Photo of Borneo

About Borneo

The world’s third-largest island, beautiful Borneo is a lush tropical paradise, famed for the orangutans which inhabit its rainforests, as well as for its spectacular coastline and underwater marvels. The Malaysian part of the island is divided into two large regions: Sabah and Sarawak. Each has multiple airports, and a whole host of wonderful accommodation options for couples, friends or families. Chosen for their excellent location, design and amenities, our pick of the best places to stay in Borneo includes both hip city pads and tranquil island escapes — the ultimate combination!

Whether you’re travelling exclusively to Borneo, or stopping on the island as part of a broader Malaysian trip, you’ll likely land in the cities of Kota Kinabalu, part of Sabah, or Kuching, in Sarawak. Both cities have a wealth of museums, shops and eateries, and long, fascinating histories. Culture buffs will appreciate guided walking tours, gallery visits and the chance to stay in heritage properties.

Beyond the cities, you’ll find national parks and forest reserves aplenty. Clamber up Mount Kinabalu for epic views and magical orchids, understand orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, or dive under the waves at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Gaya Island is a fantastic choice for a rejuvenating beach break, too. Perfect for an outdoorsy escape on either land or water, the best places to stay in Borneo promise a brilliant base for discovering this very special part of Malaysia.

The Best Places to Stay in Borneo

For a City Stay

  • The Ranee occupies two restored townhouses in Kuching's charming Old Town. Great for couples, friends or business travellers, the 24 suites are smart & spacious, with modern bathrooms. The bistro is excellent, and the location ideal for keen explorers. A romantic boutique choice.
  • The LUMA Hotel promises a stylish stay in Kota Kinabalu, with sleek, design-led interiors featuring natural materials, soothing dark green walls and lots of plants. There's a hip coffee shop and cracking cocktails at JOJO Gastrobar, too. For couples, friends, families or business travellers.

For an Eco Escape

  • Sepilok Nature Resort offers simple lakeside bungalows within walking distance of the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre & Sepilok Nature Reserve. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts will delight in hikes, boat trips, canopy walks and kayaking. Perfect for seeing Borneo's famous orangutans. A low-key lodge for couples, friends or families.

For a Beach Break

  • Gaya Island Resort has 120 rooms and suites hidden within the jungle. Stroll down to the beach, go fishing, diving and snorkelling, or head inland to hike through the rainforest. A honeymoon classic, or fun spot for an active family holiday. On Gaya Island.
  • Gayana Marine Resort will be a sure-fire hit with nature enthusiasts of all ages. A Gaya Island escape, the resort is made up of 45 overwater villas. Guests are invited to snorkel, dive and to take part in conservation efforts with the Marine Ecology Research Center — the only one of its kind at a resort on the island. A gorgeous, nature-focused stay.
  • Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa promises a luxurious beach break just north of Kota Kinabalu. Expect an 18-hole golf course, kids club, watersports and cycling, as well as guided nature hikes within the 400-acre nature reserve. Rooms, suites and villas are cool and contemporary. A family favourite.
  • Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa offers luxurious stilted suites and villas tucked between the jungle and the shore on Gaya Island. Romantic villas feature private plunge pools and classic Malaysian design elements, whilst the highlights are the 25-metre infinity pool, the delicious food and the impressive wine list. Very indulgent.


  • If you'd prefer a self-catering option, we suggest that you visit our online partner Booking.com.

Travel information

  • Fly to Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Kuching International Airport, or another regional hub, before continuing your journey by road. Borneo is a huge island — even just counting the Malaysian part — and it's worth bearing in mind which areas you're hoping to visit as you plan your flights.
  • If you're confident driving in Asia, Malaysia is a beautiful destination for a road trip! Contact our online partner Rentalcars if you would like to hire a car.
  • Tropical and humid, Malaysia is a year-round destination. Temperatures hover around 28-33°C for much of the year, with the heaviest rainfall expected between September and November.


Best Hotels in Borneo

  • The LUMA Hotel Kota Kinabalu (Kota Kinabalu, Sabah) 115 rooms from £60

    Wildlife Area  -  Take a day trip to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, in the ocean in front of the city, to spot wildlife under and above the water
    Trekking  -  Clamber up Mount Kinabalu (4095m), marvelling at the flora and fauna of the jungle, to be rewarded with epic views
    Value chic  -  A chic, affordable choice for a city break, or the start of an adventure in Malaysian Borneo
    City Style  -  A design-led city hotel, opened in 2022, offering fabulous food & trendy interiors
    Air conditioningRestaurantDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    A hip, design-led hotel in buzzy Kota Kinabalu. Great for families, friends, couples or business travellers looking for slick, modern interiors with sleek, polished wood, green-painted walls and a minimalist vibe. Plus there's a trendy coffee shop & Asian eatery with cracking cocktails. See More

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  • The Ranee Kuching 24 rooms from £65

    Museums  -  Delve into local history at the impressive Sarawak Museum, the Ranee Museum, the Chinese Museum and others
    Local exploring  -  Brilliantly located for exploring Kuching's Old Town on foot, just moments from the Sarawak River
    Romantic Break  -  Spacious Loft Suites are very romantic — perfect for a couples' holiday
    Restaurant  -  Dine at MBar&Bistro, or grab a coffee and a bite to eat at Cafe Trio's
    Air conditioningRestaurantViewsParkingNo pets

    A chic 24-room boutique base in two restored townhouses in Kuching's Old Town. Great for couples, friends or business travellers, simple suites are smart & spacious, with modern bathrooms. Feast at the bistro after museum trips, river cruises and national park treks. Stylish, central & romantic. See More

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  • Sepilok Nature Resort Sabah, Borneo 23 rooms from £80

    Eco break  -  A sustainability-focused lakeside retreat, creating a limited footprint by using natural materials and local produce
    Back to Nature  -  A simple eco-resort with waterfront bungalows close to the Sepilok Nature Reserve: perfect for outdoorsy types
    Wildlife Area  -  The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is a fascinating place to visit for guests of all ages
    Other Activities  -  Enjoy boat trips on the nearby Kinabatangan River, or out to Turtle Island, just north of Sandakan
    Air conditioningRestaurantGardenViewsParkingNo pets

    A super-simple eco resort within walking distance of the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre & Sepilok Nature Reserve. Keen hikers, birdwatchers & nature lovers can unwind on the lakeside terrace & feast on local fare after big days out. Wooden bungalows have hammocks, balconies & space for families. See More

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  • Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa Borneo 499 rooms from £110

    Great walks  -  Take adventurous jungle hikes with knowledgeable rangers in the Rasa Ria Reserve, where you'll spot birds & wildlife
    Beach Life  -  A beautiful beach resort, with two miles of golden sands on the edge of the rainforest & watersports facilities
    Families  -  A fabulous choice for a fun-filled family holiday, with big suites, a kids club & activities galore
    Golf  -  Play a round at the resort's 18-hole golf course, Dalit Bay Golf & Country Club
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessViewsParking

    A luxurious beach resort close to Kota Kinabalu, with sleek rooms & suites, an 18-hole golf course, swimming pools & 6 dining options. Little ones will love the kids club, water sports & horse riding, while grown-ups can unwind at the spa. Hike & spot wildlife in the Rasa Ria Reserve. Indulgent. See More

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  • Gaya Island Resort Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Borneo 120 rooms from £150

    Honeymoons  -  Hide away in a canopied suite with dazzling rainforest and ocean views, enjoy private dining and soothing spa treatments
    Great walks  -  Guided nature walks with the resident naturalist offer a fascinating insight into the island's mixed dipterocarp forest
    Fishing  -  Charter a boat for day-long fishing excursions with the resort's expert anglers in the clear ocean waters
    Beach Life  -  A gorgeous beach resort on tropical Gaya Island, perfect for watersports or hiking
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessViewsNo pets

    Fantastic canopied rooms & suites set amongst mangroves and rainforest, facing a private beach & pontoon with water sports. Expect a luxurious Village Spa, fresh seafood restaurant and chic suites with all the mod cons. A romantic beach paradise for honeymooners, or active family holiday favourite. See More

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  • Gayana Marine Resort Sabah, Borneo 52 rooms from £166

    Wildlife Area  -  The onsite Marine Ecology Research Center does fantastic work - you can help with coral replanting and rescuing giant clams
    Eco break  -  Delve into sustainablility and regeneration of Gaya Island's marine environment at the Marine Ecology Research Centre
    Diving  -  Dive into Gaya Island's rich marine world with expert instructors from the PADI Certified Dive Centre
    Active Holiday  -  A seaside resort with kayaking, fishing, diving and hiking opportunities on gorgeous Gaya Island
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessViewsNo pets
    Recommended by  -  Kiwi Collection

    An eco-resort with wooden stilted villas hovering over the aqua sea below. Chic interiors offer big beds, additional space for children, private balconies & striking views. Marine research centre, diving school, fabulous spa & excellent Malay restaurant. For families, couples and nature lovers. See More

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  • Bunga Raya Sabah, Borneo 48 rooms from £218

    Families  -  Villas with two bedrooms and private plunge pools are ideal for families; kids will love the wealth of activities
    Beach Life  -  A beautiful beach resort on a tiny island, with diving, snorkelling, kayaking & sailing opportunities
    Great walks  -  Take a Canopy Walk on rope bridges, or wander through the jungle on marked Discovery Walk paths
    Other Activities  -  Zoom across the jungle canopy on the zip line - a big hit with adrenaline-seekers
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenViewsNo pets

    A laid-back tropical paradise. Wooden villas on stilts, white sand beaches, promenades, lush jungle, marine life, and a Borneo-style spa. Superbly luxurious suites, multi-room villas, all the mod cons, a 25-metre infinity pool & an excellent Malay restaurant. For families or couples! See More

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