Most associate Borneo with ecotourism, wildlife and biodiversity. But the island shared between Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia has an impressive range of activities to satisfy thrillseekers, too. Discover the best adventure activities in Borneo, from ziplining between two islands to paragliding over mountains.
Planning a trip and want all the details taken care of? Book yourself onto Culture Trip’s 10-day adventure to Borneo, which includes visits to an orangutan sanctuary and an organic tea farm, and a snorkelling trip in Kota Kinabalu.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Head to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park near Kota Kinabalu for the rare treat of ziplining between two islands. Coral Flyer zipline crosses more than 250m (820ft) of open water between the islands of Sapi and Gaya. Not only will adrenaline junkies get the thrill they crave, but matchless bird’s-eye views of lush jungle canopy and turquoise waters will be at your feet. This flight is worth attaching a GoPro for.
Mount Kinabalu, at a height of 4,095m (13,435ft), is the tallest mountain in Borneo and Malaysia. With deep cultural ties to Sabahans and believed to be the final resting place of departed spirits, reaching the summit is one of the biggest thrills in Borneo. To keep the climb safe, a maximum of 135 climbers can get a permit each day. Kinabalu National Park is a two-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu; hikers begin their trek at Timpohon before following a stepped trail to a base camp at Laban Rata. At 2.00am the next morning, climbers follow the trail to the summit and witness the sun rising over the mountain landscape and a sea of clouds.
What better way to explore wild Sabah than with a day of whitewater rafting? The waters range in difficulty from beginner to expert. Head to Kiulu River near Tamparuli for a relatively calm 15km (9mi) course with class one and two rapids, or, for more thrills, check out Padas River near Beaufort.
Consider heading to Lohan to paraglide over rice paddies and mountains. Located 108km (67mi) from Kota Kinabalu, thrillseekers have the opportunity to soar over these exceptional landscapes and gain a unique perspective of Sabah from above. Packages are both affordable and accessible to first-time paragliders.
Sabah is among the world’s best diving sites. With a plethora of marine life including mantas, barracudas, turtles and the occasional shark, certified divers are sure to satisfy their urge for adventure. The top diving spots are found along the eastern coast. Both Mabul and Sipadan islands, a short distance from Semporna, have unpolluted and relatively unexplored diving areas similar to what would be expected in the Galápagos Islands.
Sarawak’s Fairy Caves can be found in a village called Bau, located 46km (29mi) from Kuching, and are a haven for rock climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. With a total of five climbing areas – Fairy Cave, Stage, Batman, Nepenthes and Zoo Wall – adventurous tourists will have ample choice to keep busy for the day. The limestone cliffs and caves along Gunung Sireh (Chalk Mountain) are the best places in Borneo for rock climbing.
Malaysia’s largest state features some of the world’s best cave systems. Niah National Park is home to the oldest known residents of Sarawak, dated to at least 40,000 years ago at the archaeological site of the Niah Cave. Gunung Mulu National Park (which can only be reached by flight) is home to one of the largest known cave chambers in the world, Sarawak Chamber; the second largest cave passage in the world, Deer Cave; and the ninth longest cave system in the world, Clearwater Cave, which is over 200km (124mi) long.
From following an hour-long trail towards a Kota Kinabalu viewing point on Bukit Padang Hill Peak, to spending a week taking part in jungle activities in Danum Valley, those looking to experience primary rainforest and endemic wildlife will find it in Borneo. There’s no better way to experience the natural beauty of this region than on foot.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.