The old bus company 'Chin Lian Long' has been taken over by City Public Link . You wouldn't miss it because it is bright green and you notice it frequently plying around Kuching city. The old rickety stage buses have been wiped out by the government in 2009. With these new buses, traveling around Kuching city has become more comfortable now. Perhaps, the only downside would be the waiting time for a bus. Frequency is about 30 minutes and the fare ranges from RM1.80 to RM2.30 depending on the number of stops you are taking and whether you paid on the bus.
Nonetheless, the stage buses between Kuching and its outskirts like Petra Jaya, Serian, Bau and so forth, have not been replaced with new buses.
The main bus terminal in Kuching is located opposite the Old Mosque near the old city center. All the buses listed below leaves from here.
However, there is another bus terminal for inter-state departure which is located at 3rd Mile Bus Terminal. You should take your bus to Sibu, Bintulu and Miri from this terminal. Check BUS ASIA for online booking.
Local stage buses are run by 4 companies of colourful assortments, but there's a reasonably logical route numbering system and bus stops usually have some signage indicating bus route numbers.
Sarawak Transport Company (STC) - these green and beige STC buses mainly serve downtown and along the protocol roads leading southbound out of the city centre.
Matang Transport Company (MTC) - these orange and beige MTC buses serve the Kuching-Matang road and suburban settlements along the northern bank of the Sarawak River. This company is the only one not included in the Kuching City Bus Services consortium.
Petra Jaya Transport - these white buses with red, yellow and black striped livery serve the outskirts of Kuching City North (routes ending at Damai and Bako) and also the Kuching-Kota Sentosa-Kota Samarahan route.
Bau Transport Company - these brown and red buses serve the Kuching-Bau route.
Bus drivers and conductors do not actually have Public Relations and Tourist Guiding as part of their training syllabi. Should the bus conductor exist, kindly demand for the ticket because some bus inspectors might just walk inside and do a surprise inspection of passengers' tickets. There are some OMO (One Man Operation) buses that are equipped with a big coin box beside the driver's seat. Ask for the fare first before inserting the exact change into the box. Sit in the front half of the bus so you have easy access to the driver or conductor. Cheating, pickpocketing and sexual harassment might sometimes occur in public buses, so be watchful of your surroundings.
Inconsistent passenger load along certain routes can lead to drops in frequency and thus, bus operators cannot comply to a fixed timetable and that results in frustrating delays.
By shuttle van
Unlicensed shuttle vans also ply the main roads in Kuching, offering lower (if not the same) fares than their legal counterparts. If you are coaxed to board these vans, please do so at your own risk. Due to its illegal operations, van sapu passengers are not covered by insurance should an accident occur.
Yellow roofed kereta sewa or shuttle vans fill the void left by stage bus operators, offering somewhat more frequent trips throughout Kuching to as far as Tebedu and Bau. Each shuttle van has their own commuting routes so watch out the routes by reading the destination on the body of the van. Minimum fare for each trip is RM1 and increases with respect to distance. Fares also differ from one shuttle van to another plying the same route by commuting frequency, peak and off-peak periods and passenger load. If in doubt, ask the passengers, not the driver.
Taxis are somewhat expensive in Kuching. Although taxis are metered, the drivers seldom use it and normally they will try to charge you any fare they like. They may also hide the meter behind a rudimentary cover and claim to have no meter. Take your time and appraise the honesty of the driver before proceeding. A reasonable taxi fare from Kuching city centre to Santubong is RM42.
E-hailing services including Uber and Grab have become commonplace in Kuching and are a hassle-free way of going around the city, including to and from the airport. However, if you want to go to rural areas outside of Kuching (such as Santubong or Semenggoh), although Uber and Grab drivers will take you there, you will hardly find a Uber or Grab to return to the city. Also, when asking a driver to go to one of these rural areas, don't be surprised if the driver asks you for a tip, as they need to go back to Kuching to go back to work.
All major roads in Kuching city and suburban areas are well tarred and fairly maintained. Driving orientation is on the left and is generally slow-paced. Speed limits on dual-carriageway roads can reach a maximum of 90 km/h and can be reduced to 80km/h or 70 km/h during festival seasons.
Tourists from cosmopolitan cities may not appreciate the driving attitude of local road users. Some drivers tend to make a turn or overtake without using indicators, and others drive beyond the speed limit. You may also find a handful of road hoggers (cars, lorries and even motorcycles alike). Honk car horns and flash high beams with careful discretion.
Self-driving in and around Kuching can be challengingly fun. Directional signs in Kuching are so inadequate and it takes a good road map and a good sense of direction to get you around. For those who use wisely their smartphone though, there are many cheap and efficient apps that can be used as GPS: here by nokia is free, has a pretty good downloadable database for borneo (for free) and warns user about speed limits. googlampas is almost as good but you need a mobile internet connection (prepaid prices from 50RM/month).
- Kuching Airport Car Rental, GL42, Ground Floor, Terminal Building, Kuching International Airport, ☎ +60 14 9999 688, +60 12 892 8000, e-mail: email@example.com. M-Su, 8AM-11PM, Book online and contact by email or WhatsApp. From RM70/day, cash only.
- Tranzero, Jalan Kulas, Satok, Kuching, Sarawak., ☎ +60 14 687 0107, +60 17 858 8978, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Su, 8AM-11PM, Book online and contact by email or SMS. From RM65/day, cash only.
- Kuching City Car Rental (Kuching Car Rental), Ground Floor, Terminal Building, Kuching International Airport (Walk up towards the domestic arrival hall exit), ☎ +60 128838318, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Car Rental Kuching (Car Rental Kuching) (Opposite of the domestic hall exit area), ☎ +60 16 8621613, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. From RM95/day, accept visa/master card..
- Sime Darby Rent A Car (Hertz Malaysia Licensee), GL20, Ground Floor, Terminal Building, Kuching International Airport (Booth is after you claim your luggage at the airport), ☎+60 82 450740, fax: +60 82 450741, e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 8AM-6PM, Sun and public holidays meet confirmed reservations. From RM150/day, credit/charge cards only.
- Kuching Car Rental (Kereta Sewa Kuching), AJ 205, 1st Floor, MJC Batu Kawah New Township, Jl. Batu Kawa, ☎ +60 82 376 030, +60 82 455 022, +60 16 888 4020, fax: +60 82 455 422, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Su, 8AM-9PM, Call to confirm reservation or book online. From RM98/day, credit/charge cards only.
- Fairuz Car Rental Kuching, Desa Ilmu Apartment, Desa Ilmu, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak., ☎ +60 13 564 0191, e-mail: at fairuzcarrental.com admin at fairuzcarrental.com. M-Su, 8AM-9PM, Book online and contact by email or SMS. From RM70/day, cash only.
- Three Bikes Rental and Services. Singgahsana Lodge No.1 Temple St. ☎ +60 82 429277. email@example.com
- Teck Hua Motor. Motorbike rental at RM40, good service, they also have a few automatics for those who can't drive manual. Tabuan Rd. ☎ +60 82 233957
It is possible to see the sights of Kuching City by bicycle. You don't have to be Lance Armstrong to take a full day bicycle tour of the city. Roads in Kuching are adequate for moving around by bicycle, though it is definitely not bicycle friendly. Bicycling is a healthy and budget conscious way to explore the city and it enables you to explore and see things you simply cannot achieve by walking or by taking the bus.
- Borneo Bicycle Hire, ☎ +60 19 484 4393 (24 hr contact), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-7PM every day including public holidays. They provide helmets, rain ponchos, repair kit and maps for doing a city tour by bicycles. Rates are very reasonably priced. If you prefer to start cycling early just after dawn you can rent or hire the bike the night before and bring the bicycle with you, the rental rates only starts in the morning when you begin your cycle tour. Should the hirer prefer another town as their centre for further exploration, they can be taken there, together with their bicycles, in a mini-bus for an additional charge. Full accident/repatriation insurance available from only RM15. However there are stamp duties as well.
By river taxi
Tambangs or river taxis provide easy and cheap transport across the Sarawak River in the heart of Kuching. For a leisurely commute across the Sarawak River, river taxis locally known as tambang or penambang offers daily services at various points along the Kuching Waterfront, with a one-way fare at RM0.40. The fare hikes up to RM1 from 10PM-6AM the next day. Kindly place the exact change on the designated plate instead of giving it to the operator, as you disembark the river taxi at your destination.
Boats are sometimes available for visitors who wish to travel from one place to another along the Sarawak River.
Speedboats are available for people who wish to go to Taman Negara Bako, Satang Island and Talang-Talang Island from Santubong. Rate differs according to hotels, and in regards to public holidays and peak hours. Check schedule and rates at the respective hotels, such as Damai Lagoon.
Kuching is unusually pedestrian-friendly for a Malaysian city, with tree-lined sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, and the city core is compact enough to cover on foot. Good walks include the Kuching Waterfront and the pedestrian shopping street of Jalan India (Kuching's Little India).
Drivers rarely stop for pedestrians on zebra crossings if there is no traffic light. However, since most roads are single-directional and have a single lane, crossing the street in Kuching isn't as treacherous as in other cities in Southeast Asia.