Bako national park is one of the smallest, but finest national parks in Eastern Malaysia. It’s the best place to spot proboscis monkeys, Borneo bearded pigs and pitcher plants. Situated at the tip of the Muara Tebas penninsula, roughly 40 km from Kuching, Bako is the perfect day trip. No need to book a tour. Everything is perfectly organised, even if you do everything yourself. Here's how.
Travel agencies charge 260 RM for a day trip. Or 30 RM per person / per way just for the transfer to Bako village Jetty. You can visit the park at a fraction of that cost (less than 100 RM) and still be perfectly comfy.
Take the red bus no. 1 (4 RM/1 way) to Bako village jetty. The bus leaves every full hour (so: 7 am, 8 am, etc) at the wet market in front of the Electra building - but it also stops at the bus station right in front of the Square tower (at the waterfront - can't miss it) and the Riverside Majestic Hotel (the other side of the waterfront). The trip takes 45 min to 1 hour.
You arrive right in front of the jetty. Here, you buy your ticket for the boat (20 RM/person/way) and park entrance (20 RM/person). As soon they have enough passengers, they leave to the actual park entrance. It's a lovely trip.
Once u arrive, walk to the park registration office and book your return boat ride (another 20 RM/person). The boats leave every full hour (... 3 pm, 4 pm, the last one at 5 pm). You just write your name on the list, so the guys can order enough boats. If later on, you change your mind and wish to take an earlier boat back, no problem, just let them know.
Which trail to take? We took the short Paku trail, as it offers the best chances to see some of the proboscis monkeys. Make sure you take plenty of water (min. 2L/person) as there are no stalls along the trails and you're going to sweat like crazy.
The 1 km trail sounds like a walk in the park - but trust me, it's a hell of workout as you constantly have to climb ladders. We saw 1 monkey in the trees. You’ll arrive at a lovely beach.
There you can take a boat to the nearby Pendan Kecil - 35RM per boat, so pitch in with some fellow travellers to split the cost. You'll pass the famous sea stacks shown on postcards, so an absolute must-do.
From Pendan Kecil - it's a 2 hours hike back to the park entrance. Apart from the steep climb from the beach - it's a pretty easy trail, offering great variety in vegetation and landscape.
The buffet at the visitor's center is cheap and surprisingly good - especially after a grueling hike in the jungle. Depending on what you scoop on your plate - you pay around 11 RM.
Then go back to the boat office next door. You'll walk back to the jetty in group, so boarding the boats is extremely disciplined. The boat takes about 20 minutes. So you arrive back in time to catch the bus back to Kuching at the Jetty, leaving at half past every hour (so: 3.30 pm, 4:30 pm - the last bus should be at 5:30)
Total price for the trip (food and drinks included): less than 100 RM/person