|Arriving at the Bakelalan Airport|
First of all, you should take not that only MasWings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines flies to Bakelalan and there are no other airlines that service this route.
The aircraft they use is the DCH Twin Otter turboprop planes which can only seat up to 16 passengers per flight, and takes about an hour from Miri Airport.
The Bakelalan airport is probably one of the smallest airports in Malaysia, and is very straightforward and simple, unlike what you are commonly used to.
|The arrival hall at the airport|
The Bakelalan airport code is BKM, and is located just by the main village of Bakelalan, which is at an altitude of 884 meters or 2,900 feet above sea level.
Here is my personal and unique experience about the Bakelalan airport when I last visited a number of years ago.
The airport sits at the edge of the Bakelalan village, meaning that when you land here, you can just walk to your homestay from the airport.
|Me sitting in the Twin Otter plane bound for Bakelalan|
First timers will need to know that in the event you leave Miri for Bakelalan, there could be diversions or other factors that may require the flight to turn back.
For example, just before your flight is arriving and there is a storm or strong winds, the flight may return back to Miri and your flight will be re-timed for the next available flight.
If you have a confirmed flight ticket and on that day, if it storms terribly, your flight may be pushed to the next available day. Yes, I am not kidding about this as it once almost happened to me.
|The MasWings flight about to land in Bakelalan|
|Aerial view of Bakelalan while flying in the Twin Otter plane|
There are only three flights to Bakelalan a week, which is on Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays only. This means you really need to plan your flight in and out, according to the flight schedules.
If you are planning to visit here, I would strongly recommend you book at least a couple of months in advance as at times, last minute bookings may not offer any seats.
During the school holidays or other large holidays in Sarawak, the flight are usually fully booked by the locals who travel back home.
There are only three airports that service the Bakelalan route, and they are Miri, Lawas and Bario. Miri is the international airport for Northern Sarawak, while the other two are smaller village airports.
|The emergency response unit at Bakelalan Airport|
Bakelalan Flight Information
|Luggage has to be weighed before checking in, including the passenger|
What If I Cannot Book A Flight?
This is a common question asked by visitors who try and book on the last minute. In most cases there may be only one of two seats available, or you have to keep trying until you get it.
This applies to those traveling in pairs or groups of three or more, and as I mentioned earlier, it is best to book well ahead if you want to visit this beautiful place.
Some visitors manage to fly in, but are unable to fly out, hence they will have to take the local 4WD transport out of Bakelalan, back to Lawas or Limbang.
The price varies, and is usually above RM100 per person, and depending if there is a trip going on that day. Usually it will be woth other locals that are using this service too.
If you plan to charter the entire 4WD, the price may be three to four times higher. This is only done if you really need to catch a connecting flight or other urgent matters.
- From Miri – 8 Hour Drive (Cross Border)
- From Limbang – 5 Hour Drive
- From Lawas – 4 Hour Drive
- From Kota Kinabalu – 7 Hour Drive (Cross Border)
- From Bandar Seri Begawan – 7 Hour Drive (Cross Border)
For this experience, you will need to engage a specialized tour company that operates these routes. For me, I worked with one of the reputable companies from Sarawak, and my journey started from Lawas.
|A trek up the lookout point shows part of the Bakelalan Airport landing strip|
What to Do in Bakelalan?
Well, if you are already planning to come here, you must have some sort of itinerary planned out for you, unless you are taking a tour package to Bakelalan.
For those who are thinking of visiting this unique destination in Sarawak, then you need to know what you can do in Bakelalan, as I have written about this place.
There are no proper hotels or modern day shops available here, only homestays and family run grocer shops, local cafes and restaurants.
Things are pretty laid back here, and activities include trekking, learning about the local culture and just absorbing the laidback life here.
Bird watching in Bakelalan is one of the special activities as a couple of endemic birds in Sarawak are found in the area. This needs to be specially arranged, and not a commercial activity.
I have also written a comprehensive article on what to do in Bakelalan, and if you are planning to visit here, you should read that article to get a heads up.
Operator: Malaysia Airports
|MasWings Flight Network around Sabah and Sarawak|
The Bakelalan airport is probably one of the most unique airports I have been in the world, and when you do get here, you will see why.
Overall, if you are an aviation fan, this is a unique rural airport experience, which you will remember for life. The way things are done, still date back to the early days and is such a rush to witness and experience.