Sarawak is a singular enclave of Malaysia on a tropical island the size of Chile. Only Greenland and New Guinea eclipse Borneo; a wondrous place with rainforests that pre-date the Amazon and extraordinary endemic animal and plant life, examples of which we have yet to discover. Only on Borneo do we find a sovereign despot as brazenly cash-rich as the Sultan of Brunei and, conversely, bands of nomadic hunter-gatherers content to forage the equatorial spoils of the jungle. Somewhere in the middle is the state capital of Sarawak.
Home to close to 1 million people, Kuching is the most important hub in the state. The urban development offensive so pervasive ithroughout the rest of Malaysia and, indeed, the progressively viable region of Southeast Asia, has bled into what has become the nerve centre of Borneo. With it has come a mad rush to cater to a new breed of tourist.
The result, monsoon rains aside, is a city with a desirable quality of life. Kuching is home to a mosaic of cultures and scores well on international healthy and clean city indices. A compact cityscape gives way to first-rate points of interest like the Sarawak Museum, Astana, Sultan Iskandar Planetarium, Fort Margherita, temples and weekend markets.
Kuching’s Top 10
10. Bako National Park was the first national park on the island of Borneo.
5. Weekend Market at Satok is a seductive flurry of commercial activity on Saturdays and Sundays.
9. Sang Ti Miao is a venerable and ornate temple.
4. Sultan Iskandar Planetarium was the first planetarium to open in Malaysia.
8. Tua Pek Kong is a vital temple that caters to the Chinese community of Kuching.
3. Fort Margherita was built at the behest of Charles Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak.
7. Islamic Museum traces the history of Islam in Malaysia and Borneo.
2. The Astana is the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak.
6. Hong San Temple is a Hokkien Chinese work of art.
1. Sarawak Museum offers a complete and tactile cultural retrospect on the state.
- Tuak Pek Kong Temple - Located at the heart of Kuching, this is the oldest temple in the city.
- Old Courthouse - Built by Sir Charles Brooke. Sarawak state council meetings were held here until 1973.
- Astana - Sir Charles built this splendid home for his wife in 1870.
- Sarawak Museum - The oldest museum in Borneo, displaying a huge inventory of historical items.
- Fort Margherita - The fort has a collection of old cannons and various weapons.
Kuching Art & Culture
- Borneo Headhunter Tattoos - It’s very clean and antiseptic, and the designs are uniquely Sarawak.
- Sarawak Cultural Village - Learn and appreciate the Sarawak traditional dances and musical instruments.
- Sarawak Craft Council - An assortment of local handicrafts.
- Tringgus Tribal Experience - Visit the ancient Tringgus tribal village in the Borneo jungles.
- Kampung Lintang - The place in Kuching to learn the art of making delectable and mouthwatering Sarawak layer cakes.
- Sunday Market - A Sarawak institution, a feast for the senses. You can also see various jungle products here.
- Main Bazaar Kuching - Lined with old shops and antique stores, you can find unique souvenirs here.
- Boulevard Mall - You can literally find everything that you need in this mall.
- The Spring - It’s called a “lifestyle” shopping mall, full of international boutiques and restaurants.
- Wisma Saberkas - The perfect place for a techno-geek, it has a variety of the latest phones and computers.
Gay & Lesbian Kuching
- Grappa - The ultimate clubbing experience. Gays usually flock here on Saturday nights.
- Batik Boutique Hotel - There’s something for everyone here, and it's a gay- and lesbian-friendly accommodation in Kuching.
- Discovery - This bar is located at Tarman Sri Sarawak.
- Ruai Apai - The ambience is superb. It’s the only bar that serves brewed tuak.
- Travillion - Packed with bars and clubs that play techno music. If you’re into having a wild night, this is definitely the place.
- Bako National Park - The Bidayuh Long houses are also located here, in the midst of the wildlife and 17 jungle trails.
- Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre - Here you may find some of the endangered animals, like the orangutan.
- Kubah National Park - The park near Kuching is home to a wide array of flora, but it is known for its spectacular rocky streams and waterfalls.
- Qhumang-Balai Ringin Wild Adventure - Offers an awesome camping experience, including river cruising, wild fishing adventure and jungle trekking.
- Niah National Park - Home of the Niah Caves, the nesting site of the swift lets, the most important ingredient of birds’ nest soup.
- Kayak along the Kuching River, or for something more adventurous, you can also try it in the rainforest.
- Trek along the Kuching Jungle. You’ll definitely feel like you’re Indiana Jones.
- Gear up and go scuba diving in Talang to experience swimming with sea turtles and relics of Japanese battle ships.
- Try motocross, 4WDs and ATVs at the MG ATV Extreme Park.
- Ride a mountain bike in Borneo’s lush forests to appreciate nature even more.
Weekend Market and other marketplaces throughout the city sell traditional handicrafts, superb street food and pulsate with local life.
The action on Kuching Waterfront beguiles and captivates new visitors to the city.
River tours provide a first-rate way to see Sarawak.
Bako National Park and Teluk Assam Beach form a memorable one-two punch for nature lovers.
Kuching Wetlands National Park is worth the short drive from the city. A foremost habitat for primates with a superb network of trails.
The Kuching Food Fair takes place at the end of July.
The Padawan Festival is a month-long carnival from late June to late July in Batu Kawah New Township.
Kuching Festival is the premier bash in the city and takes place from July to August.
When To Go
Kuching has typical tropical rainforest weather with profuse, abundant rainfall throughout the year. The climate, in fact, produces a prolific 170 in (4,308 mm) of the wet stuff per annum. It rains 250 days out of the year in Kuching, with barely 5 hours of sunshine a day, on average.
The “low” precipitation months of April, July and September offer scant relief but a remarkable contrast from the deluge period of November to March nonetheless.
Humidity is high and temperatures relatively constant from 73°F (18°C) to 91°F (33°C) throughout the year.
In the wake of a vast facelift, Kuching International Airport’s annual passenger numbers have shot up to the 4 million mark. The hub services the likes of Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Hong Kong. Several cruise liners also navigate the waters between Kuching and Singapore.
The Kuching regional express bus terminal services a long list of destinations on the island of Borneo.
Within the city, a bicycle and pair of comfortable trainers serve active visitors well, outside of torrential downpours of course. For general transport, Kuching has a reliable mix of taxis, shuttle vans and public bus fleets.
Kuching General Information
Sarawak is a magnificent enclave of Malaysia on the massive island of Borneo. The third-largest island on the planet, after Greenland and nearby New Guinea, is also the domain of Indonesia and the tiny, but ludicrously wealthy, sovereign state of Brunei. Occupying less than twenty percent of Borneo, Sarawak nonetheless encompasses some of the most dramatic points of interest on the extraordinary island. As a gateway to Sarawak and indeed, Borneo, few places can compete with the state capital, Kuching.
Home to over 650,000 people, Kuching is not only the most important and most populous hub in Sarawak, but the fourth largest city in Malaysia as well. Historically, Sarawak’s now-prodigious development in Borneo has trickled out of Kuching with tendril-like efficacy. As a result, the city is the undeniable nerve centre of the state and arguably, with apologetic deference to Kota Kinabalu, Banjarmasin and Bandar Seri Begawan, the island as a whole. Kuching is notable in Malaysia for being one of the cleaner, healthier, more progressive and multi-cultural state capitals in the country. Indeed, the populace is neatly divided between Chinese, Malay and indigenous Iban, with a high degree of respect, tolerance and freedom for religions outside of Islam. Kuching’s compact cityscape includes remarkable tourist landmarks and attractions, from the Sarawak Museum to The Astana, Sultan Iskandar Planetarium to Fort Margherita. The city waterfront and market are prominent hives of activity on weekends.
Attractions & Activities
- Sarawak Museum
- The Astana
- Fort Margherita
- Sultan Iskandar Planetarium
- Hong San Temple
- Weekend Market
- Kuching Waterfront
- Gelora Park
- Bako National Park
- Kuching Wetlands National Park
Restaurant & Nightlife
- Bla Bla Bla
- The Heritage
- Chinese Food Hawker Stalls
- Top Spot Food Court
- Cat City
- LimeLight Rooftop Lounge
Kuching has a tropical rainforest climate, with abundant precipitation throughout the year, particularly from November to March, and temperatures between 23°C and 33°C.
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