What to do in Kuching, Sarawak

Things to do in Kuching

As many travellers may ask, 'What to do in Kuching?', there are some exciting things you can do in Kuching town or the outskirts.

Many who have been here will instantly brand Kuching as a not-so-busy place, but there are many things to explore if you have been here enough times.

What to do in Kuching

Anyway, I have created this list for first-time travellers or those who have a few days in Kuching, Sarawak.

First, Kuching is the capital 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 foodies or food lovers. Another popular thing many locals like is shopping for handicrafts and antiques here.

River Cruise in Sarawak
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 cruises down the river.

What can you see here? In the beginning, visit famous 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 daily 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 much smaller one that charges about RM20-RM25 per person.

I recommend you take the larger one as it is more comfortable with complete facilities with orange juice and local layer cakes served complimentarily.

The smaller one is a wooden sampan or traditional boat and only takes you around for about 30 minutes and a short area around Kuching. 

Muzium Sarawak
Sarawak Museum
2. Visit the Sarawak Museum

Update: A new Sarawak Museum opened just nearby. Please visit the Borneo Cultures Museum. And you thought museums were boring? This fantastic 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 want to learn about the Sarawakian culture, tattoos and so on, this is the best place to start. And the best part is that admission is free.

A new Sarawak Museum is being constructed just opposite the existing museum and is scheduled to be ready by 2020.

Edit 2019: The current Sarawak Museum is closed due to relocation to the new museum.
Edit 2022: The new Borneo Cultures Museum is now open in Kuching.

Sarawak Museum Address: Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, 93566, Kuching, Sarawak

Main Bazaar Kuching
Kuching Main Bazaar
3. Explore the Main Bazaar and Carpenter Street

These are some of the oldest trading streets in Kuching, where nowadays, you get many shops selling all sorts of local souvenirs.

The Main Bazaar in Kuching is well-known for buying souvenirs, antiques and much-talked-about Sarawak Layer Cakes (Kek Lapis Sarawak).

The best time to visit the main bazaar is in the mornings till about after lunch. Most shops here will close by 5.00 PM, while only a few remain open till about 9.00 PM.

For Malaysians, some shops sell the famous Sarawak Mats (Tikar Sarawak), and 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 called Goldsmith Row.

Kuching Carpenter Street
Carpenter Street Kuching
Carpenter Street is at the back of the Main Bazaar, a well-known road that offers budget hotels, popular coffee shops, restaurants and cafes, and stores selling souvenirs.

Many locals like to come here for food. Some notable restaurants like Aladdin Chicken Rice and the Temple Hawker Centre have a few local Sarawakian dishes.

This place is best visited from morning till about lunchtime or after lunch. Not advisable to visit after 5.00 PM.  

Cat Museum in Kuching
Kuching Cat Museum
4. Visit the Cat Museum

Yes, Kuching has an excellent Cat Museum. If you don't already know, Kuching is Cat in Malay, so a Cat Museum is appropriate in this case.

Located in the north of Kuching town at the city hall building, you can simply take a taxi or private car service here but tell him to wait for you to send you back.

The Kuching Cat Museum houses thousands of cat memorabilia from around the world. Famous cats like Garfield and even Disney cats are on display here.

If you're a cat lover, this is hands down one place you must visit. There is a small entrance fee to this museum too. 

Medan Niaga Satok
Satok Weekend Market in Kuching
5. Go to the Satok Weekend Market

If you come to Kuching for a weekend, you can visit the famous Jalan Satok Sunday Market, a vibrant, colourful and exciting 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, handicrafts and handmade souvenirs are also available.

Remember to try the famous sago worms, which can be found here - yes, the worms that can be eaten. Other exciting things at Satok include pets such as rabbits, 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 that is cleaner and is open on Saturdays and Sundays only. Take a taxi here.

Kuching Fairy Caves
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 impressive caves in Sarawak, called the Fairy Caves.

To get here, you must book a tour service for this as it is best done this way with a professional guide.

Upon arriving, you must climb about 10 flights of stairs before entering the cave system, leading you into a fantasy land called Fairy Caves. This is truly one of the most beautiful caves I have visited.

All this can be done in half a day, and it is best to go in the mornings. Avoid if you dislike climbing, hot and sweaty situations or nature.

Weekend Market at Serikin
Pasar Serikin Market
7. Shop at the Serikin Market

Serikin is a very popular border town market that locals love to visit. You can see mostly Malaysians, Bruneians, and Singaporeans who come here to buy cheap border items like curtains, rattan items, comforters, and anything else for the home.

This place is also one of the closest towns to the earth's equator; therefore, it can be hotter than average, so it is recommended to bring sun protection when you visit here. I even used an umbrella when I visited here.

It takes about two hours from Kuching to get here; hence, it is best done with a tour company, rented car or private car service. Come early, about 9.00 AM, to avoid the midday heat. 

Semenggoh Orangutan
Female Orangutan at Semenggoh
8. Visit Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

This unique natural attraction is located about an hour from Kuching, and you are almost guaranteed to see some wild Orangutans here.

For those who have never seen them in their natural habitat, Semenggoh is the place. Taking one of the tour services from Kuching is also recommended to bring you here and back.

You need about 3 to 4 hours to see the Orangutans. Great fun for families and also kids. Avoid it if you dislike nature, the outdoors, jungles, or animals.

Sarawak Sea Stack Bako
Sea Stack at Bako National Park.
9. Take a day trip to Bako National Park

Update February 2024: The Sea Stack in Sarawak has collapsed due to a storm and is no longer here. 

If you are a nature kind of person, this is one national park trip you must take. Noted as the most popular national park in Sarawak, Bako allows you to see the renowned Bearded Pig and the Proboscis Monkeys, apart from other wildlife here.

You can make day trips or even spend the night here, as they have proper park accommodations available at the Bako National Park, Sarawak. There are many trails and treks available, including a night trek.

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.

Cultural Village Sarawak
Sarawak Cultural Village
10. Go to the Sarawak Cultural Village

Nothing beats the 'mother-of-all attractions, ' I recommend Sarawak Cultural Village or SCV as they are the one place everyone must visit, even 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. 

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, about an hour from Kuching.

Best to visit here in the morning and catch the cultural shows before returning to Kuching in the evening. An entrance fee applies to the Sarawak Cultural Village Website.

Main Bazaar Kuching
Main Street Bazaar in Kuching
Eating in Kuching

I had left out Top Spot as a popular place to eat in Kuching. It is over-rated, and if you ask any local Sarawakian, they will share the same sentiments.

There are many other equally great food places to explore as Kuching is not well known for its seafood but for its local interesting ethnic delicacies. All you need to do is explore or ask around.

Sarawak Three Layer Tea
Sarawak 3 Layer Tea selection
Some of the local coffee and teas are worth trying, and the best way to do this is by visiting the local coffee shops or restaurants. Ask them about the three-layer coffee or tea or 'Teh C Peng Special'.

Kuching is also well known for the famous Sarawak Laksa, a soupy noodle dish. Many popular places sell these; you can ask locals where to get some good ones.

I also wrote an article about the recommended local food in Kuching for anyone who wants to explore this side of the city's fantastic food scene.


Finally, for those who have never been to Kuching, you should always take a free and easy day to explore the city on foot. There are many exciting places to visit around the main city area.

Kuching is now one of the famous places for conventions and exhibitions, where several world-class events occur here. This is due to the many MICE facilities introduced over the last few years.

Overall, I recommend visiting Malaysia's largest state, and for those thinking of what to do in Kuching, I hope this article has come in handy for you. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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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