How Much Does Borneo Really Cost? $78 Per Day!


How Much is our finance series, meant to tell you how much you should—and shouldn't—spend on the road.

You can't win them all—at least on a budget. Borneo was one of our favorite destinations, but the experiences didn't come cheap.

We spent 15 days in the Sabah region of Borneo and even though we kept a close eye on our wallet, the money got away from us. Well... that's simplifying it a bit. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to bite the bullet and dive at Sipadan, one of the best dive sites in the world. Best doesn't often come cheap, and that was certainly the case here, with four days costing us about $600. Was it worth it? Absolutely! But that is why the spending's so high.

bumphead parot fish in Sipadan

That said, most package tours to Borneo charge at least $150/day, and that's without any diving. Independent travel in Borneo is a bit tough than other countries, but we did it with little preplanning, so it is possible.

So, without further ado, here's a taste of what you can experience on $78 a day in Borneo:

  • The most incredible diving in the world at Sipadan
  • Up close encounters with green sea turtles, white tip sharks, humphead parrotfish, schools of jackfish, and tornadoes of barracudas
    Looking up at a school of barracuda
  • Malay hospitality, including a 90km ride from a sweet couple when we were stranded on the side of the road
  • Life on the world's only Dive Rig—get ready to eat, and jump!
    replaced with Lina
  • Summiting Mt. Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia, in one day
    Me, Lina and Dina at Low's Peak on top of Mt. Kinabalu
  • Being sore for three days after summiting Mt. Kinabalu in one :o)
    what you feel like after climbing Mt. Kinabalu in one day
  • The Rafflesia, the world's largest (and smelliest/strangest) flower
    Rafflesia - biggest flower in the world
  • Cheeky orangutans, both in the wild and at a rehabilitation center
    so he escapes in a flash, walking the tight rope
  • Proboscis monkeys staring at you from the top of a tree while you float by in your boat
    proboscis monkey in a medatative position
  • Pygmy elephants having a feast on the banks of a river
    so many elephants!
  • The ability to elicit jealousy and drooling once you say you've been to Borneo

Interested in reading more about traveling cheap in Borneo? Check out our destination pages and Borneo itinerary. We tell you how to save money while traveling independently in a place most travelers never see.

If you have any tips for backpacking or budget travel in Borneo, leave a comment!


If you read our About Us page, you know that we're not your typical backpackers. Leaving our beautiful San Francisco loft and Lina's designer shoe collection behind didn't mean we'd revert to the way we traveled (or lived) when we were 17. So even if our trip looks cheap, know that you could spend a lot less. Most backpackers do!