Borneo is home to an incredible collection of national parks, each with their own unique appeal. If you want to experience a variety of national parks with different features and diverse ecosystems, Borneo is the place to be. The incredible selection of wildlife and contrasting scenery will make you instantly fall in love with this extraordinary island in Southeast Asia.
Marvel at the odd looking silvery langur monkey, swim with whale sharks and seahorses and catch a glimpse of monitor lizards. In terms of wildlife and flora and fauna, Borneo is a wonder to behold. The scenery switches from lush green rainforests and rugged caves to swoon-worthy coastline and magical coral reefs.
Borneo National Parks - My top picks...
The only problem is, with so many amazing national parks, which ones do you visit? Well, that really depends on what your goals are for your Borneo trip and what things are most important to you. Are you looking for an active trek or are you more concerned with finding the best places to spot wildlife? Have a read of my suggestions below and you should find your perfect match.
Here are my top picks of the best national parks to visit in Borneo.
Bako National Park
Wildlife lovers will be in heaven here. There are some animals with strange names like the hairy bearded pig and the pendulous-nosed proboscis monkey. You can really lose yourself in Bako National Park and immerse yourself in the nature thanks to 16 hiking trails which are clearly marked.
It may be the smallest park in Sarawak but what it doesn't have size it makes up for in variety. From boggy swamp forests and thick mangroves, to beaches, rock formations and cascading waterfalls, there are lots of hidden gems to be found here.
Wander the forest floor and gaze up at the trees and if you're lucky, you'll spot some monkeys bounding from branch to branch. This is the oldest national park in Sarawak and it boasts a variety of terrains and landscapes. Be sure to snap some pictures of the limestone cliffs on the coastline, and watch out, because the mangroves have saltwater crocodiles hiding beneath the waters.
If you're a bit of a bird enthusiast, you'll feel at home here, as there are over 190 types of birds.
Kinabalu National Park
Kinabalu National Park was the first World Heritage Site in Malaysia. It was added to the UNESCO list in 2000 thanks to its "outstanding universal values". Here there's over 4,500 species, and over 100 different species of mammal. A lot of people visit this park to climb Mount Kinabalu - if you're lucky and the skies are clear you can catch a glimpse of the Philippines from the summit.
This park is no doubt a huge tourist hotspot but that shouldn't put you off, the spectacular rugged mountain scenery and incredible selection of plant species are well worth the effort. Kinabalu National Park has an abundance of species and wide ranging habitats. Set foot in tropical mountain forests, uncover vast tropical lowland and marvel at the Ultramafic (serpentine) rocks which cover about 16% of the park.
If marine life is more your thing, then don't miss out on a trip to magical Turtle Island. It's nestled in the Sulu Sea and is home to green turtles. They come here to lay their eggs. To witness this spectacle in its finest glory, visit between July and September. You can walk round the island and go on boat rides to see the wildlife from another perspective. Snorkel by day and watch the turtles laying their eggs at night.
Kubah National Park
Small but beautiful park, Kubah National Park is a dreamy mix of waterfalls, bathing pools, shimmering clear streams and lush forests. At night the park comes alive with the sound of frog croaks and insect noises. Imagine a soothing jungle soundtrack, well, it might sound a little like this recording from Kubah National park at dusk.
Wildlife in this park includes numerous reptiles and amphibians, the bearded pig, deer and many incredible bird species. There are plenty of hiking trails too, if you're feeling energetic, go on the six hour trek to Mount Serapi summit. There are plenty of places to cool off after long hikes including steams, pools and refreshing waterfalls.
Mulu Caves National Park
If you love venturing into cave networks and learning about how they're formed and the wildlife within them, pay a visit to Mulu Caves National Park. Here you will find a diverse range of caves to explore including "Clearwater Cave" and "Deer Cave" - be sure to watch out for the bats! These caves were formed from the limestone mountains as the water from the slopes cut deep gorges through the land.
This park boasts high biodiversity and has a whopping 109 species of palm trees. The "Sarawak Chamber", at 80m high, is the largest known cave chamber in the world. Don't miss the opportunity to cool down in the picturesque Paku Waterfall and if you want to see spectacular views over the park you'll have to reach the summit of Gunung Mulu Mountain.
Lambir Hills National Park
Want to visit arguably the richest rainforest on the planet, and set foot in what scientist describe as one of the world's most ecologically diverse areas? Lambir Hills National Park is made up of 7,000 hectares including 1,200 insect species and 1,050 different types of trees. It's also home to the amazing clouded leopard.
There are lots of jungle trails. You can go for a 15 minute stroll or a four hour hike to Bukit Lambir. Here you can go on magical night walks, swim in waterfalls and enjoy a spot of birdwatching. Of all the parks in Sarawak, Lambir is one of the most accessible as it's located only half an hour from Miri City.
Now start planning your Borneo Holiday...
So, you've discovered some of the best national parks to visit in Borneo, now the only question is, which ones will you schedule into your trip? You'll have to decide whether your goal is to see wildlife, go trekking, uncover cave systems or learn about Borneo's wildlife. It's easy to see why Borneo is increasing in popularity and more people are visiting thanks to its diverse wildlife and natural wonders.