Malaysia Climate

Malaysia & Borneo Climate

Benefiting from its location just north of the Equator, Malaysia is a good summer destination. The country’s capital and west coast are hot all year round, making it an ideal place to visit for a city and/or beach break. Rain should be expected throughout the year, but these intermittent downpours shouldn’t impact on your enjoyment. During September and October, the west coast destinations such as Penang and Langkawi see more rain than usual. At this time of year, a visit to historic Georgetown and island hopping off Langkawi are best substituted by an east coast destination. Between March and October, the diving hotspot of Tioman, the white sand beaches of the Perhantians and the stunning mosques of Kuala Terengganu come to the fore.

Borneo is one of Southeast Asia’s few summer destinations, with the best time to travel being between March and October when the island is at its driest. This is the best time to see orangutans in the wild, while turtles can be seen on Lankayan Island between June and September. During the rest of the year, Borneo experiences a tropical climate and the rains come to water the forest below. It’s hot and humid for most of the year, with temperatures averaging 27°C to 32°C and humidity usually at around 80%. However, there’s always somewhere to break up the trip; trek up Mount Kinabablu to be rewarded by stunning views and a cooling breeze, or head to the beaches for some swimming and world class snorkeling.

Average Temperatures and Rainfall

    Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Kuala Lumpur 90F/32C 90F/32C 91F/33C 91F/33C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 88F/31C 88F/31C
6in/152mm 6in/152mm 9in/229mm 11in/279mm 9in/229mm 5in/127mm 5in/127mm 6in/152mm 8in/203mm 11in/279mm 11in/279mm 10in/254mm
Langkawi
90F/32C 91F/33C 93F/34C 91F/33C 90F/32C 88F/31C 88F/31C 88F/31C 88F/31C 88F/31C 88F/31C 88F/31C
2in/51mm 1in/25mm 4in/102mm 7in/178mm 11in/279mm 11in/279mm 11in/279mm 12in/305mm 15in/381mm 15in/381mm 9in/229mm 3in/76mm
 
Malacca 
88F/31C 91F/33C 91F/33C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 8F/-13C 88F/31C 88F/31C 90F/32C 88F/31C 88F/31C
4in/102mm 4in/102mm 6in/152mm 8in/203mm 7in/178mm 6in/152mm 7in/178mm 7in/178mm 8in/203mm 9in/229mm 9in/229mm 8in/203mm
 East Coast
 
84F/29C 86F/30C 88F/31C 90F/32C 91F/33C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 88F/31C 88F/31C 84F/29C 84F/29C
6in/152mm 3in/76mm 4in/102mm 3in/76mm 4in/102mm 5in/127mm 6in/152mm 7in/178mm 8in/203mm 10in/254mm 23in/584mm 22in/559mm
Penang  90F/32C 91F/33C 91F/33C 91F/33C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 88F/31C 90F/32C 88F/31C 90F/32C
3in/76mm 3in/76mm 5in/127mm 7in/178mm 10in/254mm 7in/178mm 8in/203mm 9in/229mm 13in/330mm 16in/406mm 10in/254mm 5in/127mm
Kota Kinabalu   86F/30C 86F/30C 88F/31C 88F/31C 90F/32C 88F/31C 88F/31C 88F/31C 88F/31C 88F/31C 86F/30C 86F/30C
6in/152mm 3in/76mm 4in/102mm 6in/152mm 10in/254mm 12in/305mm 10in/254mm 11in/279mm 12in/305mm 14in/356mm 12in/305mm 10in/254mm
Kuching 86F/30C 86F/30C 88F/31C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 90F/32C 88F/31C 88F/31C
27in/686mm 21in/533mm 13in/330mm 11in/279mm 10in/254mm 8in/203mm 8in/203mm 9in/229mm 10in/254mm 12in/305mm 14in/356mm 20in/508mm

Weather Month-By-Month

Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in January

Malaysia:

During January, most of Malaysia will be bathed in sunshine, with very little rainfall expected; the only exception being the east coast and its islands. As such, it's the perfect time to head to the beaches of Langkawi, visit the capital or explore Malacca. Average temperatures sit at a comfortable 30°C.

Borneo:

Borneo sees some of its highest rainfall for the year; particulary in Sarawak. Sabah will most likely receive less rain at this time, but storms and high winds can make sea travel and reaching the more rural areas difficult. The poor weather also means that much of the wildlife remains hidden from view as animals shelter in the dense forest.

Events & Festivals

  • Chinese New Year (date varies): The Chinese New Year is a national holiday in Malaysia, with festivities and celebrations held throughout the country, making it an exciting time to visit.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in February

Malaysia:

Another month to avoid the east coast. However, the rest of Malaysia presents perfect conditions for exploring. With low season promotional offers and lower visitor numbers at this time of year, this is a great time to visit.

Borneo:

You should still expect to see some rainfall in Sarawak over this time, but it shouldn't impact your exploration too much. Lower visitor numbers and drier weather in Sabah - particularly in the north - make February an appealing month to visit if you are looking to take advantage of low season promotional offers; with Kota Kinabalu and the northern coast, including Gaya Island, being warm and relatively dry at this time. However, southern areas such as Danum Valley and the Sipadan Islands are still likely to receive heavy rainfall.

Events & Festivals

  • Chinese New Year (date varies): The Chinese New Year is a national holiday in Malaysia, with festivities and celebrations held throughout the country, making it an exciting time to visit.
  • Federal Territory Day (1st February): A state holiday for Federal Territory in Malaysia celebrating the anniversary of the formation of the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory in 1974.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in March

Malaysia:

It begins to brighten up on the east coast, and islands such as Tiomanstart to open up again. With great weather expected throughout Malaysia, you have the pick of most areas

Borneo:

Visitor numbers are still relatively low at this time of year, and for the most part, the island is dry. As such, this is a wonderful time to visit; taking advantage of shoulder season offers and lower crowds. This is also the start of the whale shark season.

Events & Festivals

  • Chinese New Year (date varies): The Chinese New Year is a national holiday in Malaysia, with festivities and celebrations held throughout the country, making it an exciting time to visit.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in April

Malaysia:

Visitor numbers continue to rise on the east coast, and with Penangand Langkawi still bathing in sunshine. April is a popular time to travel to Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands and Pangkor Lautare subject to the odd shower at this time of year, but not enough to impact on your trip

Borneo:

April is one of the best months to visit Borneo, as dry weather dominates. It also has some of the best conditions for trekking, and you'll have a good chance of seeing some orangutans.

Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in May

Malaysia:

Malaysia's east coast is the perfect place to be as the snorkeling and diving season begins. Calm seas and white sands are the perfect match for the beautiful islands. The winds pick up on the west coast and the continuous sunshine is no longer guaranteed. You can also expect some late afternoon thunderstorms.

Borneo:

During May, Borneo should have good weather all round, making it a perfect time to visit before high season prices set in. Orangutans are out in full force, making jungle treks extremely rewarding. This is also a good time to visit the beaches as their white sands are basked in sunshine.

Events & Festivals

  • Gawai Dayak/Harvest Festival (31st May - 1st June): An annual festival celebrated by the Dayak people in Sarawak, where it's a public holiday. It's marked with the sharing of food, decorated longhouses and traditional dress.
  • Malaysian Labour Day (1st May): A national holiday throughout Malaysia - including Borneo - in celebration of the economic and social achievements of workers.
  • Miri Jazz Festival (May): A two day festival where local and international jazz musicians perform for visitors from around the world.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in June

Malaysia:

Peak diving season begins on Tioman, with Redang and the Perhentiansalso experiencing hot, dry weather. The rains come to the west coast but are usually short sharp showers and should not impact on your overall enjoyment. This is a good time to combine Kuala Lumpur with Kuala Terrengganu and the Perhentians.

Borneo:

Hot, dry weather is present across most of Borneo in June, with the occasional rain shower occuring on Borneo's northern coastline. June marks the start of turtle season off Lankayan Island, while the fruiting season is in full swing in the forest, causing orangutans to venture closer as they forage. All of this makes June an extremely attractive time to visit.

Events & Festivals

  • Gawai Dayak/Harvest Festival (31st May - 1st June): An annual festival celebrated by the Dayak people in Sarawak, where it's a public holiday. It's marked with the sharing of food, decorated longhouses and traditional dress.
  • The King's Birthday (first Saturday in June): A national holiday marking the birth of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malaysia's head of state.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in July

Malaysia:

This is peak season on the east coast, and visitor numbers will be high due to it coinciding with the European school holidays. The east coast receives some of its best weather, while on the west coast the seas are choppy, winds are up, and you should expect the odd downpour.

Borneo:

July is perhaps the most popular time to travel to Borneo as it experiences near perfect conditions throughout. Turtle season continues to enthrall visitors, and orangutans are still active amongst the fruit trees. You should expect greater crowds and high season prices during this time of year.

Events & Festivals

  • Borneo Cultural Festival (July): Annually held in Sibu, this ten day festival includes traditional music performances, various contests and plenty of good food
  • Rainforest Music Festival (July): Renowned world musicians and indigenous musicians of Boreno gather in Kuching to perform, with lectures and workshops also taking place for visitors
  • Hari Raya Aidilfitri (July): Marking the end of Ramadan with the breaking of the fast, this is one of the most important celebrations on the Islamic calendar. Families gather together for a traditional feast and travel may be busy.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in August

Malaysia:

Peak season continues on the east coast and it's a good idea to book far in advance in order to secure preferred accommodation options. With hot, humid conditions and the chance of rain, Malaysia's west coast will now start to receive heavy downpours, though many people still travel during this period.

Borneo:

With conditions similar to July, if not better, booking far in advance is recommended as jungle lodges and beach properties fill up fast. Baby turtles begin to hatch on the beaches and fruit is still abundant in the forests, making this a great time to visit for wildlife enthusiasts

Events & Festivals

  • National Day/Hari Merdeka (31st August): A day commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule in 1957.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in September

Malaysia:

At the start of the month the east coast should still be bathing in sunshine; however, as the month goes on temperatures begin to drop and rougher seas are visible around the islands. Over on the other side of the country, the rains begin to die down and sunny days become more frequent. With visitor numbers dropping, you could grab a shoulder season bargain.

Borneo:

It's the end of turtle season on Langkayan Island, and hotel prices start to return to normal. However, the weather remains fine and dry throughout, so it's still a very appealing time to visit for relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, and wildlife watching on Kinabatangan River.

Events & Festivals

  • Awal Muharram (date varies, but usually between September and November): The beginning of the Islamic New Year is marked by Muslims through the attendance of religious activities, praying and singing.
  • Hari Raya Haji/Feast of the Sacrifice (September): Marks the end of the hajj pilgrimage season, when many Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Animals are sacrificed and the meat distributed to relatives and the poor.
  • Malaysia Day/Hari Malaysia (16th September): A national holiday to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian federation in 1963.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in October

Malaysia:

The rains on the west coast have one last downpour before months of dry weather. There should be guaranteed sunshine on Penang and Langkawi towards the end of the month. The east coast, on the other hand, braces itself for high winds and heavy rains. This can be a good time to visit as visitor numbers will be lower.

Borneo:

October is a great month to catch the last of the good weather prior to the rains setting in. Shoulder season prices take effect, and orangutans can still be seen in the wild. This is also the prime time for diving at Sipadan.

Events & Festivals

  • Awal Muharram (date varies, but usually between September and November): The beginning of the Islamic New Year is marked by Muslims through the attendance of religious activities, praying and singing.
  • Deepavali/Diwali (October): The Hindu 'Festival of Lights' is celebrated throughout Borneo as families gather to pray and give gifts.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in November

Malaysia:

With the majority of the east coast islands now closed, it's time for the west coast destinations to shine. Visitors start to flock to Penang and Langkawi. Go at the beginning of the month to have the pick of the hotels.

Borneo:

Visitor numbers decline as rainfall and thunderstorms return to Borneo. The rains create lush jungle, attracting an abundance of wildlife. Fewer people at national parks and sanctuaries may mean that this is a favored month for keen wildlife enthusiasts who don't mind getting wet.

Events & Festivals

  • Awal Muharram (date varies, but usually between September and November): The beginning of the Islamic New Year is marked by Muslims through the attendance of religious activities, praying and singing.
Visiting Malaysia & Borneo in December

Malaysia:

December has a similar story to November, with the west coast getting all of the sunshine and attracting most visitors as the east coast properties close their doors until March. Avoid the Christmas rush and get there early in the month.

Borneo:

In Borneo thunderstorms and rainfall during December can hinder access to parts of Borneo and mean that wildlife sightings are not as common. We would therefore avoid traveling to Borneo at this time.

 

Current Weather Forecasts