Mari Mari Cultural Village

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Cheesy but fun

More on Kota Kinabalu

Mari Mari Cultural Village is a little bit amusement park, a little bit museum and completely manufactured tourist attraction. Yes, it’s every bit as cheesy as it sounds, but despite ourselves, we found it interesting and fun.

Travelfish says:
Purely for tourism, but still interesting. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Purely for tourism, but still interesting. Photo: Sally Arnold

Rather than just turn up and look around, Mari Mari Cultural Village is more like an interactive show, and must be pre-booked. There are three daily start times, 10:00, 14:00 and 18:00, and each three-hour session includes a meal. The village is about 40 minutes out of Kota Kinabalu (one hour at peak hour) and the village itself and many tour operators offer packages that include transport.

Upon arrival you are met by a fact-filled guide (with a group maximum of 20 people), and led “mari mari” (“come on” in Malay) over a suspension bridge to the traditional houses. The forest setting adds to the authenticity, but paths can be slippery and there are a few mozzies about. Wear sturdy footwear and bring mozzie repellent. If you go to the evening session, you may want a torch as it’s not that well lit.

A traditional trampoline. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
A traditional trampoline. Photo: Sally Arnold

As well as seeing the beautifully crafted traditional houses, staff dressed in traditional costume, offer drinks, snacks and activities. There’s rice wine (lihing), a local distilled spirit, honey, cakes and pandan tea among others. Demonstrations include traditional fire-making, bark clothing and rope making, and you get to have a go at shooting a blowpipe, and bounce on a (very fun) traditional trampoline (the lansaran of the Murut people).

Traditionally, the jumping (maningkawot) is performed during festivities to reach a target tied high above the trampoline built into the floor of the longhouse — we wish we could have one at home! Of course there are also the (made in China) skulls of the headhunters to ohh ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 400 words.)

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Reviewed by

Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.

Tours in Malaysia



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