[M’sia Travels] Half Day Tour at Mari Mari Cultural Village | Sabah | Malaysia

My first time to Sabah was a short trip over the weekend. With limited time in Kota Kinabalu, I must choose which activities that I can explore to learn more about Sabah. Thus, I decided to go for Mari Mari Cultural Village tour. While Kota Kinabalu is known for mountain climbing, there are many other attractions to explore too. Mari Mari Cultural Village lets you discover the five different Borneo ethnic groups in Sabah, Malaysia.
Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- Entrance
Mari Mari Cultural Village is located outside Kota Kinabalu and their telco services are limited. Thus, it is advisable to arrange your 2-way transportation beforehand. The travelling distance from the city to the village will take approximately 30 minutes provided smooth traffic along the way.

You can either pre-book your transportation here or ask the hotel to arrange it for you. As for me, I took grab here for RM21.50 ~S$6.52 and asked my hotel to arrange a taxi to pick me up at RM70 ~S$21.23. And yes, the price is so much higher compared to Grab, but I do not want to take the risk of not getting transport back.

If you are adventurous, consider renting a car to explore Kota Kinabalu and drive to Mari Mari Cultural Village. They have a plenty parking space.

Alternatively, you can get help from Mari Mari Cultural Village counter for assistance. But I am not sure on the fare though.

The tour is available for pre-purchase via here. I booked beforehand so that I can plan my date and time for the day. I prefer this way so that I will not be at the risk of being rejected when I arrive at the destination. There was a big group when I arrived that day and took quite a while to sort out the grouping.
Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- admission fee
Alternatively, you can purchase from the counter upon arrival. The fee is the same as online booking (differences maybe on the exchange rate).

NOTE There are two (2) sessions daily – 10:00AM and 2:00PM .

The tour will take approximately 2 hours and it covers you the exploration of lifestyle of five different Borneo ethnic groups and enjoy some traditional food/ snacks. Lastly, enjoy their cultural performance before lunch to mark the end of the tour.
Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- Counter
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by staff in traditional entire at the entrance of the village. They will check if you have arranged transportation after the tour ends. As we walked in, we went to the counter to register ourselves as we are not part of any tour group. The staff will then provide you with a lanyard with a number on it. The number is the group that you will be in for the tour.

Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia-bridge
We are divided into group of nine (9) people to an English-speaking guide. She did a short introduction before the tour began. Then, we were guided to walk past a suspension bridge that connects to the distinct houses of each tribe.
Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia
Our guide explained in-depth the traditions of Borneo’s ancestors as well as the primary ethnic groups- Dusun, Lundayeh, Murut and Bajau. We were led to see all the five ethnic groups’ houses and each tribe had its story to tell.
Lundayeh Tribe- Mari Mari Cultural Village Sabah Malaysia
Lundayeh Tribe’s House is also known as Lun Bawang. They are located at the southwestern corner where Sabah meets Sarawak and Borneo Kalimentan, in the Ulu Padas area. There is a totemic crocodile-shaped monument outside the tribe house. This represents the long-standing tradition of commemorating their ancient heroes’ prowess through ceremonial dances around the monument crafted from clay. The actual size of the monument in the past is way bigger than it is shown here. This is just displayed to show their symbol of power and a vanquished foe, and the tradition originates from a hero who decapitated his adversary triumphantly.
Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- Tribe HouseLundayeh Tribe-Tree Bark- Mari Mari Cultural Village Sabah Malaysia
We are impressed with Lundayeh’s traditional skills like how they used tree barks to create clothing and baskets. Amazing!

For Dusun’s House, it is the largest tribe in Sabah and comprises several sub-tribes that share the same language. Their house is made primarily of bamboo trees, and they have a raised structure named tangkob, a rice storage hut used by the family. They prepared their food using the ancient tribal smoking method. We get to see the demonstration on traditional bamboo cooking method called linapak (combination of chicken, potatoes, onion, red chillies and salt).
Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- 3Borneo Tribe Rice Wine-Mari Mari Cultural Village Sabah Malaysia
They also love rice wine and they do make their own traditional rice wine called Lihing and we get a taste of it too. Another alcoholic drink that the tribe makes is called Montoku.

Murut Tribe is the last tribal groups on Borneo to renounce headhunting. The Murut can be found mainly in Sabah, including in Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan, Indonesia. They are known for their bravery in warfare that struck fear into their enemies.

Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- Lansaran
We are introduced to Murut people’s traditional form of entertainment- “Lansaran”. It involves dancing on wooden platforms constructed on bamboo springs. It resembles features like trampolines, but this is a traditional version trampoline-like floor in their longhouses. This activity is often performed during celebrations. We also get a chance to try on the “Lansaran” on the spot with the guide of the locals.
Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- Roti JalaMari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- 1
Bajau Tribe has two types of Bajau- Bajau Laut or sea gypsies (they kept close to the shore by erecting houses on stilts and travelled using handmade boats) and Bajau who lives in the land. We had the opportunity to try Kuih Jala which is made from scratch by the locals and traditional delicacy- penjaram.
Mari Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- Rungus Long HouseHoney-Mari Mari Cultural Village Sabah Malaysia
Lastly, Rungus Tribe is the fourth largest in Sabah after Murut, Bajau and Kadazandusun. We were treated with their speciality,madu kelulut referring to stingless bee honey. Then, we moved into the hut and the guide showed us the tribe’s musical instrument, kulintangan followed by a demonstration of the traditional fire-making method. We were told that in the past, women must learn how to start the fire using this traditional method. Reason being it is considered as a pre-requisite for marriage.

After visiting all the tribe’s houses and learning about their culture, we were led to the performance hall. Apparently, we must wait for all groups of the same session to be in the hall before they can start the performance.
Mari Mari Cultural Village- Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia- Henna drawings
While waiting, they will offer henna drawing services. Some of the tourists went for it.

Once all the groups are assembled, the performance starts. The performance showcases the traditional dance performances of the various tribes, and the performers are all in their traditional costumes. The performance ended when they invited us to participate in the dance with them followed by a photo-taking session.
Mari Mari Cultural Village Lunch- Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia
Lunch was served buffet-style at their dining hall. Simple lunch served with FREE flow water is included in the tour package. Other drinks like soft drinks and coconut water will be charged separately.

The tour experience was indeed fruitful as it gave us an in-depth look at Borneo heritage culture and tradition. We can get to experience, see, hear, and taste throughout the tour. But do get yourself prepared to brave the hot weather and there is no toilet within the 2-hour tour. Wear a comfortable shoewear as you need to do a lot of walking and climbing. Lastly, be respectful to the tribes as there are dos and don’ts to take note.

Address: Mari Mari Cultural Village
Jalan Kionsom, Inanam,
88450 Kota Kinabalu,
Sabah, Malaysia

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