What to do and see in Sarawak, Malaysia: The Best Places and Tips

March 30, 2018 Matilde Konrad

Sarawak (/səˈrɑːwɒk/; Malay: [saˈrawaʔ]) is a state of Malaysia. Being the largest among 13 other states with the size almost equal to West Malaysia, Sarawak is located in northwest Borneo Island, Sarawak is bordered by the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo, to the south, and the independent country of Brunei in the north. The capital city, Kuching, is the economic centre of the state and seat of the Sarawak state government. Other cities and towns in Sarawak include Miri, Sibu, and Bintulu. As of the 2015 census, the population of Sarawak was 2,636,000. Sarawak has an equatorial climate with tropical rainforests and abundant animal and plant species. It has several prominent cave systems at Gunung Mulu National Park. Rajang River is the longest river in Malaysia; Bakun Dam, one of the largest dams in Southeast Asia, is located on one of its tributaries, the Balui River. Mount Murud is the highest point in Sarawak.
Restaurants in Sarawak

1. Mulu Caves

Near Long Terawan, Miri 98000, Malaysia +60 85-792 300
Excellent
77%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 207 reviews

Mulu Caves

Reviewed By Franc C - Portumna, Ireland

The trails and the wildlife spotting opportunities in Mulu are pretty good, but it's the caves you really come here for!
I couldn't recommend the advanced adventure caving tours here highly enough, but you won't be allowed to do them unless you have booked in advance and have some previous adventure caving experience... or are willing to do one of the parks intermediate adventure caving tours such as Racer or Stonehorse Cave on your first days at the park so the guide can assess your ability or lack thereof. Some visitors will not have the agility and fitness level required to participate in an advanced caving tour.
My favourite tour was the advanced Clearwater Connection tour. This 5km underground tour will take approximately 5-6hrs and involves tight squeeze's, traversing ledges and drops through two connecting caves (the stunning Cave of the Winds and the awesome Clearwater Cave). For the final 1.5km you can choose to either walk alongside the underground Clearwater river or allow yourself to be carried downstream by the flow of its shallow waters.
The Garden of Eden tour would be my second favourite. It's a full day 5-6hour 12km trek. It's a stunning walk and you get to see more of Deer Cave than you would on the standard show walk as you go all the way through the cave, wading through chest deep water at one point (see photo). The tour is vulnerable to cancellation by the guides in wet weather because of this river crossing. At the end of the tour you visit Lang cave, which is nice but underwhelming by the cave standards in Borneo. Then you have the choice to hang around for the bat exodus or head back to the park headquarters.
Tip: bring a spare torch, not just for the caves but also for the Night trail loop. As this is one of the shorter trails in the park you don’t need a guide to hike it. I seen more wildlife on this loop after dark than on any of the other trails in the park.

2. Deer Cave

Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysia +60 85-792 300
Excellent
73%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 144 reviews

Deer Cave

Reviewed By Muhammad Robbi R

One of the biggest cave in the world, formerly the 1st biggest cave till they discovered a new one recently in 2014?. This is home to hundreds of thousands of bats and full of biodiversity such as spiders, crickets, snakes. Smells like bat-poop so be advised that coming out of the cave will definitely stain you with the smell. You can view the garden of eden at the end of the cave. Stay by outside by 5pm to view the Bat exodus, they travel in soundwaves!

3. Bako National Park

Jalan Bako, Kuching 93050, Malaysia +60 9-261 0088
Excellent
64%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 413 reviews

Bako National Park

Reviewed By Knatser

First off... the park, the wildlife and the guides are amazing. So if you're thinking of going, go!
We spent 2 nights at the park and it was well worth it. You'll see a lot more wildlife during the night and early hours of the morning.
Now I don't want to sound like a Negative Nancy. But the room we stayed in (Type 6, house 2, room 2), was something straight out of a horror movie.
I mean, we're budget travellers and have stayed in some pretty bad places. But this thing takes the crown.
The ceiling is almost completely black and covered in mold. It smells like wet dog yachts been rolling in poop. The fridge was a nice addition if it wasn't collapsing into itself because of the rust and filth. And the bathroom was like a frog pond from hell with a busted toilet in the middle. It was literally flooded ankle deep.
I find I very odd that a place like this can't afford to maintain their rooms. To me it seems they're making plenty of money off their visitors.
But hey we were there to see the wildlife and not to sit in our room. Even though the few hours we spent in there were horrific and probably very unhealthy it was totally worth it.
Tips: Do the night walk and if you're fit enough, take trail #7 to Talor (waterfall and beach).

4. Gunung Gading National Park

Malaysia 6082735144
Excellent
35%
Good
53%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 62 reviews

Gunung Gading National Park

Reviewed By Hazelnutmynut - Kuching, Malaysia

We arrived at the park around 2.00 pm...As the place is congested with motorcar, it is a hard driving up to the park. But, we are lucky as we manage to park our car at the parking place.
Ticket priced at RM10 for each visitors....
Straight away, without wasting time

5. Mulu World Heritage Area

Malaysia +60 85-792 300
Excellent
76%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 353 reviews

Mulu World Heritage Area

The forested Mountains feature spectacular razor-edged pinnacles and hide one of the largest limestone cave systems in the world.

Reviewed By Marisza - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Came here to hike Mt Mulu, not Pinnacles! 4D3N is the usual itinerary. Good necessary facilities at campsites. Only for the hardcore!

6. The Pinnacles Trail

Gunung Mulu National, Miri 98000, Malaysia
Excellent
73%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 120 reviews

The Pinnacles Trail

Reviewed By Michelle J - Irvine, California

I just returned from Borneo and after
climbing Mt Kinabalu my husband and I headed over to Mulu from our base in Kota Kinabalu. We booked the Show Cave and Pinnacle climb through Amazing Borneo and they did a fantastic job. Compared to other groups and guides we saw on our visit I would definitely use Amazing Borneo again. Our guide (Jason Lau email: [email protected])was outstanding and definitely gave us great briefings as well as great guiding and he also cooked for us all our meals at Base Camp 5, got us back to park hq in plenty of time to catch our flight and stopped off to print off our boarding passes on the way back. He also took excellent care of the forest trails and used his machete to clear fallen branches etc. Mr. Lau cares very much for the environment and he is an excellent steward of the park and all its resources.
Now for those of you considering the Pinnacle climb here is some information:
1. The longboat ride from Clearwater Cave point is 45 minutes unless you decide to come during the dry season then it will take you 1.5 hours as you will have to exit the boat several times due to low water levels.
2. From the longboat exit it says the trek to base camp 5 is 9km but I suspected it was farther and my gps watch said it was 5.65 miles (so over 10k). The walk is flat through the forest on a well marked trail. When you reach the 2nd suspension bridge you are halfway there. We were told to wear leech socks which we did but never saw leeches.
3. Base Camp 5 is actually a nice camp next to the river with buildings for sleeping with mats, blankets and mosquito nets(last two items we rented for 2 nights for 80 ringgit from the camp). There is a large indoor kitchen facility and outdoor covered eating area and bathrooms with showers. They also provide drinking water. There is no cell coverage there and we did not need a power source but a British Cave group was there and they did have laptops and power was provided to them so you may be able to get that for a fee.
There are also a lot of bees who are attracted to the salt in your sweat so you need to rinse out and change your clothes or the bees will be attracted to you(there are clothes lines to hang clothes).
4. Pinnacles is a 2.4km trek up to a viewpoint where you see the Pinnacles. You will not be able to get to touch the Pinnacles themselves it is simply a viewpoint. The trek is challenging because it is steep and it’s tree covered but humid. Your guide will tell you how much water to bring and let you know how much farther to go. Mr. Lau told me I completed the climb up and down in the fastest time of anyone he has guided(he takes 3 trips/week in high season and once a week rest of time). You may need more time so don’t feel you need to rush as fast as you can. Just go your own speed. My guide made me a pack lunch and we spent an hour at the top. They said there were 17 ladders but I thought that part was fairly easy and fun. I had a headlamp and gloves but I did not need either of them. I wore my ASICS workout shoes but it would have been better with some lightweight hiking shoes. I was told NOT to bring any rain gear because of the steepness of the trail it could interfere with my footing. Same thing applies if you want to use trekking poles (they won’t help you anyway this is more of a quad/calf workout).the view is worth it but I did wish I could get closer to the Pinnacles themselves.
5. There is also a 4km round trip hike to a gorge if you decide Pinnacles is not for you.
6. You hike back out the way you came in. The boat is normally there to pick you up at 930am but it was there early so we left at 915. Keep your eyes open on the way out we saw a huge peacock just walking on the trail and other birds and insects.
7. We got back to the park and our guide got us into the hostel to use their showers and we got lunch at the cafe (incl in our pkg) and toured the discovery center(well worth visiting). We easily made our 230 flight but we could have made a1230 flight(which we had but Malaysia Air changed the time).
We will definitely be back next year to do the Mulu Summit hike (24 km) and we will definitely be hiring Jason Lau again.

7. Clearwater / Wind Show Caves

Gunung Mulu National Park 98008, Malaysia +60 85-792 300
Excellent
66%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 77 reviews

Clearwater / Wind Show Caves

Reviewed By SuzanneShepherdess - Shoreditch, London

We visited Deer and Lang caves and then the following day Clearwater and cave of the winds. Clearwater cave and cave of the winds was our favourite of the two trips.
It is very hot and humid climbing the steps but it was worth the effort. The longboat on the river was a great experience too.
We found the guides to be excellent and the trips great value. I would highly recommend booking directly with the park.
There is an opportunity to swim in the natural pool just outside of the cave. The water was very cold and refreshing. There are some slightly awkward wooden steps to get into the water.

8. Mount Santubong

Kuching, Malaysia
Excellent
56%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 209 reviews

Mount Santubong

Reviewed By Haus_Reverie - Macedon, Australia

We had planned to climb Mount Santubong on our last trip to Sarawak in 2015, but for a number of reasons that didn’t eventuate so when I heard we’d be staying at the Permai Rainforest Resort again this year, climbing Santubong became a priority.
After grabbing breakfast at the Feeding Tree we (Wife, Mr 15, Mr 13 and I) strolled down the hill past the Sarawak Cultural Village and around the corner to the rangers hut on Jalan Sultan Tengah. We signed in at 0850h and I realised at the outset that we were already an hour behind my planned schedule.
The ranger handed us an A4 rudimentary map and explained that the blue marked trail was the Jungle Trek and the red trail, the Summit Trek. We’d already chatted about whether or not Wife and Mr 13 would attempt the summit because they were both already feeling the heat (we pasty white Westerners from a cool temperate climate really do find Sarawak’s 30C and >80% humidity a bit of a challenge). After looking at the map we decided we’d at least try for the waterfall marked at F5 and then reassess.
The stroll along the combined red and blue trail is rated as a 3-4 on the park walk rating…not too challenging and very similar to the jungle trail around the Permai resort or the walks through Bako…undulating trail, some ups and downs, a couple of river crossings and twisted roots waiting to trip the unwary walker. So far, so good, although our travel rate remained slower than hoped.
At marker point F2, where the Summit Trail diverges from the Jungle Trek, the walk increases its difficulty to grade 5-7. It is significantly steeper in places, although not for sustained distances, and there are a lot more fallen trees, rocks etc. to negotiate although in a number of places there are fixed ropes to assist (it is already apparent that this walk could use some maintenance…broken Bridges, steps and ropes are encountered throughout, along with a fair amount of rubbish strewn along the trail). This is where Wife and Mr 13 started to struggle in the heat and our rate decreased even further due to more frequent rest stops.
After negotiating the near vertical descent immediately before the stream via fixed ropes, we eventually arrive at F5 and the waterfall just on 1100h. The falls are lovely, the jungle pool delightful…the bags of rubbish, the collapsing pergola, and the broken picnic benches not so much. A drink, a chat and it was decided that Wife and Mr 13 would spend some time at the falls and then enjoy a leisurely stroll back whilst Mr 15 and myself would push on for the summit. Onward and upward…the trail remaining at grade 5-7 between F5 and F7.
We finally arrive at F7 @ 1130h. I’m already a little concerned that we may struggle time-wise with 1500h the park’s mandated turnaround time, and me having set a 1400h turnaround time for ourselves due to being in unfamiliar terrain. Now the trail becomes a serious challenge rated at 7-9 with the incline rarely falling below 60 degrees and often up to 90 degrees with rope and ladder assist (although the ladders do look somewhat dubious under my 110kg frame). We take a few snaps (although the view is quite overgrown) and head on up.
F8 @ 1210h, F9 @ 1220h (and the first of the questionable ladders), F10 @ 1220h, F11 @ 1250h (and some very long sketchy ladders). This is climbing as much as hiking and you really are a true quadruped for much of the way relying upon your hands as much as feet. Now the skies are darkening, I’m pretty toasted and Mr 15 is also toasted but gamely says he’ll continue up if I do.
Hmmm…there’s probably another good hour of climbing ahead of us, plus the additional half hour that will add to the return leg. I’m concerned that we may get caught in the dark on a trail that with the looming sky threatens to be at best slippery, at worst a raging Torrent and I want to make sure we both have enough left in the tank to get down safely.
Prudence wins out over valour and we begrudgingly turn our backs on the summit and commence the long journey back down. It is still quite a gruelling climb/walk descent although it is drier and quicker than I had feared…45 min from F11 back to F7. We then head down to F5 and the waterfall where a well-deserved drenching in the cool water is absolutely required.
By now the air is completely still and oppressive under the looming thunderstorm and I struggle to shed heat...oh for a breath of breeze! A couple of rest breaks and finally the relief of the river crossing where the Jungle and Summit trails diverge provides an opportunity for a large mammal to drench his glowing head and cool down a little.
A few more minutes rest and we walk the final stretch to the ranger’s hut arriving at 1500h (I was most relieved to see that Wife and Mr 13 had signed out an hour earlier). The walk back to Permai was broken with a cold drink and Slurpee break (couldn’t really deny Mr 15 after his excellent efforts on the hill) at Damai Central.
All in all a great day’s walking that I’d recommend to anyone that enjoys a little exertion…and if we’re back in these parts again we will definitely have another attempt at conquering Mount Santubong.
My recommendations to those considering the Mount Santubong Summit Trek:
• Leave the rangers station no later than 0800h
• Wear proper hiking boots (Mr 15 suggests gloves for the ropes if you’re that way inclined)
• Take more water than you normally would – I’m a large guy and went through about 5 litres, Mr 15 is very slight and still went through 3 litres.
• Don’t try and treat this as just another stroll in the park, it is not. It is steep, it is sustained, and if you’re not careful, it’s quite possibly dangerous.

9. Niah Caves

Miri, Malaysia +60 85-434 184
Excellent
44%
Good
41%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 288 reviews

Niah Caves

Reviewed By man0haran - Auckland, New Zealand

Massive, dark and spooky! This exactly summarizes Niah cave. The cave has a lot of bats, wetas, and I swear ghosts.
Pleasant board walk through tropical forest to Trader's cave. Watch the myriad of butterflies and dragon flies all along. There is the painted cave when you get out of the Niah cave. But this is no comparison to the Niah cave. The painting in the painted cave have become quite faint and hard to pick without the information boards.
Caution: Niah cave is pitch dark in most places, you need a good headlamp. If you don't have one, you may be able to hire one at the entrance to the park (not to the cave).

10. Mulu Skywalk

Borsarmulu Park Management, Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysia +60 85-792 300
Excellent
55%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
5%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 40 reviews

Mulu Skywalk

Reviewed By Ft A - Cochin

took 1030AM trip..sunny day.. 2 hr trip. To & fro walk is total 3km. guide is with you only one way and returning back to park HQ is your leisure walk..Not so impressive and only adventure was skywalk where only 2 person allowed to walk at a time until he/she reaches the safe zone..I would recommend visitors to finish canopy walk and join Deer/Lang cave tour trip whereby you can save 1.5 km of walking as 1.5 km of tour trip path for canopy skywalk and deer cave tour trip are same.

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