This is a pretty special adventure for us since this is our first ever to go out of the country. Three years ago, we had promised ourselves to tick this item off our bucket list and thanks to AirAsia, with its super low ALL-IN promo fare, we were able to actually take on not one but two countries in just three days: Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. And finally, we had our passports stamped.
Since AirAsia is the only airliner that offers direct flights from Manila to Miri, we decided to mark Miri as our headquarters for this particular trip. Far from its distant cousin Kuala Lumpur, Miri is a small town situated in Sarawak in the island of Borneo. The place used to be a fishing town, but found prosperity and modernization upon the discovery of oil.
More often than not, Miri is considered not as a major tourist destination but as a transport hub for travelers on their way to cities like Bintulu and Sabah and, of course, to Brunei. But this tiny town also has a lot to offer, and that’s what we aimed to discover during our short stay here.
Where To Stay
Being an important gateway to Sabah, Miri offers a lot in terms of accommodation, starting from big, fancy hotels to small yet cozy budget inns. We stayed at the My Homestay Guesthouse, which is strategically situated along Jalan Merpati, a busy avenue, and in front of the Imperial City Mall. We got our first surprise here when we met a Pinay personnel, a testament to the diaspora of the overseas Filipino workers.
Where To Eat
On our first night in Miri, we limited our nighttime stroll to Jalan Merpati, which is thankfully dotted by Malay, Chinese, and Indian restaurants. We got our first taste of Malaysian cuisine in Muara Restaurant where we feasted on lalapan tongkol (lalapan with tuna), lalapan ayam (lalapan with chicken) and soto (chicken broth with noodles). For this trip though, our favorite would have to be Madli’s Restaurant, already famous in Malaysia for their satay. It”s also here where we first tasted the Malaysian national dish, nasi lemak (rice served with anchovies, roasted peanuts, hard-boiled eggs, and sambal). What makes Madli’s special for us, however, is the large serving of good food at very affordable prices! Aside from restaurants, several bars and clubs can be found around town, something that can delight tourists looking to water down their dinner with a few drinks.
Places To See
Miri definitely has a lot to offer when it comes to sight and sounds. Unfortunately, due to our limited schedule, we only managed to visit places situated nearby. A few blocks away from our guesthouse is the Masjid At-Taqwa Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in town.
A five-minute walk from the mosque will talk you to Miri City Fan. This strangely named location is actually a huge park where one can find gardens, fountains, beautiful Muslim/Malay structures, a huge open grandstand, a playground for the kids, and even a swimming center.
Located a few blocks away from the Miri City Fan is the Miri Handicraft Centre, which showcases traditional Malay handicrafts and pottery. This is the ideal place where tourists can buy souvenirs and pasalubong for their loved ones at home.
Here are the places that we never got to visit, but are still recommended for tourists:
• Niah National Park – More than an hour away from the Miri town proper, Niah National Park is a 3,100-hectare park which features virgin lush rainforests and limestone hills. It features two famous caves, the Great Cave of Niah and The Painted Cave. The park is also considered as an important archaeological site since it was here where 40,000-year-old human remains — the oldest in Southeast Asia — were discovered.
• Grand Old Lady and Petroleum Museum – Situated on top of Canada Hill, the fondly named Grand Old Lady refers to Miri’s first oil well drilled in 1910. Nearby is the Petroleum Museum where tourists can learn more about Miri’s rich oil history.
• Lambir National Park – Located 30 km south of Miri, Lambir National Park is composed of dipterocarp and heath forests and is popular among nature lovers and bird watchers.
• San Ching Tian Temple – Built in 2010, the San Ching Tian Temple is the largest Taoist temple not only in Miri but in the entire Southeast Asia.
• Tua Pek Kong Temple – Located in Sibu but still accessible from Miri, the Tua Pek Kong Temple is a popular Chinese temple boasting a seven-storey pagoda.
• Miri Crocodile Farm and Mini Zoo – A 25-minute drive from the town proper will take you to Miri Crocodile Farm, home to hundreds of crocodiles. The farm also functions as a mini zoo showcasing monkeys, gibbons, birds like mynahs, brown fish owl, peacock, and mammals like porcupines, bearcats, sunbears and flying foxes.
• Seahorse Lighthouse – The two-storey lighthouse has the seahorse, symbol of Miri, for a figurehead. The place features a spectacular view of the bay.
Accommodation. My Homestay Hostel & Guest House. Lot#1091, Jalan Merpati (Zinnia), Miri City, Malaysia. +60 85-429 091. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tour Operator. Tropical Adventure Tours & Travel. Book your customized tour around Miri City, nearby localities and Brunei Darussalam. Email: email@example.com.
Expenses. Depending on your preference for food and recreation, an average meal in local restaurants range from Php 100.00 – 300.00 only. This can get cheaper in food stalls. When strolling around the city proper, you may not need to take PUVs, but if you wish to explore further outside the city, you can opt to take regular buses at a designated bus terminal. Taxis are available at standard rate and they can be found in designated taxi lines. Money Changer are available inside the malls.