Last summer I experienced an electrifying three-week trip through Malaysia. Mulu National Park, a gem hidden within Malaysian Borneo, was a highlight in a trip full of unforgettable moments. The raw, unfiltered beauty of Mulu National Park is in a league of its own. This national park is home to one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world, where nature has crafted its masterpiece without restraint. You’ll find one of the biggest cave chambers on the planet inhabited by over 3 million bats, a cave with stunning rock formations, pinnacles that pierce the sky, one of the longest tree-based canopy walks out there, untouched beauty and more. Here’s the lowdown on making the most of this natural wonder, from the best things to do in Mulu National Park to where to stay.

Where is Mulu National Park Located?

Mulu National Park is a crown jewel of Sarawak, a state on the island of Malaysian Borneo, known for its rugged, dense rainforests and deep cultural heritage. Sarawak lies to the east of Peninsular Malaysia, separated by the South China Sea.

The park’s geographical isolation contributes to its untouched beauty but also means you should plan your trip well. You ca visit Mulu National Park year-round but the best time to visit Mulu National Park is between July and September, the peak of the dry season, offering the most favorable conditions for exploration. We visited in August and the weather was on our side (except for one night where it rained for just 30 minutes).

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

How to Get to Mulu National Park

Traveling to Mulu requires a bit more effort than your usual tourist spot. From Kuala Lumpur, you’ll have to fly to Miri, lasting approximately two hours and 20 minutes. This leg of the trip is serviced by regular commercial flights (Malaysia Airlines), connecting Malaysia’s capital to the gateway of Sarawak’s wilds. You should know that despite being within Malaysia, traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Miri involves passing through immigration control due to the unique administrative arrangement within Malaysia, where East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) maintains a degree of autonomy, including separate immigration policies.

The next stretch of the trip from Miri to Mulu was distinctly more adventurous — a 30-minute flight aboard a propeller-driven charter plane, serviced by MAS wings. There’s something surreal about descending towards Mulu Airport, with landscapes reminiscent of Jurassic Park unfolding below.

💡TIP: We reserved our trip to Mulu National Park pretty last minute (on July 25th for August 11th), which means we over-paid our flights—they were over €200 each. But my brother suggested checking out Trip.com and thanks to them, we were actually able to save almost €100! I don’t know why, but I recommend you book through them.

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Where to Stay in Mulu National Park

Finding the right spot to stay in Mulu can make or break your adventure. Depending on the type of traveler you are, I’d say there are two main choices, either the Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa or the Mulu National Park Headquarters. If you’re on a tight budget or more adventurous, there are homestays you can stay in, but forget the luxury of air-conditioning. In general I’d recommend the following two accommodation options:

Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa

Mulu Marriott is the only luxury resort in Mulu. So it’s either this, the park headquarters or a homestay. What I loved about this resort is how beautifully it blends with the surrounding nature. It’s composed of cozy bungalows perched on wooden stilts, surrounded by nothing but the dense Borneo rainforest. The rooms are spacious, decorated in longhouse style, and the bathrooms top-notch. They’re obviously air-conditioned and they also come with private balconies.

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

The resort also has a pool and a spa. Now, a word about the spa – if you’re thinking about a massage, book it the second you check in as from my personal experience, it took them some time to figure out when they had an available spot. They also have a complimentary shuttle service that takes you to and from the park headquarters every 30 minutes, if I’m not mistaken. The staff is really nice.

Also, have some patience when it comes to the check-in. They’re going to pick you up at the airport which means that everyone that was on your flight from Miri to Mulu will most probably be staying at the Marriott, which means a queue to check-in is inevitably going to form. If you have a tour booked on the same day of your arrival, let them know.

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

But not everything was perfect. The food at the resort’s restaurant was a hit and miss. I was really looking forward to some local Malaysian flavors, but it just didn’t meet my expectations. My brother had warned me about this (he went the year before) but I thought he was exaggerating. They have a buffet or a la carte option, we tried both and none of them met the standard. For a place like this, we were expecting at least the local food to be good. So, a tip from me – manage your dining expectations. You can book directly here from booking.com.

Mulu National Park Headquarters

For those who prefer something simpler and closer to the action, the accommodations at the Mulu National Park Headquarters are spot on. It’s nothing fancy, but you’ll be comfortable, you’ll have clean bathrooms and it’s air-conditioned.

What’s great about staying here is how easy it is to start your day’s adventure. You’re a stone’s throw away from where all the tours kick off, and being that close means you get to soak up every minute of what Mulu has to offer. You can either book directly on booking.com here or you can send them an email enquiring if they have spots. I’d move fast if I were you!

Best activities to do at Mulu National Park

Mulu National Park is a treasure trove of adventures, offering something for every type of traveler. From serene river tours to exploring ancient caves and pushing your limits on challenging hikes, here’s a roundup of the best activities that shouldn’t be missed. FYI, these are just the ones we did, you can find more on their official website.

💡TIP: We booked all of our activities directly from the park head quarters (not through the hotel). Just pick your activity from their website, hit the “enquire now” button and fill out the form. They’ll get back to you asap via email. You will then pay for the tour at the headquarters, not online.

Longboat Tour (Sunset cruise with Summit vista)

Price: 50RM per person (€10)

The longboat tour is an absolute must-do and it was the best way to start our jungle experience. We booked it for the day of our arrival but we weren’t in a rush for our check-in since the tour started at 5pm. There’s a mininum of 3 people policy but if you are only two you can still do the tour if you pay for the extra person, which is what we did. We were unlucky with the weather: it was a cloudy day so we weren’t able to actually see the summit vista that well, which apparently is to die for! But it doesn’t matter, we loved the experience anyway.

We headed down to the park headquarters and went to the small launch point where the longboat was waiting. The guy driving it didn’t speak a word of English but he was so sweet. We started going upstream and wow, it was pure magic. So peaceful and exhilarating all at once. Having the boat to ourselves made it feel more special, like a private glimpse into the untouched wilderness of Borneo. The trip takes you down the Melinau river and then downstream on the Tutoh river. You will turn around at a spot where you have the most striking vista of the Mulu Summit and the mountainous horizon. We were then dropped off directly at the Marriott. An amazing experience that lasts around 1hr and 30 minutes. Book here from their official website.

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Deer and Lang Cave

Price: 35RM per person (€7)

No visit to Mulu is complete without stepping into the Deer and Lang Caves. Known for their vast interiors and stunning rock formations, these caves hold wonders that photos can hardly do justice. The tour begins at the park headquarters with a group of around 20 people. You’ll then venture into the rainforest on a 3km journey along raised plank walks. The path is almost flat and leads to the Bat Observatory – a serene trek taking about one hour.

From there, we headed into the Lang Cave, the smallest of the caves in Mulu National Park. Here, the magic of Mulu’s subterranean world was on full display with stunning limestone shawls, stalagmites, and stalactites. The power of nature is immense: in thousands of years the water that drips created these amazing rock formations!

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

We then approached Deer Cave, one of the world’s largest cave passages, a monumental natural sculpture formed over millennia. Home to more than 3 million bats and a myriad of swiftlets, the cave’s high ceilings – soaring over 100m in places – provide a sanctuary from predators. Just a head’s up, with millions of bats inhabiting the cave, you can bet it’s going to smell bad. Their droppings are all over the place and there’s a very strong smell. You might want to cover your nose with a scarf or something!

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

After the Deer Cave, we returned to the bat observatory to witness the bat exodus. In other words, around 5pm, the 3 million bats you just saw fly away from the cave and you get to see it. Make sure you get front-row seats for this, the place gets packed. Afterwards, walk back to the park head quarters at your own pace. The whole tour takes around 3 hours + the bat exodus and it starts at 2pm/2.30pm from the park head quarters. The total distance is 9km. Book here from their website.

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Canopy Walk

Price: 48RM per person (€9)

The canopy walk literally elevated our adventure in Mulu National Park to new heights. Perched 25 meters above the forest floor, this canopy walk stretches over 420 meters, featuring 16 hanging bridges, making it one of the longest tree-based canopy walks in the world. To say it’s high is an understatement; it’s an elevated escape into the heart of the rainforest. Of course, if you’re afraid of heights, this is not the right activity for you.

The views from the walkway are breathtaking: dense canopies, rugged limestone cliffs in the distance, and the serene flow of rivers below. It felt like we were floating above an endless sea of green. We booked the 8.30am tour and we were a group of 6 people, we met some lovely ladies from Kuching who were having a girls’ weekend! Since this is one of the most popular activities, make sure to reserve in advance! It takes 2 hours, you’ll walk a total of 6km and you can choose from the following time slots: 7am, 8.30am, 10am, 10.30am, 12.30pm. Book here from their website.

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Extreme adventures

While I didn’t do either of these activities, if you’re on the hunt for the ultimate challenge, Mulu National Park has two more extreme activities: the Pinnacle and Summit hikes. These are not for the faint-hearted, they cater to professional hikers looking to test their limits against the rugged beauty of Mulu.

The Pinnacle Hike

Price: 451RM per person (€88)

This three-day, two-night adventure starts with a journey down the Melinau River and offers an optional tour of the Clearwater Cave before heading to the trailhead at Kuala Litut. The trail culminates at the breathtaking limestone Pinnacle formations, towering dramatically against the skyline. It’s a physically demanding route that scales steep inclines, using ropes and ladders, rewarding those that are up for it with unparalleled views of the surrounding forest and karst landscapes. Accommodation at Camp 5 offers a rustic, immersive experience in nature, emphasizing the importance of preparation and respect for the park’s guidelines to ensure safety and preserve the pristine environment. Book here.

The Summit Hike

Price: 654RM per person (€128)

Even more daunting is this four-day, three-night trek to the summit of Gunung Mulu. This trek is described by experienced mountaineers as more challenging than both Mt. Kinabalu and Mt. Kilimanjaro, requiring exceptional fitness, preparation, and gear. The journey involves navigating through humidity, altitude changes, and slippery trails, pushing trekkers to their physical limits. Overnight stays in summit camps along the way provide basic shelter and facilities, with trekkers responsible for their own supplies and well-being. The reward, however, is the awe-inspiring view from the summit, a testament to human endurance and the sublime beauty of nature. Book here.

Park fees

Anyone who enters Mulu National Park has to purchase a 5-day pass. This provides unlimited entry to the park for the period. If you’re planning on staying more than 5 days, you’re going to have to renew the pass. According to their official website, these are the prices as of 2024:

Foreign AdultRM 30
Foreign ChildRM 10 (6 – 18 years) 5 and below no charge
Malaysian AdultRM 15
Malaysian SeniorRM 7 (60 years and above)
Malaysian ChildRM 5 (6 – 18 years) 5 and below no charge
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

How many days should I stay in Gunung Mulu National Park?

We spent three nights in Mulu National Park, which allowed us to dive into the park’s natural beauty and partake in several of its not-to-be-missed activities. But, for travelers like us who aren’t drawn to extreme hiking or lengthy treks, a two-night stay could actually be sufficient. This duration provides enough time to explore the park’s famous caves, enjoy the tranquility of the canopy walk, and still soak up the serene beauty of Mulu without feeling pressed for time.

For most visitors, a stay of 2-3 nights in Mulu National Park strikes the perfect balance. For hiking enthusiasts eager to engage in the more extreme adventures Mulu offers, such as the Pinnacle or Summit hikes, a longer stay is necessary.

Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
Guide to visiting Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

What to pack for Mulu National Park

Packing wisely for Mulu is key to enjoying all that the park has to offer comfortably. Here’s a checklist to ensure you’re well-prepared:

  1. Clothing: Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing that dries quickly.
  2. Raincoat: A good-quality raincoat or poncho is essential to stay dry during unexpected downpours.
  3. Hiking shoes: Sturdy, non-slip hiking shoes are a must for navigating the park’s diverse terrain, from jungle paths to cave floors. Consider shoes that provide good support and grip, and break them in before your trip to avoid blisters.
  4. Torchlight: Essential for cave explorations, a reliable torchlight or headlamp will help you navigate the park’s darker corners safely. Don’t forget spare batteries or a power bank.
  5. Insect Repellent: Protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects with a good-quality repellent. Consider natural options or those containing DEET for longer-lasting protection.
  6. Insect repellent patch: I got these in KL before going to Mulu, they’re just little patches you put on your clothes that smell like citronella. I can assure you, no insect will come near you!
  7. Hydration: Bring a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated. The park provides filtered or boiled water for refills, helping reduce plastic waste.
  8. Snacks and basic supplies: While some snacks and drinks are available for purchase at Camp 5 and the Bat Observatory, bringing your own supply ensures you have enough energy for your adventures. Opt for lightweight, high-energy foods like nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars.
  9. Personal medication: Prepare for minor injuries and ailments by bringing a basic first aid kit, including plasters, antiseptic wipes, and any personal medication you may need.
  10. Cash (RM): While some facilities in the park accept cards, having cash on hand is useful for small purchases, especially in more remote areas of the park. Also, note that Mulu has no ATM machines, so bring cash.
  11. Respect for Nature: Lastly, pack an attitude of respect for the incredible natural environment you’re about to enter. Be mindful of leaving no trace, keeping wildlife and plant life undisturbed, and bringing all your rubbish back with you to maintain the park’s pristine condition.

💡Airalo eSIM: don’t worry about getting local sims, instead opt for Airalo’s virtual sim card. It offers affordable data packs, perfect for stying connected during your travles.

Author

I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

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