Sarawak – Malaysia isn’t all Kuala Lumpur!
Beautiful Sarawak attracts visitors from all over the globe – not only for it’s incredible natural beauty, but also it’s amazing Rainforest World Music Festival! Kuala Lumpur may be high on the list of Malaysian cities to visit, but you definitely don’t want to overlook a single thing Sarawak has to offer!
Located in the northwest of Borneo, along the borders of state of Sabah to the northeast, and Indonesia to the south, Sarawak surrounds the independent state of Brunei. This region is Malaysia’s largest state, and one of holiday destinations that stands out as a home to many incredible national parks – grab your hiking boots!
How to get to Sarawak: Getting your visa or your visitor’s permit!
Sarawak controls its immigration even from incoming Malaysians, who need to bring their own ID and are actually restricted to a visit of maximum ninety days at a time. Anyone else coming to Sarawak needs to fill out secondary immigration forms, even just as a formality and a great way to obtain a new stamp on your passport! Anyone not needing a visa can acquire a ninety day visit permit, which is what most tourists obtain, when they arrive to the state. If you do require an advance visa for entering Malaysia, you will need to obtain one specifically for Sarawak – be sure to do this when you apply at the Malaysian embassy.
Flying in to Sarawak, the best way to get there.
When the majority of tourists come to Sarawak, they arrive by plane, with most of them flying in to the state capital Kuching – approximately one and a half hours away from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu. Indonesia also offers a few direct international flights from Pontianak, Bali and Jakarta, and Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Macau and
Singapore flying in to Sarawak locations at least twice weekly. China’s Xiamen Airlines has direct flights to Sarawak out of Xiamen.
A few other airports offering domestic connections to Peninsula Malaysia on both Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines include Sibu, Miri, as well as Bintulu. MASWings has flights between cities and rural areas in East Malaysia, which include Sarawak. There are plenty of different ways to fly in to Sarawak, making plane travel into the region the most popular way to get there!
Plan a visit to some of Sarawak’s impressive national parks!
There are so many things to see and do in Sarawak, especially when visiting one of the abundant national parks the region has to offer. See the wildlife, meet the people, hike the trails and make travel memories to last a lifetime.
Bako National Park
Stunning Bako National Park may be one of the smallest national parks in Sarawak, covering an area of about two thousand seven hundred hectares at the tip of the Muara Tebas Peninsula, but it is also the oldest national park in Sarawak and one of the most interesting!
The amazing Bako National park contains just about every singly type of vegetation you can find in Sarawak, and tourists fall in love with the well-maintained network of beautiful nature trails ranging from very simply strolls into the forest to day long treks into the wilderness of the jungle.
Bako National Park is arguably the greatest place in Sarawak for witnessing wildlife. The area has been protected since 1957, and the wildlife living in Bako National Park are less timid of the human activity, making it easier to spot them. You can spend a night in the national park and have countless opportunities to see and photograph all sorts of animals. The best time to see wildlife in Bako National Park is just after dawn, as well as just before dusk. These are the times of day when the animals are on the trails and most active. If you travel in a small quiet group, you will be sure to have many wildlife encounters!
Bako National Park is also home to about two hundred seventy five proboscis monkeys, a rare species of monkey found only in Borneo. The male proboscis monkey can be quite strange looking to someone who hasn’t seen one before, with its large pendulous nose and bulging belly. The males and females are both covered in reddish-brown fur, with gray furry limbs and white tails. They live mostly in the trees of the Bako National Park, traveling through the forest or mangroves in little groups and eating the young tree leaves, shoots, fruits and seeds as they go along.
It takes a little bit of patience to wait for an appearance of one of these rare monkeys, but an experience with a group of proboscis monkeys will definitely be the highlight of your trip to Sarawak and the Bako National Forest. It’s recommended that Telok Delima trail and Telok Paku trail are the two best trails for viewing the proboscis monkeys. The mangroves along Telok Assam are also rumored to be a great place to encounter these rare animals!
Accommodations: Bako National Park accommodations consists of either camping grounds, three bedroom chalets, two bedroom lodges, four bedroom hostels. Barbecue pits are provided for park visitors to prepare their own meals. Please contact the National Parks Booking Office in Sarawak for the latest room rates and to make reservations. Tel: (+6) 082 248088
Lambir Hills National Park
Measuring almost seven thousand hectares, Lambir Hills National Park in Sarawak is home to one of the most interesting and diverse forest ecosystems a national park could have! The greatest level of plant biodiversity on the planet exists here in this park alone, ready for you to come and explore. And if that wasn’t enough Lambir Hills National Park also lays claim to more than two hundred and thirty different species of birds, many flying squirrels, numerous types of monkeys, wild pigs, various types of deer, and countless insects.
Come to see the vivid forest, alive with plants and animals, and while you’re in Lambir Hills National Park you will need to see the spectacular sparkling waterfalls and bathing pools that are found throughout the Sarawak forests. Lambir Hills National Park is truly one of the most wondrous and beautiful places you could hope to explore.
Accommodations: The park’s accommodations consists of a camp site as well as chalet units in this Sarawak park. To arrange accommodation, contact the National Parks Booking Office in Miri for the latest room rates, Tel: 085-434184.
Loagan Bunut National Park
The incredibly unique cycle of flood and drought that this Sarawak region goes through on a yearly basis has formed a remarkable food chain, which in turn supports an amazing variety of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife in the Loagan Bunut National Park! When the water levels in the Tinjar River are low, which occurs between two to four times per year, the shallow lake can dry up completely which leaves enormous expanses of dry cracked mud. This usually happens in February, late May, or June and July. If you visit Loagan Bunut National Park during one of these droughts you can actually have a guide take you hiking across the dried mud lake. Most of the aquatic life retreats to the river during the dry times, but many others become trapped in pools and are eaten by wading birds. Grasses will spring up and be fed upon by the larvae of insects that have laid their eggs in the mud, waters will return to the lake once again and fish will feed on the larvae, breed and the cycle continues.
This Sarawak area is terrific for spotting a huge variety of animals, particularly birds during the dry spells in February and May to June. The wading birds such as darters, egrets, herons, storks, bitterns, and broadbill flock to the dried lake in huge numbers to feast on the pools of trapped fish and shrimp. Eagles, stork-billed kingfishers, robins, swallows, magpies, doves, kites, racket tailed drongos and pied hornbills can be spotted in the Loagan Bunut National Park all year long.
The number of animals found in this Sarawak region is also impressive. Many bearded wild pigs, sambar deer, long tailed macaques, provost squirrels, black banded langurs, lesser mouse deer, small toothed palm civets, giant squirrels and Bornean gibbons frolic in the area. The Loagan Bunut National Park is also home to a number of amphibians and reptiles including smaller lizards, dog faced water snakes, various tree snakes, and even crocodiles. Bring your camera, and see how many of these creatures you can find while trekking through this national park!
Accommodations: You can stay near the park headquarters at the Forest Hostel, which has four rooms – each including seven double decker bunk beds. The Sarawak national park Forest Hostel features a small canteen which serves basic meals, snacks and drinks. The building runs off generator supplied electricity part of the day. To make reservations, contact the National Parks Booking office in Miri. Tel: 085-434184.
Niah National Park
Definitely one of the most popular national parks in Sarawak, Niah National Park is important primarily for its
archaeological remains – such as a 40,000 year old human skull, the prehistoric cave paintings, as well as the bird’s nest industry. The Niah National Park caves are home to huge colonies of bats and nesting swiftlets.
One of the smaller national parks in Sarawak, Niah National Park certainly makes up for it in archeological interest. This park boasts some unusual attractions! The area is considered to be one of the birthplaces of human civilization, and the park is regarded as being one of the most important archeological sites in the world.
Niah National Park also features a cave system which is home to many bats and swiftlet birds, and the local economy depends on bird nests and bat guano. Come see the ancient cave paintings, the beautiful trails that meander through the rainforest, and the interesting archeological sites that make up this Sarawak national park!
Accommodations: Facilities for accommodation in this Sarawak region consist of hostel rooms and chalet units, all including electricity and hot showers. There aren’t any cooking facilities, so you will need to have your own source of cooking or eat meals you won’t need to cook beforehand. Contact the National Parks Booking Office in Miri for reservations. Tel: 085-434184.
Come to the Rainforest Music Festival – the World Music Festival in the heart of the Borneo Jungle!
The Rainforest World Music Festival happens every year in July in the Sarawak Cultural Village, and is a unique three-day world music festival in Sarawak that has been around since 1997, and has grown in popularity each year! Accommodation around the festival grounds go quickly, so book in advance – the best places to stay when you’re coming to the Rainforest Music Festival are the Holiday Inn Damai Beach and Damai Lagoon, both just a few minutes’ walk from the festival.
The Rainforest World Music Festival brings together many different renowned world musicians from all continents on the planet, as well as indigenous musicians from Sarawak and the interiors of the island of Borneo. Afternoons at the festival are filled with informative workshops, smaller musical performances, ethno-musical lectures, and jam sessions, followed by thrilling evening performances on the main stage. Crowds of over twenty thousand concert goers flock to the festival, to take in the music, arts and crafts, food and fun amidst the jungle atmosphere of the beautiful Sarawak region. It’s quite an impressive festival, and one you won’t want to miss if you’re a fan of world music!
Visit the Asia destinations category to learn more about other tourism opportunities available in Asia!