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10 May, 2010

Kuching Main Bazaar and Waterfront Sarawak

Kuching Main Bazaar

Kuching Main Bazaar and Waterfront in Sarawak has to be the most visited place in town as it is the number one place to shop for souvenirs, handicraft and also to enjoy the beautiful views of the Sarawak River or simply dine at one of the restaurants or cafes along this place which is also known as the Kuching Esplanade. Known to locals as Kuching Main Bazaar, you can find almost every ethnic handicraft at the shops here along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Kuching Main Bazaar shops

Every tourist that visits Kuching will sure to make a stop at this famous Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman road. Many travel agents who specialize in Eco-Tourism trips, Adventure tours and the most popular which is the Longhouse Visits are found in this street which is dominated by the two storey old pre-war colonial buildings.

Kuching Main Bazaar Handicraft Shop

Apart from the tour services offered here, there are a number of other interesting shops to visit  along the Main Bazaar which are the Handicraft Shops, Souvenir Shops, Restaurants and even at one end, the famous Goldsmith Row. This place attracts all sorts of travelers as from my many visits here, I have noticed local travelers right up to backpackers and foreigners who are seen exploring the area. Chinatown is just around the corner if you should know. 


The beauty about the Kuching Main Bazaar is that the place remains as original as it can be with not much modern development on the main street thus showcasing some of the best and finest ethnic crafts found in Borneo. A number of art shops, collectible shops and handicraft shops make you visit worthwhile if you are into this sort of thing. I for one, always spend a good 3-4 hours here just browsing for additional pieces to feed my ethnic collection of weapons. All sorts of strange wood carvings and wooden masks are found here too.

Kuching Main Bazaar old goldsmith shop selling craft

Some of the older shops have been converted into souvenir shops selling a mix of items. There was one shop which sold raw Sarawak Pepper while half of the shop sold interesting curios. The best times to explore this place would be mornings till afternoon as they start to close by about 6pm.

Kuching Waterfront Sarawak River Cruise Boat

When you cross the main street towards the river, there is a beautiful walkway about a kilometer long. It is here that you will find various cafes, stalls and even restaurants but the river. It is here too where one can ride the Sarawak River Cruise boats or take the famous Sarawak Sampan Taxis across the river which usually costs RM0.50 cents (US$0.15).

The Sarawak River Cruises depart daily at about 5.30pm and costs RM60 (US$20) for adults while children pay half price. Some tour agents from the Main Bazaar sell these tickets as well or you can inquire directly from the jetty where the cruise departs.


On occasion, you will see people fishing bu the river though there are some no fishing signs along the waterfront. This one chap was seen handling four fishing rods at one go. Very interesting so I waited to see what he caught. After ten minutes, nothing came up and I moved on.

Kuching Waterfront walkway

Walking along the waterfront in the evenings are the best if you like sunsets. Sometimes, the beautiful Sarawak Sunset can be quite impressive but on my many visits here, I never got a chance to catch one though I have seen some really nice ones from other photographers who patiently waited day by day for that magical moment. Also, take note of some of the sculptures which are placed along the waterfront. some of them are quite interesting.

There is also a kiosk for the Sarawak Tourist Association along the Waterfront here so if you need information about Sarawak, you can just walk in and get help. They are open from 9am till 5pm.

Main Bazaar shop arch painted in ethnic motifs

Back on the main street, if you walk along the old shop house five foot walkway, you will be greeted with various types of archways cleverly decorated and painted to attract potential business. Most of them are painted to the Iban or Orang Ulu traditional motives. Seeing them would mean a shop selling ethnic items would be there and one could find something really worth getting. Do not worry if the items are too big to carry as most of these shops do postal delivery back to your country for a minimal fee.

Kuching Main Bazaar souvenir shops

One thing I always make a point to stop and get are local handicraft souvenirs. There are a ton of them around and many with unique choices. Most of the beaded items come in form of necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Key chains are popular especially those in the shape of the traditional Sarawak Iban Warrior Shield.

Kuching Waterfront at night

Kuching Waterfront is also a beautiful place at night as it is lighted well from one end to the other. Various vendors are seen along the main walkway selling all sorts of 'interesting' items. Food kiosk are abundant at various points while couples and tourist flock to enjoy the walk along here. A number of make-shift stalls sell souvenirs and crafts too but at a slightly higher price than the usual shops. The place usually simmers down around 9pm so, avoid going late as there is nothing to look forward to then. Be advised of snatch theft or robbers after dark along the waterfront too. 

On a side note, there are a few hotels located just near the Sarawak Waterfront namely The Hilton Kuching, Tune Hotels by AirAsia and Holiday Inn Kuching. For food, I would easily recommend Khatulistiwa Cafe and Restaurant. This very unique circular establishment cannot be missed as it resembles one of the Sarawakian Tribes, the Bidayuh people's Warrior House called the Baruk. They serve a good fusion of Sarawakian delicacies, Asian flare and Western food here. If you have been told of the famous Sarawak Laksa noodles, you can try them here too. Prices are above the coffee shop rates.

General Kuching Main Bazaar questions answered;

What is the best time to visit the Kuching Main Bazaar - 10am till 6pm
Bargaining at Kuching Main Bazaar - You may bargain, but not too much. Something within reason.
Cash or Credit Cards - Most Art galleries and craft shops accept credit cards. Small vendors accept cash.
Can large items be shipped for me - Most places offer shipping services back to your country for a fee.
Can I photograph the ethnic items - Most craft dealers will not allow this but then again, ask politely.
Can I book Tours here - A number of tour agencies are found here so yes.

The Kuching Waterfront has also won some awards since it opened and below are some of them;
  • 1994 - National Project Award in the Civic Design Category
    (Awarded by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture)
  • 1994 - Merit Award in the Overseas Category
    (Awarded by the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture)
  • 1994 - Excellence on the Waterfront/ Waterfront Centre Annual Award
    (Awarded by the Waterfront Centre, USA)
Map to Kuching Main Bazaar/Waterfront



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Kuching Main Bazaar and Waterfront is a highly recommended place to visit when you travel to Sarawak Borneo. If you collect art and sculptures or ethnic items, this is the place to find them.

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13 comments:

Lilian said... 10 May 2010 13:49

I still remember a beautiful piece of art which I saw at the waterfront. Too bad it was too expensive!

David Jr said... 10 May 2010 19:56

I hope that art shop is still there as there was one very nice art shop which I liked that closed down.

David

Cath J said... 10 May 2010 22:13

Wow its been a long time never visit Kuching... Must come here again.. Thanks for the info bro..

^_^

David Jr said... 11 May 2010 00:15

Thank you Cath! Hope you get to visit Kuching again soon. I would like too visit again as there is so much to explore here.

David

Mei Teng said... 11 May 2010 11:27

Kuching Main Bazaar is definitely better than KL's Chinatown (Petaling Street) :)

David Jr said... 11 May 2010 18:20

Mei, I believe that it is better in a way where the items found here are more authentic. None of that fake stuff.....like in Chinatown.

David

Travel Destinations said... 12 May 2010 15:01

Tabuan Jaya, 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.

David Jr said... 20 May 2010 13:58

Thanks for the added info TD.

David

Nancie said... 20 June 2010 22:08

Nice post. Kuching is one of my favorite cities in Malaysia. I loved the Esplanade.

David Jr said... 20 June 2010 23:35

Thank you Nancie, I kind of like Kuching for the laid back lifestyle and the green surrounding the entire place. Food is absolutely awesome here too provided someone takes you to the best places there.

David

Villa Sicilia said... 5 April 2011 13:41

Kuching Waterfront is really so beautiful to visit and during the evening time it would be so joyous to be there and to spend some good quality time.

muqhrish said... 30 June 2011 01:37

among all sarawak town/city, kuching is the best.. annually i would back to kuching, theres always something to explore..

David Jr said... 30 June 2011 02:36

Thanks, actually, it has been about 2 years since I last visited Kuching and would love to do so again. Time to make some plans. I miss some of the lovely food there too.

Item Reviewed: Kuching Main Bazaar and Waterfront Sarawak Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: David Jr
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