Miri sits in northern Sarawak along the South China Sea and is Malaysia’s booming oil town. This town-cum-city offers beaches, urban parks, handicraft centres, and acts as a gateway to four nearby national parks. Here are Culture Trip’s favourite things to do in Miri.
Spectacular views from Canada Hill
Canada Hill, or Bukit Telaga Minyak in Bahasa Malaysia, is a limestone hill a short drive inland from Miri. In 1910, this became the site of Malaysia’s first oil drill, giving birth to the long and lucrative industry driving the country’s economy today. The Grand Old Lady, a replica of the first oil well, soars 30 metres (98 feet) at the top of the hill. Enjoy the panoramic views of Miri and the South China Sea. One of the more popular things to do in Miri is to come here for sunrise or sunset.
Learn about Malaysia’s oil industry at the Petroleum Museum
The discovery of oil in 1910 transformed a small fishing village into a booming oil town in the 20th century. The Petroleum Museum adjacent to the Grand Old Lady has exhibits covering the story of the petroleum industry in Miri and Malaysia. Visitors learn about technology, extraction tools and techniques as well as seeing the finished products. Since the museum is free, it offers a family-friendly educational experience and a chance to appreciate the city’s past, present and future.
Visit Sarawak’s best beach
Tusan Beach sits approximately 30 minutes from the city centre. Popular with beach lovers and photographers, Tusan offers white sandy shorelines against rugged cliffs and unusual rock formations. Relax and enjoy the ambience while snapping pictures, or witness Borneo’s spectacular sunsets. Anyone who likes the beach will appreciate this as one of the top things to do in Miri. Lucky visitors might also observe the rare natural phenomenon when the sea begins to glow as tiny micro-organisms emit blue light.
Miri Sky Bar sits on the 17th floor of the Meritz Hotel. Offering a selection of food, including a steamboat buffet and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, the Sky Bar is one of the top things to do in Miri for a sunset experience. Customers can sit outside on a terrace overlooking the city and South China Sea. The Sky Bar has regular promotions on beer, wine and cocktails.
Chill out in the shady Miri City Fan Recreation Park
The fan-shaped 26-acre park in the heart of Miri opened in the 1990s, providing a shady haven. A total of 10 themed zones form Miri City Fan Recreation Park, with a central amphitheatre as the focal point. Other sections include Islamic-style gardens, a promenade, koi pond, public swimming pool and a musical fountain, as well as housing Miri Library. Locals enjoy strolling under the shade in the early morning or evening. The Recreation Park acts as a sports, education and recreational hub in Miri.
Buy traditional souvenirs at Miri Handicraft Centre
For a cultural experience and glimpse into the lives of Sarawak’s indigenous, head to Miri Handicraft Centre on Jalan Brooke. Several stalls offer a variety of souvenirs and handicrafts, including textiles, Penan mats and weaved products. Lucky visitors might also catch one of the centre’s occasional cultural shows.
Brighton Beach, known locally as Tanjung Lobang, sits a few kilometres to the south of the city. Holding the title as the first public beach and oldest recreation park in Mir, it also hosts one of Sarawak’s best sunsets. Two piers extend out into the South China Sea creating an ideal backdrop against the oranges, yellows, pinks and purples on a cloudless day. Miri’s Seahorse Lighthouse is a short walk from the piers as well as plenty of choices for beachside dining.
Niah National Park consists of a network of caves some 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Miri. As a popular day trip, tourists will find geological wonders, cave paintings and ancient wooden coffins shaped like boats. Human remains, believed to date back 40,000 years, were seen inside too, and are said to be the oldest discovered in Asia. Other highlights include the chance to witness how Penan tribes collect the bird’s nest delicacy from high on the cave wall using a network of ladders.
Caves, biodiversity and nature at Gunung Mulu National Park
A day trip to Gunung Mulu National Park always ranks in the top 10 list of things to do in Miri. The UNESCO-listed national park offers tourists the chance to experience Sarawak’s biodiversity, explore caves and admire the surroundings. Check out Deer Cave and Clearwater Cave and snap photographs near their entrance as the three surrounding mountains soar more than 1,500 metres (4,931 feet) behind. Other highlights include its 17 vegetation zones, limestone pinnacles, canyons and Paku Waterfall. Accommodation is also available at Gunung Mulu National Park.
Lambir Hills is one of four national parks near Miri and offers visitors the chance of a jungle experience. Several trails lead through the different habitats, ecosystems and to waterfalls and pools. Popular routes include the Latak Waterfall and Pantu Waterfall trails. Lucky visitors might see gibbons, sun bears, wild pigs, flying squirrels and some of the 200 plus species of birds living inside.