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General Information

You may find all the essential information travelling to Miri below. If you need further information, please contact Visitors' Information Centre, Miri.

Time Language Religion
Electricity Photography Rural Air Network
River Travel Overland Travel Taxi
Car Hire Dress Code Rainforest Dress Code
Business Hours Currency Money Changers
Banks Credit Cards Tipping
Medical Services Pharmacies Reflexology
Telecommunications Postal Services Internet Facilities
News and Media Etiquette  

Time
Miri, like the rest of Sarawak and Malaysia, is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time.

Language
Bahasa Malaysia, or Malay, is the national language. However, English is widely spoken. Other languages used in Miri include Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, Mandarin, and several Chinese dialects.

Religion
The official of Malaysia religion is Islam, but freedom of worship is guaranteed by the constitution. There are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and followers of other faiths living here.

Electricity
Electric voltage is 220-240 (50 cycles). The type of power plugs used is the threesquare pin variety. Major hotels will be able to supply adapters. There is electricity in all towns and national parks. Where electricity is not available, hurricane lamps and good torchlights are recommended.

Photography
Photographers are advised to bring watertight packaging for their cameras and film materials if they intend to go on upcountry trips. Sudden downpours, or splashes during a rough boat ride, can ruin expensive equipment!

Rural Air Network
Formerly inaccessible destinations in Sarawak are now served by the rural air services of Malaysia Airlines (MAS). From Miri, Twin Otters operate regular flight schedules to Bario, Long Lellang, Long Banga, Marudi, Long San, Ba Kelalan, Lawas, Long Seridan, Long Lama, and Long Akah. There are direct flights from Limbang to Bario, and from Lawas to Ba Kelalan. The airports in Mulu and Limbang support the larger Fokker Friendship aircraft.

River Travel
The rivers of Sarawak have been the highways since time immemorial; express boats, speedboats and longboats ply their lower reaches. Longboats take over in the upper rivers. On a real ‘inland trip’ passenger often have to get out and wade in the shallow water while the crew manhandles the craft over rapids and gravel beds.

Overland Travel
There are two bus terminals in Miri. The one in Jalan Padang, adjacent to the Visitors’ Information Centre, serves the local network, with fares starting at 60 sen. Bus services to Sungei Tujuh (Bandar Sri Begawan, Brunei) starts from here and is operated by the Miri-Belait Bus Company The Outstation Bus Terminal is located at Pujut Corner, off the Miri-Pujut Road. Buses to Niah, Lambir Hills National Park, Bintulu, Sibu, Sarikei and Kuching depart from here.

Taxi
Few taxis cruise the roads in Miri. Travellers normally engage taxis at the taxi stands (Jalan Brooke near the Central Market and Jalan China behind the Public Bank), or book a cab by calling (6 085) 432277. There are usually a few taxis waiting in front of the larger shopping complexes and the major hotels.

Car Hire
Rental cars are available in Miri. A traveller planning to venture far beyond the town is well advised to take a map, though the main roads are reasonably well signposted. The cost of car rental is about RM120 a day (within Miri) and RM250 a day for travel beyond Miri. Weekly rates are around RM650. Price may be subject to change.

Dress Code
Lightweight, cool and casual clothes are best for the tropical climate. Shorts are acceptable for women, even in town, so long as they are not too skimpy. Visitors to places of worship must adhere to the regulations imposed. Cotton shorts and T-shirts are best for going on excursions and when trekking in the jungles. In the evening, some establishments have their own dress code for dining. For men, this may mean a long-sleeved shirt or batik shirt. Rubber flip-flops are definitely out!

Rainforest Dress Code
Jungle trekkers dress for comfort. On a trip lasting more than a few hours, especially if it involves camping overnight, they are advised to bring:
• Backpack
• Tent (for camping out), food and cooking gear
• Drinking water bottle
• Sleeping bag, small mosquito net
• Towels, toiletries etc
• Basic first aid kit
• Plastic bags to protect clothes and camera equipment from getting wet
• Sarong - useful for bathing in streams, swimsuit
• T-shirts; useful for cool nights, to change into after a downpour, as ‘camp evening dress’
• Long-sleeved cotton shirt for daytime wear, also as sun protection
• Sun block lotion, minimum SPF 15
• Cap or hat to keep off the sun, and rain
• Waterproof poncho or rain jacket
• Good hiking shoes, able to withstand rain, walking in rivers etc
• Torchlight or flashlight with spare batteries, miner’s headlamp for serious spelunking
• Gardening gloves, useful for climbing the Pinnacles (Mulu) and the mini-pinnacles in the Sarawak Chamber.
   (Special permission from the park station is needed to go to the Sarawak Chamber)

Business Hours
Shopping centres open from 10.00am to 10.00pm daily. Family-run shops tend to open earlier.
Government offices are open from Monday to Thursday from 8.00am to 1.00pm, and from 2.00pm to 5.00pm; On Friday, offices are open from 8.00am to 12.00 noon, and from 2.15pm to 5.00pm, closed on Saturdays and Sundays

Currency
The Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is the local currency. The lowest denomination is 1 sen or RM0.01 and the highest denomination is 100 ringgit or RM100. Travellers have to declare an amount exceeding RM1,000 in local currency, or more than US$2,500 in foreign currency,including travellers’ cheques at the point of entry.

Money Changers
Most star-rated hotels offer money-changing services. Major foreign currencies and travellers’ cheques can be easily changed in Miri.

Moneychangers, found mainly in the old town, offer the best exchange rates (cash only). They have long opening hours, and often operate on Sundays as well. ATM machines at the airport, in bank porches and in the shopping malls take all major ATM and credit cards

Banks
Banks are easily found in shopping centres or in the downtown area. Their opening hours is from 9.30am to 3.30pm from Monday to Friday. Their exchange rates for cash is lower than the moneychangers’, but they do accept travellers’ cheques.

Credit Cards
Credit cards such as America Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club are accepted in most hotels and in the bigger restaurants and shops in Miri and other towns. Elsewhere, cash is preferred.

Tipping
A ten percent service charge and five percent government tax is levied in all hotels and big restaurants. Tipping is not customary, but at the guest’s discretion. It is not out of place to give a tip of RM1 or RM2 to bellboys.

Medical Services
Sarawak is comparatively free from the more dangerous tropical diseases. Travellers do not need Malaria
prophylactics unless they intend to travel into the far interior near the Indonesian border.

Miri is the medical service centre for North Sarawak. It has a general hospital, a polyclinic, two private hospitals and 30 private medical and dental clinics. A Dialysis Centre is run by the Miri Red Crescent Society. Outside Miri, there are government clinics or hospitals in even the most remote locations.

Hotels have doctors on call in case of emergencies

Pharmacies
Miri pharmacies are open seven days a week, usually from 8.00am to 7.00pm. The resident pharmacist is qualified to fill prescriptions. In smaller towns, patent medicines are available in general stores.

Reflexology
A number of foot reflexologists offer their services in Miri Old Town.

Telecommunications
Miri has a comprehensive domestic and international telecommunications system, allowing direct phone calls to all parts of the world.

Telephone cards (Telekom or Unicard) can be purchased at values of RM10, RM20, RM30 or RM50 at post offices and general stores.

Cell phones can only be used within a specified radius of the larger towns. The international dialling code for Malaysia is 60; to call Miri from overseas dial 6085 followed by the number. To call overseas from Miri, dial 00, followed by the country code, area code and number.

Postal Services
Stamps are on sale at post offices and most hotels. A postcard costs 50 sen to any country outside Malaysia. PosLaju (Express Post) and courier services are available for faster delivery.

Internet Facilities
There are several Internet cafes in Miri, mostly located in shopping centres. They are popular with youngsters who frequent them to play noisy computer games. Rates are around RM4 an hour.

News and Media
The main English newspaper is the Borneo Post. The Chinese daily ‘United Daily News’ is published in Miri. Newspapers are of interest to the traveller for local information, including details of bus and boat timetables.

The local radio channel-RTM-Miri broadcasts in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, Kenyah, Kayan and Iban. CAT’S Radio is based in Kuching and Capital FM 94.4 is the Brunei radio station. Sarawak receives satellite TV transmissions from Peninsular Malaysia on three channels, TV1, TV2 and TV3 and private subscriber 24 hours channels such as Astro and NTV7. In some hotels, TV channels include the BBC World News, CNN and music videos on HBO.

Etiquette
Shoes should be removed when entering homes, longhouses, mosques, temples and rural churches. Appropriate dress is required when visiting places of worship. When pointing, use the thumb rather than the index finger.

Avoid handling food with the left hand. When visiting a longhouse even for a short while, it is considered rude to leave without first having a snack or drink.

Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and nude bathing is unacceptable.

 

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