Things to do in Miri: The Niah Caves are the highlight of the region

Miri is the second largest city in Sarawak, with a population of around 350,000. It is centrally located in the Malaysian north of Borneo and directly on the border with Brunei. Miri itself has little cultural or historical to offer. But there are some places worth seeing in the surrounding area.

Highlights include several national parks with typical rainforests, wildlife sightings, beautiful beaches, and impressive caves. Miri is also an important location for Malaysia’s oil industry. Due to the oil deposits there, the city is also relatively rich and modern.

Fascinating national parks near Miri

There are three smaller national parks near Miri: Niah, Lambir Hills, and Loagan Bunut. All three are very different and promise different nature adventures.

Niah National Park is especially known for its impressive caves. In these, 40,000-year-old human remains have been discovered. In addition, the Niah Caves are home to swifts so that you can see their nests during a visit. The park can be reached in about 45 minutes by cab or car from Miri. Public transport does not seem to operate here. You should expect to spend at least 2.5 to 3 hours on site.

Niah Caves in Niah National Park
Niah Caves
Cave in Niah Park
Cave in Niah Park

Lambir Hills National Park is home to thousands of different species of plants and animals. The park is primarily known for its waterfalls and pools where you can cool off. Several well-marked hiking trails lead right through the rainforest.

Although the park is tiny, it seems quite spacious. The main reason is that only a few people are on the road. You will hardly see bigger animals here, so you should not visit the park primarily looking for wildlife. The Lambir Hills National Park is worth a trip for those looking for silence and nature lovers. It takes about 20 minutes by car to get there. Public transportation is unfortunately not available.

Waterfall in Lambir Hills National Park
Waterfall in Lambir Hills National Park
Rainforest near Miri

Mulu National Park is often associated with Miri. However, the park is quite a distance from the city. It is also challenging to travel overland from Miri to Mulu Park. But there are daily flights between Miri and Mulu. You don’t have to come to Miri to visit Mulu National Park.

Tusan Beach and the "Blue Tears"

About 45 minutes away from Miri is Tusan Beach. A pristine beach paradise with light sand and impressive rock formations. During the day, the secluded beach lets you relax and soak up the sun. After a day on the beach, we recommend having dinner and then returning to the beach.

After dark, an extraordinary natural spectacle awaits you: tiny microorganisms and algae in the sea cause neon-blue glowing spots to form in some sections. This phenomenon is called „blue tears“. To experience this is worth the 45-minute journey alone.

However, this natural event does not occur every day. Therefore, there is no guarantee that you will be rewarded with the spectacle. For photographers, we recommend bringing a tripod. Due to the darkness, handheld shots are hardly possible.

Blue tears
Blue Tears at Tusan Beach
Miri Sibuti Coral Reef Nationalpark
Diving with barracudas in Miri

Colourful underwater world in Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef NP

In the waters off Miri, there are several dive sites worth exploring. You can reach about 30 mostly lonely dive spots within a 30- to 40-minute boat ride. There are also wrecks worth diving into. In the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park, you dive into a beautiful, colourful underwater world. Intact corals line the seabed and are home to diverse marine fauna. Here you will also discover barracudas or leopard sharks.

Local markets and food

Miri is home to an abundance of local markets. They range from weekly special handicrafts, souvenirs, or night markets to daily markets for fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. The Saberkas Weekend Night Market or the Tamu Khas are particularly worth experiencing. The variety of cultures living in the city can often be seen in the market stalls since the offers are very different and characterized by the origin of the sellers.

Speciality not only in Miri - Sarawak Laksa
Sarawak Laksa
Tamu Khas Market in Miri
Tamu Khas Market in Miri

The ethnic diversity in the city is also reflected in the local cuisine. Many restaurants offer typical Malaysian dishes. In some cases, these are refined with regional spices and flavours. We recommend trying a local rice wine drink: Tuak. The gastronomic offer is strongly influenced by Chinese cuisine. In any case, Miri’s cuisine offers many interesting discoveries at a fair price.

Beautiful sunsets

You can experience beautiful sunsets everywhere in Borneo. In Miri and the surrounding area, there are several places where you can watch the sky turn orange-red.

Sunset at Brighton Beach
Sunset at Brighton Beach

The best places are Tusan Beach and Brighton Beach, called Tanjung Lobang by locals. Tusan Beach is located outside the city and therefore the less visited. Brighton Beach is centrally located in the town and is usually a bit more crowded. But you can watch the sunset at Brighton Beach from a pier jutting into the sea.

Another great place to watch the sunset is Canada Hill. The elevated viewpoint offers a beautiful view of the city, not just at sunset.

Sun sets behind Miri
Sun sets behind Miri

Canada Hill and the Petroleum Museum

During the day or at night, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Miri and its skyline from Canada Hill. In addition, the famous landmark „The Grand Old Lady“ is located there. In 1910, the first oil in Malaysia was discovered on the hill. The landmark is a reminder of this.

In addition, there is also the Petroleum Museum on Canada Hill, which dates back to the birth of the Malaysian petroleum industry. The museum provides information on the historical development and importance of the oil industry in Malaysia. Entry to the museum is free of charge.

Grand old Lady is a landmark on Canada Hill in Miri
Grand old Lady

How to get to Miri, Borneo

There is an airport in Miri. From here, flights are operated to various destinations in Malaysia. First and foremost are Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, and Kuching, to which there are several daily flights. In addition, flights to Singapore are available several times a week with Air Asia.

Miri is also easily accessible by land. There are well-developed roads in the direction of Kuching and Brunei and public buses to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

Accommodation in Miri

In Miri, there are numerous accommodations in all different price ranges. From homestays to 5-star hotels, there is something to meet all preferences. We recommend accommodation near the beach. In the evenings, life flourishes here and also during the day, it is nicer on the beach than in the city. The accommodation prices are, like almost everywhere in Malaysia, very fair. 4-star hotels start at around 40 USD per room. Beds in hostels are sometimes available for 6 to 7 USD.

Our recommendation

Due to the proximity to Brunei, it is a good idea to make a detour to Miri if you also stop in Brunei during your Borneo round trip. Otherwise, Miri is not a must-see destination, as the city lacks highlights.

The nature around it is wonderful, but other places in Borneo have a bit more to discover. Those who want to experience caves are better off in Mulu National Park. And those who come to Borneo for the lush flora and fauna should instead visit national parks and protected areas like Bako near Kuching, the Danum Valley near Lahad Datu, or the Kinabatangan River Region.

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