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Asia > Malaysia > Miri

See: Why rent a car in Miri ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Miri?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Miri?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Miri car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Miri with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Miri? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Miri, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Situated in Malaysian Borneo just south of the border with Brunei, Miri is an important gateway to the Malaysian jungle, and especially to the hugely impressive Mulu Caves.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Miri is in car rental price band: 7/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Miri? 

No. Car rental is expensive by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Miri between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 1/10

Non car score:3/10

Balance: 2

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Why? Visiting Miri using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Miri ?

  • We don’t really think it’s worth hiring a car in Miri.
  • You could hire a car to drive south along the coast, or on inland roads which run parallel to the coast.

Why not? Visiting Miri without a car

Why don't you need a car in Miri ?

The town of Miri itself is compact enough. Although its bustling by Borneo standards, this is no Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. It’s perfectly easy to get between the major hotels on foot, or by taxi if necessary. There are also enough buses scooting around to travel along the coast, and also into neighbouring Brunei. Having said that, despite extensive deforestation, there are still very few roads heading inland anyway, so the main way in and out of Miri by land is the travel along the coast.

  • To reach Mulu National Park for the Mulu bat caves, travel by boat via Marudi, or take ashort hop flight.
  • Other than the road towards the village Long Lama on the Baram River, there are very few other roads which can be driven on.
  • Generally, car hire in Miri is expensive relative to other locations in South East Asia (see pricing tables).
  • Plenty of options just to come to Miri and relax on the beach – but this would be a huge waste if you are coming here from further afield!
  • The airport in Miri is very close to the town centre – you could almost walk it, but you probably won’t want to with a bag, given the usual humid heat in Borneo.
  • There are no driving roads between Sabah and Sarawak, other than routes which go through Brunei. You can make this journey by bus, or a combination of bus and ferry, but you will be unlikely to be able to get a hire car in Miri and get insurance to drive it into Brunei. See our cross border driving pages for more information.It is generally better to fly to Kota Kinabalu instead.
  • There are very few options for one way rental from Miri, since you would only be able to return your car to a location within the state of Sarawak. One such location might be Kuching.

Ratings: How does Miri compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Miri? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Miri, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Miri? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Miri (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Miri? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Miri airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Miri car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 2

2019 - 3

2021 - 2

Average score - 2



The real reason for coming into Miri in the first place must surely be to head into the jungle, and in particular to trek into the Mulu caves. The best way to reach this area is to travel by river, and a variety of fast boat and slower local services is available. So there really is not much point in getting a hire car here, so our Miri car hire advice is not to bother.


Do you or don't you need a car in Miri ?

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