Upon arrival, it’s quite clear why Bako National Park is the number one tourist attraction when visiting Kuching of Sarawak.
The vast beauty, the everchanging landscapes and the picturesque coastal views help create a memorable day trip when electing to hike in the paradise of a vividly beautiful National Park.
Whether you’re spending a day at Bako, or fortunate enough to stay a night or two in the Forest Lodge accommodation! You’re sure to have a busy, exhausting and fulfilling day, all in one, within the natural surrounds of Bako in Malaysia.
A Bako National Park Day Trip to Remember in Sarawak
Getting to Bako National park
How to get to Bako National Park from Kuching is straight forward, and it won’t cost a great deal, no matter which method you choose.
Catching a bus is the cheapest way to get to the Bako Park by getting on the Red Number 1 bus from Kuching City for only 4-ringgit. The bus departs Kuching and the Bako boat terminal every hour between the times of 7 am – 5 pm.
For a quicker yet more expensive method of transportation, you can order a GRAB driver from the App. The prices vary, depending on which time of the day you travel, but it usually costs between 30-45-ringgit.
Bako National park Entrance Fee
Once you arrive at the Boat Terminal, you’re greeted by staff members once out of the vehicle and will help you organise boat and entrance fees to the Park.
The Bako National Park Boat fees cost 20-ringgit for a return trip, with the first boat to Bako leaving at 8 am and the last boat leaving Bako at 4 pm. If you haven’t organised an overnight stay, you don’t want to miss that last boat.
You’ll also pay your Bako National Park entrance fees with a foreigners fee costing 10-ringgit for the day, with further expenses for an extended stay over multiple days.
The Longboat to Bako
At the boat terminal, it appears to look like organised chaos, when you don’t know whether you’re coming or going, with a bit of wait time required.
Finally, you’re head over to the jetty to the longboats on the Sungai Tabo River and confronted with a busy river filled with private and commercial boats.
While it looks chaotic on the waters, it’ll capture your attention from the get-go as you look downriver and out towards the nearby villages that saturate the banks of the river.
Once you’re on the longboats and heading to Bako, the fresh, crisp air flows through you for the duration of the journey and is a relief from the Malaysian Heat.
Through the journey, you’ll look out towards the surrounding nature and for hidden crocodiles from the safety of the boat.
The journey takes approximately 20-minutes and what awaits you on arrival at Bako National Park is a gorgeous beach and the highly anticipated day trip has officially begun.
The Bako Headquarters
Before you can go exploring in Bako, you start the Bako Headquarters and Canteen area.
At the headquarters, you’ll receive a map of the walking trails with the advice of the best trails to take for your allotted time in the National Park.
It’s at that time you must sign in and note the trail paths you’ll make for the day.
Usually, travellers on a Bako National Park day trip receive the same advice and take similar treks, meaning you’ll have many hikers on the same path.
The Canteen area also provides you with the last opportunity to top up with the essentials, such as snacks and water for energy and hydration for the walk.
Make sure you carry at least two litres of drinking water for the day, it will get exhaustive walking around in the humid conditions and dehydration can creep in.
You’re now ready to take on the Bako National Park trails and discover genuine scenic beauty.
The best way to spend a Bako National Park Day Tour
Firstly, it’s essential to know your fitness limits and capabilities when at Bako. You don’t want to arrive back at the Headquarters after the last boat has departed and left stranded.
If you do stick to the specific trails I mention within this article, you’ll have plenty of time take in mesmerising views within the Park, without feeling the need for urgency.
On the map, you’ll see a total of 16 trails; some go for approximately 45-minutes and others into the hours.
For this day trip, I travelled on two separate trails, the number three Telok Paku trail and the number five Telok Pandan Besar trail.
I commenced with the Telok Paku trail, a beautiful rainforest trek with constant shade and a moderate trail which was relatively risk-free.
However, you need to watch your footing as the ground is continuously uneven throughout the trek with rocky slopes and unstable staircases.
What awaits at the end of the trail of Telok Paku beach is an open sandy beach with beautiful sights of the rugged coastline.
In the waters are several longboats, and this is when things get interesting, but for the total betterment of your trip, especially if you’re eager to save energy.
The longboats are available to take you to another part of the National Park, where you can walk back to the main centre using a different track.
That’s a bonus because it means, you don’t have to walk back on the same track you came from initially, and you’re not seeing the same thing twice on your day trip.
The more people on the boat, the cheaper it costs. I was fortunate enough to round up a few more people to save money and take about the boat ride to the end of the number five trail, the Telok Pandan Besar.
The boat price is certainly worth the admission fee. Not only are you taken to the next location, but you’ll receive a short tour of the coastal area to a few hidden places only accessible by boat.
It truly is a mesmerising sightseeing experience.
After a fifteen-minute journey, you arrive on the beach of Telok Pandan Besar, a mostly deserted beach, with fewer people seen on the sands.
Once at the beach, there’s a staircase to ascend to the cliff that overlooks the beach. It’s one of the best views inside the Bako National Park, and much appreciated, before hiking back to the Headquarters.
The trek back is much longer than the first trail of Telok Paku, and the landscapes are vastly different. The Telok Pandan Besar trail is more open with a desert feel and much less shade than the jungle walk done previously.
The two trails take approximately take five hours in total, including time spent sightseeing and the boat trip between the two walking trails.
It’ll give you ample time for a leisurely walk back to the canteen, where you can enjoy a buffet lunch and a refreshing drink at a reasonable price. I’ll admit, the food is nothing fancy.
Other Bako National Park Trails for when you have longer to stay
When you have 16 trails within a National Park that comes in all sorts and sizes, you can’t help but want to go back to Bako for an extended stay.
On the Bako National Park trail map, you’ll receive a basic of the fantastic trails available, the approximate time to get the endpoint and back again. Quite useful for when staying at Bako for multiple days and wanting to see more.
Not all the walking trails, mind you, lead to a gorgeous coastline.
You can discover inland attractions such as the Tajor Waterfall, enjoy a loop trek along the Lintang trail, or head further into Bako and find more coastal areas in the name of Tajor and Tilok Limau.
Whatever you do, keep your map nearby, follow the colour codes of the trail at all times and keep a note of the approximate time it takes to walk the path.
BRING PLENTY OF DRINKING WATER!
Bako National Park Accommodation
When you seek Bako accommodation, there is a range of Lodges available when desiring to stay a little longer and walk many more trails.
The Bako National Park lodge has a variety of rooms to cater a various number of guest for groups or families, and a hostel for the budget travellers.
You can check out the range of accommodation choices at the National park on their website.
Further things to look out for at Bako
An adventure in Bako is fulfilling, especially with a range of hidden surprises to find during your day at the National Park.
From the plant species to the unique wildlife, here are a few things to watch out for exploring the Borneo rainforest.
The Bako Wildlife: The Bako wildlife comes in all shapes and sizes; you have unique red coloured long-nose monkey that lives large in the tree.
You’ll find the curious Silver Leaf Monkey and near to the Bako headquarters are the unique looking Wild Boar.
Other animals to look out for are slithering snakes, which are well hidden, and other common animals of various bird species, insects and other creepy crawlies.
The Pitcher Plant: The Pitcher plants are commonly found on the walking trails and are carnivorous plants known as pitfall traps.
The plant is a trapping mechanism featuring with a digestive liquid. It traps insects and even small mice with its formed leaves, and in which case, the insect cannot escape.
Crocodiles: At the main headquarters you’ll notice signs to be aware of crocodiles. A horrifying thought I know.
Don’t be too alarmed, crocodile attacks are sporadic, but it’s good to know they are about when visiting.
When in doubt, listen to the staff members or locals in the area.
The ever-changing landscapes: One moment you could be walking in the shaded rainforests with many surrounding trees, and in another instance, you’re feeling the heat in the open plains.
The vast changing landscapes of Bako is excellent while exploring the National Park, and it’ll captivate you for the whole journey and ease the pain of hiking in extreme heat.
One thing is for sure while walking the Bako trails, you’ll end up somewhere merely gorgeous and the hard slog to get there would have been worth it.
It’s the final reward you get for having a Bako National Park Day Trip and discovering the real beauty of Sarawak in Malaysia.