7 Reasons to Visit Bako National Park
Updated December 2022, 7 Reasons to Visit Bako National Park was originally written in August 2015
Bako National Park is the oldest park in Sarawak, established in 1957. Sarawak is a northwestern state of Malaysia, located on the island of Borneo. Bako is full of unique wildlife and beautiful, diverse landscapes. I had the opportunity to visit Bako National park while in Sarawak back in 2013 as part of a longer backpacking trip through Southeast Asia.
Here are just a few reasons to visit Bako National Park.
1. Bako has approximately 150 rare Proboscis Monkeys
Known for the phallic-shaped noses, Proboscis monkeys are endemic to Borneo, and visiting Bako National Park is going to be one of your best chances to see them in the wild. In the mornings around sunrise is the best time to try and go view them at Bako National Park. They usually can be found foraging in the trees between the park headquarters and the beach.
Plan your Bako National Park visit: Read my Bako National Park Travel Guide
…and grab a copy of Bradt’s Borneo to get your travel planning started
2. It is a DIY-style park in Borneo
You don’t need a guide or to join a tour to enjoy Bako, though you can do either and there’s nothing wrong with it! All of the 16 trails are color-coded and simple enough to navigate on your own if you’re a relatively confident hiker.
Don’t wanna do-it-yourself? Shop Bako National Park tours
3. You can spend the night in the park
There are options of tent camping, chalets, a lodge, and hostel dorm rooms bookable through the park headquarters (do it in advance!). Staying in the park accommodations will give you the option to hike around and get in some very early morning wildlife viewing. It will also give you the chance to do the evening nature walks led by a park guide (weather permitting).
Beware, especially if tent camping, of the monkeys. They can and will get into your tent, and even cabins to rifle through food and belongings. Monkeys have no manners, especially Macaques.
4. Or you can do it as a day trip from Kuching
If you come to Bako more last minute and there is no accommodation available, or you are not willing to sleep in a cabin with mold and no AC, you do have the option of staying in nearby Kuching.
It is possible to do day trips into Bako from Kuching. Kuching does have a wider variety of accommodation if you need something with better quality than what’s available in the park. The only negative is that it is about an hour by bus and an additional 20 minutes boat ride away.
Another option, if you prefer to stay in a resort is to stay in Santubong.
Don’t miss out on seeing Borneon orangutans, add Semenggoh Wildlife Center to your plans for Kuching
5. There are enough trails to keep a trekker occupied for days
With 16 trails leading all over the park, there are numerous places to visit. Some trails are a little more steep and intense, while others are easier for beginners.
The big thing to remember when trekking here is always to make sure to bring enough water, snacks, and sun protection. It’s hot, humid and the sun is unrelenting, as you are practically on the equator. With that said, also be prepared for crazy rainstorms, this is the jungle and it’s no mystery why it is so very green.
6. The incredible flora and fauna
Visiting Bako Naitonal Park you will have opportunity to witness plenty of unique and interesting plants and animals. Of course, most well-known are the previously mentioned Proboscis monkeys.
Bornean bearded pigs can be found roaming around the park headquarters.
You will likely be hassled long-tailed macaques (maybe even have your bra stolen, like my friend Tay) at some point.
Other animals include the colugo, slow loris, silvered langur, tarsier, pangolin, plantain squirrel, monitor lizards, otters, and many others.
Flora will include the endemic pitcher plant, the rafflesia, the bladderwort, and the sundew among others.
Bako encompasses seven different ecosystems. Ecosystems include Kerangas forest, mangrove forest, beach vegetation, peat swamp forest, Padang vegetation, mixed dipterocarp forest, and cliff vegetation.
7. Wonderful beaches
Bako national park has numerous beaches scattered around its 27 square kilometers of land. The park goes along the South China Sea as it hugs the land to the tip of the Muara Tebas Peninsula. Chances are you will have a beach to yourself for at least part of a day. What better reward at the end of a trek through equatorial rainforest than a swim in the ocean?
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3 thoughts on “7 Reasons to Visit Bako National Park”
I hope you do go soon, Borneo was great and we really loved Kuching & Bako NP.
I came across your website while searching for information on visiting Bako National Park and landed on this page. I’m planning a visit to Borneo in 2019 and want to start my trip in Kuching as it looks like an easy place to begin my travel in Borneo. Do you have more information on visiting the National Park? I’d like to know more.
I don’t yet have a post with good info in Bako out there, but I do have about half a draft of one done up so this gives me motivation to finish the post. I can let you know when it’s live. Enjoy Bako! Originally when planning our Borneo visit we were torn between Tanjung Puting and Kutai, but once we started searching into the frequency (and reliability!) of flights, difficulty reaching the park and so on we decided that flying to Kuching and visiting Bako NP was the best way of utilizing our time. It’s a great park with marked trails which makes it one of the few in Borneo that self guiding through the park is possible, and easy access.