Miri is Sarawak’s second largest city and the gateway to the state’s fascinating northern region. A rapidly expanding business and commercial centre and the home of Sarawak’s oil industry, Miri is located in Northeast Sarawak close to the Brunei border. In recent years Miri has become a major tourism gateway and the jumping off point for some of Sarawak’s world-famous National Parks, including Niah Caves, Gunung Mulu and Lambir Hills. Other interesting possibilities include the remote Bario Highlands and the mighty Baram River, as well as a number of excellent offshore dive locations.
Miri’s original population was primarily Melanau, but since the development of the oil industry people have flocked here from all over the state, and Miri’s 300,000 inhabitants reflects Sarawak’s diverse ethnic make-up. Chinese, Ibans, Malays, Melanaus, Bisayas, Orang Ulus (mostly Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit and Lun Bawang), Bidayuhs, Indians and Eurasians all make their home here, along with West Malaysians and a sizeable expatriate community.
The city is fast becoming an important tourism destination in its own right, in line with its official designation; “Miri - Resort City”. Recent developments include the new Miri Waterfront, and the world-class Miri Marina. The city has an excellent range of hotels in all price categories and a wide selection of food outlets. Combine this with vibrant night-life, bustling native markets and a number of popular beaches nearby, and Miri makes an ideal base for exploring the National Parks, the offshore reefs and the other natural and cultural attractions of Northeast Sarawak. It is also a great place to relax for a few days after the rigours of jungle trekking.
The Batang Baram, Malaysia’s (and Sarawak’s) second longest river, drains much of the northern region, and is home to many of the Orang Ulu tribes, including the Kayan, the Kenyah, the Berawan and the shy and semi-nomadic Penan. Much of the Baram region is highly inaccessible, but there are some fascinating sights in the region, including the famous Gunung Mulu National Park and the lesser-known Loagan Bunut National Park (see National Parks). Other attractions accessible to visitors include the small riverside town of Marudi, the bustling Kenyah community at Long San, and the delightful Kayan longhouse community of Long Bedian.