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People & Culture

The Southeast Asian island of Borneo - third largest island in the world - has captivated the imagination of explorers and travelers for centuries with its alluring mix of indigenous culture and untamed rainforest.

Approximately 16 million people live on the island of Borneo, which is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. The island's population is comparatively low for the region, owing largely to the fact that up until a few decades ago, Borneo was completely covered by dense rainforest with poor soil for agriculture. This, combined with rugged terrain, unnavigable rivers and the fierce head-hunter reputation of its inhabitants, ensured that the island remained underdeveloped for many years, giving Borneo a legendary mystique as one of the most mysterious and exotic places on Earth.

Around three thousand years ago, traders from other lands began to frequent Borneo, connecting the island to a larger trading network extending to China, India, and beyond. Locals collected exotic products like bird's nests and sandalwood for trade abroad but otherwise, life went on as before. Approximately 500 years ago, Islam arrived to the island, and a number of Muslim kingdoms were established, the largest of which was Brunei, which once controlled most of the northern coast. The name Borneo is in fact derived from the name Brunei.

Today, Borneo is still home to thousands of indigenous ethnic minorities which add to the island's diversity and local colour. While Borneo is rapidly modernising, indigenous culture still thrives, evident in the many traditional longhouse communities that dot the landscape of Borneo and in the native handiworks and crafts they continue to produce. Headhunting, however, is a pastime which thankfully has retreated into legend!

The population of Sabah of about 2 million comprises over 32 difference colourful ethnic groups speaking over 80 local dialects. The three major indigenous groups are the Dusunic, Murutic and Bajau group.

Whereby, the major ethnic groups in the state of Sarawak collectively known as the Dayaks, the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. There are 27 distinct indigenous ethnic groups that speak 45 different languages and dialects that's not counting the Malays and the many different Chinese groups with all their different dialects that have also settled in Sarawak.

Bruneians are predominantly Malay, though significant Chinese, Indian and indigenous Bornean populations add to the cultural makeup of Brunei. Brunei's blend of cultures, customs, beliefs and customs is therefore very similar to that of Malaysia.

Below are brief introduction and overview of Borneo's potpourri of different cultures, religions, and ethnic groups:-

  1. LONGHOUSES OF BORNEO,

  2. THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF BRUNEI,

  3. THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF KALIMANTAN,

  4. THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF SABAH,

  5. THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF SARAWAK,

and the Selected Cultural Destinations:-

  1. APOKAYAN PLATEAU , one of the most remote and inaccessible areas in Borneo

  2. BANJARMASIN, An authentic floating market in Kalimantan

  3. BARIO & KELABIT HIGHLANDS , The Inspirational View of paddy fields.

  4. BATANG AI NATIONAL PARK, Make your way into the heart of Borneo

  5. LOKSADO, A place with unique sceneries where you can experience the authentic Dayak culture

  6. MAHAKAM RIVER, This mighty muddy river is the highway to the interior of Kalimantan

Our team at ABCTours takes great pleasure creating tailor-made tour packages for our discerning guests and family. Do let us know your preference and we shall design a package that suits your individuality and travel time table.

Below are some of our standard tour packages and itinerary for your reference. Please feel free to mix and match these packages, otherwise check out our Private Collection of Customized Tours for a suitable itinerary or request us to design one especially for you.

 Products / Tours Packages Duration Code  
1. HIGHLIGHTS OF BRUNEI (Ex Bandar Seri Begawan) 3D2N BRUNEI/3D/BWN View
2. BAMBOO RAFTING & DAYAK ADVENTURE (Ex Banjarmasin) 5D4N KALIMANTAN/5D/BDJ View
3. ORANGUTAN & DAYAK ADVENTURE (Ex Balikpapan) 6D5N KALIMANTAN/6D/BPN View
4. 2D1N IBAN CULTURE AT LEMANAK RIVER (Ex Kuching) 2D1N SARAWAK/2D/KCH View
5. LEMANAK RIVER & BATANG AI (Ex Kuching) 3D2N SARAWAK/3D/KCH View
6. LONGHOUSE BATANG AI ADVENTURE (Ex Kuching) 3D2N SARAWAK/3D/KCH View
7. BARIO AND KELABIT HIGHLANDS (Ex Miri) 4D3N SARAWAK/4D/BARIO View
8. SARAWAK JUNGLE ADVENTURE (ex Kuching) 4D3N SARAWAK/4D/KCH View
9. SARAWAK RAFTING ADVENTURE (ex Kuching) 4D3N SARAWAK/4D/KCH View
indicates our favourite pick