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Are you interested in finding the best hotels in Borneo for families?
From luxury resorts to eco-friendly lodges, Borneo has something to suit everyone. We have you covered if you’re wondering where to stay in Borneo.
Where to Stay in Borneo
Divided among Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, Borneo is the third-largest island in the world. It’s famous for its unique wildlife, some of the world’s oldest rainforests and beautiful beaches and islands.
We based ourselves in the state of Sabah (Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu) in Malaysian Borneo. There’s so much for families to see and do here, so it’s a great part of Borneo to focus on.
Not only will you be able to have fantastic wildlife experiences here, but you’ll also get to choose from a range of fantastic accommodation options, from luxury hotels in Borneo to the ideal Borneo rainforest lodge and beach resorts in Borneo.
What Types of Accommodation Can You Expect in Borneo?
You might be surprised by the different options available when it comes to Borneo hotels. Whether you’re looking for an authentic Borneo rainforest lodge, a beach resort in Borneo, or wallet-friendly accommodation in Borneo, it’s definitely on offer here. Here are our favourite Borneo hotels in each category:
Luxury Hotels in Borneo
5 star hotels in Borneo can be pretty good value compared to other parts of the world. Luxury hotels in Borneo will provide you and your family with a combination of comfort and high-level service as well as the opportunity to be immersed in the natural beauty Borneo has on offer.
Picking one of Borneo’s luxury hotels ensures you’ll experience the best of both worlds.
When it comes to 5 star hotels in Borneo, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa is the holy grail. It’s located on sprawling Pantai Dalit Beach in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Rasa Ria is a luxurious, family-friendly 5-star resort. One of the biggest draws is that it has its own private nature reserve. You’ll love the resort’s Discovery Centre and the activities on offer, which include the Borneo Sunrise walk, a Night walk, a birdwatching tour and the ‘Junior Naturalists Program’ for kids who are interested in helping the resort’s resident naturalists and learning about the local ecosystems.
The rooms and suites are seriously spacious at Rasa Ria and beautifully decorated with traditional yet modern furnishings and decor. Guests can stay in either Garden Wing or Ocean Wing rooms (these have sea views). We stayed in the Garden wing and enjoyed how nice and quiet it was.
There are several dining options, from international cuisine to local fare. Coast Restaurant overlooks the beach, while Kozan Teppan-Yaki (our favourite) offers an amazing Japanese tasting menu.
Rasa Ria has a kids club for children aged 4 to 12 years old, and lots of kids’ activities on offer. There’s a games room and a guided bike tour to a local village available – both of which we all enjoyed.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation, luxury, adventure, or a family-friendly getaway, this resort will definitely provide a memorable stay in the heart of Borneo.
Gaya Island is the largest island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, located just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.
One of the most luxurious 5 star hotels in Borneo, the Gaya Island Resort is also a popular eco-friendly choice.
It’s pretty easy to get to – it takes around 10 minutes by boat from the mainland.
The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is a protected area consisting of several islands known for their fantastic coral reefs and diverse marine life. The Gaya Island resort is therefore one of the best hotels in Borneo if you want to do some snorkelling.
This beach resort in Borneo offers luxurious villas and suites tucked away amongst the island’s tropical surroundings. There are some gorgeous overwater villas too. If you’re after peace and seclusion, this is the place for you.
One of the great things about the Gaya Island Resort is that it has a reputation for being eco-friendly and committed to sustainability. There’s lots of wildlife here – animals you might see include macaques, monitor lizards, and lots of different bird species.
There’s also a marine centre which rescues and cares for green sea turtles before releasing some of them back into the sea. The marine centre also participates in coral reef restoration and there’s lots for kids (and adults) to learn at the centre about conservation.
If you care about sustainability and conservation, but you’re also looking for a bit of luxury, Gaya Island Resort definitely takes one of the top spots!
Borneo Rainforest Lodge Options
Perhaps you’re looking for a more rustic experience. A smaller property where you and your family can be submerged in nature and up close to the local wildlife. If that’s the case, Borneo’s Rainforest lodges might be the answer.
You might not get the same level of luxury, but you will get an authentic experience which brings a magic all of its own.
Set in a wonderful location close to the Kinabatangan River, the Kinabatangan Wildlife Lodge offers several tours throughout the day. These allow you the opportunity to spot Borneo’s Big Five!
Amongst this Borneo rainforest lodge’s residents are Orangutan, White-Crowned Hornbill, Flying Lemur, Common Malay Civet and Buffy Fish Owl (and more out on the river).
Staying by the Kinabatangan River is a wonderful experience for families in Borneo. The riverboat cruises offered by the Kinabatangan Wildlife Lodge provide amazing opportunities to see local wildlife. On our boat trips on the river, we saw proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants and several species of hornbill.
This eco-lodge prides itself on integrating sustainability, innovation, respect for the environment and appreciation for the local Orang Sungai cultures.
There’s an on-site restaurant here with a set menu – but the staff are accommodating if you have particular dietary requirements.
Sepilok Forest Edge Resort is a fantastic Borneo rainforest lodge in Sandakan (it’s conveniently just a 20-minute drive from Sandakan airport). It’s also just a 15-minute walk from the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Sun Bear Sanctuary, two Borneo must-sees.
The rooms are fairly simple but more than adequate. You can choose from air-conditioned chalets that come with private bathrooms with hot-water showers, or mixed dormitory rooms which come with a fan and shared bathroom. ‘The Family Chalet’ here, is as the name suggests, perfect for families.
Sepilok Forest Edge Resort is perfect for you if you’re a nature lover who wants to be in natural surroundings, with great opportunities for spotting wildlife and bird-watching.
There’s a plunge pool at the lodge and free Wi-Fi in the restaurant area. Both local and Western dishes are available at the on-site restaurant.
If you’re interested in arranging an excursion or jungle trek, the staff at the reception can help you organise this. The resort also provides laundry services, foreign currency exchange and free parking
This is a great place to stay for families and a big perk is that the staff are particularly lovely and hospitable here.
Budget Accommodation and Backpacking in Borneo
If you’re on a budget, ‘Backpacker Borneo’ is there for you! There are plenty of budget Borneo hotels on offer.
If you’re after the freedom that comes with self-catering and you want more space for your family, then you might find that budget accommodation is where to stay in Borneo.
The Hush Inn in Kota Kinabalu is an affordable option close to the ITCC shopping mall. A two-bedroom apartment here is perfect for families. They’re modern and spacious with great interior design.
Facilities are particularly well regarded here with all the amenities you could want if you prefer to opt for self-catering accommodation.
Not only can you be certain of a comfortable stay for a really good price, but the views from the Hush Inn are known for being spectacular.
Located in Sandakan, you’ll find a private pool, free WiFi and free private parking at Orang Utan Guest House. This spacious self-catering apartment has impressive mountain views and has two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Included are all bed linen, towels, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony with sea views.
If you’re travelling with children, this is a fantastic family-friendly option. There’s a kid’s pool, outdoor play equipment and a babysitting service too.
A car rental service is available at Orang Utan Guest House, while hiking can be enjoyed nearby.
Where To Stay In Borneo FAQ
What is the best month to visit Borneo?
We’d suggest that the best month to visit Borneo is April (perfect timing for the Easter holidays). This is when we visited and it was generally good weather-wise! If you can’t visit in April, then March, May and September are also good.
These months have the least rainfall and temperatures aren’t quite as high as they are in the summer months. May and September may also be a bit cheaper and less competitive when it comes to securing accommodation.
Read more here: What Is The Best Time To Visit Borneo? Planning Your Trip
Is it expensive in Borneo?
Borneo is often considered to be pretty affordable compared to many Western countries.
Accommodation, food, and transportation costs are lower compared to more developed countries. Eating out (particularly at the amazing food courts in the shopping malls) is very reasonable, and you’ll be able to find a good standard of budget accommodation.
You’ll of course be able to find luxury resorts in Borneo, particularly in popular tourist areas – but we found that even these were fairly good value.
You’ll find that activities such as guided wildlife tours may be pricier so budget accordingly for these – because they’re definitely worth it.
How long do you need in Borneo?
A minimum period for a family trip to Borneo would be 10 days (if you’re just visiting Borneo). We travelled for two weeks but the first few days of the trip were spent in KL. If you have longer, you could venture further afield to Sarawak or Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).
Read more on what to do in Borneo here: Borneo With Kids and the Perfect Family Itinerary.