Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes ampullaria)
Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes ampullaria) by Bernard DUPONT

Gunung Mulu National Park Travel Guide

In a nutshell

A trip to the Gunung Mulu National Park may just be one of the best things that you can do with your time here on Earth. The park is, in its outstanding beauty and natural wonder, almost beyond description. From the world's largest cave system to the most incredible limestone and sandstone casts, the park is surreal. Jam-packed with wonders around every corner to take your breath away and to restore your sense of wonder with the world, we are convinced that a few days here will make anyone a better person.

In 2000, the Gunung Mulu National Park was entered into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Since the uncovering of its rich history, the park has become famous, luring in travellers from all over the globe to bear witness to its karst formations that exist both above and underground.

How to get to and from Gunung Mulu NP

The forest of the national park and surrounding area is so dense that the only truly feasible option in getting there is via plane. That is unless you are up for a several day boat trip. But, once you have taken the short and very reasonably priced flight (around MYR 90 from Miri) to the park, the adventure begins!

Sights and activities

Exploration of the unbelievably expansive and intricate cave system is on the top of every travellers list while there. No wonder – archaeological evidence discovered in the late '70s indicated that the Cave of Winds was an ancient burial site, active over 1500 years ago. So besides stunning tunnels and chambers created by nature there is a historical touch to the whole experience.

There are several tours that will pique the attention of guests that deciding between the several caves waiting to be explored poses quite the dilemma. However, it a rather attractive one. Pragmatic factors that will help you make the decision include the length of your stay, your level of fitness, your budget, and your idea of the manner in which you can unwind.

Showcaves Tour

The park offers several guided tours through what they call Showcaves. These caves are the comparatively less physically demanding and are suited to people of all ages and abilities.

The Deer and Land Caves offer very special experiences at a very cost of MYR 35. Enjoy a calming stroll along a planked walk to the entrance of the Deer Cave.

Alongside the entire time are rushing rivers that wind their way through the impossibly dense forest. Take a moment while at the riverbed of the cave, allow its majesty to overcome you as you ponder the ferocious forces that tumbled and shattered boulders that carved the smooth walls and made space for your existence out of the once impermeable rock. The sounds of a colony of 3 million bats awaking for the excursion into the night fills the air, their squeaks giving you a simultaneous sense of thrill and unease.

Beyond the darkest portion of the cave stands the Garden of Eden – an oasis of contrasting sunlight and turbulent life. Adam and Eve's Shower spout towering pillars of water into the river below.

The tour continues to the smaller, but by no means less impressive Langs Cave. The tour is timed so that you may bear witness to the bats' exodus into the darkness. The guides are supremely knowledgeable and help ensure that the experience is everything it should be.

Clearwater Caves & Cave of Wind Tour

The Clearwater Caves and Cave of the Winds are both explored as part of one tour for MYR 65. The tour takes four hours and leaves at around 9am. After having your conceptual framework of human kind adjusted via your trip through the Cave of the Winds, the natural wonder of the Clearwater Caves is shown to you. The cave is truly stunning and stimulates the reckoning of forces so necessarily powerful. After you exit the cave, you arrive at this stunningly clear pool that's just below the sheer cliff of the cave. Swim, float and snack on the treats you packed for this magical moment.

More strenious hikes

The more adventurous are extremely well catered for. In fact, it is quite the heaven for such people. Adventurous spelunkers should consider the Clearwater Caves hike (beyond the Showcaves program) for a bit more challenge. Alternatively, hit up the Garden of Eden. You'll need a flashlight, a packed lunch, old clothes you don’t mind throwing away immediately afterwards, a camera, and a distinct sense of adventure.

The hike to the Pinnacles is an act of self-love. It may not feel that way as you wake up on day four of a four day tour, preparing to do a hike for another six hours. But, once you have made it this far, you don't need telling why you're doing it. The view of the pinnacles is sheer bliss. Tremendous spikes of limestone shoot out of the ground and soar above the treetops. The hike is physically taxing and is not for the fainthearted. It is also not cheap, and will set you back around MYR 415 per person.

Canopy Tour

A slightly less daunting activity with more open space around you and less darkness pushing on your eyelids is the canopy tour. Would you believe that it's the world’s longest tree-based canopy walk? 500 meters of impossible views of the surrounding rivers, limestone cliffs, and the intricate web of life in the forest. Guided tours cost MYR 45 per person, leave six times a day and go for around two hours.

Night Walk

The night walk makes for a thrilling, yet calming experience. The walk is light and greatly informative. There are opportunities to come face to face with shimmering fireflies and small nocturnal animals. The eyes of near and far-away insects sparkle in reaction to the light from your torch. It is a great outing for the family to do together.

Paku Valley Loop

If all the tours seem a bit much for you and your idea of a good time is you, your partner and the sounds of the forest, then the Paku Valley loop may be your best bet. It is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the intensely beautiful surroundings with no pressure or intensity. A great time to visit Paku Waterfall for a dip in the pool!

Ultimately, regardless of what you are looking for, Gunung Mulu National Park has got you covered. So book your tickets, get on the plane, and come and get a little dirty!