The Benarat Inn has the potential to be a decent budget alternative in Mulu, where your options are very limited, if it only received some TLC and a better company to manage the property. We stayed one night, August 2010 as a part of a package with Tropical Adventure Tours and Travel based in Miri , the only way I know that you can book Benarat Inn. Which is a problem, as I can not recommend using this company for any aspect of travel within Mulu. (More on that later) Benarat Inn iwith a/c. We were in Rm 33 in one of the three long houses.It was ves located on a river, directly across from the Royal Mulu Resort, in a very pleasant setting. There are no signs to ID it from the road, except a church which you walk past to get to Benarat Inn. There are 3 long house buildings that can accommodate 2-3 people in each room, and a chalet, which I only saw from the outside, but understand that it has twin rooms ry basic w/3 beds, a dresser, a ceiling fan, cold water only and electricity between 6p-MN only. There were no towels, bottled water or soap in the room, although they will provide towels if you ask. When we flushed the toilet, the water from the tank flooded the floor. There wasn’t anyone to fix it. With no lights after midnight in the jungle, finding the bathroom wasn’t easy, but certainly not a major problem, however the fan also cuts off, making the room stuffy. In the morning we didn’t have any water at all and couldn't find out why. Breakfast consisted of a hot dog, a fried egg, beans and toast. You can either buy the meal plan or pay the inflated rates of 15MY/breakfast, 20MY/ lunch, 25MY/dinner. Stella’s Restaurant, a 15 minute walk, just before the bridge to the Royal Mulu Resort is better and cheaper. Or try Jowels just outside the park entrance. There is little to do in the evenings except have dinner and watch the huge cicadas bash themselves against the lights, so bring a deck of cards and a sense of adventure (they were either out of beer or do not serve it.) The family who run the Inn were neither very helpful or friendly, except the person who picked us up from the airport, but we never saw him again The room rate was 60my/ per person, not per room, or you could pay 100my/pp with 3 meals. We moved over to the Royal Mulu Resort the next day. Reliable plumbing, a few more creature comforts, and a helpful/friendly caretaker would go a long way in improving this budget option. Booking a room maybe difficult, here is why.
Travel to Mulu National park is booming per guides, especially in August. I attempted to book a chalet within the park, via the park web site 3 months before arrival and after several emails begging for a response, I finally heard back from them that they were fully booked. Thus I had to make arrangements through a tour company, who all offer pretty standard packages, at similar prices. I emailed two companies, and heard back from Alan Ting at Tropical Adventure Tours and Travel offering a standard 3 days/2 nights Mulu caves trip at 499MY/pp at Benarat Inn. I also requested one extra night at Benarat at 60 MY/pp, and asked them to book the Canopy trip offered by the park, a fairly straight forward request. The process took way too much time and many emails between Mr. Ho Swee Soon and Alan Ting to finally book the trip and charge my credit card. Weeks later, I received an email from Alan Ting that the trip had not been booked! I attempted to email him back, but his email box was full, so I emailed Mr Soon and requested confirmation that I had paid and a receipt. I was shocked when I received the receipt which was for 700 MY more than expected. Mr. Soon explained that Mr Ting had given me the wrong price in TWO separate emails and that it actually cost 699/per person! For that amount you can book the nicest accommodations at the park or at the Royal Mulu Resort. Mr Soon would not give us the original price, it was too late to cancel and start over with another company, so I agreed to accept his compromise with one night at Benarat Inn and two at the Royal Mulu Resort. The remaining overcharge was for using my credit card to pay for the booking. My displeasure would have ended there had all gone well on our trip, but it didn’t. Tropical Adventure Travel and Tours didn’t have enough licensed guides for all the people they had booked, so we three were added to a group of 14 Italians, which is way too many people to see the caves. The parks’ ratio is one guide to 8 people. On day two of our package we were added to a large group of Japanese tourists, with a non licensed “guide” to help us. It was very disappointing! Lesson learned; be sure to get in writing the ratio of people to guide on any program/tour package you book. I emailed Mr Soon regarding our problems at Benarat and the unacceptable guide situation and received an apology. Based on all of our problems, the excessive amount of time and emails it took to book a standard package and the price hike, I can not recommend using this company.
I think, if you enjoy very basic accomodations and the wonderful sound of the jungle at night, you might give Benarat Inn a try, but check a few rooms before settling in and have your dinner before returning to the Inn. Benarat is about a 20-25 minute walk from the park HQ, where you can eat at Cafe Mulu in the park or Jowels, just outside of the park. About a 10 minute walk from Benarat Inn is the bridge over to Royal Mulu Resort, and Stella's cafe, another good option for dinner. If you do book with Tropical Adventure Tours and Travel, do not agree to pay the same price to stay at Benarat as you would pay for Royal Mulu Resort, they are completely different and make sure your guide ratio is no greater than 1:8 people.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.