Mari Mari Cultural Village tour is located deep in the countryside about 25 minutes away from the modern and developing Kota Kinabalu city. The village operates as a museum that preserves Borneo ethnic culture. It aims to share the knowledge, history, culture, and tradition of Borneo with you so that it is not forgotten.
The tour offers you the opportunity to see and experience the culture and lifestyle of how the indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live in the olden days when electricity had not yet been introduced in their land.
The village features 5 different ethnic tribes in one village. They are the rice farmer Kadazan-Dusun, the longhouse resident Rungus, the hunters and fisherman Lundayeh, the cowboy and sea gypsey Bajau, and the famously feared headhunting tribe Murut.
Escape your normal daily routine and immerse yourself in a quiet and tranquil nature away from the hustle and bustle big city, you will feel as if you were brought back in prehistoric time surrounded by tall trees and the silence of the rainforest. Take a moment to savour and appreciate the sound, smell, and sight of nature.
Your friendly in-house guides are descendants of among the 5 tribes in the village and will be more than happy to share stories with you of how their great ancestors used to live and what their spiritual beliefs living in the jungle were. You’ll also get the opportunity to participate and experience in a few of the demonstrations such as blowing the Murut blowpipe weapon and many more light and easy activities!
You are guided to each different tribe houses and learn about their different lifestyle, culture, and history. You get a fun and educational experience: see first hand how these tribes used the blowpipe to hunt, start a fire with bamboo and used bamboos to cook their meals.
This tour is suitable for your whole family, young and old. Your in-house guide will guide you to each different houses along a guided pathway.
Along with storytelling from your in-house guide, each tribe will also be showcasing and give demonstration of how they hunt, make fire and cooked in the old days.
These performers are the local natives that live nearby. This tour offers not only opportunity for them to preserve and showcase their ancestors’ tradition, culture, and history but also provide employment for them. They perform to give the best authentic experience for you so that you feel you are brought back in history.
Culture and tradition is slowly fading away, not many rural natives still live in this type of condition. Today, most live in modern houses with electricity.
It is an honor for the local that live nearby to preserve and showcase their ancestors’ culture to you. Few of the local residents that live nearby come to work as village maintenance, in-house guide, and performers.
Every dollar you spend goes back towards helping the local native people preserve their ancestors culture and tradition.
Mari Mari Cultural Village map
You can choose either: 10AM Morning tour, 2PM Afternoon tour, or 6PM Evening tour
Itinerary for 10am / 2pm / 6pm tours
Hotel pick up
pick up from hotel in kota Kinabalu.
Welcome to Mari Mari Cultural Village! Head to the counter and pay the necessary fee. Afterwards, your guide will give a briefing of the do’s and don’ts before going into the village.
Welcoming ceremony by the Murut Tribe Chief. Enjoy a guided tour of each traditional houses and learn about the history, bamboo cooking demonstration, fire making demonstration, blowpipe demonstration and traditional dances in a remote forest setting. You’ll also get to participate in the light activities.
Lunch / high tea / dinner
End of tour
It’s time to bid farewell to the villagers and return to your hotel in Kota Kinabalu.
End of service
Imagine wandering through the wilderness and suddenly stumbling across someone from another tribe, who was probably as scared of you as you were of them!
For survival, it was therefore necessary for tribes to display ferociousness. If they didn’t have skeleton heads strategically placed at the entrance of their village, it would be interpreted as a sign of weakness by other tribes, putting the entire village at risk of potential attack from enemies.
In the past, the Murut tribe of Sabah Borneo were feared for their ancient tradition of headhunting practices. After conversion to Islam or Christianity an anti-headhunting legislation by the British colonial had been carried out, and has since been banned and disappeared.
The Murut were the last ethnic groups in Sabah to renounce headhunting. As with the Iban of Sarawak, collecting heads of enemies traditional served a very important role in Murut spiritual beliefs, besides utilizing it to protect their village from potential enemies. For example, a man could only get married after he presented at least one head to the family of the desired girl.
headhunting 101skulls were skillfully removed from the heads, while keeping the facial features and hair intact.
Under the administration of British Chartered North Borneo Company (BCNBC), besides imposing many taxes which the locals never heard of, British also forced every Murut couple who had two children to give up one of them as forced labor.
Running out of tolerance, Ontoros Antonom gathered nearly a thousand of Murut warriors from Tenom, Keningau and Pensiangan to fight the British empire in 1915. The British officers were totally shocked to see hundreds of Murut flooded their administration building and attacked them. Ontoros Antonom built a few strongholds with underground tunnels and houses.
In April 1915, British sent 400 soldiers equipped with firearm to counter attack. Though Murut were only using primitive weapons such as blowpipes, swords and spears, British army failed to take them down. Therefore, they set a trap by offering a peace talk at Rundum. When Ontoros Antonom and his followers were on their way to the venue, hundreds of British surrounded them and arrested them. Later Ontoros Antonom was executed.
A minority ethnic group in sabah, they are Also called Lun Bawang.
Lundayeh means upriver people or people of the interior. They were known to be agriculturalists and had practise livestock farming and also known to be hunters and fishermen.
In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, the Lun Bawang community was described as living in an unhealthy state of lifestyle. They were hardcore burak (rice wine) drinkers, appears drunk more often than not, and the house was indescribably filthy. Their filthy lifestyle caused them to be vulnerable to diseases.
In 1904 and 1905, there was smallpox outbreak around the Lundayeh regions. A plague that had significantly changed the course of the Lundayeh history. It was recorded that the death toll had reduced approximately from 20,000 to 3,000 of the Lundayeh population.
Making it one of the largest death toll caused by viral epidemic. This remains a dark history of the Lundayeh which may be considered taboo to talk about among few of the Lundayeh people today.
If the Bajau tribes of Kota Belud are known as The Cowboys of The East for their horse-riding ability, the Bajau Laut tribes of Semporna are known as The Sea Gypsey for their seafaring skills.
For many years Bajau laut people have lived in the ocean on their temporary house boats. Probably only in recent years that they have made settlements into the coastal area, with their houses built on stilts. The ocean is still their main source of living where they fish, collect clams and mussels, and even pearl farming
A bajau girl wearing water weeds as a powder to cool off her face as well as for anti-aging use
Kadazan is translated the people of the land
This takes place in May, and the two last days of the month are public holidays throughout Sabah. During the celebration, the most celebrated event is the crowning of the unduk ngadau or harvest queen, where native Kadazan girls throughout the state compete for the coveted crown
The beauty pageant is held to commemorate the spirit of Huminodon, a mythological character of unparalleled beauty said to have given her life in exchange for a bountiful harvest for her community.
The majority of the Kadazans are Christians, mainly Roman Catholics and some Protestants. Islam is also practiced by a growing minority.
The Rungus are a sub-group of the Kadazan ethnic and was known to reside primarily in northern Sabah.
Their culture also revolves around rice, just like the Kadazan. Many Rungus now work in towns and have abandoned the communal life of the longhouse for modern Malaysian society. Traditionally they are pagans but most Rungus are now Christians.
In a traditional Rungus longhouse, longhouses of over 75 rooms are said to have been common, which meant 75 families lived in one longhouse. Now, they rarely exceed 10 rooms.
The Rungus Bobolizan is a witch doctor who posses abilities to communicate with the spirit. Some of the Bobolizan activities are curing ill people, commanding spirit ritual, rice spirit ritual and prosperity ritual. There are not many Bobolizan that exist today.
comfortable clothing for leisure walking, and/or hats
What to bring:
Cash payment and/or extra Cash.
(note : no credit card processor at the entrance. please bring cash payment)