5 Reasons Why Bintulu is the Perfect Family Destination You Never Knew About

5 Reasons Why Bintulu is the Perfect Family Destination You Never Knew About

Looking for a travel destination that's suitable for the whole family? THIS is it!

Selecting a destination to appease the interests of an entire family is no mean feat. It can be challenging to narrow down a place, taking into account everyone’s whims and fancies. Look no further than this secret coastal town on the majestic island of Borneo Bintulu!

These six reasons will exemplify why this humble fishing village has evolved to become an ideal family destination you can effortlessly escape to. Are you ready?

1. Great food translates to more sharing

Image credit: Kai Hendry

How does catching up over a delectable array of Sarawak-inspired cuisine sound like? From sinful street food and hawker fare to even fresh seafood, you will have no problems satisfying those food cravings with your family in Bintulu. Here’s the breakdown of where you should head to for tasty local dishes!

Image credit: Sawarak Tourism

Make Pasar Utama, situated along the riverfront, your first pit-stop. Fun fact: The cone-shaped roofs of Pasar Utama symbolise the traditional Melanau headgear known as “terendak”. Serving up a range of local delights from Mee Jawa, Rojak (fruit and vegetable salad), Pulut Panggang (grilled glutinous rice), Mee Kolok, Sarawak Laksa and Ais Cendol, the food stalls here will ensure you savour some of Sarawak’s most authentic dishes. If you have an adventurous palate, challenge yourself to sample some “Ulat Sagu” which is essentially plump sago worms! With motivation from your family members, you might successfully be able to chow down a few of these that happen to be a famous local delicacy.

Image credit: Shaun Anyi

If you are craving for crustaceans and wish to indulge in comforting street food, head to Pantai Temasya Tanjung Batu. Tip: the sunset vantage point from this beach is absolutely stunning. From Satay (barbecued meat skewers), Rojak and Goreng Pisang (banana fritters) to refreshing coconut juice, enjoy a mini picnic (and the cool sea breeze) while watching the sky turn into hues of blue, pink and gold. Revel in priceless moments like this, and snap that long-awaited family selfie against the postcard-worthy backdrop.

2. There is something for everyone!

Image credit: Bintulu Golf Club

Remember how family holidays tend to be troublesome as it is difficult to incorporate everyone’s interests? Well, in Bintulu, there really is something for everyone to enjoy – yes, golfers included. Take a tee break and swing to your heart’s content at Bintulu Golf Course, Bintulu’s own international standard 18-course golf course.

If golf is really not your cup of tea, take your pick from a myriad of water sports. The small inlets and beaches provide excellent avenues to quench your thirst for adrenaline. Whether you decide to snorkel at Patricia Reef and witness the vibrant marine life, or take things up a few notches by riding on an exhilarating “Banana Boat”, you and your family will certainly be embracing fun in epic proportions.

Image credit: Misamisan

Prefer something more therapeutic and good for the soul? Indulge in some retail therapy at some of Bintulu’s top malls, such as Times Square Megamall, ParkCity Mall and Paragon Street Mall. The ladies can take their time to explore shops such as Padini, FOS and Levi’s, while the men chill over a cup of hot latte at Starbucks. Bintulu clearly has options that cater to varying interests and demographics!


3. Home to lots of opportunities for an educational trip

Image credit: Calvinaj

A family vacation with the young ones is incomplete without the incorporation of educational activities where they can attain valuable experiences. In Bintulu, Taman Tumbina is the perfect place to start, as it showcases Borneo’s intriguing flora and fauna range and is the only zoo in the northern region of Sarawak.

Image credit: Taman Tumbina

Overlooking the South China Sea, this 57-hectare botanical-cum-zoological complex is home to a wide diversity of animals, notably its hornbill collection. The latest attraction, “Alam Kelebar”, translates to Butterfly World, comprising an insectary housing a vivid range of butterflies that would certainly get the little ones squealing with delight.

Go on and participate in some of the interactive programmes, such as feeding the arapaimas and birds in the walk-in aviary. To make your visit even more memorable, be sure to plant a tree at Tumbina and have your name prominently featured alongside the plant. What better way to forge timeless bonds than over a “green investment” for the future?

Image credit: Paul White

Aside from Taman Tumbina, Similajau National Park is another great spot to learn more about Borneo’s wildlife diversity. This popular national park houses some of the best coastal sites to view nesting turtles. Fun fact: you can find all five sea turtle species in Sarawak – the Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle and Loggerhead Turtle. All of them are critically endangered worldwide and Bintulu actually offers you a rare chance to catch a glimpse of these gentle creatures (if lady luck is on your side, that is!).  


4. Forge close-knit bonds while discovering new cultures

As Bintulu is foreign to many, this is an optimal time to embark on a cultural journey together, and unravel fascinating facts about the local culture and intriguing landmarks. Visit Kampung Jepak, a Melanau fishing village located near Kemena River. There are various activities that you can engage in here, namely sago processing, learning the ropes of manufacturing Belacan and Cencaluk (fermented shrimp paste), as well as making Terendak (Melanau headgear) and Tudung Saji (a type of food cover).

Image credit: eTawau

There are several places in Bintulu to discover more about the various local ethnicities. The Kuan Ying Tong Temple, located just two kilometres from Bintulu town, is one of the two Chinese temples in the area. This is no ordinary temple and in fact, there are several peculiar features that make this place of worship unique. The structural design boasts a rock garden courtyard of quality craftsmanship and a man-made waterfall, with its perimeters lined with dragon fencing.

Image credit: Cerevisae

Another noteworthy landmark to visit is the Bintulu Mosque, better known as Assyakirin Mosque. This architectural wonder also happens to be Bintulu’s largest mosque! Landscaped with gorgeous blooms and adorned by fountains, a walk up to the mosque proves to be a soothing experience. Indeed, there is no better way to learn more about a new culture than by immersing fully in the local way of life.

5. Slow pace makes it easier to relax and enjoy time together

Image credit: Bintulu.Org

In Bintulu, the more laid-back way of life also allows you to spend more quality time together. Simple activities such as strolling along the tranquil Bintulu Promenade, the state’s longest waterfront attraction, can provide ample time for you to connect as a family. The recreational park also poses as another picturesque spot to witness the sublime sunset and enjoy the sea breeze.

Image credit: Sarawak Tourism

Aside from Bintulu Promenade, another ideal family outing would be going on a scenic river cruise! The Kemena River is endowed with lush views of the tropical greenery, as well as traditional longhouses that dot the riverbanks. Some cruises even stop by a few of the longhouses so that you can observe communal living under one roof. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride as you navigate the tropical silty waters.


6. Embark on fun-filled adventures and grow closer

Image credit: Sarawak Forestry

Bintulu is an equally apt choice for those of you seeking for adventures and off the beaten path family trips. How does camping in a Bornean jungle sound? Similajau National Park is an exotic spot to bask in the rich natural landscapes. Boasting over 125 species of birds and 24 varieties of mammals, Similajau National Park allows you to get up close to its untouched natural environment. If camping is not something you’re game for, opt for staying in chalets or hostels instead! The most important part is that you get to spend time doing out-of-the-norm activities with the ones you love.

Image credit: Michael Elleray

Another exciting option will be to go cave exploring at Niah National Park and Caves. The giant limestone caves here are magnificent and will leave you awestruck! As you continue your jungle trek, you might even spot a few natives perched precariously on towering bamboo poles trying to collect edible bird nests some 60 metres above ground. The west mouth of the Niah Caves also happens to be an important archaeological site in Southeast Asia. Ancient skull fragments have been reportedly found here indicative of its long history. Already feel like you have been transported back in time with your family?

If you’re game for something novel and exciting, Bintulu is a superb choice indeed! Indulge in a dizzying array of adventure-laden activities and get a better glimpse of the local Malaysian way of life – courtesy of Bintulu’s back-to-basic vibe. At the end of the trip, look back on fond memories and reminisce joyous moments that will surely last a lifetime.

Image credit: Air Asia

Eager to kick-start that much-needed holiday with the kids? AirAsia not only flies you directly to Bintulu from Singapore, but also ensures that your travels are hassle-free right from the get-go. Be sure to pre-book your in-flight meals and check-in baggage so that you can enjoy the flight later. With the kids not off to a cranky start thanks to AirAsia’s smooth booking procedures, you just know the trip will be a huge success!


Brought to you by AirAsia.

About Author

Nur Sofia
Nur Sofia

When she isn’t plotting her next solo trip, Sofia daydreams about Santorini sunsets, Cape Town coasts and Barcelona’s beaches. Born and bred in Singapore, she feels like her heart belongs to the world though. There is a high chance you'll find her munching on Nutella cupcakes while predicting the next blindside on Survivor.