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23 August, 2013

What to do in Kuching, Sarawak


As many travelers may be asking 'What to do in Kuching?', there are actually quite some interesting things you can do in Kuching town or the outskirts. Many who have been here will instantly brand Kuching as a not so active place but if you have been here enough times, there are actually quite a few things to explore here. Anyway, I have created this list for the first times or those who have a few days in Kuching, Sarawak.

Before I go there, Kuching is the capitol of Sarawak and is well known as a gateway to all of Sarawak's nature and wildlife. Kuching is also a great place to try local Sarawakian food for the foodies or food lovers. Another popular thing many locals like to do is go shopping for handicraft and antiques here. 

Sarawak River Cruise
1. Take the Sarawak River Cruise - Only for those who want to see the mighty Sarawak River. Cruises are available from the main Kuching Waterfront area where huge ferries take passengers on a cruise down the river. What can you see here? In the beginning get to see popular monuments, heritage buildings, the old dock traders area and locals taking the common river taxis to get across the other side. As you go further, you will see the simple river life of the locals who have homes by the river and everyday life here.

The common cruise is via the larger ferry-like boat that charges about RM60-RM70 per person for a one and a half hour cruise while there is one more much smaller one that charges about RM20-RM25. I would recommend you take the larger one as it is more comfortable with full facilities with orange juice and local layer cakes served complimentary. The smaller one is is a wooden sampan or traditional boat and only takes you around for about 30 minutes. 

Sarawak Museum
2. Visit the Sarawak Museum - And you thought museums were boring? This amazing museum located next to the Merdeka Hotel at Dataran Kuching is noted to be one of the best museums in the world. Established in 1891, this is hands down the oldest museum in Borneo. If you ever wanted to learn about the Sarawakian culture, tattoos and so on, this is the best place to start. And the best part - Admission is Free! 
Sarawak Museum Address - Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, 93566, Kuching, Sarawak

Kuching Main Bazaar

3. Explore the Main Bazaar and Carpenter Street - These are one of the oldest trading streets in Kuching where nowadays, you get a myriad of shops selling all sorts of local souvenirs. The Main Bazaar in Kuching is a well known area for buying souvenirs, antiques and the much talked about Sarawak Layer Cakes (Kek Lapis Sarawak). Best time to visit this place is in the mornings till about after lunch. Most of the shops here will close by 5pm. For Malaysians, there are shops that sell the famous Sarawak Mats (Tikar Sarawak) where after purchasing them, they are air-flown to your home, at a cost of course.Some new budget hotels have recently opened along the Kuching Main Street Bazaar while towards one end, you will find numerous goldsmith shops.

Carpenter Street Kuching

At the back of the Main Bazaar is Carpenter Street, a well known road that offers budget hotels, popular coffee shops, restaurants and cafes and also stores selling souvenirs and so on. Many locals like to come here for the food as there are some notable restaurants like Aladdin Chicken Rice and also the Temple Hawker Centre which has a few local Sarawakian dishes. This place is best visited from mornings till about lunch.

Kuching Cat Museum
4. Visit the Cat Museum - Yes, they have an amazing Cat Museum. If you don't already know, Kuching is Cat in the Malay language so a Cat Museum is appropriate in this case. Located in the north of Kuching town at the city hall building, you can simply grab a taxi here but tell him to wait for you to send you back. The Kuching Cat Museum houses over thousands of cat memorabilia from around the world. Famous cats like Garfield and even Disney popular cats. If you're a cat lover, this is one place you must visit. There is a small entrance fee and more information can be found at the Kuching Cat Museum Website.

Satok Weekend Market in Kuching
5. Go to the Satok Weekend Market - Only if you are here in a weekend, you can pay a visit to the famous Jalan Satok Sunday Market which is vibrant, colorful and interesting open air market. Exceptionally fresh fruits and vegetables are offered while you can also find unique wild ferns and exotic vegetables from the interiors of Sarawak. Besides fresh groceries and raw food sold in the market, there are also handicraft and handmade souvenirs available. Don't forget to try the famous sago worms which can be found here - yes, the worms that can be eaten. Other interesting things at Satok include pets such as rabbit, puppies and fish. Avoid if you dislike crowds and markets. 

Note: The Satok Weekend Market is now located at Medan Niaga Satok, a new area which is cleaner and is open on Saturdays and Sundays only. Take a taxi here.

Fairy Caves in Bau, Sarawak
6. Visit the Fairy Caves in Bau - A two hour drive from Kuching takes you to one of the most amazing caves in Sarawak called the Fairy Caves. You will need to book a tour service for this as it is best done this way with a professional guide. Upon arriving, you need to climb up about 10 flights of stairs before entering the cave system where it leads you into a fantasy land hence called Fairy Caves. All this can be done in half a day and best to go in the mornings. Avoid if you dislike climbing, hot and sweaty situations or nature.

Pasar Serikin Market

7. Shop at the Serikin Market - A very popular border town market that locals love to visit. Locals, mostly Malaysians, Bruneians and Singaporeans are the ones who flock here to buy the cheap border items like curtains, rattan items, comforters and anything for the home.This place is also one of the closest towns to the earth's equator therefore can be hotter than normal. So bring sun protection when you visit here. Taxi's or tour companies can be used to get here while it takes about two hours from Kuching to get here.

Female Orangutan at Semenggoh
8. Visit Semenggoh Wildlife Centre - This nature attraction is located about an hour from Kuching and you are almost guaranteed to see some Orangutans here. For those who have never seen them in their natural habitat, Semenggoh is the place. Best to take one of the tour services from Kuching that bring you here and back. You simply need about 3-4 hours here to see the Orangutans. Great fun for families and also kids. Avoid if you dislike nature, jungles or animals.


Bako National Park

9. Take a day trip to Bako National Park - If you are the nature kind of person or not, this is one national park trip you must take. Noted at the most popular national park in Sarawak, Bako offers you the opportunity to see the renown Bearded Pig and the Proboscis Monkeys apart from other wildlife here. You can do day trips or even spend the night here as they have park accommodations at the Bako National Park, Sarawak. Getting here requires you to hop on a 15 minute boat ride from Kampung Bako. Best to get here using a tour company package which usually includes lunch. Avoid if you dislike trekking, hiking or nature.

Sarawak Cultural Village
10. Go to the Sarawak Cultural Village - Nothing beats the 'mother-of-all attractions' and I will personally recommend this place as it is the one place everyone must-visit if you are on a short trip to Kuching. This 'Living Museum' showcases the  main ethnic tribes of Sarawak in one massive village. If you were to go to each of the tribes original homes around Sarawak, it would most likely take you a couple of weeks or more. 

Here, they have cleverly brought the original homes to one place and the experience is well worth it. The Sarawak Cultural Village is located in Santubong which is about one hours drive from Kuching. Best to visit here in the morning and catch the cultural shows before returning back to Kuching in the evening. An entrance fee applies and can be seen at the Sarawak Cultural Village Website.

Main Street Bazaar in Kuching
Now if you noticed I had left out Top Spot as a popular place to eat. I personally think it is over-rated and if you ask any local Sarawakian, they would share the same sentiments. There are many other equally great food places to explore as Kuching is not well known for their seafood but for their local interesting ethnic delicacies. All you need to do is explore or ask around.

Sarawak 3 Layer Tea selection

Kuching is also well known for the famous Sarawak Laksa, a soupy noodle dish. A number of popular places sell these and you can simply ask locals about where to get some good ones. Apart from that, Sarawak is also known for their Three Layer Teas and if you're a tea or iced tea lover, this is a must-try. I also wrote an article about eating local food in Kuching, Sarawak.

Finally, for those of you who have never been to Kuching, you should always take a free and easy day to explore the city. Kuching is also now one of the popular places for conventions and exhibitions where a number of world class events will taking place in 2014. The Asean Travel Forum 2014 will also be happening next year therefore you will be seeing more tourist visiting Malaysia's largest state and hopefully this list will be of help for those thinking of What to do in Kuching, Sarawak.

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1 comments:

Michael said... 3 October 2013 at 13:45

'Satok Weekend market' proper is open seven days a week per se. Its the 'tamu' part that's open weekend.

Item Reviewed: What to do in Kuching, Sarawak Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: David Jr
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