The Other Rainforest Music Festival—in Malaysia

The musician Sting launched a tradition of concerts raising money and awareness for South America’s rain forests. Borneoa wild and wonderful Malaysian island, has stepped up to the plate with its version of celebrating music in their tropical setting.

Andy Kho at the Rainforest Music Festival

The Rainforest Music Festival (RMF) is a weekend concert (June 20-22) featuring musicians from around the world with a common theme of tribal and traditional music. Every continent is represented, but there is a focus on regional Southeast Asian island culture with performances by the indigenous musicians of Borneo. Their instruments go well beyond standard guitars and into the exotic. The indigenous Iban tribe, for example, plays an ensemble of an engkerumong (similar to a xylophone), a tawak (bass), a bendai (snare), and a set of ketebungs (single-sided drums).


In addition to the concerts and performances at night, the RMF also has workshops during the day that dive into the cultural aspects of the music. Think dance lessons, theory lectures, instrument education, and fire-drum demos. Local food vendors serving up Malaysian specialties will also be a big part of the fanfare.

The festival takes place about 40-minutes outside of Kuching in the Sarawak region of Malaysian Borneo. The exact location is the Damai Peninsular, home of Gunung Santubong National Park. You can hike your way up Mt. Santubong as a side adventure, or visit the Sarawak Cultural Village to soak up the local history.

Juk Wan Emang Sarawak

Tickets are still available if you’re looking for a last-minute idea for some frequent flyer miles, but otherwise, keep it in mind for next summer as it’s a yearly event.