Kuching Main Bazaar and Waterfront

Main Bazaar in Kuching

The Kuching Main Bazaar and Waterfront in Sarawak has to be the most visited place in the city as it is the number one place to shop for souvenirs, handicrafts and also to enjoy the beautiful views of the Sarawak River.

Apart from that, you can also dine at the many restaurants or cafes along with 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.

Shops at Kuching Main Bazaar
Kuching Main Bazaar shops

Kuching Main Bazaar & Waterfront

Every tourist that visits Kuching will sure to make a stop at this famous Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman or Jalan Main Bazaar road.

Many travel agents who specialize in Eco-Tourism trips, adventure tours and the most popular which is the traditional Longhouse visits are found in this street which is dominated by the two-story old pre-war colonial buildings.

Handicraft Livan Kuching
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.

Kuching Chinatown is just around the corner and Little India as well, if you should know. 

Sarawak Unika
On of the tour companies here
The beauty of 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 to 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 that sold raw Sarawak Pepper while half of the shop sold interesting curios.

The best time to explore this place would be mornings till afternoon as they start to close by about 6.00 pm.

River Cruise in Sarawak
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. It was very interesting so I waited to see what he caught. After ten minutes, nothing came up and I moved on.

Waterfront Kuching
Kuching Waterfront walkway

Walking along the waterfront in the evenings is the best if you like sunsets, and sometimes, the beautiful Sarawak Sunset can be quite impressive and captivating.

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 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Main Bazaar shop arch painted in ethnic motifs

Back on the main street, if you walk along with the old shophouse 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, which double as a great photo opportunity.

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.

Shops at Kuching Main Bazaar
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 the form of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Key chains are popular especially those in the shape of the traditional Sarawak Iban Warrior Shield.

Night Photo of Kuching Main Bazaar
Kuching Waterfront at night

Kuching Waterfront

The 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 is 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 9.00 pm 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 quite a number of hotels located just near the Sarawak Waterfront namely The Hilton Kuching, Tune Hotels and Holiday Inn Kuching.

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

View Kuching Main Bazaar and Waterfront in a larger map


The Kuching Main Bazaar and Waterfront is a highly recommended place to visit when you travel to Sarawak Borneo, and should not be missed.

And if you collect art and sculptures or ethnic items, this is the place to find them and please go early as most of the shop will close around 5.00 PM.

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.


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