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How To Visit Bako National Park Borneo – What To See + Do


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Malynda Pryor



Welcome to Bako National Park, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Borneo. This pristine reserve is a nature lover”s paradise, offering breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and remarkable biodiversity. Bako National Park is located in the western part of Sarawak, Malaysia, and is renowned for its lush rainforests, towering cliffs, secluded beaches, and unique rock formations.


With its rich flora and fauna, Bako National Park provides an unforgettable experience for eco-tourists and adventure seekers alike. Whether you’re interested in trekking through dense jungles, spotting rare wildlife species, or simply relaxing on picturesque beaches, Bako National Park has something to offer for everyone.


As one of the oldest national parks in Malaysia, Bako National Park covers an area of approximately 27 square kilometers and is home to an impressive array of plant and animal species. The park’s diverse ecosystem includes mangrove forests, peat swamps, and heath forests, providing a habitat for over 150 bird species, numerous reptiles and amphibians, and several mammal species, including the elusive proboscis monkey.


As you explore the park, you’ll be mesmerized by the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings. Towering limestone cliffs, sculpted by centuries of erosion, stand tall against the backdrop of lush greenery. The beaches are a tranquil oasis, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a leisurely hiker, Bako National Park has a variety of trails to suit all skill levels. From the easy-going walks along the Telok Paku Trail to the more challenging climbs up Mount Santubong, there’s no shortage of adventure to be had. Each trail offers unique sights and experiences, from stunning viewpoints to hidden waterfalls.


Before embarking on your journey to Bako National Park, it’s essential to plan ahead. Be prepared for the tropical climate by packing lightweight and breathable clothing, sturdy walking shoes, and insect repellent. It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of water and snacks, as the park’s facilities are limited.


So, get ready to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Bako National Park. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a wildlife lover, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, this extraordinary destination will leave you captivated and awestruck. Explore the diverse trails, encounter fascinating wildlife, and let the beauty of Bako National Park Borneo leave an indelible mark on your heart.


Getting to Bako National Park

Located approximately 37 kilometers from Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak, Bako National Park is relatively accessible. The primary mode of transportation to reach the park is by boat from the Bako Village Jetty.


To get to Kuching, you can fly into Kuching International Airport (KIA) from major cities such as Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. The airport is well-connected and serves both local and international flights. From the airport, you can either take a taxi or a Grab car to reach the Bako Village Jetty. The journey takes around 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.


Once you arrive at the Bako Village Jetty, you will need to hire a boat to take you to the park. The boat ride to Bako National Park takes approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on the tide and weather conditions. It’s a thrilling experience as the boat glides through the mangrove-lined river and out into the South China Sea.


It’s important to note that the boat service operates from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. Therefore, it’s advisable to plan your trip accordingly and ensure you have enough time to catch the last boat back to the Bako Village Jetty.


It’s recommended to book your boat ride in advance, especially during weekends and public holidays when the park tends to get busier. You can make reservations directly with the park management or through tour operators in Kuching.


For those who prefer a hassle-free experience, there are tour packages available that include transportation from Kuching to Bako National Park, boat transfers, park entry fees, and the services of a knowledgeable guide.


Alternatively, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can opt to take a local bus from Kuching to Bako Village, followed by a short boat ride to the park. The bus journey takes approximately 40 minutes, and the boat ride is around 15 minutes. This option allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and offers a more budget-friendly approach to visiting the park.


Overall, getting to Bako National Park is a straightforward and exciting journey. Whether you choose to take a guided tour or explore independently, the experience of traveling through the scenic landscapes of Sarawak and venturing into the wild beauty of Bako National Park is an adventure in itself.


Accommodation Options

While Bako National Park offers a pristine natural setting, it also provides visitors with accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. Whether you prefer a comfortable stay or a more adventurous camping experience, there’s an option for everyone.


Bako National Park offers basic lodging facilities in the form of chalets and hostels. The chalets are equipped with modest amenities such as beds, fans, and private bathrooms. They provide a cozy and convenient option for those who prefer a comfortable retreat after a day of exploration. The hostels offer shared accommodation with communal facilities, including bathrooms and communal dining areas.


It’s important to note that the availability of accommodation is limited and tends to get booked quickly, especially during peak seasons. It’s advisable to make your reservations well in advance to secure your preferred accommodation option.


If you’re seeking a more adventurous experience, Bako National Park offers camping facilities. The park provides designated campsites where you can set up your tent and immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings. Camping permits can be obtained from the park management, and it’s essential to adhere to the park’s regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience.


For those who prefer a more luxurious stay, there are also private resorts and lodges located near Bako National Park that offer a range of amenities and services. These accommodations provide a comfortable and convenient base for exploring the park while offering a higher level of comfort and luxury.


It’s important to note that staying overnight in Bako National Park allows you to fully experience the park’s tranquility and wildlife activity. The evenings are especially magical, as nocturnal animals awaken, and the sounds of the jungle come alive.


Regardless of your chosen accommodation option, it’s essential to pack accordingly. Be sure to bring essential items such as insect repellent, a flashlight, comfortable walking shoes, and appropriate attire for the tropical climate. It’s also advisable to pack some snacks and drinking water, as there are limited food options within the park.


Staying within or near Bako National Park offers a unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility of the surroundings. Whether you choose to stay in a chalet, hostel, campsite, or private lodge, the accommodations provided allow you to experience the park at your own pace and create lasting memories.


Park Entry Fees and Permits

Before venturing into Bako National Park, it’s important to be aware of the park entry fees and permits required for visiting. These fees help support the conservation efforts and maintenance of the park, ensuring its preservation for future generations.


At the entrance of Bako National Park, there is a registration counter where visitors need to pay the park entry fee. The fee includes an entry permit, which allows you access to the park’s trails and facilities for the duration of your visit.


The park entry fees vary depending on your nationality. Malaysian citizens enjoy a lower fee compared to foreign tourists. It’s advisable to check the latest entry fee rates before your visit, as they may be subject to change.


In addition to the park entry fee, there are other permits that may be required depending on your planned activities. For example, if you intend to camp overnight, you will need to obtain a camping permit from the park management. The camping permit ensures that the park can manage the number of visitors staying overnight and maintain a sustainable camping environment.


If you’re planning on engaging in specific activities such as fishing or bird-watching, you may need to apply for additional permits. These permits can be obtained from the park authorities, and it’s essential to adhere to the park’s regulations and guidelines during your visit.


It’s worth noting that the entry permits and additional permits are valid for a specific duration. The standard entry permit allows visitors to stay in the park for the day, while the camping permit allows overnight stays. It’s important to plan your visit accordingly and be aware of the permitted duration to avoid any penalties or inconveniences.


When purchasing your entry permits, it’s recommended to have cash on hand as credit card facilities may not be available at the park entrance. It’s also essential to keep your permits with you at all times during your visit as park rangers may conduct checks along the trails.


By complying with the park’s entry fees and permit requirements, you are contributing to the conservation and sustainability of Bako National Park. Your support helps preserve the park’s unique ecosystems, protect its diverse wildlife, and maintain its natural beauty for generations to come.


Best Time to Visit

Bako National Park can be visited throughout the year, but choosing the right time to visit can greatly enhance your experience. The park’s climate and weather patterns play a significant role in determining the best time to plan your trip.


The dry season, which runs from April to October, is generally considered the best time to visit Bako National Park. During these months, the weather is usually sunny, with lower chances of rain and clearer skies. This makes it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, wildlife spotting, and beach exploration.


However, it’s important to note that Borneo’s weather can be unpredictable, and occasional showers can occur even during the dry season. It’s always a good idea to come prepared with rain gear and suitable clothing to adapt to changing weather conditions.


While the dry season offers favorable conditions for exploring the park, it’s worth considering that this period also attracts more visitors. If you prefer a quieter and less crowded experience, you might consider visiting during the shoulder seasons, which are the months of April and October. During these months, there’s a balance between fewer crowds and reasonably good weather.


The wet season, which falls between November and March, brings heavier rainfall and more frequent downpours. This period can make hiking trails muddy and slippery, limiting certain activities and wildlife sightings. However, the park takes on a different charm during this time, as the rainforest comes alive with lush greenery and vibrant flora.


It’s important to note that Bako National Park may occasionally close during the wet season due to safety concerns caused by heavy rainfall and flooding. It’s advisable to check with the park authorities or local tourism offices for the latest updates on park closures before planning your visit during this period.


Regardless of the season you choose to visit, Bako National Park offers unique experiences and breathtaking beauty year-round. Each season has its own charms, whether it’s the warm and dry weather of the high season or the vibrant and lush rainforest of the wet season.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Bako National Park depends on your personal preferences and interests. Consider factors such as weather, crowd levels, and desired activities when planning your trip to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience in this natural paradise.


Bako National Park Trails

Bako National Park is a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering a variety of trails that cater to different skill levels and interests. Exploring these trails will lead you deep into the heart of the rainforest, lush with flora and fauna, and provide stunning panoramic views of the park’s natural wonders.


One of the most popular trails in Bako National Park is the Telok Paku Trail. This easy and scenic trail takes you through picturesque coastal areas, dense forests, and a serene beach. Along the way, you may encounter wildlife such as long-tailed macaques, silver leaf monkeys, and monitor lizards. The trail ends at Telok Paku, a beautiful beach where you can relax and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.


For those seeking a more challenging hike, the Bukit Gondol Trail is a great choice. This moderate-level trail rewards hikers with breathtaking views from the top of Bukit Gondol, also known as Gondol Hill. The ascent may be steep at times, but the panoramic vistas of the rainforest canopy and surrounding islands make it well worth the effort.


If you’re up for a full-day adventure, the Tajor Waterfall Trail is a must-do. This trail takes you through dense jungle and offers glimpses of unique plant species along the way. The highlight of the trail is the stunning Tajor Waterfall, where you can take a refreshing dip in the cool cascading waters and marvel at the natural beauty surrounding you.


For experienced hikers seeking more challenging terrain, the Paku Trail is highly recommended. This strenuous trail leads you through undulating terrain, where you can catch glimpses of rare pitcher plants and orchids. The trail ends at a breathtaking viewpoint overlooking the coast, rewarding hikers with a sense of achievement and magnificent views.


It’s important to remember that some of the trails in Bako National Park can be challenging, with uneven terrain and steep sections. It’s advisable to wear comfortable and sturdy footwear, carry sufficient water, and bring insect repellent. It’s also recommended to hire a park guide who can provide valuable insights into the flora, fauna, and safety precautions along the trails.


Ultimately, exploring the trails of Bako National Park offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Borneo. Whether you’re a leisurely hiker or an experienced trekker, there’s a trail that will suit your interests and abilities, allowing you to create unforgettable memories in this captivating wilderness.


Wildlife Spotting Opportunities

Bako National Park is renowned for its rich biodiversity and is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. With its diverse ecosystems, the park offers countless opportunities to spot and observe a wide range of unique and fascinating animal species.


One of the highlights of a visit to Bako National Park is the chance to see the iconic proboscis monkey. With its distinctive large nose and potbelly, the proboscis monkey is endemic to Borneo and can be spotted swinging through the treetops or leisurely lounging near the mangrove forests. Bako National Park provides an ideal habitat for these incredible creatures, offering an excellent opportunity for close encounters and stunning photographs.


In addition to proboscis monkeys, Bako National Park is also home to a variety of other primate species. The park is inhabited by silver leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaques, and even the occasional orangutan. The trails offer the perfect vantage point to observe these playful and charismatic primates in their natural habitat.


If you’re a bird lover, Bako National Park is a paradise of feathered wonders. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded in the park, including hornbills, kingfishers, and colorful jungle fowl. Early morning hikes along the park’s trails afford the best opportunities for bird-watching, as the birds are most active during this time.


The park’s mangrove forests are home to a variety of unique and fascinating creatures. Keep an eye out for the elusive and well-camouflaged proboscis monkey, which can often be found near the rivers or in the mangroves, feeding on leaves and fruits. You might also spot other mangrove-dwelling animals, such as mudskippers, tree crabs, and monitor lizards.


For those interested in reptiles and amphibians, Bako National Park offers encounters with a variety of fascinating species. Look out for green pit vipers and various species of frogs, including the Bornean horned frog. Keep a keen eye on the forest floor and the lower branches of trees to spot these elusive creatures.


It’s important to remember that wildlife spotting is a matter of luck and being in the right place at the right time. Patience, observation, and a respectful distance are key when encountering wildlife in their natural habitat. To increase your chances of spotting animals, it’s advisable to hire a knowledgeable park guide who can help locate and identify the different wildlife species.


Exploring Bako National Park offers an incredible opportunity to witness the incredible diversity of wildlife that thrives in the Bornean rainforest. From playful primates to colorful birds and fascinating reptiles, each wildlife encounter in Bako National Park is a unique and unforgettable experience.


Notable Flora and Fauna

Bako National Park is a treasure trove of unique flora and fauna, showcasing the incredible biodiversity of Borneo. The park’s diverse ecosystems, ranging from mangroves to rainforests, harbor a wide array of plant and animal species that are not found anywhere else in the world.


One of the most distinctive and iconic plants in Bako National Park is the carnivorous pitcher plant. These unusual plants have evolved to survive in nutrient-poor soil by capturing and digesting insects. Several species of pitcher plants can be found throughout the park, including the colorful Nepenthes gracilis and the larger Nepenthes ampullaria. Observing these fascinating plants with their pitcher-shaped traps is a unique experience for nature enthusiasts.


The park is also home to a variety of orchid species, including the endemic Bornean black orchid (Coelogyne pandurata). These delicate and exquisite flowers can be found growing on the trees and forest floor, offering a stunning visual display and a sweet fragrance to the air.


Bako National Park is known for its primate population, most notably the charismatic proboscis monkey. The park’s mangrove forests provide an ideal habitat for these endangered monkeys, with their distinctive long noses and potbellies. Visitors may also encounter silver leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaques, and occasionally, the elusive orangutan swinging through the treetops.


In addition to primates, Bako National Park is teeming with an astonishing variety of bird species. From colorful hornbills to agile kingfishers, the park is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Keep your binoculars handy as you explore the trails, and you might spot rare and endemic birds such as the Bornean bristlehead or the blue-eared kingfisher.


The park’s forests are also home to various reptiles and amphibians. Keep an eye out for the green pit viper, a venomous snake known for its striking coloration. You may also come across various frog species, including the iconic Bornean horned frog, with its distinctively horned head.


Bako National Park is rich in flora and fauna, and every visit presents an opportunity to observe and learn about the unique biodiversity that exists within its boundaries. Whether it’s an encounter with a rare pitcher plant, a close encounter with a playful monkey, or the vibrant melodies of the park’s feathered residents, the park’s notable flora and fauna offer a captivating experience for visitors.


Rock Formations and Beaches

Bako National Park is not only renowned for its lush rainforests and diverse wildlife but also for its stunning rock formations and picturesque beaches. The park’s rugged coastline is adorned with magnificent cliffs, unique rock formations, and secluded sandy stretches, offering breathtaking vistas and unforgettable experiences.


One of the most famous rock formations in Bako National Park is the iconic “Sea Stack.” This towering limestone formation stands tall, emerging from the waters of the South China Sea. The Sea Stack is a sight to behold, particularly during high tide, when the waves crash against its weathered surface, showcasing the enduring forces of nature.


Another notable rock formation is the “Pinnacle.” This dramatic limestone structure rises sharply from the beach, reaching towards the sky. Its distinct shape and prominent presence provide a captivating backdrop for photographs and a memorable sight during your exploration of the park.


As you venture along the park’s trails, you’ll come across secluded beaches that offer a peaceful escape from the outside world. These pristine stretches of sand, often fringed by lush vegetation, allow visitors to unwind and soak in the serene atmosphere. While some beaches are easily accessible, others require a bit more effort to reach, rewarding you with a sense of solitude and tranquility.


The park’s beaches not only provide a serene environment but also offer fascinating opportunities to observe wildlife. From the playful antics of the long-tailed macaques to the unique feeding behavior of the proboscis monkeys, these shorelines are alive with activity. Keep an eye out for crabs scuttling across the sand and shorebirds searching for food along the water’s edge.


Some of the beaches are even home to nesting sea turtles, such as the Olive Ridley and Green turtles. If you’re fortunate, you may bear witness to the mesmerizing sight of baby turtles making their way to the sea, beginning their lifelong journey in the depths of the ocean.


Exploring the rock formations and beaches of Bako National Park is a magical experience that allows you to witness the raw power of nature and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the coastal environment. Whether you’re marveling at the majestic Sea Stack, strolling along pristine sandy shores, or observing the fascinating beach-dwelling wildlife, these natural wonders will leave an indelible mark on your memories.


Cultural Experiences

While Bako National Park is primarily known for its natural beauty and wildlife, it also offers a unique opportunity to engage with the local culture and gain insights into the heritage of the surrounding communities. From learning about indigenous traditions to savoring local cuisine, there are several cultural experiences to enrich your visit to the park.


One way to immerse yourself in the local culture is to visit the nearby Bako Village. This small village serves as the gateway to the park and provides a glimpse into the daily lives of the local Bidayuh people. Take a stroll through the village, interact with the friendly locals, and discover their traditional homes and way of life.


Within Bako National Park itself, you might have the opportunity to meet the park’s knowledgeable and passionate rangers. These dedicated individuals play a crucial role in maintaining and conserving the park’s ecosystem. Engage in a conversation with them to learn more about the park’s history, conservation efforts, and the importance of preserving the unique flora and fauna.


Participating in a guided tour or nature walk can also provide cultural insights. Local guides often share stories and legends associated with the park, explaining the traditional beliefs and practices of the indigenous communities. They can provide valuable information about the plants, animals, and conservation efforts that contribute to the cultural fabric of Bako National Park.


For food enthusiasts, sampling local cuisine is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the cultural flavors of the region. Visit the small eateries in Bako Village to savor traditional dishes, such as Sarawak laksa or Bidayuh-style bamboo chicken. Indulging in these local delicacies allows you to appreciate the culinary heritage of the area and support the local economy.


During festive seasons, such as Hari Raya or Gawai Dayak, you may have the opportunity to witness cultural performances and traditional ceremonies. These celebrations showcase the vibrant and diverse cultural heritage of the community and offer a chance to witness traditional dances, music, and rituals that have been passed down through generations.


Engaging with the local culture while visiting Bako National Park not only enriches your travel experience but also supports the preservation of traditional practices and the livelihoods of the local communities. By immersing yourself in the cultural aspects of the park, you gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between nature and the people who call this incredible place home.


Safety Tips and Essential Items

When visiting Bako National Park, it’s essential to prioritize your safety and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience in the wilderness. Here are some safety tips and essential items to keep in mind before embarking on your adventure:


1. Stay on designated trails: Bako National Park has a network of well-marked trails. It’s important to stick to these trails to avoid getting lost or injuring yourself. Straying off the designated paths can disturb the fragile ecosystem and put you at risk.


2. Prepare for the weather: The weather in Bako National Park can be hot and humid, so dress in lightweight, breathable clothing. Long sleeves and pants can protect you from insects and the sun. Don’t forget to bring a raincoat or poncho in case of unexpected rain showers.


3. Wear comfortable footwear: Choose sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes or closed-toe sandals that provide good traction. The trails can be uneven and slippery, so proper footwear is crucial to prevent slips and falls.


4. Bring insect repellent: Bako National Park is home to various insects and mosquitoes. Apply insect repellent with DEET to protect yourself from bites and potential diseases. Reapply as necessary, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.


5. Stay hydrated: Carry a sufficient amount of water with you during your visit. The tropical climate and physical activity can lead to dehydration, so it’s important to drink regularly and stay hydrated.


6. Pack snacks and meals: Bako National Park has limited food options, so it’s advisable to bring your own snacks and meals. Pack lightweight, non-perishable snacks that provide energy, such as nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, and sandwiches.


7. Use sun protection: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF before heading out, even on cloudy days. Bring a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing to shield yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.


8. Bring a first aid kit: It’s always wise to carry a basic first aid kit with essentials such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications. Be prepared for minor injuries or ailments that may occur during your visit.


9. Respect wildlife: Do not approach or feed wild animals, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and pose risks to both you and the animals. Maintain a safe distance and observe them from afar. Remember, you are a guest in their natural habitat.


10. Carry a map and have emergency contact information: Familiarize yourself with the park’s layout and carry a map to navigate the trails. Ensure you have emergency contact numbers for the park authorities or relevant local authorities in case of any emergencies.


By following these safety tips and carrying essential items, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in Bako National Park. Take the necessary precautions, be mindful of your surroundings, and cherish the opportunity to connect with nature in this incredible wilderness.



Bako National Park in Borneo is a captivating destination that offers a remarkable blend of natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and unique cultural experiences. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply seeking a peaceful getaway, this national park has something to offer for everyone.


From the dense rainforests to the towering cliffs and stunning beaches, Bako National Park showcases the breathtaking landscapes that make Borneo a natural wonder. The trails lead you on a journey through the lush greenery, where you can witness the rich biodiversity and spot rare and endemic wildlife species, including the iconic proboscis monkey.


The park’s rock formations and secluded beaches provide a scenic backdrop and moments of tranquility amid the rugged coastal beauty. You can immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the nearby Bako Village, trying local cuisine, or engaging with the park’s knowledgeable rangers.


However, it’s important to remember to prioritize safety and respect the delicate ecosystems and wildlife that call Bako National Park home. Following trail guidelines, wearing appropriate gear, and being mindful of the environment are crucial to preserving this natural treasure for future generations.


Whether you choose to stay in comfortable chalets, camp under the starry night sky, or embark on an unforgettable wildlife adventure, Bako National Park promises an authentic and memorable experience. The sights, sounds, and scents of this incredible destination will stay with you long after you leave.


Plan your visit to Bako National Park, immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of Borneo, and let the wonders of this pristine reserve leave an indelible mark on your heart. With its rich biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and cultural charm, Bako National Park offers a truly unforgettable journey into the heart of nature.