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The Cost Of Travel In Malaysian Borneo


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Cherie Redmond



Known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and vibrant indigenous culture, Borneo is a dream destination for many travelers. This tropical paradise is divided among three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Malaysian Borneo, also known as East Malaysia, is home to some of the island’s most famous attractions, including the enchanting rainforests of Sabah and Sarawak, the majestic Mount Kinabalu, and the fascinating Orangutan Rehabilitation Centers.


Before embarking on your Borneo adventure, it is essential to understand the cost of traveling in Malaysian Borneo. By having a clear understanding of the expenses involved, you can budget accordingly and make the most of your trip without any financial surprises.


The cost of travel in Malaysian Borneo can vary depending on factors such as the time of year, the type of accommodation chosen, the activities and excursions you plan to undertake, and your personal preferences. In this article, we will delve into the main aspects of travel expenses in Malaysian Borneo to help you plan your trip effectively.


From transportation and accommodation to food, activities, and miscellaneous expenses, we will provide you with an overview of the expected costs, so you can make informed decisions and enjoy a memorable trip to this captivating destination.


Transportation Costs

Getting to and around Malaysian Borneo can be done through various modes of transportation, each with its own associated costs. The primary means of arriving in Borneo is by air, with the two main international airports being Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah and Kuching International Airport in Sarawak. The cost of flights to Malaysian Borneo will depend on your departure point and the time of year you are traveling.


Once you are in Malaysian Borneo, getting around the different regions and cities can be done using domestic flights, buses, taxis, or rental cars. Domestic flights offer the convenience and speed of traveling between major cities, but they can be more expensive than other options. However, budget airlines like AirAsia often have affordable fares if booked in advance. Alternatively, buses are a cheaper mode of transportation, with frequent routes connecting various destinations in Malaysian Borneo. Taxis are available in urban areas but can be more expensive, especially for longer journeys.


When it comes to local transportation within cities or for shorter distances, options like public buses, minibuses, and taxis are readily available. Public buses are the most economical choice, while taxis can be pricier. Ride-hailing apps like Grab are also popular in some cities, offering a convenient and relatively affordable way to get around.


It is important to consider the cost of transportation when planning your budget for Malaysian Borneo. Flights, especially if you plan to visit multiple destinations, can be a significant expense. If you are on a tighter budget, opting for buses or shared transportation can help save money.


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Accommodation Costs

Accommodation options in Malaysian Borneo range from budget guesthouses and hostels to luxury resorts and eco-lodges. The cost of accommodation will depend on the type of lodging you choose, the location, and the level of comfort and amenities provided.


In popular tourist destinations like Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, and Kuching, you will find a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. Budget guesthouses and hostels can cost anywhere between RM30 to RM100 per night, providing basic amenities and shared facilities. Mid-range hotels and resorts offer more comfortable rooms and additional amenities, with prices typically ranging from RM100 to RM300 per night. For those seeking a luxury experience, high-end resorts and eco-lodges can charge upwards of RM500 per night.


If you prefer a more immersive experience in Malaysian Borneo, there are also homestay options available, where you can stay with local families and learn about their culture and traditions. Homestays provide a unique opportunity to connect with the local community while enjoying comfortable accommodation. The cost of homestays can vary depending on the location and the facilities provided, but they are generally more affordable compared to hotels or resorts.


In addition to the nightly rates, it is important to factor in additional costs such as taxes, service charges, and any extra services you may require, such as airport transfers or meal plans.


To save on accommodation costs, consider booking in advance and taking advantage of promotional offers or discounted rates. Additionally, exploring options like guesthouses or homestays can provide a more affordable and culturally immersive experience.


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Food and Drink Costs

Exploring the culinary delights of Malaysian Borneo is an essential part of any visit to the region. The diverse ethnicities and cultural influences in Malaysian Borneo contribute to a rich and flavorful food scene. Whether you’re a fan of street food or prefer dining in restaurants, there are options to suit every budget.


Street food stalls and hawkers are abundant in Malaysian Borneo, offering a wide range of local delicacies at affordable prices. Popular dishes such as nasi lemak, satay, and laksa can be found for around RM5 to RM10 per meal. These dishes are not only delicious but also give you a taste of the local flavors and culinary traditions.


If you prefer dining in restaurants, mid-range establishments offer a variety of cuisines, including Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and Western. Prices for a meal in such restaurants can range from RM20 to RM50 per person, depending on the type of cuisine and the location. Upscale restaurants and fine dining establishments can be pricier, with meals costing upwards of RM100 per person.


Borneo is also famous for its fresh seafood, and seafood restaurants are plentiful in coastal towns. Prices for seafood dishes will vary depending on the type of seafood and the restaurant, but a flavorful seafood meal can cost around RM40 to RM100 per person.


When it comes to drinks, bottled water can be purchased for around RM1.50 to RM3, while soft drinks and canned beverages are priced at around RM3 to RM5. If you’re a fan of Malaysian coffee or tea, a cup can cost anywhere from RM2 to RM6 in local cafes or street stalls.


It is worth noting that alcohol can be relatively expensive in Malaysian Borneo due to high taxes. Be prepared to spend around RM10 to RM20 for a bottle of beer, while cocktails and imported spirits can be even pricier.


To save on food and drink costs, consider trying local street food, as it is not only affordable but also offers a truly authentic culinary experience. Exploring local markets and hawker centers can also be a budget-friendly way to sample a variety of dishes at reasonable prices.


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Activities and Excursions Costs

One of the highlights of visiting Malaysian Borneo is the wide range of activities and excursions available to explore its natural wonders and cultural heritage. From wildlife encounters to trekking through lush rainforests and experiencing local traditions, there are countless opportunities to immerse yourself in the beauty of the region.


One of the most sought-after activities in Malaysian Borneo is wildlife spotting, particularly the chance to see orangutans in their natural habitat. The cost of visiting Orangutan Rehabilitation Centers or taking guided tours to see these beautiful creatures can range from RM100 to RM300 per person, depending on the location and package.


For nature lovers, exploring the lush rainforests and undertaking guided jungle treks is a must. The cost of guided treks can vary depending on the duration and difficulty level, ranging from RM150 to RM500 per person. These guided tours often include additional activities such as river cruises, night walks, and visits to indigenous communities.


Other popular activities in Malaysian Borneo include snorkeling or diving in the beautiful marine parks, visiting cultural villages to learn about the indigenous tribes, embarking on river safaris to spot wildlife, and experiencing adrenaline-pumping adventures like white-water rafting or zip-lining. The prices for these activities can vary depending on the location, duration, and any additional services included.


It is advisable to research and book activities in advance to secure your spots and potentially save money with early bird discounts or package deals. Additionally, some activities may require permits or entrance fees, so it is important to factor in these costs as well.


Remember, it is possible to find free or low-cost activities in Malaysian Borneo as well. Hiking trails, public beaches, local markets, and cultural festivals are great opportunities to experience the local culture and natural beauty without breaking the bank.


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Visa and Entry Fees

Before planning your trip to Malaysian Borneo, it is important to be aware of the visa requirements and entry fees. The visa requirements for Malaysian Borneo vary depending on your nationality and the duration of your stay.


Many nationals are eligible for visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival, allowing them to stay in Malaysian Borneo for a certain number of days without the need for a visa. However, it is crucial to check the specific requirements for your country of citizenship in advance to ensure a smooth entry process.


If you do require a visa, you can obtain it from the nearest Malaysian embassy or consulate in your home country. The cost of a visa will depend on the type and duration of the visa you are applying for.


In addition to the visa requirements, there may be entry fees or permits for certain attractions or national parks in Malaysian Borneo. For example, if you plan to visit Kinabalu National Park or other protected areas, there may be an entrance fee that ranges from RM15 to RM30 per person. These entrance fees help support the conservation efforts and maintenance of the parks.


It is essential to research the entry requirements and fees applicable to your nationality and intended activities in Malaysian Borneo to ensure a hassle-free trip. Make sure to budget for these fees accordingly to avoid any last-minute surprises.


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Travel Insurance Costs

When planning your trip to Malaysian Borneo, it is highly recommended to invest in travel insurance to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. Travel insurance provides coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations or interruptions, lost or stolen belongings, and other unexpected events that may occur during your journey.


The cost of travel insurance for Malaysian Borneo will depend on various factors, including your age, the duration of your trip, the coverage limits, and the level of protection you desire. On average, travel insurance can range from around RM20 to RM100 per day. However, it is important to note that the cost may increase if you have pre-existing medical conditions or if you opt for additional coverage options, such as adventure sports or high-value item protection.


While travel insurance is an additional expense, it is a worthwhile investment to provide you with peace of mind and financial protection. It can save you from potential high medical bills, unexpected trip cancellations, or loss of valuable belongings.


When choosing a travel insurance policy, be sure to carefully review the coverage details, including the benefits, exclusions, and any deductibles or excesses. Shop around and compare different insurance providers to find a policy that best suits your needs and budget. Make sure to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions accurately to ensure that you are adequately covered.


Remember, accidents and unforeseen events can happen to anyone, regardless of how careful or experienced a traveler you are. Travel insurance is a valuable investment that can provide you with the necessary support and financial protection should anything go wrong during your trip to Malaysian Borneo.


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Miscellaneous Expenses

In addition to the main categories of expenses mentioned above, there are various miscellaneous expenses to consider when budgeting for your trip to Malaysian Borneo. These expenses may not be significant individually, but they can add up over the course of your trip.


One such expense is tipping. While tipping is not mandatory in Malaysian Borneo, it is appreciated for excellent service. It is customary to leave a small tip for hotel staff, tour guides, and drivers. Tipping around 10% of the bill is considered a polite gesture.


Another expense to keep in mind is the cost of internet and communication. Wi-Fi is widely available in hotels and cafes, but if you require constant connectivity, consider purchasing a local SIM card for your phone. SIM cards can be easily obtained at the airport or from local telecom providers, and data packages can range from RM10 to RM50 depending on your usage and duration of stay.


Souvenirs and shopping can also be considered as additional expenses. Malaysian Borneo offers a wide range of unique handicrafts, artwork, and local products that make for memorable gifts or keepsakes. The cost of souvenirs will depend on your preferences and the items you choose to purchase.


When calculating your budget, it is a good idea to set aside some funds for unexpected expenses or emergencies. It is always better to have a safety net in case you encounter any unplanned situations or need to cover unforeseen costs.


Finally, it is important to factor in the currency exchange rates and any associated fees. It is advisable to bring a combination of cash and credit/debit cards, as not all establishments may accept cards. However, be aware that some ATMs may charge withdrawal fees, so it is wise to withdraw larger amounts less frequently to minimize costs.


By considering these miscellaneous expenses, you can have a more accurate estimation of your overall budget for your trip to Malaysian Borneo and ensure that you are prepared for any extra costs that may arise.


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Traveling to Malaysian Borneo is a dream come true for many adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and culture seekers. As you plan your trip, it is essential to consider the various costs involved to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.


In this article, we have explored the main categories of expenses you can expect when traveling in Malaysian Borneo, including transportation, accommodation, food and drink, activities and excursions, visa and entry fees, travel insurance, and miscellaneous expenses.


When budgeting for your trip, remember to research and compare prices for flights, accommodation, and activities to find the best deals. Consider staying in budget-friendly guesthouses or hostels, and indulge in the delicious and affordable street food for a taste of local flavors. Plan your activities and excursions in advance to take advantage of early bird discounts and prioritize the experiences that interest you the most.


Don’t forget to factor in visa fees and any entry fees for attractions or national parks. Additionally, invest in travel insurance to protect yourself against unexpected events and give yourself peace of mind. Finally, be mindful of tipping, communication costs, souvenirs, and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise during your trip.


By planning and budgeting accordingly, you can make the most of your time in Malaysian Borneo and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. Immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty, encounter unique wildlife, discover rich cultural traditions, and treasure the warm hospitality of the Malaysian Borneo locals.


So, pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and get ready to fall in love with the enchanting wonderland of Malaysian Borneo.


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