Things to Do in Miri
While small compared to Sarawak’s other national parks, Niah National Park is one of the most unusual and archaeologically important in the world. It’s also a place of great natural beauty and biodiversity, thanks to the rainforest and vast cave system where swiftlets, bats and a host of other wildlife thrive.
Niah earned a spot on the map when an archaeological dig in 1957 led to the discovery of the oldest modern human remains in Southeast Asia inside the park’s Great Cave. A 40,000-year-old human skull, discovered a year later, gave evidence that humans have lived on Borneo for tens of thousands of years. Another cave within the park, the aptly named Painted Cave, contains ancient cave paintings as well as a few canoe-like coffins, called death ships, indicating that the cave was once used as a burial site.
Encompassing a relatively small area of 26.8 square miles (6,952 hectares), Lambir Hills National Park protects what might be the planet’s most biodiverse and complex forest ecosystems. This jungle-covered swathe of land is home to a staggering 1,173 species of trees, as well as monkeys, deer, flying squirrels, wild boar, gibbons and 237 counted species of birds.
While the wildlife is reason enough to visit, it’s the park’s numerous jungle waterfalls that tend to attract visitors, many with pools at their bases where trekkers can go for a cooling afternoon swim. About a dozen marked trails range from a short 20-minute walk to the Latak Waterfall to strenuous, all-day trek to the highest point in the park. A 130-foot (40-meter) wooden tree tower along the Pantu Trail gives visitors a glimpse into the jungle canopy.
For the best views of Miri, head to Canada Hill (or Bukit Telaga Minyak), a limestone ridge where you’ll find Malaysia’s first ever oil well, a petroleum museum, plus sweeping views of the city and beyond.
Sitting atop Canada Hill, and affectionately referred to as The Grand Old Lady, the site of the country’s earliest oil well is now a national monument and historic landmark. This 30-meter-tall monument was built by Shell and marks the origins of the petroleum industry in Malaysia and the subsequent modernization of Miri. The Petroleum Museum is located just next to the monument and traces the development of the industry since oil was first struck here back in 1910.
If you like walking, it’s a pleasant two-kilometer trek up to the top of Canada Hill. Alternatively, join a half-day sightseeing tour of Miri – taking in the city’s other sights as you go – and transport will be provided.