What to Expect as a Volunteer Borneo, Malaysia

Are you seeking a volunteer opportunity that combines cultural immersion, community outreach, and adventure? Look no further than Borneo – a diverse and enchanting island in Southeast Asia that offers a unique experience for volunteers from around the world. As you prepare for your volunteer journey, here’s a glimpse of what to expect as a volunteer in Borneo.

Embracing Bornean Culture

Borneo boasts a rich and colourful cultural tapestry, comprising various indigenous communities such as the Iban, Dayak, Kadazan, and others. As a volunteer, you’ll have the chance to live among these communities, learning about their traditions, art, music, and local customs. Prepare to be warmly welcomed into their homes and partake in traditional ceremonies, giving you a deeper understanding of the island’s unique heritage.

Immersive Wildlife Encounters

Orangutan in trees

Get ready to encounter some of the world’s most fascinating wildlife during your stay in Borneo. From the iconic orangutans swinging through the trees to playful pygmy elephants and the elusive proboscis monkeys, Borneo’s wildlife encounters will leave you in awe of nature’s wonders. As a volunteer, you might assist with research and monitoring programs aimed at understanding and protecting these remarkable species in their natural habitats.

Volunteers on our orangutan program will get to:

·        Collect bananas from the storeroom and taking them via wheelbarrow to the nursery.

·        Sweep leaves from surrounding paths and cleaning the nursery area.

·        Feed the orangutans at the outdoor nursery.

·        Assist the rangers by carrying bananas to the tourist platform (done twice daily)

·        Transfer infant orangutans from the sleeping cages to the playing cages.

·        Clean the sleeping area.

·        Prepare food for the infants (peeling bananas, making formula milk).

·        Feed the babies with bottled formula drink.

And more!

Challenging Adventures


Borneo’s lush landscapes and rugged terrains provide the perfect backdrop for adventure seekers. During your days off from volunteering, you may find yourself trekking through dense rainforests, exploring mystical caves, or even climbing Mount Kinabalu, one of Southeast Asia’s highest peaks. Engaging in these activities fosters a sense of camaraderie among volunteers and offers a chance to build lasting memories and friendships.

Meaningful Social Impact

Volunteering in Borneo allows you to create a positive social impact. You might be involved in educational programs, supporting local schools, and helping with our special needs residents. The work you do as a volunteer will directly contribute to improving the lives of the locals and the overall well-being of the region.

Cross-Cultural Exchange

Volunteering in Borneo is a two-way exchange that enriches both the volunteers and the local communities. As you share your experiences, skills, and knowledge, you’ll also learn from the locals, gaining insights into alternative ways of living and understanding the interconnectedness of humanity.

Unforgettable Memories

The bonds you forge with fellow volunteers and the locals, the breathtaking sights you witness, and the unique experiences you encounter will stay with you long after your volunteering journey has ended. Borneo offers an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting imprint on your heart and soul.

As you prepare for your volunteering expedition in Borneo, be open to embracing new challenges, immersing yourself in a different culture, and making a positive impact on both the environment and the local communities.

Volunteering on this beautiful island will undoubtedly be a life-changing and transformative experience, leaving you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. So, pack your bags, open your heart, and get ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime in Borneo!

chilling on the deck

What’s the best time of year to visit Borneo?

The best time of year to visit Borneo depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to do. Borneo has a tropical climate, with two main seasons: the dry season and the wet season.

Dry Season (April to October): This period is generally considered the best time to visit Borneo. The weather is drier, and you can expect sunny days with less rainfall. It is an ideal time for outdoor activities such as trekking, wildlife spotting, and diving. The water visibility is excellent during this season, making it perfect for underwater exploration.

Wet Season (November to March): This period experiences more rainfall, which can be heavy at times, leading to increased humidity. Despite the rain, Borneo’s rainforests and jungles are lush and vibrant during this season. However, some outdoor activities might be limited due to the weather, and some regions may experience flooding.

If you plan to visit Borneo primarily for outdoor activities and to explore its diverse nature and wildlife, the dry season is recommended. But if you don’t mind occasional rain and prefer a quieter and less crowded experience, the wet season can still offer its own charm. Keep in mind that weather patterns can vary, so it’s always a good idea to check the specific forecast for the time of your visit.

borneo islands

What is the best way to get around Borneo?

Getting around Borneo can vary depending on the region you are visiting and your preferences. Here are some common transportation options for getting around Borneo:

Domestic Flights: Borneo has several airports connecting major cities and towns, making domestic flights a convenient option for covering long distances quickly. Airlines such as Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, and others operate flights between major cities like Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, and Miri.

Buses: Buses are a popular mode of transportation for both short and long distances within Borneo. They offer a cost-effective option and connect various towns and cities. However, be prepared for longer travel times if you are traveling to more remote areas.

Boats and Ferries: As Borneo is an island, boats and ferries are commonly used to travel between coastal towns and islands. If you plan to explore the more remote parts of Borneo, boat travel might be necessary.

Rental Cars: Renting a car can be a good option if you prefer flexibility and independence. However, keep in mind that road conditions in some areas may be challenging, and it’s essential to have a valid driving license and be familiar with local driving rules.

Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis and ride-sharing services are available in major cities and towns. They provide a convenient way to get around within urban areas.

Local Transport: In cities and towns, you’ll find local transport options like minibuses, known as “bemos” in some areas, which offer affordable rides within the city limits.

It’s important to note that Borneo is a vast and diverse island, so transportation options may vary depending on the specific region you plan to visit. In more remote areas, the availability of certain transportation modes might be limited. Therefore, it’s advisable to plan your transportation in advance, especially if you have specific destinations and activities in mind.

For detailed information on volunteering opportunities in Borneo, please visit https://volunteering.org.au/projects/volunteer-in-malaysia/

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