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Malaysia Travel Guide

10 Things To Do In and Around Miri

These are some of the top things to do in Miri. The city 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.

things to do miri

Lun Bawang Festival (Irau Aco)

sarawak-borneo-people-lun-bawang-bamboo-band

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.

Sarawak Borneo Miri Lambir Hills National Park

Mulu Clear water cave

visit-2Bsarawak-2Bmalaysia-2Bborneo-2Bbario-2Bfood-2Bfestival-2B2014-2Bmisc-2BmikhaiLLU-2B-10-

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.

Niah National Park

a-u-bagly_hipposideros-diadema-with-pup_cave-roost-mulu-bat

mulu-frog

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.

Things to do miri

The Panoramic view of Sela’an Kayan village, Ulu Baram

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.

Niah National Park

Mulu Sarawak | A World Heritage Site

DekatJe Mulu Puncak Borneo

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)

visit-2Bsarawak-2Bmalaysia-2Bborneo-2Bbario-2Bfood-2Bfestival-2B2014-2B-2832-29

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.

Canada Hill, Miri, Sarawak

Niah National Park

9. Shopping

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.

Exhibitionhandicraft Miri

Exhibitionhandicraft Miri

sarawak-malaysia-borneo-limbang-Bisaya-Babulang-festival-handicraft-exhibition

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.

Exuberance festival goers posing for the photographer

visit sarawak malaysia borneo miri borneo jazz 2014 andy kho

 

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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

10 Things To Do In Miri

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.

Lun Bawang Festival (Irau Aco)

sarawak-borneo-people-lun-bawang-bamboo-band

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.

Sarawak Borneo Miri Lambir Hills National Park

Mulu Clear water cave

visit-2Bsarawak-2Bmalaysia-2Bborneo-2Bbario-2Bfood-2Bfestival-2B2014-2Bmisc-2BmikhaiLLU-2B-10-

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.

Niah National Park

a-u-bagly_hipposideros-diadema-with-pup_cave-roost-mulu-bat

mulu-frog

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.

The Panoramic view of Sela'an Kayan village, Ulu Baram

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.

Niah National Park

Mulu Sarawak | A World Heritage Site

DekatJe Mulu Puncak Borneo

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)

visit-2Bsarawak-2Bmalaysia-2Bborneo-2Bbario-2Bfood-2Bfestival-2B2014-2B-2832-29

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.

Canada Hill, Miri, Sarawak

Niah National Park

9. Shopping

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.

Exhibitionhandicraft Miri

Exhibitionhandicraft Miri

sarawak-malaysia-borneo-limbang-Bisaya-Babulang-festival-handicraft-exhibition

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.

Exuberance festival goers posing for the photographer

visit sarawak malaysia borneo miri borneo jazz 2014 andy kho

 

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Sarawak's rich river gateway

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RWMF Promoting Sarawak's Musical Heritage

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Malaysia Travel Guide

Exploring Niah Caves

Exploring Niah Caves

Niah

One of the must-visit caves in Sarawak that I had the opportunity to explore is no other that the world famous Niah Caves, which is located just two hours from the city of Miri in Northern Sarawak. The massive cave system is located in the Niah National Park, which is one of the top three national parks in Sarawak Borneo.

Niah Cave was once a trading cave, where traders from around the world would pay a visit to trade wares with the birds nest that was gathered by the locals from around here. The caves were also discovered by Alfred Russel Wallace in an expedition done back in 1855.

Niah National Park

The wooden stair climb up to the Niah Caves 

A hundred years later, couple Barbara and Tom Harrison made an attempt to excavate part of the Niah Caves and found some interesting discoveries. Till this very day, the Niah Caves are still being excavated. Scientific facts claim that the Niah Caves have been occupied since 40,000 years ago, and proof of human remains have been found here.

My trip to the Niah Caves coincided with a visit to the Patrick Libau Longhouse where the Gawai celebrations or Harvest Festival were held in June. It was my first time and the experience was something that I was looking forward too. From the longhouse, it was an easy trek for about 20 minutes to the cave entrance.

Niah National Park

At the Trader’s Cave, can you see the person in the photo?

Niah National Park

Remains of the traders outpost inside the cave

Trader’s Cave

From there, wooden stairs take you upwards into the Trading Chamber. This was where the Swiftlet Traders set up shop, and you can still see the remains of their wooden structures built into the cave walls.

The chamber is massive, with one side of the cave left open for more than enough light to come in. From the Trading Chamber, it was a short trek up into the main chamber of the caves. Here, I needed to climb a few flights of wooden stairs that had railings.

Niah National Park

Tom Harrison’s House inside the Great Cave

Great Cave

Arriving at the main chamber, Great Cave or Tom Harrison Chamber as I call it, you will be greeted by a house that was once lived in by Tom and his wife. The wooden home sits in one section of the cave entrance and has been preserved by the museum department. You are not allowed to enter the house though.

When looking into the main chamber, you see on your left, an area fenced up to about eight feet. This is where current excavations are ongoing by relevant departments. If you look carefully, you can see what has been dug up or what is in the process of being excavated.

Niah National Park

A fence surrounds the cave paintings at the Painted Cave

Painted Cave

Heading in another 150 meters will bring you the the star of Niah Caves, which is the Painted Cave. This section is also fenced up to preserve the amazing cave paintings discovered. The rock paintings also date back to some 1200 years old and some of them are in good condition while most of them have faded a little.

After attempting to take some photos, at the Padang Area, which is lightly deeper inside the caves, it was soon time to make that return back to the longhouse, as celebrations were still on going. In general, you can visit Niah for half a day, just to explore this fascinating caves.

Niah National Park

Part of the excavation area that is fenced up

Niah National Park

Some of the beautiful cave formations inside Niah Cave

If you are coming from Miri, you will make a stop at the Niah National Park office, where you buy your ticket in. From the park office, it takes about 40 minutes walk to the Trader’s Cave entrance. You will also be walking on a boarded walkway with the beautiful rainforest surrounding your journey.

The entire journey here is worth the visit, provided you love trekking, hiking, caving, nature and adventure. This would easily be listed as one of the main things to do out of Miri City, so if you are in Miri, do look up a tour company that organises trips to the Niah Caves.

___________________
Photos by David Hogan Jr

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Malaysia Travel Guide

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Miri is a resort city located in the northwest of Sarawak which borders the Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam and also the gateway to Sabah. While many may have not head of this resort city in Borneo, Miri is home to some amazing national parks of Sarawak.

The charm of Miri lies in the location where it is also one of the gateways to the Mulu National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors need to fly to Mulu from Miri or Kuching. Other parks in the vicinity of Miri include four national parks which are:

  • Niah National Park (1 hour drive)
  • Lambir Hills National Park (45 minutes drive)
  • Loagan Bunut National Park (2 hours drive)
  • Bukit Tiban National Park (2.5 hours drive)

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Inside the Niah Caves

Most visitors have heard of the Mulu Caves or the national park here due to worldwide publicity over the years.

However, the other national parks mentioned above provide amazing adventure tourism, flora and fauna, and a true Bornean rainforest experience.

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

A beautiful sunset view from one of the many beaches at Miri

In total, Sarawak offers 30 national parks, a wonderland for nature lovers. Out of that 30, four of them are wildlife sanctuaries and 10 nature reserves. Just in the Miri area, there are a total of six national parks. More more information, visit the Sarawak Forestry website (https://www.sarawakforestry.com/htm/snp.html)

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Miri’s ethnic market known as ‘Tamu Khas’ or Special Market

Miri’s resort city also offers visitors a wide range of activities including scuba diving, authentic Sarawakian food, entertainment, beaches and local markets. Miri is also home to the world class Borneo International Jazz Festival which is held in the month of May and the Miri Country Music Festival held in February.

___________________
Photos by David Hogan Jr

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