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Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia

Kuching is the capital and largest city of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and the district of Kuching.
Once the capital of the White Rajahs of Sarawak, now with a population of some 600,000, Kuching is small enough to walk around but interesting enough to keep you there for several days, and a good base for exploring Sarawak. It's safe and relatively clean. The name of the city, Kuching, is thought to derive from the Malay word kucing, meaning cat. Many of the locals refer to Kuching as the "Cat City" but it more likely comes from the Chinese word for port ("cochin") coupled with the Malay name mata kucing (cat's-eye) for the longan fruit, a popular trade item. The people of Kuching take pride in being the cleanest city in Malaysia and their diverse cultures, so be prepared for a totally different experience from that of West Malaysia.

History

Sarawak was a part of the... Read more

Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia

Destination:
Kuching is the capital and largest city of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and the district of Kuching.
Once the capital of the White Rajahs of Sarawak, now with a population of some 600,000, Kuching is small enough to walk around but interesting enough to keep you there for several days, and a good base for exploring Sarawak. It's safe and relatively clean. The name of the city, Kuching, is thought to derive from the Malay word kucing, meaning cat. Many of the locals refer to Kuching as the "Cat City" but it more likely comes from the Chinese word for port ("cochin") coupled with the Malay name mata kucing (cat's-eye) for the longan fruit, a popular trade item. The people of Kuching take pride in being the cleanest city in Malaysia and their diverse cultures, so be prepared for a totally different experience from that of West Malaysia.

History

Sarawak was a part of the Sultanate of Brunei 200 years ago but as a reward for help in putting down a rebellion, it was ceded to the British adventurer James Brooke who ruled it as his personal kingdom. Kuching was made his capital and headquarters. The Brooke Administration was given the status of Protectorate under Rajah Charles Brooke's rule and was placed behind the Indian Rajs and Princes. The Brooke family ruled Sarawak until the Japanese occupation in December 1941.
Kuching was surrendered to the Japanese forces on 24 December 1941, and Sarawak was part of the Japanese Empire for three years and eight months, until the official Japanese surrender on 11 September 1945 on board the Australian naval vessel HMAS Kapunda at Kuching. From March 1942 the Japanese operated a POW and civilian internee camp at Batu Lintang, 5 km (3 ml) outside Kuching.
After the end of World War II the third the last Rajah, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke ceded Sarawak to the British Crown in 1946. Sarawak and the British Commonwealth fought an "Undeclared War" with Indonesia to keep Sarawak from being absorbed into Sukarno's Indonesia. The British gave Sarawak independence in 1963 and together with North Borneo, Sabah and Singapore, helped form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. Singapore became an independent nation in 1965.

People

Kuching prides itself on being one of the most multi-racial cities in Malaysia. The Chinese speak Hokkien, Hakka and Foochow. Other notable "dialect" groups among the Chinese include the Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese and Heng Hua. The Malays, who are comprised of Kuching's original inhabitants as well as migrants from neighboring Indonesia, form only slightly less of the population than the Chinese, while Ibans form about 5% of the population. There are also original Indian migrants who have lived in Kuching for many decades. The Indians are divided evenly between Tamils, Sikhs and Punjabis. The remainder are other indigenous races, most notably the Bidayuhs, Melanaus, Javanese and Orang Ulu settlers. What makes Kuching city unique from other towns in Sarawak is, Kuching city population does not reflect the true demography of the whole Sarawak.

Most people of Chinese descent live in South Kuching area, like Padungan and Pending. The Malay mostly live at North Kuching area, and are spread evenly throughout South Kuching area. Other races like Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau and Orang Ulu are spread evenly throughout Padawan and some at South and North Kuching. Indian communities of Tamil descent mostly live at Batu Lintang and Gita area, while Javanese communities mostly live at Mile 20 Kuching-Serian Road, Rantau Panjang (Batu Kawa) and Kg. Kolong at Matang.

Climate

Kuching enjoys sunshine throughout the year like any other tropical rainforest climate. There's no dry season and no pronounced summer or winter; it typically averages a degree or two around 26C, 80F and rainfall is both heavy and frequent. One day can be very similar to the next, in Kuching it is drier in July and August and wetter between November and February, the time of the Landas (monsoon). However, this does not hinder tourists' activities. Because Kuching is about 100 miles, 160 km, north of the equator hurricanes are most unlikely to occur. It is not on the "Ring of Fire" so earthquake tremors are rare.

Holidays

Kuching, and Sarawak as a whole celebrate all Federal holidays except Deepavali. Sarawak has also declared holiday for Good Friday (1 day) and Gawai Day (2 days). Unlike other states in Malaysia, not all Islamic events are declared as a holiday other than; Hari Raya Aidilfitri (2 days), Hari Raya Aidiladha (1 day), Maulud Nabi (1 day) and Awal Muharram (1 day).
Avoid touring to the Santubong area during first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri as heavy traffic occurs at Petra Jaya. Tourists can expect a large local celebration for major holidays such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Gawai Day . Gawai is a local ritualistic celebration similar to a harvest celebration with proceedings commencing around sunset on the evening of 31 May. It is an officially recognised holiday only in Sarawak and the subsequent celebrations may last for several days.

Orientation

Kuching city can be divided into a few areas:
  • Padawan - It's a small town at the outskirt of Kuching city. It's popular with its traditional Bidayuh kampungs and longhouses. This area is home for multiracial communities such as Bidayuhs, Javanese, Malay, Chinese and Iban & Orang Ulu settlers.
  • Kota Sentosa - Before being named Kota Sentosa, Kota Sentosa was called (now colloquially) 'Batu Tujuh' or 7th Mile. This area is a commercial hub for people from Batu Kitang, Kg. Haji Baki and surrounding areas. Sarawak Mental Hospital is also located here. Kota Sentosa has also grown its importance due to its vicinity of Army Camps.
  • BDC - BDC was long time ago a remote housing area. However, today it has grown importance as a commercial hub for Stutong and Tabuan Heights area and also a growing elite housing areas.
  • Tabuan Jaya - Tabuan Jaya, like BDC, was long time ago a remote housing area. Today, it has emerged into Kuching satellite city. It is also well connected to other important areas in Kuching such as Pending, BDC, Muara Tabuan Industrial Estate and Demak Jaya Industrial Estate.
  • Pending - Pending is an industrial area with connecting wharf, ports & harbour. It is a mostly Chinese majority populated area of the white & blue collar middle working class, living in sub-areas of Kenyalang Park & Bintawa. Major industrial players here with their factory setup, among them are Komag, CMS Concrete, Taiyo-Yuden, Kuching Plywood, Gold Coin Fertilizer and Sarawak Clinker Plant. Pending is connected to Kuching city centre via Padungan.
  • Batu Kawa - Batu Kawa got its name from volcano crater found at Gunung Serapi. It has now emerged into important satellite city of Kuching, which consist of MJC Commercial Area (with condominium housing, elite housing areas and shoplots), Sg. Maong and Pekan Rantau Panjang.
  • Matang - Matang is another emerging town under Kuching. Among its prominent attraction is Matang Jaya and Gita.
  • 3rd Mile - An emerging commercial area once the home to Sunny Hill School, Sarawak's first private school, and also an old-fashioned cinema, Capitol Cinema. 3rd Mile was once an important train route in Kuching.
  • Padungan - Padungan is the oldest commercial & shopping hub in Kuching. Chinatown is located here. It's also an important area for nightlife and clubbing, 4-5 star hotels such as Crowne Plaza, Grand Margherita (formerly Holiday Inn), Hilton, Pullman, Somerset Gateway and Novotel, popular tourist spots such as Kuching Waterfront and Cat statues.
  • Simpang Tiga - Simpang Tiga is famous with its federal government complex, Swinburne University and newly opened "The Spring" shopping mall.
  • Satok - Satok is the most widely spoken place among tourists for its weekend market. It is also the smallest DUN (State Legislative) area in Sarawak.
  • Petra Jaya - Petra Jaya is home for majority of Malay population in Kuching, and most probably in Sarawak. It has a lot of Malay kampungs, low-cost housing schemes, housing estates and it is also a headquarters for Sarawak state government, which is an idea later copied by Federal Government for their Putrajaya. Petra Jaya consist of area from Kg. Tupong to Semariang to Demak Laut Industrial Estate.
  • Santubong - Santubong is located 30 km away from Kuching. It is a tourist spot for beach and annual international events such as the World Rainforest Music Festival.

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Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia: Port Information


Ships usually dock at the Pending port (4 miles form the city). You can get away on taxi, buses or express boat jetty.

Get around Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia


By bus

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

Caution-Van sapu
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.

By taxi

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. 

By e-hailing

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.

By car

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).

Car rental

  • Kuching Airport Car Rental, GL42, Ground Floor, Terminal Building, Kuching International Airport, ☎ +60 14 9999 688, +60 12 892 8000, e-mail: kuchingcarrental79@gmail.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: keretasewadikuching@gmail.com. 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: auto@catscity.com.my. 
  • Car Rental Kuching (Car Rental Kuching) (Opposite of the domestic hall exit area), ☎ +60 16 8621613, e-mail: kelvin@carrentalkuching.com. 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: kch@hertz.simedarby.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: reservation@kuchingcarrental.com. 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. 

By motorcycle

  • Three Bikes Rental and Services. Singgahsana Lodge No.1 Temple St. ☎ +60 82 429277. threebikesrental@yahoo.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  

By bicycle

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: borneobicyclehire@ymail.com. 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.

By boats

Boats are sometimes available for visitors who wish to travel from one place to another along the Sarawak River.

By speedboats

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.

On foot

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.

What to see in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia


Kuching is a haven for tourists. It is one of the main tourist destinations in Sarawak.
In Kuching, you can enjoy various sightseeing activities. Among them are visiting museums, sightseeing of Kuching city and sightseeing for nature lovers.
Kuching is quite the sunset spot, often regarded as "one of the most memorable". Take your shots, and enjoy the sunsets from the Waterfront, Santubong Peninsula or Bako Peninsula.
  • Tua Pek Kong Temple, Jl. Padungan (East end of Main Bazaar). This temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Kuching and located strategically at the heart of Kuching. It was just at the opposite of Chinese Museum. It was built in 1843. Various festivals are held here for example The Wang Kang Festival (to commomerate the dead) and Ghost Festival.
  • Sultan Iskandar Planetarium. This first planetarium ever built in Malaysia is in the Kuching Civic Centre complex. This planetarium shows videos of astronomic adventures of every planets in the solar system.
One can enjoy sightseeing of Kuching City at various locations. What is unique of Kuching city in sightseers' eyes is how the skycrapers built in the vicinity of lush green jungles.
  • Kuching Civic Centre, located at Jl. Taman Budaya. This is a 3-building complex, landmarked by its tower with an umbrella-shaped roof. This is the best place to get a 360° aerial view of Kuching City. Take a beautiful snapshot of Kuching concrete buildings in the assembly of lush green trees. The viewing platform is available for public access only during daytime, served mainly by two bubble lifts. Also at the top you can find a souvenir shop and the highest public toilet in Kuching. Just one level below, there's a restaurant called Link. Oe, on the ground, there's the Sultan Iskandar Planetarium, some hawker stalls, a sports gym (which used to be a public library) and a multi-function hall.
  • Kuching City Mosque (near the open air market). It was previously the main mosque for Kuchingites and known as the Sarawak State Mosque, later it was re-designated as the Kuching Divisional Mosque. It was built in 1968 on a site originally used for a wooden mosque as early as 1852. It has a striking design, featuring a combination of mid-western and Italian architecture. It is still now a perfect place for Muslims visiting Kuching to stop by for prayers. Please observe religious conventions. Visitors to mosques are requested to dress respectfully and remove their shoes. Non-Muslims should avoid entering during prayer times so as not to disrupt people during periods of religious observance, especially on Friday afternoons.
  • Masjid Jamek, or "Jamek Mosque" is located at Petra Jaya. It was adjacent to the State Library and housed Dewan Hikmah, a multi-purpose hall, usually for Muslim wedding receptions. It has also some quarters for the Hafizs and the Ustazs. It was the most crowded Mosque in Sarawak due to the location nearby and area where majority of Kuching Muslims reside. It is still a most favourite place for Friday prayers due to the mosque being comfortable and air-conditioned.
  • Medan Raya Complex, located at Petra Jaya. Originally planned as the State Government Administrative Centre with a dual-carriageway boulevard linking the Kuching North City Hall and Wisma Bapa Malaysia, currently just having one building on the site called Baitul Makmur, which houses four state ministries. This area is perfect for jogging, walking and sightseeing of romantic (sometimes erotic) couples. A man-made lake lies in the centre of the complex, where locals usually race their RC speed boats after office hours, much to the annoyance of anyone living within the radius of a kilometre. At night, the fine stretch of road crossing the lake often becomes an illegal dragstrip. Come at the wrong time and the long arm of the law awaits you. Be warned.
  • Kuching Waterfront. Any visit to Kuching is incomplete without taking a brisk walk at the RM1 milion per 10 m strip of Kuching Waterfront. It is the most popular meeting (and mating) place in Kuching. It was once a line of old warehouses. During the daytime, the Waterfront is the best place to view the Astana, Fort Margherita, adjacent Malay kampungs of Kampung Sinjan and Kampung Lintang or even the newly constructed DUN complex. At night, it is the best place to see nightlife of lovers, youngsters and love-makers. Some food kiosks are also present here but mind the high charges on food. My Kampong have a small kiosk that serve mee mamak. If you do order traditional Malay food such as grilled fish, be sure to ask them to warm it up.
  • Main Bazaar. A very long row of shophouses for you to shop for Sarawak souvenirs and handicrafts.
  • Taman Budaya, located at Jl. Taman Budaya. Literally meaning 'cultural garden' although the cultural aspect of it remains questionable. Once a reservoir for water storage and hence forever named the Kuching Reservoir, it is a perfect place for jogging, walking and sightseeing and has a big pond. The Kuching Central Prison is just next to this garden, just so you know.
  • Sunday Market (Pasar Minggu), Jl. Satok in Satok. The Sunday Market comes alive beginning Saturday afternoon and runs until Sunday afternoon. The market is so huge that it might break your legs to walk to every corner of this market. It is divided into many sections such as food, fruits, vegetables, fishes (salted terubok fish is sold here), potted plants, jungle produce, including wild honey, pets, bundle clothing, magazines and even toys. The market is like a huge hypermarket, without air-conditioning. Some word of advice, wear shoes when you are entering fish and chicken areas. Those areas are wet in nature and the traders might not be ashamed to splash some water to your feet. It is open almost every weekend. However, during big celebrations like Gawai, Chinese New Year or Hari Raya, some stalls at Pasar Minggu are closed. The Pasar Tamu however, which is part of the market with a permanent roofed structure, operates on a daily basis.
  • The Astana. Or the Palace in English, resides the current Yang di-Pertua Negeri or the Head of State of Sarawak. The palace is situated on the north bank of the river, just across the river from Kuching Waterfront. It was built in 1870 by Charles Brooke as a bridal gift to his wife Margaret. Next to it is Orchid Garden and beautifully decorated garden with observation tower. A sampan deck, which is named Pengkalan Sapi is also situated within the Astana vicinity.
  • Friendship Garden, located at Tabuan Heights. The garden is developed to mark the symbol of friendship between China and Malaysia. The garden is beautifully crafted with small ponds and gardens. Perfect place for sightseeing, feeding the koi fishes and trying your luck at the two wishing wells.
  • Sarawak State Library (Pustaka Negeri), Petra Jaya, near to Masjid Jamek. For sightseeing purpose, visitors can opt for aerobic sessions hosted every afternoon at the library compound. The lake in front of the library is the most suitable place for aquatic lovers. A lot of fishes from different species are bred here. They normally get foods from the visitors, so bring your fish food or breads here.

Museums

Kuching's major sights are its museums. Clustered just south of the centre, a program of refurbishment started in 2002 is shuffling up the exhibits.
  • Sarawak Museum, The Sarawak State Museum is the oldest museum in Borneo. It was established in 1888 and opened in 1891 in a purpose-built building in Kuching. Sponsored by Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah of Sarawak, the establishment of the museum was strongly encouraged by Alfred Russel Wallace. It was now called Ethnology Museum and houses various ethnic displays and historical items from Sarawak.
  • Dewan Tun Abdul Razak (Tun Abdul Razak Hall), Jl. Tun Abang Haji Openg (Opposite Sarawak Museum). Formerly the New Wing of the Sarawak Museum, now houses changing exhibitions, a rather good gift shop and the Sarawak Museum Department office.
  • The Sarawak Islamic Museum. It is located just behind the Tun Abdul Razak Hall and can be accessed via Jl. P. Ramlee. The museum consists of 7 galleries set around a central courtyard garden, each with a different theme. One of the interesting artefacts shown here is a replica of sword used by Prophet Muhammad. Open daily from 9AM-6PM (closed on Fridays).
  • Chinese History Museum, Waterfront (east end of Main Bazaar). A small colonial-era museum that used to be the courthouse for the Sarawakian Chinese, then the office of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce It now houses a small permanent exhibition of Kuching's many Chinese groups.
  • Fort Margherita, Completed in 1879, Fort Margherita resides at a breathtaking and strategic position at the riverside of Sarawak. It was once a defensive structure to protect Kuching from possible attack. At present, Fort Margherita has been converted into a Police Museum and many of its old cannons, cannonballs, guns, pistols, swords and other vestiges of its armoury and armaments can still be seen. It can be accessed by road from the other side of the river, which is Petra Jaya, or by 'tambang' boat from Kuching Waterfront.
  • The Cat Museum. This is a large collection of cat memorabilia, since "Kuching" means "Cat" in Malay. The museum is located at Kuching North City Hall at Petra Jaya, on top of Bukit Siol (Siol Hill). Cat lovers will find all range of exhibits, photos, feline art and cat souvenirs. Some interesting cat characters like Felix the Cat, and Garfield the Cat are also housed here. Free entry. Open daily 9AM-5PM (closed public holidays).
  • Sarawak Timber Museum. The museum resides in the building of Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) Building or Wisma Sumber Alam in Petra Jaya. It houses forestry, traditional wood displays, forest-based products and the exhibition of timber industry development in Sarawak. Open Mondays to Fridays 8:30AM to 4PM, Saturdays 8:30AM-12:30PM (closed Sundays and public holidays). ☎ +60 82 443477
  • Sarawak Textile Museum. The museum is situated in the Pavilion, yet another historical building on its own right, just opposite of the General Post Office. Open Mon-Fri 8:30AM-4PM, Sat 8:30-12:30PM (closed Sundays and public holidays).
  • Pua Kumbu Museum. The museum is located at Tun Jugah Complex. However, this museum requires early booking/appointment. Refer to Sarawak Tourism Board for contact.

Nearby

  • Jong's Crocodile Farm, ☎ +60 82 242790. Located 30 km from Kuching on the Kuching-Serian Rd. The best time to visit is during feeding time. It is open daily from 9AM–5PM, and Sundays from 10AM. Admission Charges are RM16 for adults and RM8 for children under 12.
  • Gunung Gading National Park (three kilometers north of Lundu which is about two hours by bus or car), ☎ +60 82 735714. home to the world’s largest flower, the parasitic Rafflesia, which can grow up to 1 m in diameter. Rafflesia takes many months to grow and then only blooms for a few days. It is best to check with the park office to avoid disappointment. Even if Rafflesia is not blooming, there are some hikes you can do in the park, see orchids (seasonal) and the world's tallest flower. There are cottages, a dorm and a nice camping area with basic facilities. park entrance RM20 (RM10 for nationals), camping RM5, guided walk RM30 per group. edit
  • Kubah National Park, at Matang. This park is famous of its beautiful rocky streams and small waterfall. People from all over Kuching love to gather here especially on hot and sunny days for refreshing and cooling themselves. You can try jungle trekking here where you can see encaged deers and wild boars.

What to do in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia


Kuching is a great home-base for jungle trekking and exploring Borneo.
  • Bidayuh Longhouse Adventure. Located at Annah Rais village near to Borneo Highland Resort. They offer overnight packages for you to experience the traditional Bidayuh longhouse communal life. You get to try out all sort of local dishes, home-brewed rice wine, and also lots of activities to keep you occupied, such as tropical rainforest jungle trekking, bamboo rafting, visit to natural hotspring & etc. 
  • Kuching Kayaking. You can choose to kayak in the Sarawak river (in the city) for a leisurely and unique perspective of Kuching; or you can choose to kayak in the sea where you may bump into dolphins; or you may choose to kayak through the rainforest and experience the sights and sounds of the jungles of Borneo. Whichever you choose, its an experience you won't soon forget. 
  • Borneo Headhunter Tattoos. Tattoo designs inspired by Sarawak's indigenous tribes [1]. There are a handful of parlours in Kuching that specialise in indigenous designs and are very clean and hygienic.
  • Kuching Tattoo Friendly couple and very professional. Situated same row as Kiosk 2 Cafe. A few doors away from The Junk Cafe. (Upstairs)
  • Bumbu Cooking Class, 57 Carpenter St, ☎ +60 19 8791050, e-mail: bumbucookingclas@hotmail.com. In an old traditional shophouse and almost resembles a typical indigenous kitchen but it is more modern and hygienic. The class includes a visit to the market where you will learn to choose and buy the best natural ingredients. Bookings are essential. The price is MYR150 with the market tour or MYR120 without. 
  • Scuba Diving. Dive at Talang-Talang Island to see turtles, or visit the World War II Japaneses ship wreck. 
  • Fish Feeding. If you love feeding fish, try bring those fish food at the lake of Sarawak State Library, also at the Friendship Garden.
  • Pusat Kemahiran Seni, Sarawak Cultural Village. A traditional Sarawakian dancing class is available at the centre, also lessons in playing traditional musical instruments like Sape and craft lesson for beginners. 
  • Traditional Batik-Making. Located at Jl. Stadium. Hands-on experience with making traditional batik. You can learn how to apply batik motives based on Sarawak culture. The operators of Perbadanan Kraftangan (Handicrafts body) are also expert in pua kumbu. Contact them to arrange for a lesson. 
  • Bidayuh Spa and Massage. At Borneo Highlands resort. Traditional spa and massage of Bidayuh.
  • Jogging and brisk walking. If you love jogging and brisk walking. There are plenty of places to do so. Among the popular places are Kuching Reservoir, Masja and Kampung Haji Baki Garden.
  • Sarawak Layer Cake Making. At Kampung Lintang and go to any Malay houses there to savour the making of famous Sarawak layer cakes. Among the layer cakes you can choose from are Sabok (or Sampin in standard Malay) Tun Razak cake, Dangdut cake, Retak Seribu cake and Hati Pari cake. Local guides required to look for the housewives who make the layer cakes for sale and provide teaching lesson. Other places include Rabiah Amit's house in Petra Jaya RPR Fasa II (not far from Kampung Lintang) and Dayang Salhah's in Kampung Gersik.
  • Tringgus Tribal Experience (1 hr from Kuching city), ☎ +60 12 8950419, +60 10 5267669. The original 'Tringgus tribe of Borneo' were a feared sub-group of the Bidayuh (Land Dayaks), warrior headhunters of the Borneo interior, living a predominantly hunter-gatherers lifestlye. They knew how to utilise the medicinal and poison plants, edible plants and roots. Explore ancient rainforest and it's flora and fauna. Nature activities include jungle and river trekking, climbing and exploring the nearby mountains, camping and traditional white water fishing, visiting ancient remnants and relics of Tringgus tribal villages and sites. Overnight in homestays available. The park has many norctunal sights. 
  • 71st Skin Slavery Tattoo Studio, 1st floor, No. 75 Jl. Padungan (Opposite Everise Supermarket), ☎ +60 13 8177227. Specialise in custom tattoo, cover up, colour, black and grey work. All needle and material is in single use and well sterilized. Visit for consultation. 
  • Qhumang-Balai Ringin Wild Adventure (Approximately 60 km from Kuching City), ☎ +60 12 809 4730, e-mail: qhumang@gmail.com. River cruising and wild fishing adventure, jungle trekking and natural adventure as well as homestay and wild camping experiences. 
  • Mirage Spa, Jalan Padungan Lama, ☎ +60 82-424022. Foot & Body massage , SPA & yoga - Pamper yourself with a massage session in our hideaway for body, mind and soul. 
  • Kuching Caving, KuchingCaving@gmail.com (Call or email), ☎ +60 128862347. 0900-2000. Easy, intermediate and technical day trips through fabulous, deserted caves. The company supplies you with all equipment and protective clothing. From 199.

What to eat and drink in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia


Eating out is the major pastime, with a huge variety of eateries and food available. Most places are pretty cheap with excellent service but the more "local", the less English spoken. Be sure to sample some Sarawak laksa, but beware - it's considered a breakfast dish here and the popular places sell out fast. For the local Chinese, kolo mee, a noodle dish served with slices of roasted pork, is also a daily staple. Although most places are quite clean, there are some which are not. A rule of thumb is if you're not comfortable with it, then walk somewhere else. There are plenty to choose from.
Be sure to try Sarawak coffee - it is delicious and can be found in any local 'Kopi-tiam' (coffee shop). Also, try a drink called "White Lady". It usually consists of evaporated milk and a syrup base with fruit and a slice of lemon within. The colors vary from yellow to pink.
The local favourite of "White Lady" is made by Ah Meng's stall at Hui Sing Hawker Centre at Hui Sing Garden. Another of the stall's signature drink is "Metahorn", made with jellies, syrup and local fruits. There are various knock-offs in Kuching but the taste is different.
There are plenty of good bars and are usually grouped together in areas around Kuching.
 

Shopping in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia


There's some interesting shopping in Kuching. For a wide selection of tribal handicrafts and touristy gewgaws, head down to the aptly named Main Bazaar street on the Kuching waterfront. It's worth going inside for a look, as many shops have larger and more authentic collections hidden away upstairs or in a back room.
Note that, in this mostly Christian city, some shops close on Sundays.

Markets

  • Sunday Market, (Pasar Minggu), off Jl. Satok, (between Esso gas station and Wisma Satok). A Kuching institution, starting every Saturday afternoon and winding down by noontime Sunday. Very much a workaday market, with tourists few and far between, the emphasis is on fresh food of every description. Be sure to try some apam balik a pancake with nuts and margerine, very filling, absolutely delicious and RM1 a piece. Bring along suitable footwear plus a tolerance for heat, crowds and powerful odors.
  • Two other local markets, more conveniently located and open daily, can be found at the west end of Jl. India.

Shopping centres

  • Plaza Merdeka. A new shopping mall opened in 2012 which is located in the heart of Kuching city. 
  • Kuching Sentral, located at Mile 5, the newly completed bus terminal cum shopping mall is the latest landmark in Kuching.
  • Boulevard Mall, located at Mile 4 Kuching-Serian Rd, (not far from Regional Bus Terminal). Opened in late December 2007. It offers a Boulevard Hypermarket and Department Store plus a variety of shopping outlets like Sony Centre, Popular Book store and fast foods outlets such as Sushi King, Kenny Rogers Roasters and KFC. The management is currently expanding the mall.
  • The Spring, Jl. Simpang Tiga (between the city centre and airport). Opened to the public in January 2008, 'Lifestyle' shopping mall. It offers many international brands like Esprit, Elle, Mango, Charles & Keith, Starbucks, MAC and Quiksilver etc. The mall is spread over 4 stories including a carpark basement. The main tenants are Parkson @ tHe Spring, Ta Kiong Supermarket, Padini Concept Store, and MBO Cinemas. 
  • Green Heights Mall, Jl. Lapangan Terbang. Kuching's first suburban neighbourhood small mall, with an international Cold Storage Supermarket as the anchor tenant, over some 4,000 m² of leasable space. It opened in mid-2008.
  • Sarawak Plaza, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman (next to Grand Margherita Hotel). One of Kuching's older malls. Lea Center is the anchor tenant, selling a wide variety of shoes from sportswear to fashion. Recently, the mall was renovated hoping to provide a better shopping environment for both locals and foreigners.
  • Tun Jugah, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman (opposite Sarawak Plaza). Named after the first Sarawakian politician in Malaysian Parliament, the mall stands majestically twelve storeys tall at the commercial and financial hub of Kuching City. It comprises 3 levels of retail space, 9 levels of office space, and 2 levels of basement car park. It also has one of the major local bookstores, Popular, as one of its main tenants.
  • Wisma Saberkas, located at the junction of Jl. Tun Abang Haji Openg and Jl. Rock, is an older cylindrical building on the outskirts of Kuching (approximately 15 min from the Waterfront) that offers a feast of hi-tech products based around mobile phones and computers.
  • Riverside Shopping Complex, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman (opposite Sarawak Plaza). One of the older malls in the city, it is home to the first Parkson in Kuching. Other anchor tenants include LFS Cineplex and Giant Supermarket. It is also home to Riverside Superbowl - one of the 2 bowling centres in Kuching.
  • Kenyalang Park, Kenyalang Suburb. A very old place that consists of a cluster of shophouses and one enclosed area. It is the place to go if you want to find cheap items like clothes, accessories and especially DVDs/VCDs. When Chinese New Year approaches, many stores are set up here to cater to the event. Kenyalang would usually be crowded with people during these times.
  • Crown Square, Towards Pending, opposite Hock Lee Centre. A medium-sized, newly refurbished shopping mall. The tenants include Mr. Ho's Fine Foods - which serves authentic fusion cuisine. The largest Mummycare and Kiddycare in the city is located here.
  • Hock Lee Centre, Jl. Abang Abdul Rahim. The place to find and buy cheap clothes and fashion accessories for the young females. There are electronics and a supermarket in the basement and Home & Living on the ground and 1st floor. One of the major bookstores in Kuching, Smart Bookshop is under the same roof. A Hock Lee Music Centre is also available on the 3rd floor (previously was on the 2nd floor) which sells a wide variety of musical instruments(be warned that these are not traditional instruments).
  • Wisma Satok, off Jln Satok, just a pedestrian bridge away from the location of the Sunday Market. One of the older malls in Kuching. Cheap items can be found here. There's a departmental store and supermarket. A high concentration of mediocre cyber cafe is at the fourth floor. CIMB Bank is located beside Wisma Satok.
  • Wisma Hopoh, Jl. P. Ramlee, near Syaria Court. (just a walk away from Sarawak Museum). A small and old shopping centre yet still frequented by shoppers. Its tenant includes Lea Sports Centre, Jee Kwong Optics and the fast food restaurant franchise, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

Safety in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia


The most common crime in Kuching are bag snatches by motorbike riders. When walking nearby the road or in open parking lots, keep handbags and non-strapped items far from the side of the road, holding them firmly. Jalan Main Bazaar is particularly notorious for bag snatches; it can be avoided by walking in the waterfront instead. Other than that, Kuching is a quite safe city. Armed robberies with knifes are known to happen, but much less frequently than in other Malaysian big cities such as Johor Bahru or Kuala Lumpur. Kuching is practically safe from natural disasters: no earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes or volcanoes. Aside from the very occasional flood the biggest hazard is haze during the dry season, caused by fires in Sarawak and neighboring Indonesia.

Kuching has often been declared as one of the cleanest cities in Asia and still can hold the record for the cleanest city in Malaysia. The air pollution is minimum, while the Sarawak River is constantly being cleared from rubbish. Some part of the city might be a little bit dirty and messy. However, tourists spots are always being maintained clean.
Public toilets are easily available throughout Kuching with entrance fee of 20 cents. The public toilets are generally sanitized and clean. However, some public toilets might be lightly vandalized with graffiti and cigarette burns.
Public smoking is still allowed, except for areas like hospitals, government offices, public bus stops and supermarkets. Although the streets are clean and well-maintained, some Kuchingites are prone to litter their cigarette butts and candy wrapping once in a while. However, litter bins are available at most of the places.

Language spoken in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia


Kuching is a very multicultural place, and most locals speak at least Malay and their ethnic tongue, with quite a number able to speak a decent level of English as well. This is due to the fact all Kuchingnites take English as a second or third language. The ability to speak either Malay, English or Mandarin is usually enough for someone in Kuching to get by.

LOCAL TIME

7:55 am
October 21, 2020
Asia/Kuching

CURRENT WEATHER

29.75 °C / 85.55 °F
light rain
Thu

29.24 °C/85 °F
moderate rain
Fri

27.87 °C/82 °F
heavy intensity rain
Sat

25.73 °C/78 °F
moderate rain
Sun

29.45 °C/85 °F
moderate rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

MYR

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