Things to do in Miri

Miri Things To Do

Among the many things to do in Miri, ecotourism is probably the best activity here. However, from my many visits to Miri, the resort city in the north of Sarawak, I will share with the general tourist on what else you can do around Miri, especially the main town area.

Miri is coastal city located two hours from Brunei and was once well known as an oil city and recently re-branded as a resort city by the mayor. 

Most visitors would know Miri as the main gateway to world renown places like Mulu and Niah National Parks but in the last five years or so, much has been developed in and around Miri, making this place one of the interesting cities to visit in Sarawak Borneo.

Miri is also home to the Borneo Jazz Festival 2016 which takes place yearly. Again, this article is carefully researched and most places being visited personally by me, therefore I am able to share my first hand experiences with you. 

List of Things to do in Miri

  • Visit The Grand Old Lady
  • Explore The Miri Handicraft Market
  • E Mart Supermarket
  • Miri Smokehouse
  • Miri Beaches
  • Miri Sky Bar
  • Crocodile Farm in Miri
  • Miri Chinese Temple 
  • Miri Ethnic Market
  • Diving in Miri

The above are just some of the main things to do in Miri. Read on to see the entire list and additional information on things to do in Miri.

Miri Grand Old Lady
One of Miri's iconic landmark, the Grand Old Lady
Grand Old Lady

The iconic landmark of Miri where you can find Malaysia's first oil contraption that made Miri what it is, an oil rich city in Borneo. This is located on top of Canada Hill, which is about 10 to 15 minutes drive from the city.

Just next to the Grand Old Lady is also the Petroleum Science Museum which only if you are a museum lover, this would be awesome. From the back of the museum, you can get an amazing view of the Miri city and the sea. This is a great place to get some landscape photographs too.

Handicraft in Miri
Inside the Miri Handicraft Centre
Miri Handicraft Market 

A one stop center where you can find all the local and ethnic handicraft in Miri city. The Miri Handicraft Centre is also located at a junction along Jalan Brooke and near the Meritz Hotel and is open from 10 to 5pm daily.

There are about 12 shops that offer unique handicraft and most of them operated by the local Kelabit, Penan and Orang Ulu people. (http://sarawaktourism.com/attraction/miri-handicraft-centre/)

E Mart Supermarket

This is a very popular local place where you can find just about anything to shop for and is located closer to the Brunei border, taking advantage of the Bruneians that come to Miri for shopping.

This massive place can be quite interesting to explore for the tourist too and while you are here, do check out the food stalls around the area. E-mart is located along Jalan Tudan towards the Brunei check point.

Rumah Asap Miri
One of the local Smokehouses in Miri
Try the local Miri Smokehouse

For the non-halal market, the smokehouse or Rumah Asap is a very local roadside stall that serves roast pork and beer. Straight forward and simple, you simply order the part of the pig and they will barbecue it for you.

You can find pigs ears, tail and intestines for the hard core. At the end of the day, the locals just love their pork and beer, which is the perfect combination on a hot day in Miri.

Miri Brighton beach
Brighton beach sunset
Take a walk on the beach 

The most popular beaches in Miri are Luak Bay Esplanade and Brighton Beach or Pantai Tanjung Lobang where in the evenings, you will see many people coming here to catch the beautiful sunsets or simply to just relax.

Luak Bay is about 11 kilometers from town and has parking and toilet facilities with small roadside vendors selling snacks, food and drinks. GPS to Luak Bay N 04 19.016 E113 57.744.

See the Blue Glow at Tusan Beach

Another very unique and special place that attracts the locals is Tusan Beach which is half an hours drive from Miri city.

Here, you can witness a strange phenomena where during the night, a blue glow is seen when a special algae called ‘Dino flagellates’ produces a glowing light when the water they are living in is disturbed by motion, like the waves.

However, in the day, this place is beautiful as there are many cliff structures which provide some awesome photography. One needs to self drive or engage a tour company to bring you here.

Sunset Picture Miri
A sunset taken from the Miri Sky Bar
Miri Sky Bar

Yes, Miri has one, located at the Meritz hotel and called Sky Garden Meritz, this fancy sky bar offers some beautiful views of Miri city, especially during sunset.

You can order cocktails, beer or soft drinks and watch the sun set behind the South China Sea. Alternatively, the Sky Garden Meritz also offers dining too. Check with the hotel. (http://www.meritzhotel.com.my/)

Miri Crocodile Farm

Well, most places around Malaysia has one and so does Miri. If you are up for this, then take a visit to the Miri Crocodile Farm located at Kuala Baram which is about 30 minutes from the city.

There is also a mini zoo here so it is not only crocodiles here. Overall, this place would be great if you brought your family and also having the extra time. Cover up as there are mosquitoes and check on the feeding times for the crocodiles before going.
(Miri Crocodile Farm http://www.miricrocodilefarm.com/)

Miri Tua Pek Kong
Tua Pek Kong Temple in Miri
Chinese Temple in Miri

There are a couple of beautiful Chinese temples but the most popular one is the San Ching Tian or Lian Hua San Temple which is the largest Taoist temple in Southeast Asia and located in Krokop district, four kilometers from the city.

The other place is the Tua Pek Kong Temple located in the old part of the city which was built in 1913. This temple is also located next to the Miri fish market and by the sea and can be easily reached by walking.

Markets in Miri

This section is created to those who love to visit markets and Miri being an very old style city, has some of the best markets to explore. You can find specialty markets, weekend markets to special markets and visiting each of them will give you a different experience.

It is recommended that you go with a local guide that can explain the many unique things you will come across at these markets in Miri.

Miri Tamu Khas
Inside the Tamu Khas Miri or Miri Special Market
Tamu Khas Miri

Located in the city area and behind the main market called Tamu Muhibbah, the Tamu Khas is a place where local ethnic produce is sold here.

Tamu means market and Khas means special, therefore the Special Market is not to be missed for those who love visiting these kind of places.

The good thing about this place is that only ethnic vendors are allowed to trade here hence you will see only jungle produce and handmade or hand cooked items for sale.

Miri Weekend Tamu Bazaar

A very local day market operated by the ethnic people can be found along Jalan Melayu on weekends only where you will see a lot of jungle produce being sold here.

Sometimes, you can spot some extra unique items being sold buy the traders who sell off the ground here. A fun experience but please do ask permission before taking photos here as you would not want to upset the traders.

Miri Kedayan Market
Kedayan Market in Miri, this is the old local market
Tamu Kedayan Miri Old Market

This unique market is also recommended for those who love all things markets where you can find local traders selling vegetables and Iban prayer items.

This market is also located in between Jalan Melayu and Jalan Oleander in an open air covered market with proper stalls.

Miri Night Market

The Saberkas Weekend Market is the best place to see the local night market lifestyle with offerings of all kinds of local food and produce. Mostly locals visit this place, and is open to visitors as well. 

Nature in Miri

Piasau Nature Reserve

Recently opened to the public in 2014, this nature reserve is located about 20 minutes from town and is the up and coming place to do some simple trekking and walking. It is also the closest nature reserve in Malaysia where it is within the city limits and is shared with the beach.

You can see lots of birds, insects and the main star here is a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills who have made their home at one of the trees here. 

Sibuti Fireflies Experience

Yes, there are fireflies in Miri and they can be found around Kampung Sibuti area. You need to book a tour to see the fireflies here.

Miri National Parks

There are four main national parks around Miri which are Mulu, Niah, Loagan Bunut and Lambir Hills. Each of them provide a different kind of outdoors experience.

Niah National Park is the most famous one as you can visit the historical Niah Caves to see prehistoric paintings on the cave walls here.

Sports Activities in Miri

There are some sporting activities that can be done in Miri but they are limited to just a few. However, you should check with your tour guide or hotel to find out the kind of sports you want to do. Jogging can be done along the beach area or up to the Grand Old Lady.  

Miri Scuba Diving
Scuba diving in Miri is one of the up and coming sporting activities
Diving in Miri

Diving is a growing sport here with two main dive operators located in the city and there are over 20 dive spots located along the Sibuti Reef, Siwa Reef and also Patricia Reef.

I have personally dived in Miri twice from 2015-2016 and overall, this will be the next upcoming diving destination in Sarawak and diving in Miri will be one of the top activities in terms of sports.

The two operators - Coco Dive and Hoopa Dive Borneo Dive Network are located in Miri city, Coco in the city area while Hoopa is at Brighton Beach area, next to the Miri Marriott. (Update: Hoopa has ceased operations and closed).

The dive operators in Miri offer daily dive trips with two dives per morning and you are back for lunch. The diving season is March to November too. You can also find out more about the various Dive sites in Miri

Golf in Miri 

Golfers will be pleased to know that the Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club is one of the best places to play golf in Miri apart from the Miri Golf Club.

Eastwood is currently the popular course with beautiful accommodations available for those wanting a golf holiday and the location is just 10 minutes from the city center. This course is 18 hole and 72 par.

Eating in Miri

While many do not know, Miri is actually an amazing food haven, provided you know where to look for the local favourites.

While you can find Chinese, Malay and Indian food here, it is the local ethnic Kelabit food that you should seek out in the town area. For me, the older the coffee shop, the better the food will be and I have always liked this formula.

For the safe ones, there are many restaurants, cafes, fast food and also hotel food available. Seafood is also quite popular, especially at the Medan Ikan Bakar and also along Jalan North Yu Seng just before the Imperial Mall.

If you want to explore a little further, Pujut is a well known place for some authentic Chinese food and you need a local to bring you here.

Miri Summit Cafe
The owner of the Summit Cafe in Miri 
Summit Cafe Miri Orang Ulu Food

This is hands down one of the best food experiences to try if you are a foodie. The Summit Cafe serves pure authentic Orang Ulu food which is probably the only place to try it apart from the interior villages.

The trick is to come here early for lunch, about 11.00 am to 12.00 noon, otherwise you will be slightly disappointed as the place will be packed and the choices of popular dishes would be gone.

Unity Food Center (Pusat Makanan Bersatu)

A very local food court which is hawker style and is shared with a meat market. This place is super local serving some authentic Chinese food. Here you can try the Miri Chicken Rice and also Mee Kolo.

Wisma Mee Hua Food Court (Beautiful Jace Center or Persiaran Kabor)

Located near the old town part of Miri at Taman Jade Manis, this food court sits in between two buildings and is frequented by locals only and is also known as 'Old Folks Street' due to the many old people hanging out here.

On both sides, there are various old style shops. Food here is very authentic and the Kolo Mee is quite unique.

Miri Muara Lalapan Restaurant
Muara Lalapan Restaurant in Miri
Lalapan Muara Restaurant Miri

One of two of the famous lalapan restaurants in Miri. Lalapan is actually an Indonesian food dish but has become one of the staple foods here in Miri and many Muslim travelers will seek the Lalapan Restaurants in Miri for this cuisine.

Generally, all the fried seafood and meats are served with rice, raw vegetables and a special spicy lalapan sauce. Not forgetting the super hot sambal chili sauce. Try the local fish if possible.

Miri Smokehouse

Nope, not that colonial kind of smokehouse restaurant, this is some hard core outdoor eat, drink and leave kind of place. Serving cuts of pork which is barbecued on the spot and served with chili sauce is something the locals do in the hot afternoons, complete with a cold bottle of beer.

The beauty about the Smoke House in Miri is that you can choose just about any part of the pig to be barbecued. This is a very special local delicacy, which travelers do not know about.

Shopping in Miri

Miri Permaisuri Shopping Mall
Permaisuri Imperial City Mall in Miri
Well, most Bruneians cross the border weekly to do their shopping and thus Miri has become a haven for new shopping malls. The latest mall to open is the Permaisuri Imperial City Mall which is next to the Imperial Hotel.

Other popular malls are Bintang Megamall and Boulevard Shopping Complex. Another is called Permy Mall but this one caters to the local community. It is huge with the Giant Hypermarket as the anchor tenant, but a great place to get affordable items, especially if you are planning to go to the national parks.

Hotels in Miri

Marriott Hotel Miri
Miri Marriott Resort
There are a number of really nice hotels in Miri for you to choose from, ranging from 5 Star to budget guest houses. Currently, the talk of town is the new Pullman Miri Hotel which is scheduled to open somewhere this year in 2016. Other recommended hotels include;

Miri Marriott Resort (5 Star)

One of the pioneer hotels in Miri located by the sea and with beautiful landscapes. Location is also 10 minutes away from town. This is a full service resort hotel with all amenities available here, so if you are seeking luxury in Miri, this is your place. There are shuttle services to town and also a spa here.

ParkCity Everly Hotel (3 Star)

Home to the annual Borneo Jazz Festival, the ParkCity Everly Hotel is also one of the pioneer hotels here and located just next to the Miri Marriott Resort. This property is suitable for those on a medium budget and also has their own beach area. Shuttle services to town are available too.

Imperial Palace Hotel (4 Star)

This hotel is located in the middle of Miri's busiest part where the Imperial Palace Hotel is also opposite the Permaisuri Imperial City Mall, the latest mall in Miri.

The hotel also connects to another smaller mall in the same building while across at the new mall, there is a new wing for the hotel bringing the total number of rooms to 526, making this one of the largest hotels in Sarawak. Staying here will allow visitors to walk around town easily.

Miri Meritz Hotel
Meritz Hotel in Miri
Meritz Hotel (4 Star)

One of the new players in the hotel scene here is the Meritz Hotel, which is located smack center in Miri City and connecting to the Bintang Mall which is one of Miri's premier shopping malls. This property offers Miri's highest sky bar and is well designed with a huge MICE facility for groups.

Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club Resort (3 Star)

For golfers, this is the best resort in Miri as the Eastwood Golf and Country Club offers traditional wooden chalets and also modern brick villas for accommodation. Located about 10 minutes from Miri city, the resort offers most basic amenities.

Miri Mega Hotel
Mega Hotel in Miri
Mega Hotel Miri (3 Star) 

Another hotel located in the center of Miri city is Mega Hotel. This property was refurbished recently and has been one of the popular choices among local travelers. It's location is very central making it east to walk around town area.

Photos of Miri City

Below is a compilation of random photos taken around Miri City in 2015 and they are all taken by me during my last trip there. I should be visiting Miri once again in 2016 and hopefully find more interesting information and photos to share with you. 

Miri Canada Hill
View of Miri city from Canada Hill
Shopping Mall in Miri
Inside the shopping malls in Miri, some of them very modern
Beads in Miri
A local ethnic lady looks at some traditional highland beads in Miri
Kolo Mee in Miri
Miri Kolo Mee is something that any foodie should try when you are here
Miri Ming Cafe
For nightlife in Miri, Ming Cafe is the most popular place and also open in the day too
Street Scene in Miri
Street Buskers in Miri come out on weekends to entertain people along the main street here
If you look around the streets at the signboards, sometimes you will find interesting ones like this
Handicraft Center in Miri
One of the must-visit places is the Miri Handicraft Centre in town
Miri Restaurants
Walking around Miri, you can find some interesting restaurant promotions like this one
Rooftop Bar Miri
Guests enjoying the evening sunset from the roof top bar at Meritz Hotel in Miri
Street Food in Miri
A Roti John street vendor along the main streets of Miri
To be honest, I have read other articles on things to do in Miri and most of them are very surface level or very general, having never been here or probably once in their life.

So with the internet nowadays, you can find a lot of new bloggers or lifestyle portals scraping content just to publish so called information on Miri.

So, let me just share with you that I have been coming to Miri for the last five years and at least once or twice a year to explore the place, therefore, I would say that there are in fact many things one can do here, it is just a matter of how you look at it.

After all, I am a tourism and travel writer and I work closely with the tourism boards to help promote their destinations. You can also follow my live feeds on my Malaysia Asia Instagram account which is @MalaysiaAsia. 

For more information on Miri, you can also check out the Sarawak Tourism Website. I hope you enjoyed this list of things to do in Miri and if you have any comments, questions or feedback, please do leave them below in the comment form. 

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