Borneo. It’s a massive, magical island at the far reaches of South East Asia offering incredible wildlife, lush rainforest scenery, a tropical climate, idyllic beaches and an extremely warm welcome from the locals – especially to children.

We admit, at anything between 19 and 28 hours depending on stops, it’s a lengthy flight (we can give tips for some great layovers) but, once you’ve recovered, there are just SO many ways to enjoy Borneo with your children.

Check out our top ten favourite activities en famille: ‘Borneo with kids’ family holiday, or jump straight into our in-depth Borneo family holidays section here.

1 – Explore Mulu National Park

This absolute gem of a park is the epitome of the jungle experience and the perfect place to kick off a Borneo with kids itinerary. You fly into a tiny airstrip cut out of the dense rainforest before heading deep into the heart of Borneo. Our kids loved discovering stick insects the size of branches, bright red millipedes, luminous frogs, dancing fireflies, deafening cicadas and geckos of all sizes that line the trails.

Other activities you can get involved in include watching the evening bat procession from Deer Cave, experiencing the incredible underground rock formations inside Lang Cave, taking a forest canopy walk and cooling off beneath Paku Waterfalls. Be warned, though, you’ll find that bedtimes go out of the window, especially when there’s a night safari by torchlight on offer!

Mulu cave trip on Borneo with kids holiday

Mulu is always a huge hit and great place to kick off a Borneo with kids holiday

2 – Turtle Island

Our kids were transfixed watching the turtles as they laboriously crawled ashore to lay their eggs, but depending on the time of year you visit the aptly named ‘Turtle Island’ (Selingan), you may also witness the baby hatchlings as they’re released into the sea. Children are given front row spots for both events and will never forget being sprayed with sand by the mother’s fin or guiding a baby down the beach. If you’re lucky, you might even get to snorkel with them, too, from the idyllic beaches of this ‘Robinson Crusoe Island’.

Borneo with kids top ten - turtle laying eggs

The wonder of turtle watching appeals to all ages, including the adults

3 – Climb Mt Kinabalu

At over 4,000m, climbing the highest mountain in South East Asia is not for everyone but if you and your children are fit, active and up for a challenge, this two-day expedition, the ultimate ‘Borneo with kids’ experience could provide you with the adventure of a lifetime (you get a certificate to prove it, too). .

Help with climbing Mt Kinabalu on a Borneo with kids holiday

A ‘lady-like’ lift along the way makes all the difference on this exciting adventure – read more about this 5yr old’s climb of Mt Kinabalu here

4 – Hang with the orangutans

It’s absolutely tragic that due to logging and deforestation, these amazing creatures’ future is under threat. At Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, you not only get to witness orangutans in their natural environment but, by supporting the centre financially (entrance fees and / or donations) helping protect them, too. Feeding sessions start at 10am (although the 3pm session is quieter and more intimate) and you can also watch the baby orangutans in the newly built nursery. There’s also now a Sunbear Centre and Rainforest Discovery centre there too. Alternatively at Semenggoh Rehabilitation Sanctuary in Sarawak, although sightings are not guaranteed, you can enjoy an encounter with far less visitors in a more natural environment. Visit Semenggoh on our three-week Borneo in Depth itinerary.

Borneo with kids - Orangutan visit

A visit to Sepilok to see the orangutans is a must and a Borneo with kids holiday highlight

5 – Enjoy wildlife in the wild

The lodge on the banks of the Kinabatangan River offers a range of early morning and evening cruises during which you can spot wild orangutan, proboscis monkeys and numerous other types swinging through the trees. You’ll also spot the herds of Pygmy elephant which tramp along the water’s edge, crocodiles which lurk just beneath the surface, hornbills and (our kids’ favourite) giant water monitor lizards which slither about everywhere. There are a number of other amazing locations in Borneo to enjoy incredible wildlife encounters such as the Danum Valley, Tabin Wildlife Reserve and Bako National Park – take a look at our Places to Visit in Borneo.

Borneo with kids - on Kinabatangan River

There’s so much wildlife to spot on a Kinabatangan river trip and also time for a laugh along the way

6 – Try your hand at batik painting on a tea plantation

Sometimes due to the heat and humidity during a ‘Borneo with kids’ trip, it can be good to have some ‘downtime’. We visit a tea-plantation with stunning views of Mount Kinabalu where you can take a tour around the tea factory, learn survival skills from a bush guide (including how to use a blowpipe!) and the art of painting a batik. It’s a great way of spending a quiet hour whilst allowing you to take home a souvenir you made yourself. Visit the Sabah tea plantation on our Active Borneo for families itinerary.

Batik painting on a Borneo with kids holiday

There’s an activity for everyone at the Sabah Tea Plantation – from batik to blow pipes

7 – Meet the locals

Enjoy a genuine cultural encounter by spending a few days in a rural mountain village on your holiday to Borneo with the kids. Dine with the family on mouth-watering home cooked food, kick a ball around with the local kids, pop into the infant school and get your children to lead an English class and take a gentle hike to a river for a refreshing swim/water-fight. At the Sarawak Cultural Village near Kuching you can learn about the various crafts and customs and enjoy watching traditional tribal dances at this fascinating Living Museum.

One, two, three, follow me… the kids will love leading an English language class

8 – Head out on the river

Borneo offers two white water experiences – one very gentle one suitable for 4yrs+ and the other a little more adrenaline-fuelled, which can also be combined with a trip on an old steam train. Both options boast stunning scenery, and it’s great fun learning something together as a family – you can even try body surfing at suitable spots. Or how about an exciting tubing adventure from the Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley – floating along looking up at the primary rainforest above you is simply magical. For a slightly more calmer experience why not head out on a river cruise in the Kuching Wetlands National Park in search of the elusive Irrawaddy dolphin.

Rafting options can suit all ages and skill levels – someone has got their hands on the Go-pro camera…

9 – Island hop in search of that perfect beach

There’s lots of islands you can visit off Kota Kinabalu, just hop on a water taxi and choose your spot! Swim in turquoise waters, take an exhilarating zip wire over the sea, snorkel to your hearts content amidst the colourful fish and chill out beneath swaying palm trees at a luxury resort hotel before taking the short boat transfer back to the mainland. For somewhere totally remote why not enjoy time on ‘Survivor Island’ – Pulau Tiga. Which kid wouldn’t love a ‘mud volcano’?! Read more in our Where to Stay in Borneo.

Borneo with kids - zip-wire race

Zip-wire race between Gaya and Sapi islands on a Borneo with children holiday

10 – Meander the waterfront at Kota Kinabalu

Before heading home, stocking up with souvenirs is a must. There’s a huge array of exotic fruits, vegetables and fish on display on the Kota Kinabalu waterfront, with a Filipino market, too. (If your kids aren’t feeling adventurous, you can grab a seafood pizza at a boardwalk restaurant, too.) Kuching in Sarawak offers a very authentic Asian experience where you can meander along the riverside to Chinatown to witness the fountain water show, enjoy a sunset river cruise or take a gentle bike ride out to the picturesque rural outskirts of this friendly and easy-going town.

Borneo Family Holidays - Filipino Market in Kota Kinabalu

Lunch in the Filipino market

Borneo with kids

All our holidays are tailor-made, so any of the top 10 activities in our ‘Borneo with kids’ blog can be incorporated into our holidays – see our example Borneo itineraries which are a good starting point if you would like to start planning a trip.

More information
Visit our Borneo family holidays pages for more ideas on what you and your children can do here and also see Places to visit in Borneo. Check out the best time to visit Borneo and for up to date health advice, visit the NHS travel website.

If you’d like to chat to someone who’s managed all these things, then give Helene a call. Although be warned, as she’s ever so slightly enthusiastic about Borneo as a family destination!

Ring us on 01728 752751 or email us at [email protected].