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A Place Where Paddy Cannot Grow

bako national park

What tourists are saying about Bako National Park, Sarawak

“Good for a day trip”

We went to the park with a tour guide. We had an enjoyable trip and the tour would be suitable for anyone young or old. If you are really into hiking and wildlife spotting I would recommend going on one of the longer walks which were not offered on the tour we were on.

We saw lots of wildlife and it seemed to be conditioned to hanging around the cafeteria and areas habited by humans – the wildlife appeared to be tame rather than ‘wild’. We saw proboscis monkey, silver backs and macaques as well as a couple of different snakes.

My 6 year old son loved the visit. Many people told us that the boatride over would be rough because of the monsoon season but it certainly was not rough. Definitely worth a visit.

Visited January 2016

beach forest bako national park

A breathtaking view of the coast at Bako National Park.

“Feel you’re a million miles away”

The boat trip to Bako is beautiful enough, and the National Park is large and diverse. We walked on a day which was hot with high humidity, traveling a path in and out of the jungle across the beaches and mangroves.

None of us were particularly fit or thin and while we felt we’d had a good exercise work out we didn’t feel it was beyond what we could cope with. There’s walking over large tree roots which takes some attention but adds to the feel and experience of the Park.

The flora and trees are spectacular. A guide is well worth it, and we were lucky to have Alex who was passionate about his extensive knowledge about the park, and took us to all kinds of areas away from other tourists and spotted snakes and birds and wild life we would have never seen on our own.

It’s definitely best to take a guide from the Park who knows it inside out everyday than an outside guide. The guides linked to the park do swap notes as they are passing each other about where they have found interesting wild life that day.

A rustic lunch is provided to walkers at the Cafe. Camping there is only for those who don’t need air con in the tropics. Don’t go to Kuching without experiencing the jungle the easiest way at Bako.

Visited November 2015

beach forest bako national park

Tourists are seen trekking through the beach forest.

“Beautiful and full of wildlife”

Went to Bako on a day trip. Got the boat there with a guide, and went for a walk through the rainforest to a beautiful beach.

Whole place was stunning. Saw proboscis monkeys, langurs, macaques and a tree snake. Very chilled and would like to spend more time there.

Visited November 2015

“Great Escape for nature lover”

Get here from Kuching town was not a big problem it was famous among local and foreign. I took a half day trip to Bako from morning to evening.

This place was amazing lots of proboscis and wild animals inside the island. The trek route well marked and maintained.

We took a boat to stacked stone and the view was amazing. Definitely will come back and stay overnight here.

Visited August 2015

mangrove forest bako national park

Mangrove forest is one of the natural habitats at the park.

“infinity stars”

This place was beautiful. You really are in a jungle, and it is amazing.
– great sights and amazing views of jungle, china sea, animals, malaysian culture
– boat ride to the park was a lot of fun.
– everyone was super friendly
– onsite food was good for the money
– mosquitos

– bring your own booze, it is kinda expensive here, and only have beer.
– bring DEET and mosquito coils
– bring water bottles
– bring soap and shampoo, if you are the type that showers
– bring a small plastic bag to pick up litter you find on the trails. don’t be a jerk.

Bottom Line:
This is a national park. Do NOT expect amenities that you would get at even a 2 star hotel. The house we stayed in was decently clean, but there was a little mold here and there, things to be expected in such a damp environment, blah blah blah.

Who cares about the house anyways? You come here, you should be spending every waking moment outside and enjoying this beautiful park.

For the money, this is one of the best adventures you could possibly ask for. When I came here, it was downpouring but I still had an amazing time. I will be coming back.

Visited December 2015
Source: Tripadvisor – Bako Natioanl Park

proboscis monkey bako national park

The proboscis monkey or long-nosed monkey, is a reddish-brown arboreal Old World monkey that is endemic to the southeast Asian island of Borneo and it’s protected in the national park.

About Bako National Park, Sarawak

Bako National Park has many faces. ALAN TEH LEAM SENG bravely walks into Kerangas, the land where paddy cannot grow.

THE heat is sweltering in Kampung Bako, the gateway to the Bako National Park at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula in Sarawak.

But it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I’m pleased that the clear sky will let me indulge in what I consider an adventure of a lifetime.

I’d heard so much about Bako and I’d been looking forward to the trip. There was not enough time to explore all of the 2,727-hectare site so I am to concentrate on the Kerangas Forest.


Bako has some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world.

Adventure starts at the Kerangas Forest

“Kerangas Forest? What’s that?” I inquired when the suggestion was first made. Pictures of armies of red fire ants crawling all over came to mind as the name closely resembles kerengga, the Malay name for red ants.

To my relief, I learn that kerangas is an Iban word for “a place where paddy cannot grow” indicating its lack of soil fertility.

The Bako Village

Kg Bako is just a few minutes walk from the bus drop off point. While waiting for the boat to the park, I nose around the village.

At the makeshift wooden shacks that line the narrow lane leading to the jetty, freshly caught marine as well as brackish fish and prawns are offered for sale. Huge white prawns cost only RM15 a kg, a price that’ll surely cause a small ‘riot’ in Kuala Lumpur.

Next to the jetty is Bako Seafood Restaurant which, locals tell me, serves heavenly chili crabs and butter prawns. Every evening, diners come from as far away as Kuching to sample its specialties.

My journey starts with a boat ride

My boatman beckons. “Air mula surut,” he says, indicating that the tide has started to turn. As the boat glides effortlessly over the calm waters, I soak in the sights and smells around me.

Riverine homes slowly give way to lush green mangroves lining the riverbanks and small fishing crafts dot the horizon. After 20 minutes, we arrive at the Bako National Park Jetty in Telok Assam. After registering at the headquarters, the adventure begins.

kerangas forest bako national park

The Kerangas forest is one of natural habitats at Bako and is usually covered with dried organic material on the ground.

Into the forest

It’s a short climb to Kerengas Forest which is on an alleviated plain. The track is well laid out and signboards keep me on course. I take note of the change in vegetation as I climb higher. The dense tropical rainforest soon give way to sparse montane plants that are well adapted to cooler surroundings.

Then suddenly, the entire landscape changes. The air is cooler, the trees are mostly coniferous and the ground is covered with dried organic material. Guests are warned not to smoke or light matches here, as everything is as dry as tinder.

Rare plants at the Kerengas Forest

Despite the sparse vegetation, I could see a variety of pitcher plants that are well suited for infertile areas. These carnivorous plants trap insects and digesting them by secreting digestive enzymes before absorbing the digested juices. Thus they are able to thrive in nutrient-deficient soils and rocks. Other carnivorous plants include sundews and bladderworts.

Another extraordinary feature of the Kerengas Forest is the ant plant that presents a special symbiosis between insects and plant. This relationship allows both organisms to thrive here. This plant is easy to spot as it has bulbous protrusions where ants make their home.

There are few animals as the lack of fruiting trees makes Kerengas Forest hostile to wildlife. But I manage to spot a proboscis monkey and several species of birds including hornbills, barbets and pitas. Park manager Saili Aban says the park is home to more than 190 species of birds.

pitcher plants bako national park

Pitcher plants can be found everywhere at the Kerangas forest.

Breathtaking experience

On the way down, I feel a sense of satisfaction for having seen a rare side of Bako National Park. The park was gazetted as a protected area in 1957, making it Malaysia’s oldest national park. It’s currently under the jurisdiction of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation.

Visit Malaysia Year will be especially meaningful for the park, as it’ll be celebrating its golden anniversary, sparking off a well anticipated double celebration.

For more information, contact Sarawak Forestry Department Tel: 082-348 001, fax: +082-488 654, toll free line: 1-800-882 526, website: www.sarawakforestry.com, email: info@sarawakforestry.com. You may also call National Parks Booking Office, Kuching (Visitor Information Centre) Tel: 082-248 088 or fax: 082-248 087.

Suggested Tour and Itinerary for Bako National Park

Spend at least two days to fully appreciate the beauty of the park. Don’t be misled by its relatively small size (compared to other national parks) as Bako is home to most of Borneo’s diverse vegetation types.

There are seven diverse natural habitats here — Beach Forest, Cliff Vegetation, Kerangas or Heath Forest, Mangrove Forest, Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, Peat Swamp Forest and Grassland.

Its extensive network of 18 jungle trails (including the Pa’ Amit Trail on Lakei Island) is color coded to guide visitors. The more adventurous can choose a full-day jungle hike or an overnight camping expedition. Day-trippers can check out the shorter trails close to the park’s headquarters.

cliff vegetation bako national park

Cliff vegetation is another natural habitats that you can find at Bako.

Sunset at Bako National Park

Take a short boat ride to Pulau Lakei, the one and only island in the park to enjoy its serenity and natural beauty. You can stay overnight and enjoy the stunning sunsets overlooking the Santubong Range.

At the top of the 160 flights of wooden steps is a warrior’s grave. Datuk Ibrahim, an early resident of the island, was said to have superhuman strength and could engrave Islamic ‘khat’ on rock faces with his fingers! People come from as far away as Brunei on an annual pilgrimage to the grave near Salamun Pool.

Tips for visiting Bako National Park

Wear comfortable clothes and proper footwear, as the trails can get muddy and slippery especially after a downpour. Bring lots of drinking water and some light snacks, as some trails are quite long. Outdoor cooking is not allowed. A good pair of binoculars and a handbook on the birds of Borneo is a must for birdwatchers.

The park is also home to five species of primates, namely the rare proboscis monkey, long-tailed macaque, silver leaf langur, the slow loris and tarsier. Other interesting animals seen are monitor lizards, plantain squirrels, bearded wild pigs (the largest mammal in the park), flying lemurs, civet cats and more than six species of bats.

tropical jungle bako national park

A tropical jungle like this one is common i Borneo and you will most likely go through one in your adventure.

Where To Stay

Accommodation includes chalets, lodges and hostels. There are two semi-detached lodges, each with four beds priced at RM25 per bed. There are also seven units of two-room chalets at RM150 a night. The cheapest accommodation of a hostel bed costs only RM15 per night. The camp site, with washroom facilities, can fit 180 campers at any one time.

Other facilities include the Kerangas Cafe, a barbecue area, 24-hour electricity supply and treated water supply, information centre and environmental education centre. There is a government clinic at Kg Bako.

Getting To Bako National Park

Petra Jaya Bus No. 6 from Kuching takes 40 minutes to arrive at Kg Bako. The earliest bus leaves Kuching at 6am and the last bus leaves Kg Bako at 5pm daily. Visitors must report at the Arrival Terminal near the jetty.

Chartered boats manned by the locals cost RM16 for a return journey and while a trip to Lakei Island costs RM25. Children pay half price and toddlers under 12 months are charged only 10 per cent of the fare.

Take A Tour

Several agents provide tours to Bako National Park. Some of them are:

CPH Travel Agencies (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd
Tel: 082-243 708/242 289
Email: cphtrvl@streamyx.com
Website: www.cphtravel.com

Borneo Interland Travel Sdn Bhd
Tel: 082-413 595/426 328
Email: bitravel@tm. net.my
Website: www.bitravel.com.my

Borneo Fairyland Travel & Tour Sdn Bhd
Tel: 082-420 194/420 195
Email: bftravel@tm. net.my
Website: www.borneofairyland.tripod.com

Best rates for hotels in Kuching before your trip to the park.

Nearby attractions that you might be interested

  • Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre – Enjoy the amazing experience of standing close to orang utans in their natural habitat. Watch them swing gracefully as they make their way here during the feeding times.
  • Main Bazaar – This is the oldest street in Kuching. The shop houses here enjoy immense popularity for the bewildering variety of items, from ethnic crafts, textiles to bamboo mats and pottery.
  • Sunday Market in Satok – Browse through a profusion of goods from handicrafts, flowers, local snacks to traditional delicacies. The bustling atmosphere and colorful cornucopia of things makes a trip here enjoyable.
  • Kuching Waterfront – Once a go downs and trading stores, the old waterfront was greatly transformed in 1993 to become the Kuching Waterfront and it’s one of the must-visit tourist attractions in Sarawak.
  • Diving in Sarawak – Diving enthusiasts should not miss a trip to Miri, to explore one of the richest reefs in Malaysia. Belais Reef and Luconia Shoals are among the popular dive sites in South China Sea.
  • Lambir Hills National Park – A trek in Lambir Hills National Park starts with trails winding through gargantuan Keruing trees and giant Licuala fan palms, with a sprinkling of colorful fungi.

Photo credits: CIFOR, Clivid, shankar s., stratman² (2 many pix!), amrufm, Nigel Hardy, Mark Barto.

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  • kenny chan April 16, 2019, 1:07 pm

    Mud Skipper

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