Top 5 Best Things to Do in Miri, Sarawak

Unlike Kuching in Sarawak, Miri may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you plan to travel to East Malaysia in Borneo. However, it's one of the transit cities in Sarawak where you can easily connect to some of the best destinations in Malaysian Borneo.

While Sibu may be considered one of the off-the-beaten-path destinations in Sarawak, travelers coming to Borneo tend to choose Miri for transit as it's often the starting point for more popular places in East Malaysia like Niah Caves or Gunung Mulu National Park.

MASwings operates from Miri to some of the best destinations in Malaysian Borneo, and there are some places that are worth visiting in Miri including the first oil mining in Sarawak: The Grand Old Lady. In this post, I'm going to share some of the best things to do in Miri so you can plan some activities while stopping by for transit in this oil city in Sarawak!

About Miri as The City and What's In It

Miri is the second largest city in Sarawak after Kuching. It is most known as the city where the first drilled oil in Malaysia took place. It was all done by Shell Company, and for this here stands the great monument called The Grand Old Lady.

The famous landmark has become the first stepping stone for Miri to get into modernization. It was formerly just an underdeveloped fishing village, with Marudi as the administrative center in the northern part of Sarawak.

Some explanation about Miri on the wall of the Petroleum Museum in the city.

Since 1929, Miri has become the center of administration in the northern region of the state. It also played a big part during World War II as the city became the first landing point of Japanese troops in Borneo.

In modern days, Miri is quite developed. Not to generalize, but the city is a quite typical big city in Malaysia. Hardly find some pedestrian-friendly road, but everything is there.

With the big shopping malls as well as the nightlife there, I heard Miri has become a place for Bruneian to go get the better bargain for groceries or simply to have some fun enjoying a sip or two alcohols.

Is Miri Worth Visiting? – 5 Things to Do in Miri, Sarawak

As I mentioned previously, I only stayed in Miri for 2 nights and I didn't do a lot of things in the city as I enjoyed the city more for a short break rather than traveling.

However, I still managed to visit a few places in Miri like the infamous Grand Old Lady in Canada Hill. I even had a drink at this bar that was recommended by Suzie on my first night. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun during my short transit in Miri.

During my stay here, I mostly used Grab to get me from one place to another. Other than that, I walked most of the time.

Also, I've done something new for the first time in Miri. What is it? Read on!

The Grand Old Lady in Miri

The infamous landmark in Miri, The Grand Old Lady.
Canada Hill.

It's so hard not to find anything about the Grand Old Lady when you tried to seek information about the city of Miri. And it isn't surprising as the Grand Old Lady itself is the mark of Miri's beginning as the city.

At first, I was wondering why it's called Grand Old Lady. I mean, I literally compared it to Juventus as their nickname – La Vecchia Signora – also means the Grand Old Lady in Italian.

As it turned out, the explanation was written in the Petroleum Museum explaining why it's called that way.

The Grand Old Lady marks the first oil well not only in Sarawak, but also in entire Malaysia. It is the metaphor as the oil drill, just like the mother or ‘old lady' of the state, it gives the people in its surrounding a reason to live. In this case, the money from the drilling of course.

Now it stands stall at the top of Canada Hill. But to be honest, there's nothing so special about the monument. I mean, sarcastically speaking… It ain't no Eiffel Tower. πŸ˜›

Petroleum Museum

Petroleum Museum in Miri.
Some instagrammable spot at Petroleum Museum in Miri.

The museum is located also in Canada Hill, exactly in front of the Grand Old Lady. As its name, it's a small museum covering some information and exhibitions related to petroleum. I think if you're into it, you'll find it a bit more exciting than I did.

I mean, I couldn't care less about it so I found it rather boring. Although to be fair, there were some areas in the museum that I could consider instagrammable. But then again, who the heck needs some instagrammable spot when you travel solo with no tripod?

Also, there were some exhibition and games that didn't work when I got there. So the museum was kind of almost dead.

Although it's free entry, so you could just come in to see if you like it there. Otherwise, feel free to get out as you didn't have to spend any penny to see the details.

Just be aware that Miri could be really hot, especially as Canada Hill is exposed to the sun. If you tend to get your mood ruined by the ray of the sun like me, then get yourself prepared.

The good thing? There's some park you could just stroll around in front of the museum where you could check out the view of Miri from the hill. πŸ™‚

Some exhibition at Petroleum Museum.

Miri City Fan

So, here's the thing… I was actually planning to visit Miri City Fan, a park located in the central part of the city in the afternoon right after I went to the museum.

However, when I got back to the hotel from the museum, it was so hot that I ended up taking a short nap. A nap that eventually became longer than expected. πŸ˜›

It was on my second day in Miri, so I decided to go out in the evening. It was around 20 minutes walk from my hotel. And it's a big park, although a bit spooky when you visited it in the evening alone. HAHA.

Miri City Fan at night.

But don't worry though, some people went there for exercise too. You could just sit down, trying to chill there or people watch around there somewhere. It's also free entry, and I could only imagine that the place might look a bit more instagram-worthy if only I went there in the afternoon.

Sorry I'm not sorry though, I had a really good nap.

Nasi Kerabu at Taman Jade Manis

So, in case you didn't know this… I'm not exactly a foodie and I've got a confession for you!

In Miri, I got to try nasi kerabu for the first time at one of the food stall not so far from The Room Hotel where I stayed. Here's the thing, despite the fact that I've been to Malaysia for so many times, I never really heard nasi kerabu until I went to this eat place around Taman Jade Manis.

My mistake is that I didn't write down the name of the place where I had nasi kerabu. But if you're interested in trying this nasi kerabu, the food stall is located exactly next to 7-eleven across The Room Hotel in Miri.

So, what is this nasi kerabu?

Nasi kerabu with grilled chicken.

Nasi kerabu is a Malay rice dish, as nasi literally means rice in Malay. It's blue-colored rice served with either dried fish or chicken with some other salads. The blue color comes from the petals of the butterfly-pea flowers whose name kind of reminds me of G-spot. HAHA. πŸ˜› 

Like, the Latin name of the flower is Clitoria ternatea.

Anyway, this nasi kerabu was so delicious that by the time I'm writing this, it got my mouth watered just by the thought of it. I bought it for only 12 MYR (around $3 USD) for a big portion of the rice dish. It was quite pricey, but really worth it! πŸ˜€

Some Drink at Ming Cafe

Since Miri is quite famous as a short getaway for Bruneian to have a drink, I asked Suzie, my Bruneian friend, whether she got some place to recommend me for a drink. She said she usually goes to Ming Cafe with her cousins. 

Apparently, it was only a walking distance from my hotel and I spent a few hours there to do some people-watching and having a glass of beer there.

I had a glass of San Miguel and Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner, and I only paid for 35 MYR (around $8.5 USD) in total. The spaghetti was super nice, I would come back there if I got any chance to visit Miri again someday. πŸ™‚

But then again, it's a bar… So if you're the kind of person who would get your mood ruined for being surrounded by noises, this place is not for you! πŸ˜€

Are You Going to Have A Short Stay in Miri?

If you happen to get interested in Gunung Mulu or some other destinations around Miri, I guess you'd have no choice to have a short transit there.

However, whether it's worth to visit or not… It depends on you.

For me, I found my short stay in Miri quite relaxing as I didn't have some kind of pressure to travel hard. I could actually use it to take a short rest from traveling. 

But if you want to totally explore the city, I think a day is enough. Unless you're planning to visit some places in the suburb area like Niah Caves or Tusan Beach.

If you ask me whether you should visit Miri, then yeah… Why not? πŸ˜‰

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3 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Things to Do in Miri, Sarawak”

  1. Hi found your article very interesting…We are currently living in Brunei as my husband had a job here and as a treat we are going to Miri this weekend for a one night stay….and to get some beers to bring back home….We’re driving and should take around a couple of hours although we are expecting the border crossing could take some time…Hopefully have gathered all the necessary paperwork …We often cross over to Kuala Luara for our weekly alcohol and that’s a doddle …..Cheers Caroline

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