Sarawak's Bario has more to offer than just rice

A beautiful view of Bario from one of the pit stops at Batu Lawi. — JUNAID IBRAHIM

When someone mentions “Bario”, we would probably immediately think of the small grains of rice that Sarawak is famous for. But there is so much more to Bario than that.

You can find Bario within the Kelabit Highlands, which is about 1,000m above sea level. The mountain range is located in both the Miri and Limbang Divisions, so it is a great place for hikers and mountaineers to explore.

You can climb Sarawak’s highest mountain, Mount Murud (2,432m) from either Bario (Miri) or Ba’Kelalan (Limbang), as these are the entry/exit points.

Remember to work with local tour agents and guides before you go climbing any mountain or trekking in the thick tropical jungles here.

Mount Murud, considered a sacred place to the Kelabit people, is a sandstone mountain. If you do challenge yourself to climb it, you will come across many pitcher plants along the way.

There is also a rock garden that’s made up of uniquely-shaped rocks and boulders; this is said to be a popular place of worship for locals.

Other mountains in the highlands include Prayer Mountain and Batu Lawi.

Prayer Mountain is a good place to check out for beginner- to intermediate-level hikers. It is a steep climb, though perhaps not too technical. You will find a big cross at the peak, erected in 1973 by locals. The view of Bario from here is very beautiful.

There’s a small chapel along the way too, which doubles as a shelter for folks who need a short rest. Just remember to be respectful of local cultures.

Batu Lawi, meanwhile, is more challenging as you have to pass through a few villages, farms, padi fields and even a jungle, to get to the top. The good thing about this trek is that there are a handful of huts and shelters that have basic amenities like toilets and seating areas.

These huts are also equipped with rain harvesting systems, so you can use the water provided to clean up if you need to.

Hikers who need to stay overnight may also camp here.

Apart from the mountains, tourists are welcome to visit the villages in Bario too. These villages include Pa’Main, Pa’Umur, Pa’Ramapuh and Pa Di’it, where you can find a waterfall hidden in the forest nearby.

From the villages, you can go on freshwater fishing trips with the locals, do some birdwatching and wildlife hunting, go mountain biking, kayaking and even learn about traditional padi farming.

For the best experience, stay in a longhouse and spend time with the families and communities there. If you’re lucky, you may be able to participate in a cultural event, like the harvest festival in June.

The Kelabit community living in these longhouses will always make sure all their guests are treated well, and that they get to experience authentic local food, cultures and traditions.

At the end of your trip, get your hands on some handicrafts like the bao’rawir (necklace) and bekang (bag).

Getting there

Take a 45-minute flight from Miri to Bario – this will be the fastest and easiest option. Of course, you can also take a 4WD vehicle and drive through the mostly gravel road from Miri. This can take anywhere between 10 and 14 hours! There is no public transport available, so be sure to book a tour with an agent from Miri.

Bario Highlands

Jalan Bario, Kampung Pengkalan,

98000 Bario, Sarawak

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Bario , Sarawak , weekend go , domestic tourism , Malaysia


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