Borneo, one of Earth’s most biodiverse regions, is an eco-tourism haven. With an abundance of habitats and wildlife, including endangered species, sustainable tourism should be everyone’s priority. Discover our top eco-friendly hotels in Borneo from isolated bungalows to hotels built using recycled materials to help conserve this beautiful environment.
Gaya is the largest of five islands in Kota Kinabalu’s Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. A total of 52 overwater bungalows sit inside Malohom Bay on its eastern shores. Inside this eco-friendly resort, guests have views of either the mangroves, jungle or the South China Sea. But the luxurious experience isn’t the only factor driving tourism. The on-site Marine Ecology Research Centre focuses on regenerating and preserving the region’s coral and endangered giant clams. Expect the ultimate relaxation, pampering at the spa, and world-class food at Gayana Eco Resort and the chance to learn about critical conservation efforts.
For a relaxing retreat to a secluded beach resort near Kota Kinabalu, head to Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria. Located along Pantai Dalit, or Dalit Beach, the resort offers home comforts and nature activities. Expect the highest level of service from professional and attentive staff who are passionate about their guests and protecting the environment. Rasa Ria’s beach is pristine, the golf courses are eco-friendly, and guests can visit its nature reserve or join night treks in search of the rare pangolin.
Sharing similarities to a ‘Sea Gypsy’ floating village, Kapalai Sipadan provides an ideal location for a secluded island getaway. Outside, a sandbank stretches in both directions forming a turtle nesting ground. Its nearby dive spots rate among the world’s best. Non-divers don’t despair. Snorkelling in the resort’s surrounding waters reveal a plethora of vibrant coral and colourful fish. Kapalai Sipadan provides eco-friendly accommodation for a romantic getaway, diving enthusiasts and anyone who wants an experience like the incredible beauty of the Maldives in Sabah.
With a total of 30 individual eco-sensitive chalets and catering to a maximum of 60 guests at any one time, the Borneo Rainforest Lodge near Danum Valley offers the ultimate jungle getaway. A long drive along trail roads is the only way to access one of the most eco-friendly resorts in Borneo. Each chalet has an outdoor bathtub providing a place to relax while enjoying views of the surrounding rainforest. Lucky tourists might spot some of the 340 species of birds or 124 types of mammals from the comfort of their room or bathtub.
For a minimalistic and eco-friendly hotel in Borneo, check out Tabin Wildlife Resort located inside Tabin Wildlife Reserve. The reserve, Malaysia’s largest by area, on the eastern tip of Sabah near Lahad Datu provides 20 simple bungalows and chalets with just the necessary facilities for a comfortable and green stay. Constructed from timber on the River Lipad’s banks, guests have the chance to stay in the middle of the rainforest. Tabin Resort offers a range of activities including tracking orangutans and hiking.
Sarawak has its fair share of eco-friendly resorts in Borneo, and the Highlands Resort is one of the best. Promoting itself as a wellness sanctuary and offering 30 rooms and 10 jungle cabins, the resort caps guests at a maximum of 60 each day. With a prime location at 1000 metres (3281 feet) above sea level in the Penrissen Range, the accommodation doesn’t just provide a relaxing getaway, it also offers a cooler and more comfortable climate. Chefs cook meals from its organic farms while the expert horticulturist staff educate diners.
Few eco-friendly resorts in Borneo offer the same experience as Aiman Batang Ai Resort. The 100-room retreat nestles in the heart of Batang Ai National Park, a stone’s throw from Sarawak’s border with Kalimantan. Traditional longhouse-style rooms offer a cultural experience like no other. An outdoor swimming pool next to the jungle is a highlight as well as the cocktail bar overlooking the lake. But the environment isn’t the only way Aiman Batang Ai offers an eco-friendly retreat. Motion-sensitive light bulbs reduce their energy consumption in common areas. Resort activities range from visiting tribes and longhouses to fishing, trekking and canopy walks.
Covering an area of 44 acres, the Permai Rainforest Resort provides an ideal spot for a retreat near Kuching. Located just 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) north of the capital, the resort sits at the base of Mount Santubong. Carefully designed rooms and facilities reduce their environmental impact while the back-to-nature approach encourages conservation. Guests can marvel at the surroundings, go birdwatching, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.
Against the backdrop of Sarawak’s Mount Santubong and offering views of the South China Sea, Damai Beach Resort provides a luxurious retreat within 40 minutes of Kuching. The hotel has a total of 252 modern rooms and chalets and promotes itself as one of the top eco-friendly resorts in Borneo. But don’t take their word for granted; spend a few nights and enjoy the seclusion, views of the lush jungle and the sprawling green landscapes on its doorstep.
Samboja Lodge in Indonesia’s Kalimantan is built from recycled materials, has traditional handicraft decorations, and uses hand-made cosmetics from local Dayak communities. Each room in this resort 35 kilometres (22 miles) north of Balikpapan comes with a balcony overlooking the rainforest. But the biggest highlight in this eco-friendly hotel in Borneo is the ongoing orangutan project. Tourists have the chance to learn from expert conservationists about how to protect the rainforest’s wildlife. Visiting Orangutan Island’s sanctuary is a highlight too.