Sunday, March 8, 2009

Travel Tips - Miri

Climate & Weather

travel_tips-01.jpgMiri's proximity to the equator and hence has a tropical climate. Miri does not have four seasons. Temparute is fairly constant, averaging between 22-33 C (72-93 F) all year round. However, it may get quite cool up in mountains such as Mulu.

The climate is monsoonal, and there is a wet season (called Landas - an Iban term) between November and February, when there is higher and more constant rainfall. This can make hiking difficult and possibly uncomfortable, particularly if climbing is involved. Flooding can also occur during the wet season, making it hard to access some areas; and it can be difficult to reach Bako and Tanjung Datu National Parks (which require boat trips) because the seas become choppy. The wet season is most pronounced on the coastal areas.

To check the current weather, visit the Malaysian Bureau of Meteorology website, which provides weather conditions and forecasts for major cities - and several national parks as well.

Humidity & Time Zone

travel_tips-02.jpgHumidity is high (usually around 80%), and there is high rainfall all year round - although this usually comes in short, heavy bursts of an hour or so during the afternoon - it can be clear and sunny the rest of the day! The Kuching region tends to have higher annual rainfall than the areas around Miri.

Time Zone: GMT/UTC +8

When best visit?
travel_tips-03.jpgThe best times of year for trekking are therefore March to August and October - November (there may be problems with haze from forest fires and clearing in Kalimantan during August-September).

How to get here?

By Air
travel_tips-04.jpgMiri modern airport, capable of handling A330 Airbuses, Boeing 737s and 747s, is well served with flights to many domestic and international destinations soon. There are 3 major airlines which service Sarawak are the national carrier MAS, and a discount airline, Air Asia. Flight flies direct to Miri from Kuala Lumpur, Johore Baru (just across the border from Singapore, and cheaper because it is a domestic flight), and from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. By Using Brunei Airlines(Which is about two hours drive to Miri), also has direct flights from Perth in Shanghai, Manila, Darwin, Brisbane (->Aucland), Sydeny, Perth, Bali, Surabaya, Jakarta, Singapore, Sharjah(->Jeddah), Dubai(->London), Bangkok(->Frankfurt) & Hong Kong. Royal Brunei often has some special deals. Airport tax is charged upon departure and costs RM5 for domestic flights and RM40 for international flights.

Please refer to the MAS, Air Asia and Royal Brunei Airlines websites for current schedules, fares and booking details.

By Road
Miri is accessible by road from Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) and all major towns in Sarawak. Connected to major towns in Sarawak and to Brunei and Sabah by the Pan-Borneo Highway. There is no pay-toll along these highway as the road are contructed by the local goverment.


travel_tips-05.jpgAlthough Bahasa Melayu is the official language of Malaysia, you will find that nearly everybody in Sarawak (particularly in the cities) speaks fluent English. Further upriver into the interior and Bahasa Melayu and Iban are more likely to be used in preference. Also, there many variety of dialect the local people communicate with each other. You may find interesting to witness there are many people in the same area but conduct many different languages.

See our Useful Words page for some Iban and Malay words which you might not find in your standard guidebook.


The local currency called Ringgit Malaysia (RM). One ringgit comprises 100 sen.

The currency comes in the form of both notes and coins. Ringgit banknotes are issued in the following denominations RM1, RM2, RM5, RM10, RM50 and RM100 while coins are issued in one sen, five sen, 10 sen, 20 sen, 50 sen and RM1 denominations.

travel_tips-06.jpgForeign currency and traveller? cheques can be converted into Ringgit at banks or authorised moneychangers throughout the country. Resident travellers are allowed to carry into and out of the country any amount not exceeding RM1,000 per person and also export foreign currency not exceeding the equivalent of RM10,000 per person. Those who are carrying in excess of these - when entering or leaving the country - are required to obtain permission from the Controller of Foreign Exchange and declare in the Traveller? Declaration Form the exact amount of Ringgit carried. Approval is usually given within one day of application. Non-residents are allowed to bring in any amount of foreign currency (including traveller? cheques). However, declaration in the Disembarkation Card issued by the Immigration Department is required when an amount in excess of US$2,500 is brought into the country.

Non-residents must also obtain permission and declare Ringgit exceeding RM1,000 when leaving or entering the country.

Most major credit cards are accepted fairly widely in the major shops. There are plenty of money changers in the Airports and city, but ATMs offer one of the most convenient means of obtaining cash for travellers.


travel_tips-07.jpgThe custom of tipping is not practised in Malaysia. To tip or not depends entirely on you. Most hotels and large restaurants have already included a 10% service charge in addition to the 5% government tax to the bill (indicated by the ++ sign on menus and rate cards) so tipping is unnecessary.

What to bring?

Recommended clothing:
Lightweight cottons and linens are worn throughout the year. Waterproofing is advisable all year.

Business Hours

travel_tips-08.jpgMiri runs on a normal eight-hour working day system with Saturdays as a half-day workday and Sunday as a day of rest. All public service departments and some banks usually close on the first and third Saturday of the month.

Private sector hours are generally from 9am to 5pm (Monday-Friday) and 9am to 1pm (Saturday) while government office hours are usually from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Many private sector companies operate on a five-day week.


travel_tips-09.jpgSarawak maintained separate control over immigration when it joined the Malaysian Federation. As a consequence, even if you are coming from Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah, you are required to obtain a separate visa for Sarawak (Malaysians coming from other parts of Malaysia are also required to do so). 1 month social visas are automatically issued at the airport. Extensions (1 month at a time, up to 2 extensions) can be obtained from the Immigration Department with relatively little fuss.

Visitors entering Malaysia must possess a valid passport or an internationally recognised travel document (valid for travel to Malaysia). Those who are not in possession of any of these must obtain a Document in lieu of Passport from the Malaysian Representative Office abroad. A passport is necessary for travel between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak, as well as between Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysians from the Peninsula need either a passport or their identity card to enter Sabah and Sarawak. Visitors who come to Malaysia on a visa must get the document from the Malaysian Representative Office abroad before entering the country. A visa must be used within its validity period (normally three months).

However, visitors should note that a visa is not a guarantee for entering Malaysia. The final decision rests with the Immigration Officer at the entry point.

Tourist Police

travel_tips-10.jpgVisitors who face unforeseen problems can always seek the aid of the Malaysian Tourist Police. You can identify an officer by his or her attire - checkered hatband, dark blue shirt and trousers and a red and blue badge (with the letter "I" for information) displayed on the breast pocket.

These officers usually patrol tourist spots and protect the attractions/monuments as well as the safety of all visitors.

Power supply and water

travel_tips-11.jpg3-pin plug. 240V, 50Hz.

Recommender Boil

Important Number

Airport Information
Air Asia
Hornbill Skywats
Royal Custom Malaysia
Resident & District Offie
Miri City Council
Post Office
Post Laju(Express Post)
National Park Office
Tourist Police
Fire and Rescue
Taxi Service
Bus Station
Dialling Code



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