Bintulu is a coastal town and the capital of the Bintulu District, which is part of the Bintulu Division of Sarawak, Malaysia. It is located approximately 404 miles (about 650 kilometres) from Kuching, and approximately 134 miles (about 215 kilometers) from either Sibu or Miri. The town is geographically situated halfway between Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. Bintulu, a capital town of Bintulu division and district, is divided into the following areas: the Tanjung Kidurong industrial zone, which is dominated by energy facilities and various fertilizer, shipping and hardware factories; Kemena industrial zone, which is centred around the timber and logging industries; Bintulu's town centre, which features numerous bustling markets, a commercial centre, and the Parkcity Mall, New World Suites and Park City Beverly Hotel; Kampung Jepak, a fishing village and now an extension of Bintulu's town centre; and Medan Jaya and Medan Sentral, which comprise a township and huge shopping centre featuring the Farley, Sing Kwong and MDS supermarkets.
Although archaeological remains unearthed at the Niah Caves date from the Stone Age, Bintulu's modern-day history dates from the early-19th century. At that time, Bintulu was under the rule of the Brunei Sultanate. However, in 1841, Sarawak was ceded to Sir James Brooke, an English adventurer who then became the First Rajah of Sarawak. In 1861, Bintulu, which was still part of Brunei, was also ceded to the Rajah and became part of Sarawak. On September 8, 1867, Bintulu became the first meeting place of the State Legislative Assembly, the Council Negeri. Following other Sarawak divisional counterparts, Bintulu has also being under the rule of the Rajah Brooke family, Japan, British and now, Malaysia. For many years to follow, Bintulu remained a quiet fishing village until the discovery of large offshore natural gas reserves in 1969. By 1975, nearby Tanjung Kidurong was converted into Sarawak's first deep-water port. In turn, the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) was established in 1978 to promote industrial investment in this area and oversee its ongoing infrastructure development, which continues to this day.
Bintulu's tropical beauty and warm climate have made tourism an important part of its local economy. This scenic and inviting port city serves as a central gateway for exploring some of the most breath-taking beaches, tropical rainforests and picturesque natural parks in Southeast Asia. Included are Similajau National Park, the Bakun Resort, Niah Caves, Mulu National Park, Loagan Bunut National Park, Lambir National Park, Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary, Rejang Pelagus, Belaga, and the Bario Highlands. Some remnants of natural rainforest still exist near Bintulu despite the impact of the booming logging industry and gradual encroachment of plantations, principally of oil palm and pulpwood, the latter mainly comprising various species of acacia and eucalyptus.
The unique culture and legacy of Bintulu can be explored during visits to some of its most traditional and historic landmarks and locales. The town's evolution can be explored at the renowned Niah Caves. Located in the Niah National Park, the Niah Caves represent one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Ancient remains unearthed at the Niah Caves date from the Stone Age, and include skulls of the earliest humans in Southeast Asia and prehistoric wall paintings. The local culture of Bintulu and its surrounds can be experienced at Kampung Jepak, a fishing village separated from Bintulu Town by Sungai Kemena. Here, you can observe the traditional lifestyle of the Bintulu Melanau. Bintulu's modern-day history can be observed at the Council Negri Monument, which commemorates Sarawak's first legislative assembly meeting in 1867. A centenary stone commemorating the centennial of this historical meeting was erected on this site in 1967, and further enhanced to include a clock tower and fountain in 1987.
Bintulu's inland and coastal areas are highlighted by a wide array of picturesque and memorable sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include picturesque nature and walking trails, jungle and rainforest trekking at Taman Tumbina and Similajau National Park, off-road exploring, bicycling, caving at Niah National Park, bird-watching, futsal at the Pakat Global Sports Centre, horseback-riding at the Sarawak Agricultural Park, and golfing at the scenic Bintulu Golf Club. Bintulu's bays, rivers, harbour and beaches abound with exotic flora and fauna, diverse bird species, and marine life and wildlife. Scenic and fun-filled water-based excursions include swimming, canoeing, kayaking, wind- and kitesurfing, jet- and waterskiing, fishing in the Kemena, Tatau and Jalalong rivers, Sebauh and South China Sea, boating, sailing, snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters of Similajau National Park, and scuba diving off Kuala Nyalau Beach.
Due to its compact size, Bintulu can be easily explored in just a single day.
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Bintulu Pier, a 30-40-minute, 11.8-mile (19-kilometre) drive to Batumi's city centre.
Bintulu is renowned for its handicrafts, clothing, jewellery, woodcarvings, batiks, and other souvenirs. The major shopping areas include the Park City Mall, the largest mall in Bintulu, City Point Shopping Centre, Everwin Shopping Centre, Bintulu Central Market, Pasar Utama and Pasar Tamu wet markets, Tamu Bintulu, the main market of Bintulu Town, and Ngiu Kee Department Store. Supermarkets include Farley Bintulu, Sing Kwong, MDS and Monegain. A wide array of handicrafts, clothing, jewellery and other souvenirs can also be found at the many souvenir stalls throughout the city. Most stores are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and a half-day on Sunday. The local currency is the Malaysian Ringgit.
Bintulu is renowned for its excellent seafood and Malay, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and International cuisine. Popular local dishes include shrimp paste, or belachan, fermented shrimp, or cincaluk, nasi lemak, laksa, apam balik, roti canai, nasi campur, siew pau, and the famous layer cake, kek lapis. Popular dining destinations include the M&D restaurant in the Park City Beverly Hotel, Paddy's Coffee House in the New World Suites Hotel, Riverfront Café, Taipei House restaurant, Seribu Bintang restaurant, Chiems Restoran Nelayan, Famous Mama, Nasi Lemak Kidurong, Refah Corner, Azah Pon Café, Selera Utara, Restoran Sri Bayu, Peace Garden, Apple restaurant, Abida Café, Restoran Marco Polo, Makan United (M.U. Café), Restoran Chic Wan, Ban Kee Café, Bao Bao restaurant, and the Pasar Utama, Pasar Tamu and Pasar Malam markets.
Bintulu's bustling town centre features local markets such as Pasar Tamu and Pasar Utama, and has been expanded to include Tanjung Batu, the Park City Commercial Centre, Park City Mall, New World Suites, and Park City Beverly Hotel. The traditional fishing village of Kampung Jepak is located across the Kemena River, and is an extension of Bintulu's town centre.
A traditional fishing village and extension of Bintulu's town centre, Kampung Jepak is located across the Kemena River. The majority of its inhabitants are Melanaus and Malays. During your visit, observe the traditional lifestyle of the Bintulu Melanau, including sago processing, fish-drying, manufacturing of belacan, or shrimp paste, cencaluk, or fermented shrimp, making of terendak, or Melanau headgear, and tutop, or food cover.
Council Negri Monument
Bintulu is home to the first legislative assembly meeting of Sarawak, which was held in 1867 and chaired by Charles Brooke. A centenary stone commemorating the centennial of the historical meeting was erected on this site in 1967, and further enhanced to include a clock tower and fountain in 1987. The fountain was attractively fenced up in November 1998 for safety and aesthetic purposes. The monument can be found by visitors en route to the heart of Bintulu Town.
Pasar Utama and Pasar Tamu Bintulu
Located side-by-side, Bintulu's Pasar Utama and Pasar Tamu are the most frequently visited markets in Bintulu. The markets are divided into many parts, each for different type of traded items such as fruit, vegetables, shrimp paste, or belachan, fermented shrimp, or cincaluk, wet areas for fish and seafood traders, and basic commodities. The upper floor of Pasar Tamu features local delicacies, including the famous layer cake, or kek lapis, and a souvenir shop selling cheap handicrafts.
Unlike the Pasar Malam in Kuching or Miri, Bintulu's Pasar Malam is open daily. Here, you can savour local versions of 'fast food', including apam balik, roti canai, and nasi campur. Non-Muslims can also dine on pork delicacies such as siew pau. Also available for sale here are items that include clothing, handbags, cigarettes and liquor.
The largest mosque in Bintulu, Masjid Assyakirin, or 'Gratefulness', is a Muslim centre of religious activities and home to the 'Majlis Nuzul Quran', an event commemorating the creation of the Quran. It is also the only mosque in Malaysia which is maintained by the BDA, a local municipal authority.
Kuan Ying Tong Temple
The only Chinese temple in Bintulu, Kuan Ying Tong Temple is located on Jalan Iskandar, just 1.2 miles (two kilometres) from Bintulu's town centre. It is surrounded by three churches; the St. Thomas Anglican Church, Methodist Church and St. Anthony's Catholic Church. Amongst the peculiar features of this unique spiritual landmark are the splendid rock garden courtyard, man-made waterfall and dragon fencing.
Tanjung Batu Beach
Located 12.4 miles (20 kilometres) from Bintulu, Tanjung Batu Beach, or 'Rocky Isthmus', has the unique distinction of having a rocky and sandy beach side-by-side. Tanjung Batu Beach is popular among locals for jogging or strolling, sunbathing and family gatherings.
Located approximately 3.1 miles (five kilometres) from Bintulu Town, this delightful, 141-acre (57-hectare) park and zoo includes an orchid garden, a butterfly house and lots of flamingos. The only zoo in the northern region of Sarawak, Taman Tumbina is home to a variety of animals, including crocodiles, pythons and more. Most visitors frequent the park for jungle-trekking or hill-climbing. Splendid panoramic vistas of the South China Sea await those who dare to climb to the top of the hill.
Similajau National Park
Located approximately 19 miles (about 30 kilometres) from Bintulu, Similajau National Park is home to a unique golden-sand beach, one of the most beautiful in Malaysia, along with a pristine jungle and mangroves. You can stroll along the golden sand, marvel at the park's unusual flora, fauna and bird species, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters and hike deep into the jungle.
Sarawak Agricultural Park (Taman Pertanian Sarawak)
The Sarawak Agricultural Park is home to approximately 20 species of wild plants, along with orchids and fruit. The park features a hanging pedestrian bridge, along with activities that include horseback-riding, fishing and more.
Bintulu's latest attraction is the 120-acre (48.6-hectare) Bintulu Promenade, a commercial and recreational park rolled into one. The state's longest waterfront attraction, it is similar to the one in Kuching. Strategically located near the delta of the Kemena River and Park City Beverly Hotel, the Bintulu Promenade is ideal for a relaxing stroll, watching the sunset and enjoying the evening breeze.
Niah National Park
Niah National Park is located approximately 75 miles (about 120 kilometres) north of Bintulu. The west mouth of the Niah Caves is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It is significant because of the wide range of stone tools used from the Stone Age, and the discovery of skulls of the earliest humans in Southeast Asia. Prehistoric wall paintings also exist in one of the caves. The journey to the Niah Caves at the park are accessible via a 131-foot (40-metre) stroll along a 1.9-mile (three-kilometre) plank-walk. The Niah Caves are famous for its luxurious birds' nests, and the bat guano found in the caves is an important source of natural fertilizer.
Bintulu is a gateway to the hinterland of the Kapit Division. In fact, Sungai Asap and Bakun are the only places in Kapit that are accessible from the main trunk road of the Pan Borneo Highway. Sungai Asap is a settlement where tourists can opt for a homestay at local Orang Ulu longhouses, and learn about their culture and lifestyles. Once every five years, villagers from the surrounding areas congregate at Sungai Asap to celebrate Pesta Sungai Asap.
A two-hour drive from Bintulu, Bakun is the site of the largest hydroelectric dam in Malaysia. The electrical supply from this dam was planned to accommodate supply demands in Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, and the neighbouring countries of Indonesia and Brunei.
Kuala Nyalau Beach
Kuala Nyalau is a delightful beach with coral reefs scattered along its coastline, and a beautiful waterfall located near the beach.
This small town and capital district is comprised of different areas such as Kuala Tatau, Sangan, Ng Sangan, Nanga Tau, and Kuala Muput. Tatau is renowned for its fresh produce, seafood and fishing, especially along the Tatau River.
A small district of Bintulu, Sebauh is the centre of trading for people from nearby Pandan, Ulu Sebauh, and up to the deepest upriver area of Kuala Kebulu, Tubau and Labang. Like Tatau, Sebauh is renowned for its fishing.
Tua Pek Kong
A colourful Chinese temple, Tue Pek Kong Temple is located at the centre of the town and overlooks the Kemena River. A park located behind the temple is home to young, impressively plumed fighting cocks.
Pakat Global Sports Centre
Located next to the Medan Selera at Jalan Sultan Iskandar Bintulu, the Pakat Global Sports Centre is a popular local attraction featuring 'futsal', an indoor version of football, table tennis, and pool and snooker tables. An adjacent food court offers food and drinks.
Borneo International Kite Festival
Bintulu hosts several popular festivals and celebrations throughout the year. The Borneo International Kite Festival is an annual event held at the old airport during the last week of September. The festival features a public display of kites from around the world, ranging from the traditional kites of Wau to more modern flying sculpture such as 'Pokemon'. Cultural performers also showcase their dancing skills and costumes during the festival, and many onsite hawkers and stalls offer a wide array of food.
Held annually and back-to-back with Sebauh, the Bintulu Regatta is held to encourage people from around Bintulu to compete for the fastest boat-rowing. It is similar to China's Dragon Boat Festival, and the competition offers prizes for various categories such as speedboats, motorboats and traditional boats.
An Evening in Bintulu
Held annually to celebrate the New Year from December 1-31, 'An Evening in Bintulu' includes various activities, such as a singing competition, trade fair, New Year's celebration and Christmas carolling.
Bintulu Golf Club
Located 7.4 miles (12 kilometres) from Bintulu, the Bintulu Golf Club hosts the annual Piala TYT Golf Tournament, and is a must for those who love to golf. The course is highlighted by splendid pine trees along the rocky beach of Tanjung Batu.
Bintulu offers a splendid array of outdoor activities, including picturesque nature and walking trails, jungle and rainforest trekking at Taman Tumbina and Similajau National Park, off-road exploring, bicycling, caving at Niah National Park, bird-watching, futsal at the Pakat Global Sports Centre, horseback-riding at the Sarawak Agricultural Park, and golfing at the scenic Bintulu Golf Club. The idyllic beaches of Tanjung Batu, Similajau National Park and Kuala Nyalau, along with Bintulu's bays, rivers, harbours and teeming coastal waters, are ideally-suited for swimming, canoeing, rainforest kayaking, wind- and kitesurfing, jet- and waterskiing, fishing, boating, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving, and other water sports.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.