Miri, like the rest of Sarawak and
Malaysia, is eight hours ahead of
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 16
hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time.
Bahasa Malaysia, or Malay, is the national
language. However, English is widely
spoken. Other languages used in Miri
include Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah,
Kelabit, Lun Bawang, Mandarin, and
several Chinese dialects.
The official of Malaysia religion is Islam,
but freedom of worship is guaranteed by
the constitution. There are Christians,
Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and followers of
other faiths living here.
Electric voltage is 220-240 (50 cycles).
The type of power plugs used is the threesquare
pin variety. Major hotels will be able
to supply adapters. There is electricity in all
towns and national parks. Where electricity
is not available, hurricane lamps and good
torchlights are recommended.
Photographers are advised to bring
watertight packaging for their cameras and
film materials if they intend to go on upcountry
trips. Sudden downpours, or
splashes during a rough boat ride, can ruin
Rural Air Network
Formerly inaccessible destinations in
Sarawak are now served by the rural air
services of Malaysia Airlines (MAS). From
Miri, Twin Otters operate regular flight
schedules to Bario, Long Lellang, Long
Banga, Marudi, Long San, Ba Kelalan,
Lawas, Long Seridan, Long Lama, and
Long Akah. There are direct flights from
Limbang to Bario, and from Lawas to Ba
Kelalan. The airports in Mulu and
Limbang support the larger Fokker
The rivers of Sarawak have been the
highways since time immemorial; express
boats, speedboats and longboats ply their
lower reaches. Longboats take over in the
upper rivers. On a real ‘inland trip’ passenger often have to get out and wade in
the shallow water while the crew
manhandles the craft over rapids and gravel
There are two bus terminals in Miri. The one in Jalan Padang, adjacent to the
Visitors’ Information Centre, serves the
local network, with fares starting at 60 sen.
Bus services to Sungei Tujuh (Bandar Sri
Begawan, Brunei) starts from here and is
operated by the Miri-Belait Bus Company
The Outstation Bus Terminal is located at
Pujut Corner, off the Miri-Pujut Road.
Buses to Niah, Lambir Hills National Park,
Bintulu, Sibu, Sarikei and Kuching depart
Few taxis cruise the roads in Miri.
Travellers normally engage taxis at the taxi
stands (Jalan Brooke near the Central
Market and Jalan China behind the Public
Bank), or book a cab by calling (6 085)
432277. There are usually a few taxis
waiting in front of the larger shopping
complexes and the major hotels.
Rental cars are available in Miri. A traveller
planning to venture far beyond the town is
well advised to take a map, though the
main roads are reasonably well signposted.
The cost of car rental is about RM120 a
day (within Miri) and RM250 a day for
travel beyond Miri. Weekly rates are around
RM650. Price may be subject to change.
Lightweight, cool and casual clothes are
best for the tropical climate. Shorts are
acceptable for women, even in town, so
long as they are not too skimpy.
Visitors to places of worship must adhere to
the regulations imposed.
Cotton shorts and T-shirts are best for
going on excursions and when trekking in
In the evening, some establishments have
their own dress code for dining. For men,
this may mean a long-sleeved shirt or batik
shirt. Rubber flip-flops are definitely out!
Rainforest Dress Code
Jungle trekkers dress for comfort. On a trip
lasting more than a few hours, especially if it involves camping overnight, they are
advised to bring: • Backpack • Tent (for camping out), food and cooking
gear • Drinking water bottle • Sleeping bag, small mosquito net • Towels, toiletries etc • Basic first aid kit • Plastic bags to protect clothes and camera
equipment from getting wet • Sarong - useful for bathing in streams,
swimsuit • T-shirts; useful for cool nights, to change
into after a downpour, as ‘camp evening
dress’ • Long-sleeved cotton shirt for daytime
wear, also as sun protection • Sun block lotion, minimum SPF 15 • Cap or hat to keep off the sun, and rain • Waterproof poncho or rain jacket • Good hiking shoes, able to withstand rain,
walking in rivers etc • Torchlight or flashlight with spare
batteries, miner’s headlamp for serious
spelunking • Gardening gloves, useful for climbing the
Pinnacles (Mulu) and the mini-pinnacles
in the Sarawak Chamber. (Special permission from the park station
is needed to go to the Sarawak Chamber)
Shopping centres open from 10.00am to
10.00pm daily. Family-run shops tend to
Government offices are open from Monday
to Thursday from 8.00am to 1.00pm, and
from 2.00pm to 5.00pm; On Friday, offices
are open from 8.00am to 12.00 noon, and
from 2.15pm to 5.00pm, closed on
Saturdays and Sundays
The Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is the local
currency. The lowest denomination is 1 sen
or RM0.01 and the highest denomination is
100 ringgit or RM100.
Travellers have to declare an amount
exceeding RM1,000 in local currency, or
more than US$2,500 in foreign currency,including travellers’ cheques at the point of
Most star-rated hotels offer money-changing
services. Major foreign currencies and
travellers’ cheques can be easily changed in
Moneychangers, found mainly in the old
town, offer the best exchange rates (cash
only). They have long opening hours, and
often operate on Sundays as well.
ATM machines at the airport, in bank
porches and in the shopping malls take all
major ATM and credit cards
Banks are easily found in shopping centres
or in the downtown area. Their opening
hours is from 9.30am to 3.30pm from
Monday to Friday. Their exchange rates for
cash is lower than the moneychangers’, but
they do accept travellers’ cheques.
Credit cards such as America Express, Visa,
MasterCard and Diners Club are accepted
in most hotels and in the bigger restaurants
and shops in Miri and other towns.
Elsewhere, cash is preferred.
A ten percent service charge and five
percent government tax is levied in all
hotels and big restaurants. Tipping is not
customary, but at the guest’s discretion.
It is not out of place to give a tip of RM1
or RM2 to bellboys.
Sarawak is comparatively free from the
more dangerous tropical diseases.
Travellers do not need Malaria
prophylactics unless they intend to travel
into the far interior near the Indonesian
Miri is the medical service centre for North
Sarawak. It has a general hospital, a
polyclinic, two private hospitals and 30
private medical and dental clinics. A
Dialysis Centre is run by the Miri Red
Crescent Society. Outside Miri, there are
government clinics or hospitals in even the
most remote locations.
Hotels have doctors on call in case of
Miri pharmacies are open seven days a
week, usually from 8.00am to 7.00pm. The resident pharmacist is qualified to fill
prescriptions. In smaller towns, patent
medicines are available in general stores.
A number of foot reflexologists offer their
services in Miri Old Town.
Miri has a comprehensive domestic and
international telecommunications system,
allowing direct phone calls to all parts of
Telephone cards (Telekom or Unicard) can
be purchased at values of RM10, RM20,
RM30 or RM50 at post offices and general
Cell phones can only be used within a
specified radius of the larger towns.
The international dialling code for
Malaysia is 60; to call Miri from overseas
dial 6085 followed by the number.
To call overseas from Miri, dial 00,
followed by the country code, area code
Stamps are on sale at post offices and most hotels. A postcard costs 50 sen to any
country outside Malaysia. PosLaju (Express
Post) and courier services are available for
There are several Internet cafes in Miri,
mostly located in shopping centres. They
are popular with youngsters who frequent
them to play noisy computer games. Rates
are around RM4 an hour.
News and Media
The main English newspaper is the
Borneo Post. The
Chinese daily ‘United Daily News’ is
published in Miri.
Newspapers are of interest to the traveller
for local information, including details of
bus and boat timetables.
The local radio channel-RTM-Miri
broadcasts in Bahasa Malaysia, English,
Mandarin, Kenyah, Kayan and Iban.
CAT’S Radio is based in Kuching and
Capital FM 94.4 is the Brunei radio
station. Sarawak receives satellite TV
transmissions from Peninsular Malaysia on
three channels, TV1, TV2 and TV3 and
private subscriber 24 hours channels such
as Astro and NTV7.
In some hotels, TV channels include the
BBC World News, CNN and music videos
Shoes should be removed when entering
homes, longhouses, mosques, temples and
rural churches. Appropriate dress is
required when visiting places of worship.
When pointing, use the thumb rather than
the index finger.
Avoid handling food with the left hand.
When visiting a longhouse even for a short
while, it is considered rude to leave without
first having a snack or drink.
Public displays of affection are frowned
upon, and nude bathing is unacceptable.