Borneo DiscoveryStyle: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 12 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers
Most nationals including UK, EU and US visitors do not require a visa for entry to Malaysia. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months.
Regulations do frequently change though, so we advise that you check the current requirements with your nearest embassy or visa agency.
There is no departure tax payable when flying out of Malaysia.
Health and Immunisations
As with travel to most parts of Asia, we strongly recommend that you contact your doctor’s surgery or a specialist travel clinic for up-to-date information, advice and the necessary vaccinations. For a visit of less than one month, almost certainly you will be advised to have immunisations against the following: Diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Meningitis. Anti-malaria medication will also be required and the use of a DEET-containing insect repellent is highly recommended.
What should my travel insurance policy cover?
• medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad
• 24 hour emergency service and assistance
• personal liability cover in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property
• lost and stolen possessions cover
• cancellation and curtailment (cutting short your trip) cover
• Extra cover for activities that are commonly excluded from standard policies, such as certain sports
The policy should cover the whole time that you are away.
Your policy may also have:
• personal accident cover
• legal expenses cover
Common travel insurance policy exclusions
Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy:
• most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents
You must take reasonable care of your possessions or your policy will not cover you.
The local currency in Malaysia is the ringgit. For current exchange rates visit www.xe.com.
Where currency can be exchanged
It’s relatively straightforward to exchange money at banks, hotels and exchange booths in Malaysia. However, as always it is harder to change funds in smaller towns and villages and so we recommend that you change enough money in larger towns to see you through until the next likely opportunity. Your guide will be able to offer further advice on this.
Credit cards and travellers cheques
As a general rule it is possible to change travellers’ cheques in Malaysia but only in larger towns and cities. Credit cards can only be used at the better hotels and restaurants, and ATM machines are found in many towns.
Best time to go
Borneo’s rainy season is from November to February; although it can be visited during this time travel can be considerably more difficult. Straddling on the equator, temperatures are fairly consistent year round, between 25-32 ºC, with high humidity.
Malaysia’s official language is Bahasa Melayu, but you will find English widely spoken here as well.
Borneo's population is predominantly Moslem with Christian and Hindu minorities, as well as around 10% of people following indigenous beliefs.
Food and drink
Food in Borneo follows a typical South East Asian pattern. Noodles and rice form the mainstay of local diets and stir fries are very common, containing chicken, beef or pork. Additional flavourings are usually given as an accompaniment to the meal in small dishes. There is also a heavy Chinese influence on cuisine in Borneo and you will find many Chinese dishes throughout the country. You will also find a wide variety of street snacks on sale in towns and cities.
If you have any special dietary requirements you must notify us at the time of booking. While we will make every effort to cater for you, we cannot guarantee that this will be possible.
Eating in the region is inexpensive. A snack from a street stall will cost a dollar or less, a simple meal $1-3 and something more substantial around $5-10 (more in more upmarket places).
Our Borneo Discovery tour uses private minibuses, as well as private boats.
Travelling in the destinations that we visit requires a good deal of understanding that often standards simply won’t be as they are at home. While we aim to make your trip as comfortable as possible, please be aware that we are often visiting remote or less developed regions that may have little infrastructure. While we aim to make your trip run as smoothly as possible there may be times when we need to ask for your patience while we rectify any problems.
What to take with you
First Aid Kit
The first thing on your list should be a first aid kit. Whilst there is no undue cause for alarm, travellers are best advised to travel well-prepared: adequately immunized, with sufficient supplies of prescription drugs, along with a medical kit.
It will be warm throughout your stay in Borneo. We recommend that you bring a couple of long sleeved shirts for evenings to protect against mosquitoes. A hat is also advised to be worn through the day to protect from the sun, along with at least one piece of waterproof clothing for any days that the weather may be wet or windy.
Footwear is a main priority on this tour. Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes/boots are recommended.
Your luggage should not exceed 20kgs (44lbs). One large rucksack, and one small hand luggage rucksack is acceptable.
Suncream/sunblock is a must. Insect repellent, including a bite spray will be useful to have.
If you will be using a camera which needs film, it is recommended that a supply is taken with you, as it is not always available locally.
As you will be spending some nights in longhouse accommodation, we recommend that you bring a light sleeping bag or sleep sheet, as well as an inflatable pillow if you need one.
This tour does not require any special degree of fitness but you will find it more enjoyable if you are reasonably fit.
Cultural and environmental guidelines
You may come across beggars while on tour. Every traveller has different perspectives on this and ultimately the choice is up to you. Many sources recommend that you watch to see if local people give, and then follow their lead with genuine beggars. We do not recommend giving money, sweets, pens etc to children as this can encourage a begging mentality and can lead to children choosing to beg rather than go to school.
Haggling is a way of life in Asia when making many purchases, especially with tourist souvenirs. Usually, but not always, the vendor will start with a price that is higher than they are prepared to accept, and the buyer is expected to haggle. There are no hard and fast rules with this – some vendors may initially quote a vastly overinflated price, others may start with a price close to the true value, while others may just present you with one price and not be prepared to discuss it. Although many tourists may feel uncomfortable with this, it’s important to remember that this is best entered into in a relaxed manner. Once you have agreed upon a price, it is extremely bad form to then not pay this. Please also bear in mind that a small amount of money to you can be a relatively large amount for the vendor, and that it is not necessarily best practice to ‘beat the vendor down’ to the lowest possible price. Remember that they also have a living to make.
Please make sure that you take any rubbish back to the hotel with you where it can be properly disposed of – this includes cigarette butts as well.
Please do not buy any products made from endangered species – this is not sustainable and hastens the species’ decline.
You should always ask permission before taking anyone's photograph and respect their decision if they say no. In more remote areas women and older people often do not want to be photographed. Some people may also ask for some money – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot - in return for a photo. Taking photos of military installations, state buildings, and airports can lead to problems with local authorities. If you are unsure about whether it is acceptable to take a photo, please ask your tour leader or guide.
Tipping is common practise in Asia. Your guide will administer a tipping kitty to tip service providers on your behalf. This is not compulsory but if you would like to participate, allow around £20 for this. For the guide themselves, a reasonable amount to allow would be around £2 per day per group member.
Foreign Office Advice
We constantly monitor the advice posted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At present the FCO does not advise against travel to parts of Borneo that we visit on our group tour.
It should be noted that this information applies to British citizens. Other nationals are asked to check the current position of their respective government.
Public Holidays in Malaysia:
1 Jan New Year’s Day.
23 Jan Chinese New Year.
1 Feb Federal Territory Day.
28 Apr Wesak Day (Birth of Buddha).
1 May International Labour Day.
2 Jun King’s Birthday
18 Jun Former Queen’s Birthday.
31 Aug National Day
25 Dec Christmas Day
Dates are for guidance only and may vary year to year
Electrical supply is 220-240V and plugs usually have three flat pins as in the British style.
Borneo – The Bradt Guide
Into the Heart of Borneo
Where Hornbills Fly
IMPORTANT NOTES – PLEASE READ
Please note that the information provided is correct at the time of writing but may change. It is intended as a guide only. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health visit www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk or contact your local healthcare provider.
In addition we strongly advise you to check the information and any travel advice provided by your government. For British citizens you should visit the Foreign Office website www.fco.gov.uk.
Furthermore, you should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.
Issue Date – 13/11/13
For possible changes to this dossier please visit www.undiscovered-destinations.com or call +44 (0)191 296 2674