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Mari Mari Cultural Village

If you’re reading this, it’s very likely you have looked into finding some cultural activities to take part in when visiting Borneo in Malaysia, the Sabah side. The Mari Mari Cultural village is a great place to get to know about the culture, head hunting which was famous Borneo and about the different ethnic groups.

Booking Mari Mari Cultural Village Tour

Booked directly through the Mari Mari Village website, transport is arranged with no pre- payment which is amazing! Pick up is in a coach and takes 3 hours drive through villages and beautiful landscapes to Mari Mari Cultural Village. Payment is made upon arrival.

Cost: For Adults in a group of up to 4, approx USD$45/ adult and USD$40/ Child

Timings: There are 2 tours, at 10 am to 2 pm and at 6 pm. The evening tour is more expensive

Audience: For all ages and anyone wanting to learn about Borneo’s culture and ethnic groups

The Tribes of Borneo

Mari Mari is quite interesting. Although it should be more of a real feel of a village, it actually feels more of a museum introducing the different tribes. Nevertheless, it is an amazing start to Borneo history, who knew so many tribes lived on this island.

There were the Murut tribe who were feared for their ancient headhunting practices. Collecting heads of enemies served as a power which allowed them to present a head in exchange for marrying someones daughter. This was later was stopped from a legislation by a British Colonial. It’s not something you hear every day and the village is set up to make you feel its existence in today’s world.

The Bajua tribe were known as the cowboys for their horse riding skills as well as sea gypsies living off their fishing, and tend to have stilt like houses in the sea. These still exist around the coast of Borneo and along the rivers.

The Kadazan, the largest ethnic group in Sabah. They had merged with the Dusun people for having similarities in almost everything. Known for their rice farming and rice wines and ample ceremonies and gatherings.

With the Lundayeh Tribe who were known for practicing livestock farming and agriculture in general. They were a minority in Sabah since a plague had hit the tribe in 1904. Until today the locals still find it awkward and quite taboo to discuss the event with a Lundayeh member.

The beautifully beaded and crafted colourful dresses of the tribes

Finally The Rungus people are somewhat part of the Kadazans who have opted to live a more modern life. Although you would meet a Rungus Bobolizan, a witch doctor possessing abilities to communicate with the spirit. Bobolizan work on curing ill people, commanding spirit ritual, and performing a prosperity ritual.

Participating in Activities at the Village

The bamboo cooking stations added a nice touch to the tour, as well as the rice wine tasting. Borneo has the strongest rice wine in Far East Asia according to its people.

The village is quite entertaining as anyone would be able to take part in their ceremonies. One involved placing money at a high point in the house. The tribesman who got the money would be blessed to marry the girl they had chosen. Taking part in the ceremony is a pretty fun activity.

The last part of the tour involves the culture dance show. The music is amazing enough to have anyone dancing in their seat, and on stage.

A day at Mari Mari cultural village would take anyone out of their comfort zone, introduces them to new people, and offers education on the islands culture and history including a marriage ceremony. Some of the culture still stands until today.

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