Red & Orange Durians of Sabah, Sarawak & Brunei

The land of Borneo is the world's prime wildlife centre that's blessed with lush natural wonders. From the warm, contagious smiles of the aborigines to the mighty pristine forests, the allure of Borneo is simply endless. Here, you can also discover the most exotic and rarest fruits in Borneo, such as the wild durians that have red and orange flesh.

For many foodies and fruit enthusiasts, the mention of durians can elicit strong reactions. While some may find the pungent fruit off-putting, others swear by its delicious flavour and creamy texture. If you're a fan of this unique fruit, then you won't want to miss the opportunity to taste the red and orange durians of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

Known for their distinct flavour and vibrant hues, red and orange durians are a rare and highly sought-after delicacy in these regions. Unlike their more common counterparts, these durians are prized for their rich, complex flavour and smooth, creamy texture. Whether you're a seasoned durian aficionado or simply looking for a unique culinary experience, these wild and unique fruits will surely tantalise your taste buds.

Read also: Top Things to Do in Brunei Darussalam

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orange & red durians of borneo
Red & Orange Durians of Sabah, Sarawak & Brunei

Red & Orange Durians of Sabah, Sarawak & Brunei

As you take a first glance at this unique fruit, it is easy to think how odd-looking it is. With a prickly, thorn-covered husk, the durian might even remind you of a porcupine. However, the green and thorny exterior certainly does not do justice to the soft deliciousness concealed within.

The taste of durian is an acquired one. Many hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia have outright bans on the fruit due to its pungent, ‘offensive’ odour. Yet ironically, there are also those who wax lyrical about their love for durian, including Alfred Russel Wallace, a nineteenth-century British naturalist, who vividly described the flesh of the fruit as ‘a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds.' Love it or not, this fruit is certainly unforgettable.

durian dalit merah
Red & Orange Durians of Sabah, Sarawak & Brunei

Origin & History of Durian

It is believed that the word ‘durian’ comes from the word ‘duri’, which means thorn in the Malay language. History also points towards the fact that the durians first originated in Borneo and Sumatra. The fruits eventually found their way to Thailand and South Vietnam through the trade route of present-day Myanmar.

Today, Thailand is the number one exporter of durians, mainly to China. Neighbouring Malaysia is set to give it some serious competition. While the flesh of Thai durian is commonly yellow in colour, those rarer red and orange variations can be found in the beautiful state of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia.

red durian sabah
Durian Dalit are orange-fleshed and are grown in the wild jungles of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei

Wild Jungle Durian: King of Fruits in Borneo

Wild and unique, these Borneon durians are known as Durian Dalit (orange-fleshed) and Durian Sukang (red-fleshed). Their striking, aggressive colours demand a second look from curious passersby. They are known scientifically as Durio graveolens and come with red, orange and yellow flesh. This type of durians can only be found in this region, making them a must-try for visitors to Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

Durian Sukang: Red Durian of Sabah

As it ripens, the husk of Durian Sukang turns into a glorious yellow. You may even go as far as to wonder if this is a by-product of synthetic colour dye. Rest assured that the vibrant hue is a magical product of nature. Both Durian Sukang and Durian Dalit are wild durians that can only be found in the remote Borneon jungles. However, there are farmers who have begun cultivating them on a small scale due to the growing demand. In Sandakan, this particular type of red durian is not planted, but found in the wild forests across the Kinabatangan river basin. Unlike normal durians which drop to the ground once fully ripe, Durian Sukang has to be manually collected from the trees by climbing.

Durian Hutan
Red wild durians are found in the jungles of Sabah

Texture, Flavour & Taste of Red Durian

How do these wild Borneon durians differ from those found in West Malaysia? Firstly, they are smaller in size. In fact, they are only as big as the palm of the hand. The flesh of the wild Borneon durians are also less dense, more bland, but still as creamy. To some, it has a smell similar to fermented wine.

Durian Sukang, with its bright red flesh, has a stronger taste and flavour compared to Durian Dalit. Many have also cautioned that it is possible to get slightly 'drunk' when too many fruits are eaten. For these reasons, it is a more popular choice among locals and foreigners, and is usually more expensive too. Despite the extravagant exterior, there are usually only two to three fruits in each Durian Sukang. In some cases, only one fruit can be found inside - which makes it even more unique. The price for Durian Sukang is approximately RM25 per kilogram, and it varies based on the volume harvested during the fruiting season.

red durian taste
Do you think you will enjoy the taste of red durian?

Tempoyak: An Exotic Delicacy

Durian Sukang and Durian Dalit can be used to make ‘tempoyak’ which is a type of traditional condiment in East Malaysia. Unlike the variation in West Malaysia, the tempoyak here is not fermented but preserved using salt and stir-fried with bird’s eye chili, onion and oil. It is typically served with warm white rice, salt, and chilli as a meal.

How to Eat Jungle Durians

Across Southeast Asia, it is a common sight to see people eating mangosteens and drinking coconut water while having a durian feast. For the Chinese, it is believed that these fruits have 'cooling properties' that effectively cool down the body after having one too many ‘heaty’ durians. Fun fact: Mangosteen is known as the 'queen of the fruits' - making it ideal to enjoy both the king and queen together!

durian sukang
Red and orange durians can be found in local markets known as Tamu in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

Where to Buy Red & Orange Durians

These unique durians can be found at ‘tamu’ in the cities and rural areas of Sabah, Sarawak & Brunei. A ‘tamu’ is an open-air market where a variety of local products from farmers, fishermen, artisans, and local craftsmen are sold. Get there early as these durians sell out fast. The fruiting and peak harvest season of these durians is at the end of the year. Plan your Borneon trip accordingly so you do not miss the opportunity to try them!

For durian lovers, the unique Durian Dalit and Durian Sukang are certainly worth trying. As this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, every visitor (even those who are repulsed by the notoriously pungent scent) is encouraged to try them as it could just be the best token of remembrance from the trip.

Despite the streak of negative sentiments and ghastly memes, it is undeniable that the king of the fruit has a special place in everyone’s heart!

The red and orange durians are a rare delicacy that can only be found in certain parts of Southeast Asia. These durians are known for their vibrant colours, which are a visual feast for the eyes. But it's the taste and texture that truly sets them apart. With their creamy, custard-like texture and a flavour that ranges from sweet to slightly bitter, these durians are a treat for the senses. So, if you're looking for a unique culinary experience, make sure to add the red and orange durians of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei to your bucket list.

Happy exploring!
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  1. sedapnya, memang saya pun sukakan durian ni, tapi belum pernah lagi cuba durian dalit dan durian sukang, mesti sedap kan sebab isinya pun nampak juicy

  2. Durian Dalit tu saya pernah cuba makan masa pergi Kuching , Sarawak. Rasa dia memang lain macam. Pekat melekat kat tekak haa. Tapi itulah istimewanya buah-buah dari sana yang biasanya tak ada di semenanjung. Hanya ada di Sabah dan Sarawak sahaja.

  3. ni ke yang nama die durian merah yang dalam citer upin ipin tu.heheh..tak pernah makan lagi durian warna macam ni

  4. Yeah,... I've tried these durians before when I was in Kundasang. They tasted delicious. I miss them a lot.

  5. Cantiknya warna durian Dalit dengan Sukang. Tak pernah jumpa lagi dekat sini. Nak jugak try rasa

  6. ive taste durian dalit masa ke sarawak. but i dont like the taste. macam tawar. or maybe im not used too kot

  7. I can eat these two variants with no side effects but when I eat the normal ones - terus demam. Weird eh?

  8. kenapa durian tu kaler dia lain? Tak pernah tengok pun

  9. I tak makan durian tapi tgk durian dalit tu teringin nak cuba.

  10. Akak suka durian! Semua jenis durian dah cuba. Cuma durian merah je belom cuba lagi! Bila musim di Borneo, mesti bukan semasa travel. Hahaha. Ada jual online tak? Hahahaha

  11. Omg... i saw this red and orange durian before but i have not try them yet.

  12. Haperrr?? sepuluh henggent??? Eee murahnyaa...
    Belum pernah lagi makan durian berwarna lain selain warna kuning.. rasa sama ke ekkk..

  13. First time tengok durian color oren. Tak pernah ke sana, memang tak pernah merasalah duriannya

  14. Teringin nak makan durian tu. Durian tu x ada kat sememanjung kan..selalu dengar orang kata sedap tu nak try hehe

  15. Ohhh, this is my favorite... It is so different compare to the other commercial durians that we have right.. How i miss going to the tamu and hunting for this durian with my grandma..

  16. Belum pernh rasa durian oren tu..mesti sedap tu. Aduh terliur pulak tengok durian ni. sekrg musim ke sebab ramai tengok makan durian..hahaa

  17. ohh durians, that's really new to me as i have yet to try before. I am so tempting to try to know how it tastes :D cheers,siennylovesdrawing

  18. tak pernah cuba lagi keunikan buah durian warna oren dan warna merah dari sabah sarawak ni. hope one day nanti boleh cuba

  19. OMG lamanya tak makan Durian wow ada pelbagai warna lak tu hehehehe memang best lah kalau dapat ni sekarang tengah musim orang kat nak cari kat KL ni harga masih mahal lagi hehehehehe....


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