If you love history, culture, adventure and cats, then a trip to Kuching is going to be right up your alley. Kuching is the capital city of Sarawak on the island of Borneo and is packed full of museums, beautiful architecture and a gorgeous waterfront where you can catch some spectacular sunsets.
Fair warning though, if you really want to see what this catastic city has to offer, you’re going to have to put on your running shoes and take to the streets (and rivers).
1. The Vibrant Kuching Waterfront
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The Kuching Waterfront is the place to be if you want to sample a slice of Cat City’s cosmopolitan life! During the day, you’ll be able to score some stellar scenic views of the Astana, Fort Margherita and the Malay Kampungs from the Darul Hana Bridge that spans across the Sarawak River.
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But it isn’t until nighttime that the place really comes alive with people coming together to just chill out, eat and mingle. The lights from the Darul Hana Bridge also gives the place a magical and romantic effect that would be a perfect addition to your Instagram feed.
2. Touring the Sarawak River
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One of the best ways to get an impression of what Kuching has to offer is to hire a ‘sampan’. These deceptively strong, traditional boats will meander up and down the great and vibrant Sarawak River; affording you with the chance to capture some truly picturesque scenes of the traditional Malay villages (kampung), the Victorian styled Fort Margherita, the Darul Hana Bridge and of course the Astana, the former residence of the White Rajahs.
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If you want something a bit fancier and more romantic though, you could always opt for the Official Sarawak River Cruise. The Sightseeing Cruise which lasts a little over an hour, offers a more relaxing experience (with kek lapis and free flow orange juice to boot!), and comes with live commentary on the rich history of Kuching.
3. The Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita
Credits: The Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita on Facebook
If you’re a history buff, you’re going to love the Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita. It may be a little small, but the whole set up is well presented, interesting and informative. The staffs are all super friendly too, so don’t be afraid to ask them anything.
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Through the various artifacts, you’ll be able to learn the surprising history of the White Rajahs of Sarawak and how the Brookes family positively influenced the lives of the local community.
Fun fact: The first country to recognize the rule of the White Rajahs was the US (they even have proof put on display here).
4. The Food
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No matter where you go, you just can’t escape the draw of local delicacies. When in Kuching you’d be remised if you don’t try their famous ‘Laksa Sarawak’. Unlike regular laksa, the Sarawak version uses a base made of sambal belacan, sour tamarind, garlic, galangal, and lemongrass. The flavor is rich and a little spicy, but the dish is no less tasty! Teresa’s Laksa stall (Muslim Friendly) is famous for serving delicious, halal ‘Laksa Sarawak’ and it’s located just behind Tune Hotel!
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On that same stretch of road, there is also Muhammad Lim’s Noodles (Muslim Owned) which is famous for its halal handmade mushroom noodles and ‘kolo mee’; a noodle dish that is a fan favorite amongst many Sarawakian.
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Of course, if you’re looking for something light to snack on, drop by the famous ‘Kek Lapis Dayang Salhah’ (Certified halal) for some tasty, colorful cakes and ‘Tabaloi’, Sarawak’s specialty sago biscuits.
5. Satok Market
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Located at Medan Niaga Satok in Kubah Ria, the colourful Satok Weekend Market is a must visit for those of you who enjoy buying fresh produce. The market is available on Saturdays and Sundays and is possibly one of the biggest wet markets in Kuching.
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Here you can find all sorts of things like local handicrafts, fresh fruits and vegetables that you may not even recognize (such as ‘Buah Dabai’ and ‘Buah Uchong’), wild honey, pets, orchid plants, live fish, and a whole range of local snacks and delicacies.
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For those of you who would like to purchase Kuching’s famous ‘Ikan Terubuk Masin’, this is definitely the place to go. They even package it like a mini suitcase so that you can easily bring it back with you on the plane.
6. Orangutan Feeding at Semenggoh Nature Reserve
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Honestly, who wouldn’t want a chance to get up close and personal with orangutans in their natural habitat? The Semenggoh Nature Reserve has been helping to teach rescued and orphaned Orangutans how to survive in the wild for well over 20 years.
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Although the program has been transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre, there are still quite a few of these semi-wild primates who call Semenggoh home. The best time to go see them would be during their designated feeding time at either 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. But do take note that during fruit season, they might not turn up.
7. Sarawak Cultural Village A.K.A. The Living Museum
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It’s a little out of the way but you won’t regret paying a visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village. This 17-acre site has got to be one of the greatest Living Museums in South East Asia and has so many attractions that you’re going to have to spend at least half a day here.
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Their concept is simple enough; ‘To Allow Visitors to see Sarawak in One Day’. Here you’ll be able to see seven unique traditional houses, including the famous longhouse of Borneo, the rounded Bidayuh Barok (with matching bamboo bridge) and the massive Malanau Tall house.
Credits: Sarawak Cultural Village on Facebook
And if you get tired of walking around, they also have a fabulous cultural show in an air-conditioned auditorium that is simply to die for.
8. Humongous Cat Memorabilia Collection
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Now this is more for those of you who are feline inclined (like me)! The Cat Museum is located about 20 minutes away from the Kuching esplanade and sits atop a hill that offers you another gorgeous view of the Kuching skyline.
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The museum itself is a cute and quirky mix of 4,000 artifacts, all neatly arranged by their exhibits. Even if you weren’t a cat lover, you’d be impressed by the sheer amount of cat related paraphernalia.
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They have cat statues, cat paintings, hand-crafted cat figures, taxidermy cats, and even Hello Kitty. Do note that while entrance is free, they do charge a bit of money should you wish to take pictures with the exhibits.
9. Spectacular Scenery
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Did you know that besides orangutans, Kuching is also home to the rare Proboscis monkeys? The Bako National Park is the oldest national park in Sarawak and has some of the best natural landscapes Kuching has to offer.
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Going trekking through this park would make any nature lover swoon. It’s just so picturesque and there are 16 colour-coded jungle trails for you to choose from; ranging for those who want to do some serious jungle trekking to those who just want to go for a leisurely forest stroll.
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Unlike in most places, you’ll definitely be able to see some of the wildlife on your trek. Besides the Proboscis monkey, Bako National Park is also home to wild boar, flying squirrels and the long tailed, macaque monkeys
10. Gorgeous Parks
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If you need some downtime or want to work on your fitness during the trip, then I recommend you pay a visit to the Malaysia-China Friendship Park or more commonly known as ‘Taman Sahabat’. The park was constructed in order to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China back in 2005.
The zen-like park is a great place to exercise or just relax, featuring a small jogging track, reflexology stone paths and a huge pond filled with koi fish.
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There’s also a humongous statue of Admiral Cheng Ho that you can take photos with… granted, it’ll take some finagling to get all of him into the frame!
So in summary, Kuching, with its fascinating blend of old-world charm, modern architecture and beautiful forest reserves ranks a definite must visit! There’s an opportunity for adventure everywhere in this city and if you’re the outdoorsy type, you’re definitely going to have a blast!