Saturday, November 06, 2004

Safety in Borneo

This was a question posted at our Travel Forum early this year. We feel that it is still extremely pertinent today and we would like to share with you our local experience on the said subject:


I am an Aussie wanting to travel to Borneo. I am concerned, given recent world events about safety when travelling in South East Asia in general. I would be interested to hear from someone who is currently in Borneo about the present safety for Westerners wanting to travel to Borneo. The places we want to go to are Kuching, KK, Mount KK, Mulu, Poring Hot Springs, Sandakan, Turtle Island. Many thanks - "Aussie traveller"


I do hope my comments here will not be considered as bias. Based on the experience and comments from our foreign clients, Borneo itself seems to be safer than say, Australia, for 3 reasons as far as terrorist threats, and the places of your interests are concerned:

1. Not densely populated and easy-to-target tour destinations (e.g., eco, rainforest, natural caves, rural areas, etc. normally do not and cannot have too many people visiting at one time).

2. Not a prime destination for Americans (or Australians), or with lots of US interests (at least not yet, and not likely in the immediate term). And the capital of Malaysia is not located in Sabah or Sarawak.

3. Politically and socially most stable and peaceful in the region, two important ingredients that can minimise the threats of terrorism.

Most Aussie tourists actually opined that Borneo feels safer than Australia at present. They said that it feels much more threatening there. One true blue Aussie even go as far to say that the safest place on earth right now is somewhere in the middle of the rainforest jungle, in the heart of Borneo, staying with some longhouse community.

In the past, piracy (mostly confined in the East Coast diving spots of Sabah) is more of a threat than terrorists, but security had really been stepped up big time and most divers now feel that Sipadan, Kapalai and Mabul are safer than before.

However, it must be noted that NO destinations in the world can be guaranteed to be safe from terrorists or any other threats either natural or man-made. Borneo is no exception. This has been debated before in this forum. You may hurt yourself falling down from a staircase in a 5-star hotel here, or you may get stung by a jellyfish. Mosquitoes, leeches and insects are aplenty in the jungle.

It is best for tourists to do their research and get opinions from locals on the present local condition as what you are doing now. Great! Then it is really up to you on whether to make the trip or not based on your findings.

Just browse through the topics of discussion in the forum esp. in Govt and Politics where most forummers (esp Sabahans) like to go, and you may get an inkling of the real situation here.
Do hope others will join in to give their own 2 cent piece of advise on safety here so that you will get a honest and unbias opinions that may help you make up your mind about visiting here.

But for me personally, Borneo IS the place to visit as far as eco and wildlife tourism are concerned. It is definitely much safer in the jungle or natural environment than a populated high rise building or nightclub (not enough nightlife here in fact). It is the ultimate Adventure and Nature paradise.

Hope the above helps you out.

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