August 26, 2019
Miri is Sarawak’s second largest city and the gateway to the state’s fascinating northeast region.
1.Meet The People
A short flight from Miri brings you to Bario, gateway to the Kelabit Highlands, home to the Kelabit people and their large, well preserved longhouses. Miri is also connected by Twin Otter service to Ba’kelalan, a cluster of seven Lun Bawang villages famous for their orchards and organic vegetables.
2. Go For A Walk
Stroll through Miri Old Town, crammed with shops selling all manner of fascinating goods, taking in the Fish Market and the Tua Pek Kong Temple. Visit Lambir Hills National Park, probably the world’s most complex and diverse forest ecosystem, for a selection of jungle trekking trails to suit every ability.
Gunung Mulu National Park, famous for its extensive cave systems also offers some spectacular trekking trails, including the demanding yet incredibly rewarding Summit Trek and Pinnacles Trail and the historic Headhunters Trail.
The remote Kelabit Highlands has a wide selection of trails, from half-day strolls in and around Bario to week-long expeditions, staying in remote longhouses, passing by ancient megaliths, camping out in the rainforest and ascending the rugged peaks of Pulong Tau National Park.
3. Wildlife Encounters
Visit the caves of Niah National Park to view remarkable cave fauna, watch an amazing bat exodus and find your way back by the light of luminous mushrooms. Head for Kuala Sibuti for an evening of crocodile spotting and firefly watching.
The Bat Observatory at Gunung Mulu National Park provides a grandstand view of one of nature’s natural wonders, while the world’s longest canopy walkway showcases the birds and plants of the rainforest canopy walkway showcases the birds and plants of the rainforest canopy. Spend a night at Loagan Bunut National Park, with its incredible shrinking lake ecosystem and a resident population of Bornean gibbons, as well as hundreds of bird, reptile and small mammal species.
4. Take To The Water
Charter an express boat from Kuala Baram brings you to the upriver town of Marudi, gateway to Ulu Baram. If you have the time, and weather conditions permitting, you can travel from Marudi by express boat and longboat to some of the remotest villages and longhouses in Sarawak, home to various Orang Ulu communities including Kayans, Kenyahs, and even nomadic Penans.
5. Underground Sarawak
Visit the caves of Niah National Park, settled by modern humans for over 40,000 years and one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. The Great Cave has one of the world’s largest cave mouths, a fascinating cave ecosystem and you can watch the birds nest collectors at work. The Padang, where a shaft of light pierces the rear of the cave, is perfect for photo ops. The Adjacent Painted Cave is the site of Niah’s famous cave paintings. Leave the Great Cave around sunset, to see the nightly “changing of the guard”. Two great living clouds intermingle in the sky as hundreds of thousand of swiftlets return to their nests, whilst a similar number of bats fly out to forage in the forest.
Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is most famous for its limestone cave systems, including the world’s largest chamber, the world’s largest cave passsage and the longest cave in Southeast Asia.
6. Underwater Sarawak
Miri is fast becoming a popular dive destination, due to the 22 pristine patch reefs that make up the Miri-Sibuti Reef Marine Park, lying at depths from 7 to 30 metres. The best time to dive is March to September, with average visibility around 30 metres, but you can expect at least 10 metres visibility all year round. Hard and soft corals cover the entire reefs, with abundant gorgonians, sea-whips, anemones, sponges and crinoids. There are also some interesting wreck dives in quite shallow water, perfect for a first wreck diving experience.
Most of the best dive sites are at depths between 18 and 30 metres, so EANx Nitrox Diver and PADI advanced Open Water ratings are highly recommended. Bonus activities include whale shark spotting (in season).
7. Food and Drink
Miri has similar culinary selection to Kuching, although with its seafront location the seafood is possibly even fresher. Inland, be tempted by the fresh jungle produce and organically grown fruits and vegetables prepared by the Kelabit and Lun Bawang people of the northern highlands, served with the unique fine-grained Bario rice, In the upriver Orang Ulu longhouses, enjoy tasty wild boar, free range chicken and exotic river fish served with glass of borak (Orang Ulu rice wine)
8. Culture Heritage
Canada Hill not only offers excellent views of Miri and the surrounding area, it is also home to Oil Well No. 1, known as the “grand old lady,” the first well to strike oil in Sarawak in 1910. The adjacent Petroleum Museum traces the history and development of the oil and gas industries in Malaysia. Back in town, visit the impressive and atmospheric San Ching Tian Temple, the largest Taoist temple in Southeast Asia. If you are heading for Niah National Park, make sure to visit the fascinating Niah Archaeological Museum, tracing 40,000 years of human settlement at Niah.
Miri Handicraft Centre showcases the ethnic arts and crafts of northern Sarawak. Stalls are run by the producers, and craftspeople can often be viewed at work here. items on sale include Penan mats and basketry. Orang Ulu beadwork and woodcravings. Miri’s Tamu Muhibbah is a colourful native market selling exotic fruits and vegetables, handicrafts and produce from upriver areas, including fragrant Bario rice, and great photo opportunities.
10. Festivals Celebrations
Borneo Jazz: One of the top jazz festivals in the region, attracting top jazz and blues performers from around the world.
Pesta Nukenen Bario (Bario Food Festival): The world’s most exclusive food festival celebrates the unique food, farming, forest and cultural heritage of the Kelabut Highlands.