|One of the scenic landscapes in Bario|
Most of the things can be done on your own, but some of them require a local guide, especially trekking or hiking around the highlands. Please note that most of these activities are paid separately when you are there as the main packages cover the food and accommodations. Unless you pre-arrange the Bario package with the activities.
|Trekking in Bario takes you through an amazing experience|
The best thing one can do is trekking in Bario as there are so many beautiful treks available here. There are simple and basic treks to advance treks depending on the level you require. The beauty about trekking in Bario is that the weather is so cooling, you most likely won't break a sweat while trekking. Some treks are short and simply but the rewards at the end of the trek is pretty nice. Below are a list of popular trekking places in Bario;
- Korea Hill Trek - Easy (10-15 minutes)
- Prayer Mountain Trek - Medium to Hard (45-60 minutes)
- Pineapple Farm Trek - Easy (10-15 minutes)
- Penan Village Trek - Easy (20-30 minutes)
- Bario Salt Factory Trek - Easy (15-20 minutes)
- Pa Ukat Village Trek - Easy (15-30 minutes)
- Pa Lungan Village Trek - Medium to Hard (4-5 hours)
- Pulong Tau National Park Trek - Medium to Hard (3-5 Hours)
- Bario to Bakelalan Trek - Hard (1-2 days)
|Inside Bario Asal Longhouse, the first longhouse here|
|Cycling in Bario, one of the many things to do here|
Personally, I enjoy doing this the best. Most homestays in Bario offer mountain bike rentals, therefore you can use them to explore this highland village. The roads are very safe here and there is little to no traffic. Cycling can be done individually or in families and there is no available map, so it is pure exploration. See highland paddy fields, traditional Kelabit longhouses, churches and many other natural landscapes while you cycle around Bario.
5. Bird Watching in Bario
One of the lesser known bird watching places in Malaysia is no other than Bario. But for those who plan to do some bird watching in Bario, you are in luck as there are quite a number of montane birds to be spotted all over this place. A simple walk around Bario would easily net you 10 to 20 birds and when you go for bird watching treks, you will see much more.
Even the famous Dulit Frogmouth was once spotted just out of Bario. There are a couple of bird watching guides in Bario and one of them is Scott Apoi from Nigmat Ayu Homestay. Personally, I have visited Bario five times in the last three years and I can say that I have spotted over 50 species of birds around here.
|Bird Watching in Bario is highly popular among the birders|
Nothing beats learning and understanding the Kelabit culture in Bario and one of the best times to do this is during the Pesta Nukenan or Bario Food Festival , held usually in August every year. However, the locals can arrange a traditional Kelabit dinner complete with a traditional Kelabit cultural dance at one of the long houses.
7. Walking around Bario
One of the best things you can do is take a walk around Bario, which is relatively easy and there is little or no traffic around here. The best time to do this is also in the mornings, where you see the locals going about their daily chores. In the evenings, it is equally beautiful as children would be seen playing and locals heading home for dinner. The beauty about walking around Bario is that everything is natural and the picturesque landscapes are incredibly beautiful.
8. Visiting a Penan Village in Bario
For those who are into hiking, there are actually two authentic Penan villages found around Bario. While the Penan people are not very hospitable, you can actually engage one of the local Bario guides and trek to their villages. This is purely to visit and observe, that is all. In most cases, it would be hard to communicate as the Penan tribe here are quite reserve and shy. Again, this is purely by luck and you should consult in your guide about this.
|Jungle Blues Dream Art Gallery in Bario|
Yes, there is an art gallery in Bario run by artist Stephen and his wife. The beauty about this art gallery in Bario is that it is located in a traditional Kelabit longhouse here. The gallery is also shared with a unique homestay and combined, it is called the Jungle Blues Dream Gallery and Homestay. Artworks are all created and painted by Stephen and put on display around the homestay and gallery.
10. Visit the Bario Plane Wreckage of World War II
An almost well preserved plane wreckage is found in Bario where the RAF plane crashed here in 1964. The plane is in three pieces minus the wings and interior, so you will see a full bodied structure and you can actually go inside the plane. This plane is also a Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer CC.1 aircraft, Registration XP294. You should be careful of the sharp metal edges when doing so.
The Bario plane wreckage is located by a local homestay called Nancy Hariss Homestay. The story of the plane crash in Bario is that the Twin Pioneer skidded while trying to land on a wet runway. It ran into a ditch, causing the undercarriage leg to collapse. For aviation fans, this would be quite interesting, otherwise, a great photo opportunity.
|Bario Plane Wreckage|
A small war memorial was erected in Bario to commemorate the soldiers and parachuters during the war. Names of the soldiers include Australians, British and local Kelabit people. The Bario War Memorial is located five minutes walk from the main town area and is hard to miss. It is enclosed in a fenced area with a wooden gate and anyone can go in there.
12. Visit the mini Bario Museum
A new structure was erected in the main town area for the Bario Food Festival in 2015 and now serves as a mini museum of Bario. However, there are no items on display but more information on the Kelabit people and also important information about the highlands and its unique megaliths found here.
13. Catch a Bario Sunset
The best place to see a sunset in Bario is no other that Bukit Korea, a hill located behind the main town center. In between the two row of shops, lies a walk way near the old Bario community center. There is a path that leads up a small hill where you pass a mini pineapple farm and only a 10 minute easy walk up. Once up there, you will see a wooden hut and this is the spot to catch the sunset. Timing wise, best to go up at around 5.00 PM to catch the stunning scenery from up the hill. The sun sets at around 6.30 PM too.
|The unique Bario Megalith or Batu Ritung in Pa Lungan Village|
One of the mysteries of Bario are the many megalithic structures found around Bario. The most famous being Batu Ritong which is found at Pa Umor village, 3-5 hours trek from Bario. Batu Ritong stands at about 7 feet high and the two ton slab is supported by two other vertical slabs. No one seems to know how it was erected or why it was. However, there are many folktales that the guides will share with you. When I was in Bario in 2014, I met some university students who were in Bario to study the megalithic structures, and on asking them how many were there, it was estimated at 300, but only a handful were known.
|Kelabit Food in Bario, very unique and different.|
This is hands down the most unique experience where you will be guaranteed to try the Kelabit food when you stay in Bario. One of the most organice food experience I have had during my travels, the local Bario food is all farmed, rared, caught or hunter. Vegetables are farmed or taken from the wild, fish is caught from the local ponds and game meat is hunted by the locals.
If there is one food type that anyone visiting Sarawak should try, it is the Kelabit Food. The way it is prepared is handed down from generation to generation and is cooked traditionally. If you have the opportunity, do ask for the local porridge or 'Kikid'. For Muslim travelers, it could be a challenge for you, but there is one shop in Bario town that serves Halal food.
|Map of Bario, showing the various villages around here|
You can see local traditional games being played while for foodies, this is the ultimate food experience where you can taste many different types of highland cuisine. Very unique and highly recommended for any food traveller.
|Nigmat Ayu Homestay in Bario seen from the paddy field|