General FAQs

Where is Borneo on the map?

Located south of the South China Sea and East of Singapore, Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and is divided between three countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. 

How do I get to Sarawak Borneo?

You can fly to Sarawak via flights to the Kuching International Airport (KIA) which has good international connections from major regional hubs such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Other cities in Sarawak such as Miri and Sibu also have good international connections and offer great flexibility for multi-destination, trans-Borneo travel. There are also many daily flights from Sarawak to Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) and Brunei. The domestic airlines serving Sarawak include Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, and Malindo Air. Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Brunei International Airport also provide many international and domestic connections.

When is the best time to travel and vacation in Borneo?

Borneo is a great year-round destination, offering memorable experiences for all kinds of adventures. July to September are the peak summer tourism months. Shoulder months from February to June and September to November are more relaxing with fewer crowds, especially in Sarawak. November and January get the most rain, but with better rates for adventures and fewer crowds.

Can I change my foreign currency in Malaysia? Can I withdraw from a local ATM?

All major airports, hotels, and shopping malls in Borneo offer foreign currency exchange services. US Dollars, along with other major currencies, can easily be exchanged but bring bigger notes 50/100 USD for better exchange rates. Your guides can assist you with these transactions for you when necessary, or do so at the airport upon arrival. You can also use the local ATMs to withdraw cash as Malaysian banks are linked to networks such as PLUS, Maestro, and Cirrus.

What are the currencies in Borneo?

The Malaysian currency is called the Ringgit Malaysia (RM or MYR). The Ringgit is the only currency widely accepted in the Malaysian Borneo states you are visiting. The currency in Brunei is the Brunei Dollar (BND). The banks and money changers at most border towns offer currency exchange if you are crossing the borders by land.

Are credit and charge cards widely accepted in Sarawak & Sabah?

Yes, Visa and MasterCard credit cards are widely accepted, but American Express is less common. Retail outlets often have a RM 50 minimum charge for paying with a credit card. Some outlets levy a 2-3% fee for using a credit card.

Do I need to obtain a visa before arrival?

Both Malaysia and Brunei won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date you complete your trip. In general, most nationalities do not require a visa to enter Malaysia as a tourist for up to 3 months. However, the visa requirements for your trip will vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. It is important that you check your visa requirements, especially if you have a layover in another country before or after your time here. For a full list of the nationalities that have visa-free entry and the length of stay allowed, please refer to the:-

Malaysia immigration website:  www.imi.gov.my   

Brunei immigration website:  http://www.immigration.gov.bn/en/

How safe is the tap water and ice?

All tap water in towns in Sarawak & Sabah is treated but the quality of the water is not assured. It is fine for cleaning teeth but most locals tend to boil their water before consumption. Bottled mineral water is available in most convenient stores and is relatively cheap. In our efforts to minimize single-use plastic, we encourage all our guests to avoid the usage of plastic bottled water and bring refillable water bottles or bladders that can be refilled at hotels, restaurants, etc. It’s always a good idea to bring water purification tablets just in case. Most restaurants and coffee shops use ice tubes that are mass-produced in ice factories, as do many food stalls and hawker centers. If you want to be 100% sure, ask for a drink without ice. Cold canned and bottled drinks are available almost everywhere so you can avoid ice altogether.

What injections or vaccinations do I need to travel to Borneo?

Regulations and recommendations change frequently, so we advise you to check with your local health department to determine which vaccines you will need. Check your vaccination records to ensure you are up to date, and make sure you tailor your medical preparations to your particular needs – after all, we are all different! In addition to being up-to-date on routine vaccinations (e.g. measles/mumps/rubella, tetanus, etc.), many doctors recommend jabs for Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid as a minimum. Other extra precautions and vaccinations you could consider are Hepatitis B and rabies. For further information on travelers’ health issues, see the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s website http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.

How do I protect myself from malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases?

Cases of malaria tend to be in remote areas, mostly absent from towns and cities. However, there is a risk of malaria in rural areas and undeveloped areas of the interior. For prevention, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants in the early morning and early evening hours is a good precaution against bites, and it is best to cover your legs at night, too. You can use an insect repellent containing 30-50% DEET on any exposed skin and use a mosquito net when necessary. Where possible stay in hotels that have rooms with window screens or air conditioning. There are plenty of anti-malarial medicines that you can take, but make sure to discuss all options with your doctor. Malaria vaccination such as Atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone), doxycycline, and mefloquine are options for use in Malaysia. Although unlikely, there is also the possibility that you may encounter Dengue mosquitos when in Borneo. Dengue mosquitos only bite in the daytime hours, so try and reduce the risk of infection by protecting yourself from mosquito bites during the day.  

What personal medication and first aid supplies do I need to bring?

Prior to your traveling to Borneo, consult with your physician to obtain adequate personal medications for the duration of the trip, as well as other medications you should bring with you such as antibiotics, pain killers, allergy medicine, prescription, or over-the-counter medications you use regularly. If you have a serious allergy (e.g. bees, ants, and other insects) please inform us before your trip so that we can advise our guides accordingly. Small cuts can get infected quickly in the tropics so be sure to treat any skin breakage with an antiseptic of some sort. It is also a good idea to prepare your own personal first aid supplies as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on your trip. And, whilst we mentioned before that the rainforest is full of rain, don’t forget your sunscreen! You can still get sunburnt through a cloudy sky, so take one with a high SPF factor and protect yourself every day. 

Are there leeches in the Borneo jungle?

Yes, leeches are found in the Borneo rainforest but not on all jungle trails. You don’t find leeches in hot, dry places, they tend to be populated on trails where the grounds are waterlogged and where wildlife thrives. For example, in Kuching, there are no leeches in the majority of the national parks except in Kubah and Matang. Locals and guides tend to know areas where leeches flourish. On long treks, wearing leech socks or spraying with repellent might help but there is no 100% sure proof way of keeping them out especially on long trails in the jungle. Leech bites may be irritating but are not infectious.  Leeches can be detached by flicking it off but the wound needs to be washed with soap and water to prevent secondary infection. Overall, unless you are on long multi day-long treks in the jungle, leeches should not be a concern on your Borneo holiday.

Where are Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei located?

Malaysian Borneo, on the northern shore of Borneo island, consists of two states with Sarawak state in the south and Sabah state in the north. Brunei is sandwiched between the two Malaysian Borneo states.  Indonesian Kalimantan occupies the rest of the island. Paradesa Borneo is located in Kuching, the state capital of Sarawak.

What is the weather like in Borneo?

Borneo is located in the tropics and temperatures are fairly consistent. It doesn’t get extremely hot nor extremely cold, with year-round temperatures averaging between 27-32 degrees Celsius, with a relative humidity of around 80% for much of the year.  

Borneo is a large rainforest and when it comes to the weather, the key is in the name – rain. No matter what time of year you visit, it is likely that you will encounter rain. There are often short bursts of heavy downpour in the afternoon, but it quickly passes and leaves the rest of the day blessed with sunshine and clear skies. The rainy season is normally between November and February each year. Peak rainfall is usually in December and January, but this monsoon period should not deter visitors to the island as the weather is not cold. Using the right equipment keeps you dry, such as a raincoat, hat, and good shoes (with spares). The only tours that may be affected in the rainy season are the offshore boat trips from the western coast of Sarawak and Sabah due to the high ocean waves. Some river tours such as kayaking may be affected at times of flooding but not the land-based activities and tours. 

 

Do I need insurance?

It is a condition of participating in a Paradesa Borneo that each traveler holds his or her own travel insurance for the duration of the trip. It needs to include coverage of medical expenses, emergency evacuation, personal liability, and accident insurance. Please provide us a copy of your insurance coverage for reference in case of an emergency.

What should I pack for a Borneo trip?

The tropical days are hot and humid and we recommend light, comfortable cotton shirts. Casual wear is acceptable for most occasions in the city; on trips to the interior, shorts, and T-shirts may be more appropriate. Thin or lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long trousers will protect you from mosquitos in the evenings.

In terms of personal toiletries, apart from your standard cares (such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste) and personal medication, bring along insect repellent and a basic first aid kit that includes band-aids, mild antiseptic cream for insect bites or light scratches, cotton swabs, tissues, bandages, and painkillers.

Also, remember to pack an appropriate travel (plug) adapter for your electronic devices (see below for the type of socket for Borneo). For most day trips, it is a good idea to bring along a refillable water bottle and a foldable daypack that can be put in the transfer vehicle.

On some trips, you can also bring swimming costumes, as there are chances to swim in a river or take a dip in a waterfall. However, if you are visiting the mosques or temples in Borneo, it is best to cover yourself fully to show respect, including a scarf to cover your hair for females.

A torchlight or flashlight is always useful if you go into a cave chamber or stay overnight in remote villages. An additional consideration for the longer overnight trips is to bring along overnight bags or rucksacks rather than hard luggage, as it might involve carrying in and out of boats, or multiple steps up longhouses, and trekking in the jungle. 

What footwear do you recommend?

For Borneo trips that do not require a great deal of walking, pack two good pairs of comfortable sneakers. The additional spare pair just in case the other one gets wet. A pair of flip-flops, slippers should also be included. Treks to the interior that hike through the primary rainforest or rugged terrain, comfortable hiking shoes that can handle jungle streams, or muddy trails are recommended. Waterproof and tightly secure sandals with good grip are great for boat trips upriver that involve getting in and out of the boat where your footwear will get wet. You can also purchase a local option – Adidas Kampung or rubber shoes, they are cheap, light, and easy to dry for your jungle and river activity in Borneo.

What electrical sockets are used in Borneo?

In Malaysia Borneo and Brunei, the electricity supply is 230/240 volts at 50 hertz. The 3-pin electrical sockets used in Malaysia are similar to those used in Britain. Travel adaptors are available from major hotels or department stores. 

How do I make a phone call or get on the internet?

Buying a prepaid IDD SIM card that combines voice and internet data will likely save you money and helps avoid incurring high roaming charges from your home country. Such cards are widely available. Mobile voice coverage is generally good in the urban areas, but depending on the telecommunication company, it can be weak in the countryside and remote villages. Calling and texting within Malaysia is very cheap and calling overseas from a local prepaid card is relatively cheap. As for the internet access, all major towns in Sarawak and Sabah have good coverage, but speeds in rural areas can be slow and patchy, and sometimes non-existent in the most remote area. For the convenience of not having to take out your home SIM card, you can choose to connect your home data plan to one of the mobile data providers in Malaysia but it will of course incurred roaming charges. Most city-based hotels do provide free internet access but not those outside of the city and many urban restaurants, cafes, and fast food outlets often have free Wi-Fi. If you purchase a local SIM card with data, it will give you convenient internet access at all times and at a much cheaper rate. For most locals, using internet communication tools such as FB messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, or WeChat is common to avoid voice charges. In Brunei, you will need a separate SIM card for that country. Your local guides can help you to set up your phone at the beginning of your trip.

What is the time difference between Malaysia and GMT?

Malaysia and Brunei have a single time zone and is 8 hours ahead of London GMT and 7 hours ahead of time during the UK’s daylight saving time. Malaysia is 13 hours ahead of New York (Eastern Standard Time) and 12 hours during daylight saving time in the summer.

What is the food like and what if I have special dietary requirements?

Meals and snacks are included as per the itinerary. Breakfasts vary according to your accommodation,  from the usual hotel buffets to a simple, home-cooked, local breakfast, but almost always with coffee and tea. Lunches and dinners are usually family-style and we take good care in our planning so it includes the best of multicultural Borneo cuisine that uses local fresh ingredients from the tropics. Some can be hot and spicy. This provides you with the most variety of dishes and an opportunity to try many new foods. Sometimes you will have a packed lunch en route to your next destination, or at an outdoor location such as at a waterfall. Alcoholic, fruit juices, and carbonated beverages are at your own expense, but alcohol might not be served in some Muslim halal restaurants where we will eat.

For dietary restrictions and allergies, please specify at the time of your tour booking, especially if you have critical allergies (nut or wheat). We do our best to convey your dietary restrictions and allergies to our local chef/cook.  In most cases we are able to respond favorably to these requests; however, due to local limitations, we may not be able to fulfill all requests. If your dietary needs are critical we recommend you bring a your own food to supplement your meals.

Can I do my own laundry?

Most three-star and above city hotels provide in-house machine washed laundry services. If you would like to wash and dry clothes yourself, there are many self-service, coin-operated laundry machines operated in major cities and towns.

What languages do the locals speak?

There are many languages and dialects spoken in Borneo, but the official language of Malaysia and Brunei is Bahasa Malaysia, which is very similar to Bahasa Indonesia. However, Sarawak and Sabah have many good English speakers due to their past colonial influences and most are taught English in local schools, so you should not have any problem in most urban areas or places where tourists frequent. All our guides are good English speakers, so should you have difficulty communicating with any of the locals, please ask your guide for assistance. Learning some Malay before and during your stay will be sure to impress the locals whilst enhancing your experience.

 

How much should I tip?

Tipping is at your own discretion, and you are under no obligation. There is not a strict tipping culture at hotels & restaurants as they already include a 10% service charge on the bill. Your guide will also appreciate a small gratuity if he or she has done a good job. If you choose to tip, any amount is acceptable and will be appreciated. Tips are best paid in cash in local currency.

Is crime a problem in Borneo?

Brunei and cities in Sarawak are generally safe. Muggings and attacks on tourists are very rare. Kota Kinabalu requires some extra precautions in some areas but is also generally quite safe. There have been incidents of bag snatching by thieves on motorbikes in recent years, so it is best to apply the standard principle of leaving your valuables in the hotel safe and not carrying more cash than you really need and not putting your mobile phone or other valuables on the table if you are dining in a roadside stall or coffee shop.

Multi-Day Cycling Tours FAQs

What does the support vehicle do?

Our bike tours are fully supported by air-conditioned vehicles, so should you want to put your feet up, there will be a seat for you and a place to put your bike. The support vehicle also carries your luggage, as well as keeping you topped up with water, tropical fruit, and snacks.

What safety measures do you take?

Wearing a helmet is strongly recommended on all our biking adventures. Your tour leader will conduct a group cycling safety meeting on day one, as well as a briefing at the beginning of each day on what to expect during the day’s ride. Your tour leader is trained in first aid and emergency rescue but, to a certain degree, you must be responsible for your own safety while riding. For non-biking activities such as kayaking, safety measures such as life-jackets are compulsory and a separate safety briefing will be given before the start of each activity.

What kind of food will we be eating?

Meals and snacks are included as per the itinerary. We take care in our planning to include the best of Sarawak cuisine, including delicacies from a mixture of Dayak, Malay, and Chinese cuisine that all use local, fresh ingredients from the tropics. Some can be hot and spicy. We eat dinner together, Malaysian style, by sharing all of our delicious dishes. Alcoholic drinks are available at your own expense, but they might not be served in some Muslim halal restaurants.

What will our accommodation be like?

We have carefully chosen the best available accommodation to ensure your comfort after a hard day in the saddle, we strive to offer a range of accommodation that is clean, comfortable, and represents the local culture. The type of lodging can vary depending on the location and what is available: a local tribal homestay, a jungle lodge, a national park cabin, a historical shophouse, and seaside resorts. Rooms are based on a sharing basis with double beds and if you are a single traveler, you might be paired with another traveler of the same sex unless you pay the single supplement.

How fit do I need to be for the tours?

The details of the number of cycling days, cycling distances, and difficulty levels for each tour are listed in the fact sheet. All our trips require basic fitness, preferably acquired through cycling. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy the riding. However, we try to make our Sarawak bike tours as accessible as possible with the average cycling distance of 30-40 km per day and the longest distance no more than 70 km. Most cycling terrains are on paved roads (and limited gravel tracks) with some undulations. 

What will the weather be like?

Being on the equator, Borneo is generally hot (average daily temperatures are around 30 degrees Celsius) and humid, especially around noon. Therefore, we like to start our day early and rest at points of interest during the hottest part of the day. Short rain showers are fairly common during the mid to late afternoon but we provide waterproof ponchos for continuous riding, which can actually be very entertaining.

What do I need to bring with me?

Once you have booked your tour, we will send you a pre-tour information pack that will have all the information you need to prepare for the tour, such as the packing list and joining instruction, etc.

Once you have booked your tour, we will send you a pre-tour information pack that will have all the information you need to prepare for the tour, such as the packing list and joining instruction, etc.

I am a solo traveler, can I join this tour?

Solo travelers are always welcome and those who would like their own room have the option of paying a single supplement. Otherwise, we will arrange for a shared room with another solo traveler (of the same sex) at no extra cost. If there is no roommate available, we will cover the additional cost of a single room.

Do I need insurance?

We include very limited corporate insurance coverage with minimum coverage. It is a condition of participating in a Paradesa Borneo that each traveler holds his or her own travel insurance for the duration of the trip. It needs to include coverage of medical expenses, emergency evacuation, personal liability, and accident insurance. You should email us a copy of your insurance coverage for our reference in case of an emergency.

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