As one of the most popular destinations in Sarawak, Miri forms a gateway to the famous Gunung Mulu National Park and Niah National Park. Miri used to be a bit of a cowboy village in the past, where people mainly came in search of oil. It is said that Malaysia's petroleum industry once started in Miri. Years later however, Miri grew out to be a modern city though still a bit overshadowed by the neighboring oil state of Brunei (Miri was granted city status in 2005). The city is home to a population of about 300,000 people, and this makes it the second biggest city of Sarawak behind Kuching. For the best views on the city of Miri you should visit Bukit Telaga Minyak (Canada Hill). The coast of Miri is a great place to dive; especially around the recent discovered diving spots Miri/Sibuti Marine National Park. Although it is not yet a very famous or crowded diving spot, the unspoiled coral is dazzling and absolutely worth a visit when you're a dive enthusiast as it contains a variety of coral and marine life that rivals the best anywhere in Borneo.
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Attractions in and around Miri
Miri is the main tourist gateway for numerous wildlife attractions. The world famous Gunung Mulu National Park with the Sarawak Chamber (biggest cave in the world - UNESCO World Heritage Site) is one of the most popular eco-tourism destinations in Sarawak; reachable by air in 30 minutes. Miri is also the main gateway for Loagan Bunut National Park (Sarawak's largest natural lake), Lambir National Park (12th site with biggest biodiversity in the world) and Niah National Park with its fantastic caves and waterfalls.
Some interesting sights within and directly around Miri are the Unity Tower, Pustaka Miri, Petroleum Museum, views over Miri city from top of Canada Hill, the San Ching Tian Temple and the Esplanade Beach at Luak Bay.
Borneo Jazz (Miri International Jazz Festival)
Every year Miri is host of one of the biggest events in Sarawak; Borneo Jazz (formerly known as Miri International Jazz Festival or MIJF) that usually takes place in the month of May. The event is held at the pavilion of Parkcity Everly Hotel. Performances are daily from 6pm to 12 midnight. Borneo Jazz aims to be the leading tourism-driven music festival in the region by assembling regionally and internationally recognized jazz musicians from the US, Europe, Australia and Asia performing jazz funky latin, oriental jazz, carribean roots, blues, contemporary fusion, boogie woogie and more. The event draws visitors to Miri and the Northern Region of Sarawak for a fun-filled and entertaining experience and at the same time showcasing Miri as a city of cosmopolitanism and relaxing lifestyle. The Miri International Jazz Festival is organized by the Sarawak Tourism Board in collaboration with a select group of people from private sectors.
Nearby Labuan Island
Miri is also the place from where a jetty to the federal territory of Labuan leaves. Labuan is a tax free offshore island north of Brunei where it is possible to start your own offshore company without much hassle. You can register a Labuan company for around $1.500 (initial costs) and another $1.200 yearly (prices may vary). A great benefit of a Labuan company is that you - as director - are able to get yourself a directors (work) permit that way. Some people use this to settle in Malaysia without having to work within Malaysia as that's perhaps one of the big downsides; you cannot work within Malaysia; with Malaysian companies or with Malaysians. Besides being an offshore investment heaven people also visit Labuan for great diving.
Shopping in Miri
Miri is also well known as a shopping paradise; especially among the neighboring Bruneians. Rich Brunei citizens come to spend their money as products are much cheaper in Malaysia. Noteworthy shopping malls in Miri are: Permy mall, Bintang megamall, Boulevard shopping complex, Imperial shopping mall, E-Mart, Miri plaza and Wisma Pelita mall. Brand new malls that are currently being built are: MYY mall, Merdeka mall (semi open to public) and Senadin mall.
How to get to Miri
The only way to get to Miri from the Peninsular Malaysia is by air and there are several daily flights from Kuala Lumpur. Two airlines operate on this route; Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia. Malaysia Airlines departs from KLIA (domestic) and AirAsia departs from LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal). Both airlines also fly daily from Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Miri. Some Malaysia Airlines routes are operated by MASwings. AirAsia also started a direct connection between Singapore and Miri. From Miri international airport you can take a taxi to your hotel. You can buy taxi tickets at the taxi counter for a fixed price.
From Miri to Mulu National Park
Visiting Mulu World Heritage Area is a journey into the interior of Borneo. MASWings operates two daily flights from Miri into Mulu. Flights from Miri to Mulu take about 30 minutes. Mulu can also be reached by boat or overland by 4x4 over rough timber tracks, both of which will approximately take 8-10 hours to reach the National Park. This option is only relevant for real adventurous travelers as there is no actual road access or highway between Miri and Mulu.
From Miri to Niah National Park
Syarikat Bas Suria departs from the Miri bus station to Batu Niah town. The journey takes well over an hour (109km by road) to up to two hours depending on weather conditions. From Niah town, you can either take a speedboat (nice scenery), taxi or walk to the Niah National Park headquarters at Pengkalan Batu. You can also use a rather expensive taxi from Miri (you can try to share one with others) which will take you directly to the main park entrance.
Popular restaurants in Miri
- Ming Cafe
- E-Mart BBQ Centre
- Cafe Bavaria
- Imperial Restaurant
Popular hawker centers in Miri are: Chinese Hawker center, Yakin Food Court, Pelita Hai Ma Food Court, Miri City Food Court, Seng Kee Food Court, Permyjaya Food Court, Sin Chung Hua Food Court, Merdeka Mall Food Court and Brighton Beach Food Court.
Popular hotels in Miri
Below a list with some of the better hotels in and directly around Miri (view all hotels here in a new page).
Budget travelers will be glad to hear that there is enough budget accommodation available in and around Miri. Tune Hotels is currently also looking into opening a branch in Miri.
Map of Miri
Below you can see a map of Miri. You can simply scroll through the map with your mouse. Use the markers on the left to zoom in or out of the city map.