Are you the type of traveller who prefers the road less-travelled? Skip the touristy beach destinations in Asia and discover Miri, Sarawak, located on the island of Borneo. The small but vibrant seaside city serves as an excellent base to discover the surrounding jungles. Birdwatch, dive among amazing marine life, visit cultural spots, and perhaps play little golf!
In recent years, Miri has become an important tourism gateway to some of Sarawak’s world-famous National Parks, including the Niah Caves, Gunung Mulu and Lambir Hills, as well as the remote Bario Highlands, with its community of Kelabit villages. Miri also hosts the Borneo Jazz Festival, one of the longest-running music festivals of its kind in the region.
Golf in Borneo: Eastwood Golf & Country Club
With its sharp colonial architecture, expansive greens and golfing amenities, Eastwood Golf & Country Club is a must-visit if you like to play golf. The 18-hole course was designed by the USA-based Nickels Gold Group and is aimed at challenging both single-digit handicap and social golfers. There’s also a driving range and a coffeehouse that sits on the edge of the club’s lake.
Hiking in Borneo: Lambir Hills National Park
Want to squeeze a quick hike into your itinerary? Lambir Hills National Park is located 40 minutes from the city. If you’re a novice hiker, the Latak Waterfall Trail is a nice and easy route that will take you to a 25-metre waterfall in just half an hour. If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, you can push deeper into the park and visit more secluded spots like Nibong and Pantu Waterfalls. The park is also home to gibbons, tarsiers and the clouded leopard – for the best chance to spot these fascinating creatures, visit and hike the trails in smaller groups. Note that there are convenient amenities at Lambir Hills, including barbecue pits, rest huts, picnic tables and public toilets.
For birdwatchers: Piasau Nature Reserve
Gazetted in 2014 after a widely supported public petition, Piasau Nature Reserve is home to some of Sarawak’s most iconic wildlife. The 88.5-hectare park is now a protected nature reserve and is known for its remarkable birdlife including the critically endangered helmeted hornbill. The reserve is also home to white-bellied sea eagles, intermediate egrets, olive-backed sunbirds and more. The reserve’s coastal location also makes it a natural disaster buffer zone.
Diving and Snorkelling in Borneo: Miri Sibuti Coral Reef National Park
This is the largest offshore reserve in Sarawak, offering almost 40 dive sites. Depths range from seven to 30 metres and you’ll enjoy visibility of up to 30 metres. The nearest dive site is just 10 minutes away from the Marina Bay Jetty in Miri. If you’re planning to dive, the best times are from late March through November. The park is known for its remarkable biodiversity, playing host to dazzling hard and soft corals, nudibranchs and turtles. Contact Co.Co.Dive Miri (fb.com/miri.cocodive) or Miri Divers (fb.com/MiriDivers/) to learn about available dive packages.
For architecture aficionados: Hai Long Si Temple
Set within 1.5 acres of dazzlingly colourful courtyards, Hai Long Si Temple’s history goes back 55 years. The temple was relocated to its current site in Krokop in 2012. A total of RM18 million (S$5.6 million) was spent rebuilding and maintaining the majestic temple, and up until today, it’s one of the most expensive temples ever built in Miri. Deities in this temple include the Dragon Emperor, Guan Yin, Tua Pek Kong, General Zhao (a deity of fortune) and Yue Lao (the god of marriage and love in Chinese mythology).
Food in Sarawak: Miri Must-tries
Miri’s vibrant and colourful cuisine is a reflection of the city’s multi-racial communities and culture. If you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of options in the city, here are some recommendations. The Summit Cafe specialises in Orang Ulu food – a mix of organic jungle produce served alongside rice from the interior highlands of Sarawak. Rumah Asap, which translates to “smoke house”, highlights the Dayak style of barbecuing and smoking a variety of meats. Because of Sarawak’s rich cultural background, you’ll also find restaurants like Meng Chai Seafood and Banana Leaf, which specialise in ocean-fresh Chinese-style seafood and authentic Indian cuisine respectively.
Want more ideas? Download the brochures “Weekend Escapades in Miri” and “EAT.CHIAK. MAKAN. Sarawak Food Trail” at statos.com.sg
This article first appeared in the July 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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