.
Lower water levels may cause river transport to be more difficult during the dry season and some villages, longhouses and inland sights may be harder to reach.
Sabah has been voted one of the world’s top diving locations. The island of Sipadan, off the east coast of Sabah, was endorsed as one of the top dive spots by world-renowned diving legend, Jacques Cousteau. From macro life to pelagics, wreck diving to wall diving, coral gardens teeming with a rich diversity of corals and fish, underwater caves with sleepy sharks and a cavern where turtles go to die - the diversity will amaze.
Some 3,000 species of marine creatures were first found and classified while diving sites in Malaysia such as Sipadan.
Layang Layang Island and Lankayan Island are the latest hot destinations offering frontier diving if you're looking for something new and fresh. Lankayan has seasonal whale shark sightings and Layang Layang offers some fabulous encounters with hammerheads and other pelagics.
Labuan is famed throughout Asia for its wreck diving.
Mabul and Kapalai are world-renowned destinations for muck diving.
Malaysia is situated in the heart of South-East Asia and is composed of Peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the north coast of the island of Borneo which is the world’s third largest island. The state of Sabah sits on the north western tip of Malaysian Borneo and it’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, is the gateway to a tropical paradise of natural wonders, scenic beauty and a diversity of culture. The international country code for Malaysia is 606. Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
(subject to change)
Australian passport holders do not require a visa for social visits of up to 3 months. Other passport holders please contact the appropriate authorities to check current visa requirements.
The currency of Malaysia is the Ringgit (MYR), often referred to as the Malaysian Dollar. Money can be exchanged at most hotels, banks and the airport. Major credit cards are accepted at hotels, resorts and most shops. Please be aware that it may be difficult to exchange foreign currencies outside the main tourist centres.
1 AUD = approximately 2.88 MYR (May 2016)
Borneo has it all; from macro life to pelagics, wreck diving to wall diving, coral gardens teeming with a rich diversity of fish life and underwater caves. Some 3,000 species of marine creatures were first found and classified while diving fabulous sites in Malaysia around Sipadan and Layang-Layang. Dive operators supply tanks, weight belts and dive guide services. There will be an extra charge if equipment hire is required.