Category Archives: Bario Things To See

What’s There To See In Bario?

Bario Things To See – Most visitors are enchanted with the views  and scenery in Bario. The rice fields, the moning clouds, and the starry nights, they all offer Bario visitors a myraid of things made for their viewing pleasure.

From spectacular views of Bario’s cloud covered valley to farmers tending to their fields, Bario offers the observant traveller a lot to ponder on. Read this before you get there to know what you’d expect to see in Bario.

Bario Things To See – Visitors with DSLR bags full of lenses tend to ‘see’ more things.

Majestic Views Of Bario From The Mountain Tops

The Kelabit Higland’s Bario Scenery – Just taking a stroll around during the day, the scenery in Bario is always welcoming, and uniquely magical. It’s a beautiful place up in the mountains, with many little treats for the eyes.

Kelabit Highlands Bario Things To See
Touring Bario – a walk back in time.
The Spectacular Morning Gems In Bario

However, if you took a little effort (well, it can be a lot for some) to get up before daybreak and walk up Bario’s many hills and mountains, the scenery that awaits you can be utterly breathtaking.

Bario Kelabit Highland Clouds
The morning views from the mountain top.

There are a few well maintained and well visited elevated spots in Bario to catch this scene, and some require more commitment than others.

The Bario Prayer Mountain

The best spot of the lot is undisputedly, the top of the Bario Prayer Mountain. This is a one or two hour ascent (depending on your fitness level). It’s hilly at the bottom half, and almost vertical on the top half. But once you get up there very early in the morning, you’ll thank God for it. Some visitors have even spent the night before at the top, so they won’t miss the morning view. Now, that’s dedication.

Bario Prayer Mountain
The View From Prayer mountain at Dawn.

How to get to Bario Prayer Mountain.
The foot of the prayer mountain starts behind the Arur Dalan Longhouse (on the eastern edge of the Bario plateau). It is well marked, so you won’t miss it.

The Bario Proposal Hill

Another good spot is Proposal Hill. Unlike the Prayer Mountain, this is only a fifteen minute to half an hour’s climb up from the foot to the top (someone young university kid did it in 7 minutes). It’s not as high, but the views on the way to the top are equally amazing, if you catch it on the right day.

Bario Mornings
Valley In The Clouds. Taken from Proposal Hill.

*The right day – is a dry day with a cooler morning temperature. A wet warm morning can cause clouds to rise quickly before the sun is even up, and  because it is not as high as the Prayer Mountain, your view could get blocked by the very clouds you went to see. However, on a good day, the views are simply majestic.

Bario Photography
Another angle from Proposal Hill

Note: My own success rate at being up there on a good day is 30%. But it’s a spectacular 30%.

Bario photography
Proposal Hill is just 15 minutes walk from Labanglonghouse Lodge.

You’ll never now what you’d get to see at the top of Proposal Hill, but for a 15 minutes hike, it’s definitely worth the gamble.

Bario Photography
Breathtaking Proposal Hill – good place to propose.

How to get to Proposal Hill.
You can find the path leading to Proposal Hill about 10 minutes walk from The Bario Market Centre. It is just opposite the Labang Longhouse Lodge.

Squeeze more out of your days in the Kelabit Highlands.

So, when in Bario, wake up very early and prepare yourself some hot coffee in a flask and be up there before the crack of dawn. The amazing morning clouds of the Kelabit Highlands await.

Of course, if you had a powerful Camera Drone that can go 500 meters up, you could see all this without raising a sweat.

Making Bario Salt In The Highlands

Bario is famous for its rice. The brand ‘Bario rice’ invokes quality and premium pricing. A lotof people know about Bario through Bario rice. Now, one of Bario’s hidden treasure however, is its salt. Just as expensive, but sold in quantities so small that only few know of its existence and its place on the Bario tables.

Bario Salt Factory
Couldrons for Bario Salt making.
Kelabit Bario Salt

Like in all other communities around the world, salt plays a very important role in Kelabit community. Salt is not just used for adding flavor to meals, but it is also used to preserve meat and other food items. When you have salt in the house, you have the ability to stretch your food supply – especially meat storage. Surplus game eg: wild boar, deer, barking deer, etc is dipped in brine, and smoked. This smoked meat is then kept around for future use.

Bario Salt making
Boiling the Brine through several stages.
Making Bario Salt Back Then

The Kelabits have been making their own salt for ages. Back to the old days, (usually in between the harvest and planting seasons, or while waiting for the rice fields to yellow) a Kelabit family will decide if it needs to replenish its salt stocks. If they decide that they need more salt, the whole family would go to the salt spring, and set up camp for a week, to make the salt they need for household consumption. As there was very little trade with the world outside back then, saltmaking was largely for personal consumption. Surplus salt would be sold and traded, but for the most part, everybody could make their own salt.

bario salt firewood
The firewood stockpile.

That was 40 yeas ago. Today, most Kelabits buy their Bario salt. As the community progressed, and they spent more time schooling instead of farming, the emigration of the younger generation of Kelabits to the towns and the cities meant there was less labour to work the salt springs. As money was earnt in the cities, the need to make your own salt seem a less effecient use of one’s time and toil.

Bario Salt Making
For energy management, each couldron heats the brine to a certian temperature. It is then transferred to an evaporation couldron.

That said, the little salt factory is by no means abandoned. It is just as busy today was it was back in the days. However, the endevour of making salt is not so much to replenish a family’s stock, but the salt stock of all the other Kelabit families. Like Bario rice, Bario salt is made to sell. Which is a good thing.
It’s be good to do a study today to see if Bario is a net exporter or importer of salt.

Straight from the couldron. Evaporated salt crystals. But this is only the first half of the process. From here, the wet salt moves to a drying proces.
Straight from the couldron. Evaporated salt crystals. But this is only the first half of the process. From here, the wet salt moves to a drying proces.

The whole process of making bario salt takes a week. This is no simple feat, and it’s really a 24 hour operation as they have to keep the fires burning and the brine boiling the whole time.

Bario Tractor
The Bario Tractor – a bufallo is an essential piece of the whole process. Remember the firewood stockpile?

Click below to watch it explained beautifully.

How to get there?

You can visit and see the salt mini-factory and see how Bario salt is made. It’s about two hours walk east from the Bario Market, but you can go by 4WD or motorbike, which cuts the journey down to 20 minutes.

Getting Into Bario

This article is about how to get to Bario.


Miri-Bario: 45 minutes flight time.
Cost: RM116.54 or about 26EURO/USD29 (one way).
Aircraft: Small 19 Seater DHC-6-400 Twin Otter.

Bario Borneo Malaysia
Bario Plateau in the Kelabit Highlands

So, Bario is this remote place right in the highland regions of Sarawak Borneo, and given its fabled remoteness, how do you actually get to Bario?

Mountain Pilots of MAS RAS Circa 2008
Mountain Pilots of MAS Rural Air Services. Circa 2008

Bario is situated in the deep interiors of Sarawak, right in heart of Borneo Island. for the longest time, Bario was only connected to the world outside through the Miri Airport. Everything was air flown in and out either directly, or via a stop-over at Marudi Airport. Today however, a dirt road has just recently reached Bario, so you now can get to Bario by land – but for most visitors, air travel is the fastest, cheapest and most convenient way of getting in and out of Bario.

Bario Twin Otters
MAS DHC-6-300 Twin Otters at the Bario Airport. Circa 2006

If you’re asking from ouside of Malaysia, the Miri Airport is connected to a few international airports. It is directly connected to the Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu International Airports, and it is served by four airlines; MasWings, Air Asia, Malindo Air and Malaysia Airlines.

Flight Legs to Bario
Flight Legs into Bario via Miri Airport

So, if you’re in Hong Kong, you can fly DragonAir to Kota Kinabalu, and from there fly AirAsia to Miri, and hop on MasWings into Bario.
Or if you’re in Holland, you fly KLM from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, then Malaysia Airlines to Miri, and hop on MasWings to get to Bario.

Flight Bookings Quick TIP #1.

When booking online from overseas, the Malaysia Airlines flight booking portal can connect your Malaysia Airline flights all the way into Bario  from some international airports near you. You can also use flight booking sites like Skyscanner to connect you direct, and it comes with ticket prices too.

3 Days to Bario
3 Days to Bario
Skyscanner's point to point flight planner.
Skyscanner’s point to point flight planner. Just key in two ariports, and it does the connecting automatically.

Or just Google! yourself a ticket from wherever you are to Bario.
Click Here Presto!

Bario Borneo Flights
This is seriously cool! Click o the link above and try it.
Miri to Bario by Air – The Rural Air Services (RAS)
Embarking the MasWing DHC-6-400 Twin Otter to Bario
Embarking the MasWing DHC-6-400 Twin Otter to Bario
The DHC-6-400 Twin Otter
Looking at DHC-6-400 Twin Otter from inside a DHC-6-400 Twin Otter

The flight from Miri Airport into Bario is on a small 19-seater MasWings DHC-6-400 Twin Otter, and the ticket price into Bario is RM116.54 (one way).

For what it is, it’s actually a relatively cheap flight. The MasWings Rural Air Services (RAS) flights are a public service run the Malaysian government’s to ensure  that rural and remote areas of Sabah and Sarawak are adequately connected to the outside world. Without the government subsidies, it would cost passengers a lot more to fly into Bario. (estimates – RM400-500 one way – and that breaks even on a full load).

You can book your Miri-Bario seats here at:

Flight path into Bario
MasWings DHC-6-400 Twin Otter’s flight path into Bario

It is a 178km (96 nautical miles) flight journey that takes 45 minutes; and flying at only between 7000-8000ft, there’s a lot of details to see below. One good way to know what you’re looking at below is to carry a GPS unit with you on the plane. (There might even be an Google map enabled mobile app out there that does this).


Heading into Bario, the windows on the left offer quite a good number of things to look at. At one point, you’ll be flying just on the edge of the Sarawak-Brunei boundary, and you can see straight into Brunei territory (It’s the part of the trip where the trees and forest are untouched and very much green).

On the Sarawak side, there are logging tracks and palm oil plantations thousands of acres wide.

Mulu is where the flat lowland ends, and the mountainous range of the highlands begin.

Mulu is where the flatland ends and the mountain terrain begins.
Mulu is where the flatland ends and the mountain terrain begins.

Before you get to Bario, you’ll see the Mulu airstrip, and the UNESCO World Heritage, Mulu National Park – home to Mount Mulu (Sarawak’s 2nd highest peak), and the world famous Mulu Caves.

The Mulu Airport - with Direct flights to Miri, Kota Kinabalu, and Kuching.
The Mulu Airport – with Direct flights to Miri, Kota Kinabalu, and Kuching.
Mount Mulu, at 7795ft is Malaysia's 5th highest peak.
Mount Mulu, at 7795ft is Malaysia’s 5th highest peak.

Somehwere in between, you’ll see a rock formation that looks like two fingers poking into the sky. This is Batu Lawi. It is a landmark that says ‘you’re in Kelabit country’. By foot, it’s 3-4 days trek from Bario.

This is Batu Lawi. It is a Kelabit landmark that is etched deeply into the Kelabit identity.
This is Batu Lawi. It is a Kelabit landmark that is etched deeply into the Kelabit identity.

You’ll also see Sarawak’s tallest mountain – Mount Murud.

Bario Batu Lawi
Batu Lawi and Mount Murud in the background. At 7946ft, Murud is Sarawak’s higest, and Malaysia’s 4th higest peak.
Anabatic Winds and The Roller Coaster Welcome!

When you’re flying in, the early morning flights are usually the smoothest. However, if you catch a late morning flight (10.45am – 11-ish flights) on a bright sunny day, that’s when the ride is usually bumpy at the tail end of the flight. As the terrain get’s higher, the aircraft gets into contact with anabatic winds or updrafts from the many mountain ridges.

Before you get to Bario - the mountain range climb up to aircraft's altitude. The thermals from the ridges makes for a bumpy ride.
The mountain range climb up to aircraft’s altitude. The thermals from the ridges makes for a bumpy ride.

This happens when sun starts to heat the air in the mountains ranges, and this effect causes gusts and winds that blow updrafts along the valleys and ridges. This thermal effect is the cause of the bumpy rides as the aircrafts flies over and through these updrafts. It’s all relatively safe, as the Canadian Twin Otters are powerful and robust planes, but it does give some passengers motion sickness, and for others, the fright of their lives. On a really bumpy day, I like to think of it as a mild-medium roller coaster ride, 7800ft in the sky.

Sick Bags for your breakfast coming out the wrong end.
Sick Bags for your breakfast coming out the wrong end.

The good news is, it’s usually a short roller coaster ride, maybe about 5 minutes worth. Once the aircraft flies into the valley, the roller coaster usually eases.

The aircrafts crosses the ridges and enters the Bario plateau.
The aircrafts crosses the ridges and enters the Bario plateau.
MasWing's Captain Stefanus taking it in to land.
MasWing’s Captain Stefanus taking it in to land.
Arrival at the Bario Airport.
Arrival at the Bario Airport.

Back in the old days, as soon as you got out of the plane, everyone you meet at the airfield will greet you and shake your hands. They’ll ask you how you are, where you came from, and invite you to drop in for a meal, whoever you are (and this is not an exaggeration). Sadly though, that very confident and warmly hospitable generation is slowly disappearing. You’ll still get the an old Kelabit guy or lady walk up to you and do just that, but that’s probably 2 out of every 10 persons at the airport now. But if you’re in need of any help or advice, everyone will gladly come to your aid. So don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from anyone around. You’re now in Bario, and everyone is a friend.


Problem: If you’re travelling through Sarawak on a tight schedule, but you can’t book a seat out of Bario on the day you want to get out, don’t give up yet. It may not mean what you think it says. Because of Bario’s remoteness, available seats out of Bario are not accurately reflected in the online booking system.
Solution : You can liaise with your Bario accommodation provider to help you check for, and arrange a seat out of Bario in instances where the online booking system tells you that there are no seats out of Bario. These seats are allocated in the Bario Airport itself, so your contacts up in Bario can better help you get a seat out.

Alternatively, the other way you can get to bario is by 4Wheel Drive vehicles. But that’s for another time.