Borneo isn’t at the top of the list for most motorcycle travellers. It’s a hurdle to get to and it’s massive (the world’s third largest island). But, if you are planning on riding there, this Borneo motorcycle travel guide explains everything you need to know.
Motorcycle Travel in Borneo
Borneo is the world’s third largest island and shared between three countries. The north half belongs to Malaysia with a tiny enclave for Brunei and the south half is Indonesia.
It’s an incredible island and home to some of the world’s most diverse wildlife from orangutans and crocodiles to the fascinating proboscis monkeys. You’ve also got world class dive sites, gorgeous islands and deserted beaches and more jungle trekking than you could shake a stick at. If that’s all up your street, then using a motorcycle to explore might be for you.
You may want to include Borneo on your travels if you’re interested in the above. But there is another reason motorcycle travellers end up in Borneo and that’s simply to use the island as a through-road from Malaysia to Indonesia.
Whatever your reason, we’ll cover what you need to know in this guide.
The north half belongs to Malaysia. This region is referred to as East Malaysia, the Borneo States or Malaysian Borneo.
The south half belongs to Indonesia. This region is referred to as Kalimantan.
Round the world motorcycle travellers will often ship their bike from Kuala Lumpur to Sarawak, Borneo and then ride south, cross into Kalimantan Indonesia and then catch the ferry to Java. Since Covid, this is the typical way of getting from Malaysia to Indonesia.
However, the shipment from Malaysia to Borneo takes around 10 days. In that time, its worth flying to the north of Borneo and travelling around that area – unless you are shipping your bike to the north.
For more info on our route through north Borneo, check out our blog post.
READ MORE: Back on the Road in Borneo
Paperwork for entering Borneo with a foreign motorcycle
Remember that there are three different countries on the island of Borneo all with their own paperwork rules and requirements.
Please see our dedicated motorcycle travel guides on Malaysia and Indonesia for detailed info on their motorcycle entry requirements.
- Motorcycle Travel Guide: Malaysia
- Motorcycle Travel Guide: Indonesia
Crossing the Malaysia / Indonesia border in Borneo
There is a land border between Malaysia and Indonesia on the island of Borneo. You can ship your motorcycle from Kuala Lumpur to Sarawak and then ride south to cross the land border to Indonesia. From there you can ride to Pontianak and catch the ferry across the Java Sea to Java, Indonesia (more info on shipping procedures in the shipping section below).
We have a dedicated guide on crossing this land border with a motorcycle below.
Notes on the Route from the Malaysia / Indonesia border to Pontianak
If you are planning on riding from the Malaysia / Indonesia border to Pontianak, note that hotels are few and far between. Plot your route and your overnight stop accordingly as it’s likely you won’t make the entire ride in one day.
There is an ATM at the Etikong border crossing, it’s a good idea to get cash out as they can be hard to find along the way.
Shipping a motorcycle to and from Borneo
You can ship your motorcycle from West Malaysia to Malaysia Borneo, or from Borneo to West Malaysia, but in either direction you cannot travel with your bike. You will need to take a flight to or from Kuala Lumpur and it takes around 10 days for your bike to arrive.
You can get a ferry with your motorcycle from Java, Indonesia to Kalimantan Borneo, or in the opposite direction and travel with your motorcycle. This ferry takes around 36 hours.
The Best Things to do in Malaysia Borneo
Head to Semporna for scuba diving. It’s regarded as one of the best places in the world to dive. You won’t find much else this way and it’s not worth the (very) long ride to get here if you’re not planning on diving.
This is a must if you’re interested in seeing Borneo’s endemic wildlife. There are animals in Borneo that can only be found on this island, such as the proboscis monkey. You’ll find orangutans and sun bears here too. It’s worth going on a boat tour with a guide who will take you up the narrow snaking rivers to spot animals in the wild.
For more info on the wildlife and our experience, check out our blog.
READ MORE: Back on the Road in Borneo
Tip of Borneo
If you’re in Kota Kinabalu (a great little city), it’s worth the ride up to the Tip of Borneo. You’ll find secluded beaches and stunning raw nature here. When plotting your ride, make sure you include a route past Mount Kinabalu too.
Motorcycle repairs in Sarawak
If you need repairs on your motorcycle, we’d recommend visiting John Motor in Sarawak. They know their stuff and work on big and enduro bikes.
Here’s the Google Maps link to John Motor.
Read more on Motorcycle Travel in Borneo, Malaysia and Indonesia
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