Welcome to Malaysian Borneo, one of the most ecologically and ethnically diverse destinations in Southeast Asia—and perhaps even the world. Also known as Eastern Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo is actually the northern portion of the island of Borneo, which is shared with two other countries, Brunei and Indonesia. Eastern Malaysia is less developed than its western counterpart, and you’ll find that the friendly people here take great pride in their diverse cultural traditions and backgrounds.
The people of Malaysian Borneo speak Bahasa Malaysia. If you meet a local and would like to say hello, your greeting will reflect the time of day:
“Good morning”: Selamat pagi
“Good afternoon”: Selamat tengah hari
“Good evening”: Selamat petang
“Good night”: Selamat malam
Or, you could even greet people with a simple Apa khabar? which means, “How are you?”
You could think of the population of Malaysian Borneo—and to a larger extent, all of Malaysia—as a melting pot of indigenous ethnic groups, immigrants, and foreign settlers. While the population consists mostly of branches of the indigenous Dayak people, a large contingent is made up of Bruneians, Chinese, Indians and Indonesians. This makes for a dynamic intersection of cultural influences. The proof, as we like to say, is in the food! Just peruse the menu of any local restaurant and you’re bound to find dishes that blend the flavors of several different cultures.
Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution of Malaysia guarantees religious freedom. In Malaysian Borneo, you’ll meet indigenous groups who practice animism as well as groups who have taken up major world religions. For example, the Bajau Laut, a seafaring nomadic group who live much of their lives in boats or on the water, believe that spirits live in the ocean, from the coral reefs to the tides. Other indigenous groups, such as the Bisaya, have embraced Islam and Christianity.
The three states of Malaysian Borneo—Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan—are all home to fascinating cultures and natural wonders. If you’d like to find out more about tailoring a holiday in Malaysian Borneo, just contact one of our locally based Travel Specialists.