Malaysia consists of several states, including Sarawak. Among some of the states, the two of them are located in Borneo, and Sarawak is one of those two states. Kuching is one of the many cities in Sawarak and it has its own appeal. If you are into nature, Sarawak is the home of the exotic orangutan. Not to mention that the city is home to many different tribes, such as Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Iban, Penan, Dayak, Kedayan, and Iban. Each of them has their own food, traditions, culture, and language – and you won’t find them elsewhere.
Tourist Destinations in Kuching
There are different kinds of tourist destinations for different purposes. If you are into culture and history, there are some places that will accommodate your needs. If you are travelling with families and kids, there are also the perfect spots for the purpose.
1. Kuching Waterfront
This is an amazing landscape that is located next to the Sarawak River. Because it is one of the most popular spots, it has its own eateries and entertainment areas. You should be able to see a watchtower, historical buildings, and also several sculptures. If you want to enjoy the beautiful view facing the river, this would be the perfect spot to visit. The paved path is nice for walking and strolling. The air is pleasant with a bit romantic atmosphere. People especially like to come here because of the appealing night time and its entertainment.
2. Taman Budaya Kuching
It is basically a public garden with the hilly setting – perfect for jogging or walking. The garden is maintained in the best arrangements so it is visually appealing. This place is also known as Kuching Reservoirs because of its past usage to store water. The location is pretty close to Old Museum of Sarawak, so it is easy to reach and access.
3. Cat Museum
Kuching is a popular cat city. After all, Kuching means Cat in Malay. That’s why it has the so-called Cat Museum, located on Bukit Siol, right across the Sarawak River. Do you want to see collections of Hello Kitty or Garfield? Come to this museum! Not only you can find collections for other popular cats, but there are also exhibitions and photos of different kinds of cats. Don’t forget to buy some cat souvenirs from the museum’s gift shops.
4. Mount Santubong
If you go up the peak, you will be presented with an amazing view. The combination of the green rainforest with the aquamarine seawater will give you a memorable experience. If you want to explore the wildlife ecosystem from close, the mangrove forest will be the perfect spot to do so. If you come to the seaside, you can also see the porpoise, Irrawaddy dolphins, and humpback dolphins. It takes around 2 hours of trekking to reach the waterfall. You can have a picnic there! The more difficult path will lead you to the peak. It is tiring and difficult, but it is rewarding.
History and Cultural Tourist Destinations
There are a lot of interesting historical (as well as cultural) destinations to explore. These historical buildings and spots are in good condition and you can learn a lot from them. If you take your kids with you, this would be a great chance for them to learn more about Sarawak and Kuching.
1. Sarawak Old Museum
The museum is situated in Borneo and it was sponsored by the second Rajah, Charles Brooke. The museum was founded to showcase local crafts and arts. Up until now, the building has undergone several renovation projects. If you want to see the collections of Borneo’s tribal artifacts as well as their historical information, you should visit this place. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed for refurbishment. It will open again in 2020.
2. Fort Margherita
During British colonization, this fort was built for protection – especially from the outside attacks. It was built in 1879 and named Ranee Margaret, Charles Brooke’s wife. The fort is situated on Sarawak Rivers bank. That’s why you can easily see it from Kuching Waterfront. The fort is still intact with the original construction, including cannonballs, guns, cannons, and also cells for prisoners. But it is now becoming a police museum with weapons and opium dens display. You won’t have to pay anything for entering the fort. If you want more challenges to make your trip interesting, you can take the Tambang across the river. It will be more memorable and unforgettable.
3. Sarawak Islamic Museum
This place was originally designed as a school, James Brooke Malay College. But later, it was converted into Teachers Training College. Afterward, it is turned again into a museum, located behind Dewan Tun Razak. As the name suggests, this museum displays the Islamic civilization that is divided into seven galleries. The collections include weapons, jewelry, coins, and costumes.
Sarawak is the home of many cultures as well as religions. You can see a great mixture in this state, with Islam as the religion of the majority. However, it doesn’t mean that there are no other spots for other religions.
1. Kuching City Mosque
Previously in 1852, a wooden mosque was set up. Unfortunately, it was destroyed. It was a good thing that the Kuching Mosque was then constructed in 1968 at the same spot. The architecture is pretty cool, having a great combination of the Midwestern and Italian elements. Today, it is one of the most popular, as well as important, spots in Kuching.
2. Tua Pek Kong Temple
This is the oldest (with a still preserved good condition) Chinese temple located in the state considering that it was founded in 1843. The location is right in the central city area, not far from the Sarawak River. Chinese worshippers would come and gather around in this temple during religious celebrations and other important events. They would come and pray for luck and wellbeing.
Sarawak is the home of many natural resources, such as the parks, the beach, and many others. When compared to other states in Malaysia, there are more natural resources and destinations in Sarawak. If you like outdoor adventure and you enjoy the view, going to these places will pamper you.
1. Bako National Park
This is the oldest park in Sarawak, covering 2,727 hectares of land. It is located 37 kilometres from Kuching with its wide and unique wildlife collections. Is it beautiful? Definitely! There is 7 rainforest ecosystem allowing you to explore around. When you are following the path, it will lead to a beach (a secluded one). You can explore the sea from this beach. The park is home to the wild boar, monitor lizards, leaf monkeys, or the flying macaque monkeys. The park also has a camping area and a cafeteria. You can go to this park by using Petra Jaya bus number 6. Get off at Kampung Bako and takes the 20-minutes boat road to the national park. The entrance fee is 10RM for one person.
2. Sarawak Cultural Village
This village is situated at Mount Santubong foothills, which is about 40 minutes from Kuching. This is a village displaying various multiple cultures, complete with the houses, lifestyles, and also conditions. In this manner, you can have direct interaction with the local lifestyle and culture. Just like other cultural villages, you can also find local handicraft collections, such as Iban parang swords, Kain Songket which is Malay cloth with the gold inlay, Pua Kumbu textile, Bidayuh Tambok basket, and Orang Ulu carving from wood. This village is located a Pantai Damai. The entrance fee is 60RM per adult while the kids are charged 30RM. No need to pay anything for the entrance fee. However, if you bring a camera, you will be charged 3RM. If you bring the video camera, it is 5RM.
3. Kuching National Park Wetlands
This national park covers 6,610 hectares of land, located 15 kilometers from Kuching. This national park has a connecting network of waterways and creeks leading to Salak rivers and Sibu Laut. It consists of a mostly saline mangrove system which makes it unique and beautiful. If you want to have the best experience in exploring the area, you should take a river cruise. It gives you better access to great greeneries and dense vegetation.
The cruise generally lasts for half a day because you will have to cruise along Salak River and then coming to the small creeks. The creeks will pass through a fishing village. Not to mention that it gives you closer access to crocodiles, monkeys, and others. If you are lucky, you should be able to see Irrawaddy dolphins swimming around. If you are interested in exploring this place, you should come during the low tide because you get to see the crocodiles come up to the surface to sunbathe.
If you come to Kuching without trying the local dishes or the signature foods, it would be such a shame. After all, the city is known for its cool mixture and blend, which will show through the foods and beverages too. There are some places in the city that are worth trying.
1. The Dyak
You can find classic and old-school Dayak recipes at street food vendors but the Dyak is the first restaurant that serves these recipes in the restaurant industry. The restaurant itself is a beautiful building and adorned with many local artifacts. Each dish originates from the local tradition, such as the Manok Gulai Upa Kelapa (braised chicken with coconut palm served with creamy broth) or Tempoyak (a fermented durian). If you want to try the local Dayak cuisine, this is a place to go to. You’ll be sorry if you miss it. It is located in Jalan Simpang
2. Bla Bla Bla
It is a modern restaurant often visited by celebrities and young people. One of the main appeals is the eclectic décor, including the candlelit courtyard, Indonesian Buddha, and Japanese koi pond. Expect to find modern menus here, such as mozzarella stuffed ostrich or chili Midin salad. Mind you, though, that the serving is usually big so each portion is supposed to be shared – well unless you can consume everything alone. Bla Bla Bla is the sister restaurant to The Junk, located down the street, serving Italian dishes. It is located in Jalan Tabuan 27
If you are into fusion-types of dishes, then this is your place. This upscale establishment combines western techniques with local ingredients. The building itself is an extravagant mansion. The starters are usually escargot with garlic and chicken pate. The main courses include Borneo coconut and sea bass or Sarawak chicken with the Mediterranean mix. If you come to this place, its atmosphere is like 1920s jazz.
4. My Little Kitchen
One of the unique things about this restaurant is that their menus are coming from different places in the world so they don’t limit themselves in a specific place or dish. The restaurant has its own signature dish, the Swedish meatballs dish, which is only available during weekends. All weekdays, you can enjoy different kinds of salads, wraps, and roasted meat. It is a casual place with must-try foods.
Transportation to Kuching
If you come to Kuching (don’t forget that it is located in Sarawak), the easiest way is through the air because there are a lot of flights that will accommodate your needs. If you are traveling from the neighboring states or countries, you can also use the sea and land means. There are several flights that connect Kuching International airport to other areas, such as Kuala Lumpur or Penang and Johor. You can also find flights from and to Melbourne or Singapore with Tiger Airways.
You can also use the express boats if you come from Labuan through Limbang. You should also be able to find several entry points and border exit between West Kalimantan and Sarawak, such as Biawak and Sematan (in Lundu) or Tebedu, Padawan, and Bunan Gega (in Serian). As long as you know the route, accessing the means of transportation should not be difficult although the easiest way to reach the area is through the air. If you want the most efficient access, then you should fly to Kuching.