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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
Note: My own success rate at being up there on a good day is 30%. But it’s a spectacular 30%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This article is about how to get to Bario.
FLYING INTO BARIO QUICK TAKES:
Miri-Bario: 45 minutes flight time.
Cost: RM116.54 or about 26EURO/USD29 (one way).
Aircraft: Small 19 Seater DHC-6-400 Twin Otter.
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?
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.
HOW TO GET TO BARIO FROM FAR FAR AWAY.
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.
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.
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).
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).
THINGS TO SPOT OUT OF THE WINDOW
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.
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.
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.
You’ll also see Sarawak’s tallest mountain – Mount Murud.
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.
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.
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.
WHEN YOU GET TO 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.
VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR VISITORS TO BARIO WHEN BOOKING FLIGHT SEATS ONLINE:
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.