How to Spend 48 Hours in Miri, Malaysia

Beautiful sunset from Canada Hill, Miri
Beautiful sunset from Canada Hill, Miri | © james wk / Shutterstock
Photo of Sam Bedford
9 June 2018

Miri, a former oil town recently classified as a city, offers some of Sarawak’s best sunsets, a walkable centre and a day trip away from Niah Caves. Here’s how to get the most out of 48 hours in Miri for budget-conscious travellers for culture, beaches, nature and history.

Day one: Explore the markets, eat Sarawakian food and a beach sunset

The first part of 48 hours in Miri explores the city’s markets, Fan Recreation Park and a trip to the handicraft centre before watching a (hopefully) incredible sunset. Culture Trip recommends Next Room Backpackers Hostel in the city centre for its convenient location, sociable atmosphere and budget-friendly prices.

Morning: Have a Local Breakfast at Central Market

Start the day at Central Market along Jalan Brooke. Apart from serving as both a wet and dry market, it also offers a variety of affordable food for breakfast. Approximately 30 stalls fill the inside, catering to Sarawakians with excellent food at local prices. Expect rice and noodle dishes starting at RM5 ($1.30) and an iced coffee for RM1.50 ($0.40). After breakfast, explore the market, snap photographs (remember to ask permission if people are in your shot) and immerse in the local culture.

Have a delicious local breakfast to start off your day | © ThamKC / Shutterstock

Afternoon: Sightseeing in Miri

Spend the first afternoon of 48 hours in Miri exploring the city. We recommend visiting Miri Fan Recreation Park in the heart of the city centre. The park features an amphitheatre, gardens and a koi pond and shady areas to sit and relax. Head to Shukie Café for lunch and sample another Sarawakian dish. Next check out the Miri Handicraft Centre for a souvenir. This is where Sarawak’s ethnic minorities gather and sell traditional handicrafts.

Evening: Sunset at Brighton Beach

Every tourist should experience Sarawak’s spectacular sunset (assuming clear weather) at least once in their 48 hours in Miri. The best spot is at Brighton Beach, known locally as Tanjong Lobang, a few kilometres from the city centre. Expect a series of yellows, oranges and pinks against the backdrop of the beach and piers. Pro tip: Miri’s Seahorse Statue, a city landmark, is nearby and worth visiting.

A popular place for locals to catch the beautiful Miri sunset | © Kelvin Yam / Shutterstock

Night: Sample Sarawakian satay

After the sunset, take a taxi or Grab to Madli’s Restaurant and enjoy an early dinner. This family-run halal restaurant in Miri serves Sarawak-style satay. Order the Fun Plate, which consists of 10 sticks of both chicken and beef. Have a quiet night; an early start tomorrow is essential.

Try the famous local Satay for dinner after a long day of exploring Miri | © rimmoto / Pixabay

Day two: Sunrise, Niah National Park and evening cocktails

Day two of 48 hours in Miri needs an early start. Set the alarm for 5:00am and get to Canada Hill for sunrise before spending the day at Niah National Park exploring caves and archaeological sites. After an active day, look forward to a few cocktails at Miri’s Sky Garden.

Morning: Sunrise over Miri

Wake up early and head to Canada Hill to catch the sunrise over Miri. Canada Hill sits on an elevated limestone hill overlooking both the city and South China Sea. Take a taxi or Grab to the top before walking approximately 30 minutes or so back down. Enjoy the views and the Grand Old Lady, a monument dedicated to the first oil well in Miri. Be aware Miri’s sunrise is usually between 6:00am and 6:30am. Have breakfast at Sau Pau Café, which offers a selection of pastries and Pau (or Pao), a bun with a sweet or savoury filling.

Chinese steamed bun with sweet or savoury filling | © Michael Stern / Flickr

Afternoon and Evening: Day Trip to Niah Caves

Niah Caves National Park, located just over 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Miri, is a geological, historical and cultural haven. The national park consists of several caves, passageways and archaeological sites. Human remains believed to be over 40,000-years-old were discovered in one of the caves, while the Painted Cave has walls covered in ancient rock art. Visitors might see local Penan tribesmen retrieving the edible swiftlet’s bird nest too. Other activities include hiking along jungle trails, birdwatching, exploring the caves on an extensive network of boardwalks and seeing boat-shaped wooden coffins. While it might be challenging and costly to visit Niah Caves, the opportunity to experience this on a day trip is usually worth the time and effort.

Niah is one of the most popular caves to visit in Miri | © Valery Shanin / Shutterstock

Practical information

Visitors have three options to get to the national park: Rent a car and self-drive, take a taxi or use public transport. Expect a taxi to cost approximately RM150 ($38) one way (at least one-and-a-half hours). Or take bus number 33A from Kuching to Pujut Corner Bus Terminal. Then get any bus travelling south for RM15 ($3.80) and get off at Niah Rest Station. Take a taxi to the entrance. Niah opens daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm and costs RM10 ($2.50) for Malaysians and RM20 ($5) for non-Malaysians. From the entrance, it’s approximately three kilometres (1.9 miles) to get to the park proper. Expect the full day trip to take between eight to 10 hours. Pro tips: Start as early as possible after watching the sunrise and having breakfast. Bring a change of clothes, plenty of water and snacks.

Night: Cocktails at Miri Sky Garden

After returning from Niah, freshen up and head to Miri Sky Garden on level 17 of the Meritz Hotel. Indulge in the buffet-style steamboat and order a couple of cocktails and unwind after a busy, but rewarding, 48 hours in Miri.