Niah National Park
On the way from Bintulu to Miri, 109km south-west of Miri, you will pass the gorgeous Niah National Park (3102 hectares). Together with Gunung Mulu National Park this is one of the most beautiful parks in Sarawak. The park is especially famous for the many limestone caves in which people used to live. It is said that Niah NP is the birthplace of civilization in Southeast Asia, as the oldest modern human remains discovered were found in the caves. Unlike Mulu NP, the caves within Niah Park can be visited without a tour guide. The Niah caves are also known for the swiftlet nests. In Hong Kong and Singapore swiftlet nests are sold for extremely high prices; sometimes over US$1,000 per kilogram. These nests get regulated and harvested under supervision. Climbers will look for the nests in the higher sections of the enormous caves, and risk their lives standing on stepladders made of bamboo. Visitors can witness the swiftlets flying back into the cave at the end of the day, and more spectacular, millions of bats flying out around sundown to go on their nightly hunt for food.
"The Niah National Park is world famous for the oldest human remains in South-East Asia found in its Great Caves dating back some 40,000 years."
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Caves at Niah NP
There are numerous caves that can be visited within Niah National Park. As a guide is not mandatory you can just roam free within the caves. There are pathways and signs that show you the way. The biggest and most popular cave is the Great Cave; its entrance is 60mtr high and over 250mtr wide. At the back of the Great Cave there is a passage that leads towards the area called 'Padang'. From there you can walk to the Painted Cave; the second most popular cave at Niah NP. Here you can find wall paintings that are estimated to be over 1200 years old.
Best time to visit Niah National Park
Niah National Park lies within the jungles of Sarawak, Borneo, only 17km from the South China Sea. Though it is not really affected by monsoon and typhoon seasons; there still are periods with massive amounts of rain. Driest months however are between July and September, which makes hiking around the national park more strenuous then during the cooler months. In January 2011 Niah National Parks was closed temporarily because of serious flooding.
Checklist trip to Niah National Park
- Head lamp (or torch light)
- First aid travel kit with personal medicine
- Tripod for your camera (to make pictures in low light conditions)
- Mosquito repellent
- Walking shoes or hiking shoes
- Poncho (or umbrella)
- Zip lock bags to keep your spare clothing dry
- Towel (in dry bag)
- Bottle of water
- Plastic bags to put over your shoes when you are walking through guano (bat poo)
Map of Niah National Park
Below you can see a map of Niah National Park (center of the map). You can simply scroll through the map with your mouse. Use the markers on the left to zoom in or out of the map.
How to get to Niah National Park
Niah Park can be reached from Miri and Bintulu by (public) bus or taxi. From there you will be brought to the town Batu Niah, where you can spend the night in one of the basic lodges. You then take a motorized longboat from Batu Niah town to the Park Headquarters. You can also walk from the small town (within 45 minutes) or take a (shared) taxi to Park Headquarters. From the starting point Pangkalan Labong you are able to walk to the caves. Two of the caves are open for tourists without a guide, the Great Cave and the painted Cave. Visitors are required to register at Park Headquarters. You will also pay a small entrance fee of RM10 and here you can also grab a copy of the trail map of the park. Opening hours of Niah NP are between 8am and 5pm daily. On your way to Niah (or on the way back) you can visit one of the Iban longhouses (in Rumah Chang). Though you can stay at one of the available accommodations around Niah NP; most travelers visit the park based on a one-day tour package from Miri.
Below a list with some hotels in and directly around Miri.