Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak, Malaysia, is a treasure trove of cultural diversity and natural beauty. From vibrant street markets to lush rainforests teeming with wildlife, Kuching offers a unique blend of experiences. Having just returned, I’m thrilled to guide you through the best things to do in this often overlooked city.
The Best Things to do in Kuching, Sarawak
1. Explore Kuching’s Historic Heart
Begin your Kuching adventure in the heart of the city, where the old meets the new. Stroll along the Kuching Waterfront Promenade and admire the iconic Astana (big gold building across the river). You can take a river cruise or have a more authentic experience in one of the wooden boats that are used as water taxi’s. James Brooke Cafe is a nice place to stop for a drink or a bite to eat.
Parallel to the promenade is Jalan Main Bazaar which is lined with shops. On one end of the street you will find the Old Courthouse, which is now a tourism complex. If you continue in the other direction, you will reach Tua Pek Kong. This old Chinese temple dates back to 1843 and is said to have the best Feng Shui location in the city.
2. Visit the Borneo Cultures Museum
This museum is a window into the rich tapestry of indigenous cultures that call this diverse island home. As I explored its exhibits, I was really impressed by the museum’s interactive displays, offering a deep dive into the customs, traditions, and vibrant history of Borneo’s ethnic groups.
From intricately crafted artifacts to a Children’s Gallery, the museum provides an educational experience for all ages. Seeing the skull of the ‘Niah Lady’ discovered in a cave was fascinating. This skull is believed to be 37,000 years old!
Tanoti was hard to find. My taxi kept driving in circles trying to convince me that the address didn’t exist. When I did find the textile shop, they were clearly not expecting company. But they took me in and happily showed me around their looms and beautiful creations. I fell in love with a crocodile pattern textile that was made by a Dyak. She explained that they create what they dream about and don’t repeat a pattern. These textiles are used for ceremonies but this one was more decorative. It now covers my desk at work and I just love it.
Borneo Headhunters Tattoo and Piercing Studio aims to promote the rich traditional art form of tattooing which has been an integral part of the Iban community for centuries. Ernesto Kalum specializes in the traditional hand-tap tattoo. If this is something you want to do, he is your man!
The Bear Garden is an open air bar and bistro. Their aim is to highlight the plight of Borneo’s native Sun Bear. With 50% of the profits from the Bear Garden helping to further conservation efforts on the island, you can drink away knowing you are doing your part to help animals.
For a glimpse into Sarawak’s diverse cultures, visit the Sarawak Cultural Village. You can witness traditional dance performances, explore longhouses, and even participate in workshops to learn about the local crafts, music, and culinary traditions.
7. Savor the Local Cuisine
Kuching is a paradise for foodies. Don’t miss out on trying Sarawak Laksa, a flavorful noodle soup, and Kolo Mee, a beloved local dish. For a full list of the best restaurants in Kuching, click here.
A short drive from Kuching, the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is home to orphaned and rescued orangutans. Witness these incredible creatures up close and personal while supporting their rehabilitation and conservation efforts.
Please note that during the fruiting season, the orangutans move deeper into the forest and don’t need the supplemental feedings provided. This means there is a much less chance of seeing them. This is a good thing though, it means they are no longer dependent on humans and can move back to their forest home.
9. Discover Bako National Park
Bako National Park, a short boat ride from Kuching, offers a unique opportunity to explore diverse ecosystems, from mangroves to pristine beaches. Keep an eye out for proboscis monkeys and the unique flora that thrives within the park.
10. Uncover the Mysteries of Sarawak Caves
Venture into the Sarawak Chamber at Gunung Mulu National Park, the world’s largest cave chamber, or explore the enchanting Fairy Cave near Bau. These natural wonders are a must-visit for any adventurer.
11. Witness the Sunset at Santubong Peninsula:
For breathtaking sunset views, take a trip to the Santubong Peninsula. It’s an ideal spot for watching the sun dip below the horizon and capturing Instagram-worthy photos.
12. Here Kitty Kitty
Kuching literally means cat therefore this city is lovingly referred to as “cat city.” You will notice cat statues all around town. There is even a cat museum!
Kuching, with its rich cultural heritage and natural wonders, offers a travel experience unlike any other. Whether you’re exploring historic landmarks, savoring local cuisine, or connecting with the wild, this charming city promises unforgettable memories. Bako National Park was the highlight of my trip! I encourage you to try out this list of the best things to do in Kuching and uncover its hidden gems.