The port city of Kuching lies in the western part of Sarawak, known as the 'Land of the Hornbill'. With an area of 166 square miles (431 square kilometres), Kuching is Sarawak's capital and most populous city, as well as the capital of the Kuching Division. Sarawak covers an area of 48,737 square miles (126,228 square kilometres) in northwest Malaysia, and is the island's largest state. Kuching is divided by the Sarawak River; the south is a commercial and residential area dominated by Chinese, while the north shore is predominantly Malay and characterized by old kampong houses lining the river. The city is sub-divided into three sub-districts, namely Kuching Proper, Padawan and Siburan. Kuching Proper includes the city area and Padawan municipality, while Siburan and Padawan is a sub-district. The combined area of Kuching North City Hall, Kuching South City Council, Padawan Municipal Council and the Samarahan District Council is known as Greater Kuching.
Kuching is the third capital of Sarawak, founded in 1827 under the reign of the Sultan of Brunei. Kuching was later ceded to a British adventurer, Sir James Brooke, as a reward for helping to counter a rebellion, and became the seat of the Brooke government. In 1868, Brooke was succeeded by his nephew, Charles Brooke, who ruled until 1917 and was succeeded by his son, Charles Vyner Brooke. As the third White Rajah, he enacted a new constitution in 1941, establishing self-government for Sarawak. This effort was nullified by the 1941 Japanese invasion of Borneo. However, the Punjab Regiment successfully defended Kuching from being destroyed by the Japanese, and the city survived wholly undamaged. Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, the Rajah and his council voted to cede the country to the British Crown. In 1963, Sarawak, together with Sabah, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya, joined the Federation of Malaysia.
Kuching's exotic natural splendour and warm climate have made tourism an important part of its local economy. A visit to this scenic and inviting port city offers a unique opportunity to explore its many natural attractions, including some of the most spectacular beaches, rainforests and national parks in Southeast Asia. Highlights include idyllic, world-class resorts along the Santubong Peninsula, the Permai Rainforest Resort, Sarawak Cultural Village, and expansive 'turtle islands' of Talang-Satang National Park. Kuching is also home to the world-renowned Bako National Park, Kuching Wetlands National Park, Mount Gading National Park, Kubah National Park, and Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, which operates an orangutan orphanage and rehabilitation program. Kuching also boasts Lundu, Sematan and other lovely beaches. The Borneo Highlands are located 3,281 feet (1,000 metres) above sea level, and offer a fresh and chilly resort experience.
Malaysia's most stylish and sophisticated city brings together a cavalcade of beauty, culture and history. The bustling modern and Colonial streets of Kuching amply reward visitors to this unique metropolis. You can relive the legacy of the city during visits to the Sarawak, Cat, Chinese History and other museums, as well as historical landmarks such as the Astana Palace, Tua Pek Kong Temple, Old Town, Round Tower, Bishop's Residence, Courthouse, Main Bazaar, and 19th-century Chinese shop houses located along the Kuching Waterfront. Awe-inspiring vistas abound in every corner of the city, whether looking out from observation towers high above the city or riding a sampan along the Sarawak River. Marvel at the city skyline, Malay villages in the foreground of majestic mountains, and architectural wonders that include the Malay Mosque, Square Tower, splendid Fort Margherita and more. Following a day of unforgettable sightseeing, indulge yourself with local delicacies and sumptuous Malay and Chinese specialities.
The inland and coastal areas of Kuching are highlighted by a host of incredibly scenic and memorable sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include picturesque nature and walking trails, mountain, jungle and rainforest trekking, off-road exploring, bicycling, caving, bird-watching, and golfing at the Samarak Golf Club, Damai Golf Club and Borneo Highlands. Haikou's waterways are equally as inviting, and feature Damai Beach, Damai Puri, One Hotel Santubong and other idyllic, world-class beach resorts along the Santubong Peninsula. Kuching's bays, rivers, and harbours abound with exotic flora and fauna, diverse bird species, and marine life and wildlife. Scenic and exciting water-based excursions include canoeing, rainforest kayaking, wind- and kitesurfing, jet-skiing, waterskiing, fishing, boating, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving, and more.
Going Ashore in Kuching
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Senari Pier, a 30-minute, 11-mile (17.6-kilometre) drive to Kuching's city centre, or the Sim Kheng Hong Pier, a 10-minute, 3.7-mile (six-kilometre) drive to Kuching's city centre. A limited number of taxis may be available outside of the port entrance.
Kuching is renowned for its tribal handicrafts and textiles, woodcarvings, beads, paintings, batiks, antiques, souvenirs, and pepper. The major shopping areas include the Riverside Complex, Main Bazaar, Sarawak Plaza and the Spring, Kuching's largest shopping mall. Other shopping malls include the Boulevard, Plaza Merdeka, CityONE Megamall, Kuching Central, Emart Lee Ling, Hills Shopping Mall, Tun Jugah, India Street Mall, One Jaya, ST3, Genesis Parade 100% Mall, Green Heights Mall, Wisma Saberkas, Giant Tabuan Jaya Mall, and Giant Kota Padawan Mall. A wide array of handicrafts, clothing, jewellery and other souvenirs can also be found at the many souvenir stalls throughout the city. The local currency is the Malaysian ringgit.
Kuching is renowned for its excellent seafood, international fare, Malay nasi lemak and Chinese noodles, Sarawak kolo mee and laksa, belacan bee hoon (prawn paste vermicelli), wild honey, and tomato and beef noodles. Popular dining destinations for lunch include Lok Thian, Mr. Ho's Fine Food, Toms, Khatulistiwa, and the Hong Kong Noodle House. For dinner, try the Peking duck at the Li Garden, suckling pig at the Heritage, Mango Tree, Banquet restaurant, Rock Road Seafood, Top Spot, Country Court, Dyak, and Jambu. The best hotels for dining include the Toh Yuen Hilton, Grand Margherita, Riverside Majestic, Pullman, Hilton, Singgahsana Lodge, and Lodge 121. Local, tasty snacks are also available at the many food stalls throughout the city.
Built in the English-Colonial style in 1879, historic Fort Margherita commands a breath-taking and strategic position along the Sarawak River, and overlooks the long stretch of river approaching Kuching. Fort Margherita has been converted into a Police Museum, and many of its old cannons, cannon balls, guns, pistols, swords, and other vestiges of its artillery can still be seen. The armoury and condemned prisoner's cell still exists, as does the memorial tombstone of Rajah Brooke's wives and son.
The Court House was built in 1874 to bring together all government offices, and served as the venue for all state ceremonies. Once the seat of government for the White Rajahs, this building was in use until 1973, when the new government complex was completed. Befitting its status, this impressive, belian-roofed building is adorned with beautiful engravings reflecting local art forms. It now houses the High Court, Magistrate's Court and several government departments.
Erected at the front of the Court House, the Brooke Memorial is a 20-foot (six-metre) high granite obelisk commissioned in 1924 to honour the 2nd Rajah, Charles Brooke. At the corner of the obelisk is a bronze panel of four figures representing the Sarawakian community; Chinese, Dayak, Kayan and Malay. The Colonial-era, Baroque-styled Clock Tower behind the memorial was added in 1883.
Constructed in 1869 as a bridal gift from Charles Brooke to his wife, the Astana Place is situated on the north bank of the Sarawak River and across from the Kuching Waterfront. It is the official residence of the governor of Sarawak, and only open to the public at the end of Ramadan. Adjacent to the palace is the Orchid Garden, a beautifully decorated garden with an observation tower. A sampan deck, Pengkalan Sapi, is also situated within the vicinity.
Located behind the Supreme Court, the Round Tower was built in 1886 as a dispensary and potential fort in the event of emergencies. In earlier days, the Round Tower was strategically located to provide an excellent view of the town. It is now used by the Sarawak Craft Council, and houses a section of the Judiciary department.
Near the Anglican Cathedral stands this oldest surviving residence in Sarawak. It was built entirely of wood in 1849 for the first Anglican Bishop of Borneo, Dr. McDougall.
Masjid Bandaraya Mosque
This gilt-domed old state mosque stands near the market on the former site of a 19th-century wooden mosque.
Kuching Divisional Mosque
One of the city's most striking landmarks, this mosque was completed in 1968 on the site of an old wooden mosque built in 1852. Its splendid gilded cupolas can be seen majestically above the Kuching skyline.
On the south side of the Sarawak River is this peculiar-looking building; Kuching's attempt at the avant-garde. The Civic Centre complex houses an art gallery with temporary exhibits, mainly consisting of local art. The Sultan Iskandar Planetarium, Malaysia's first planetarium, is also part of the complex.
Tua Pek Kong Temple
Built in 1843, Tua Pek Kong is Kuching's oldest Chinese temple and one of the city's most prominent landmarks. Strategically located in the heart of the city at the east end of the Main Bazaar and across from the Chinese Museum, the temple hosts various festivals, including the Wang Kang and Ghost festivals. The Chinese pay homage to the Tua Pek Kong deity here for peace and prosperity.
Sultan Iskandar Planetarium
Located in the Kuching Civic Centre complex, the Sultan Iskandar Planetarium is the first planetarium ever built in Malaysia. This planetarium shows videos of astronomic adventures of every planets in the solar system.
New Dewan Undangan Negeri
This nine-storey architectural marvel is the venue for future Sarawak's new state legislative assemblies. Its distinctive umbrella, or 'paying' roof is one of Sarawak's iconic landmarks.
Kuching Civic Centre
Landmarked by its tower with an umbrella-shaped roof, this three-building complex is one of many Kuching skyscrapers built into the lush, green jungle, and the best place to capture a 360° aerial view of Kuching City. The viewing platform is available for public access only during daytime, served mainly by two bubble lifts. Highlights of this towering property include a souvenir shop, the Link restaurant, Sultan Iskandar Planetarium, some hawker stalls, a sports gym, and a multi-function hall.
Kuching City Mosque
Located near the open-air market and built on a site originally used for a wooden mosque as early as 1852, the Kuching City Mosque has a striking design featuring a combination of Western- and Italian-style architecture. To this day, it remains a popular mosque for Muslims visiting Kuching to stop by for prayers.
Medan Raya Complex
Located at Petra Jaya, the Medan Raya Complex is home to Baitul Makmur, a building housing four state ministries. This area is superb for jogging, walking and sightseeing. A man-made lake lies in the centre of the complex.
No visit to Kuching is complete without taking a brisk walk at the Kuching Waterfront. Formerly a line of 18th-century warehouses, it has been transformed into a landscaped promenade and remains the most popular meeting-place in Kuching. The waterfront offers splendid views of the Astana, Fort Margherita, adjacent Malay kampungs of Kampung Sinjan and Kampung Lintang, or newly-constructed DUN complex. Take a leisurely stroll along the Kuching Waterfront to explore its historical buildings and admire the modern sculptures, open-air theatre and musical fountains.
This long row of two-storey shop houses is located on one of Kuching's oldest streets dating back to 1864. Today, it is considered an 'antique arcade' due to its old-fashioned façade, and variety of antiques and handicrafts offered here. Souvenir hunters can seek out an assortment of traditional brassware, pottery, ceramics, tribal art, and more. Its Artrageously Ramsay On features a splendid private art collection.
This huge, bustling market comes alive from Saturday-to-Sunday afternoon, and is divided into many sections such as food, fruit, vegetables, fresh and salted fish, potted plants, jungle produce, wild honey, pets, bundled clothing, magazines, and even toys.
Located at Tabuan Heights, the Friendship Garden was developed to mark the symbol of friendship between China and Malaysia. Beautifully crafted with small ponds and gardens, the garden is ideal for sightseeing, feeding the koi fish and trying your luck at either of the two wishing wells.
Sarawak State Library
Situated at Petra Jaya near Masjid Jamek, the Sarawak State Library offers aerobic sessions hosted every afternoon at the library compound. A wide array of diverse fish species are bred in the lake in front of the library, and visitors are permitted to bring fish food or bread to feed them.
Sarawak Museum Complex
Originally built in 1891 in the style of Normandy townhouse, the Sarawak Museum Complex is one of the finest in Southeast Asia and consists of five separate buildings. The Ethnology Museum or 'Old Building', sits atop the hill. The Natural History Museum and the Art Museum are on the side road leading up the hill, and the Tun Abdul Razak Hall and Islamic Museum are across the footbridge over Jalan Tun Maji Openg. On the path leading to the main building of the museum is a 2-storey art gallery displaying local masterpieces. At the back of museum grounds are the Aquarium, Botanical Gardens and Heroes' Memorial. During your visit, explore collections of Borneo ethnography, prehistoric artefacts, local art, historical documents, antiques, and specimens of Sarawak fauna, reptiles, mammals, and birds.
Chinese History Museum
Located at the Kuching Waterfront, this museum is devoted to the Chinese community of Sarawak. It exhibits the routes of early trading, migration from various provinces of China, early pioneers, trading formation, political history and Chinese associations.
The Cat Museum at the Kuching North City Council is the world's first museum devoted to cats. Here you can find a large range of exhibits of cats including pictures, books, souvenirs and etc.
In addition to the Chinese History and Cat museums, Kuching is home to a wealth of other diverse and interesting museums, including the Dewan Tun Abdul Razak Museum, Sarawak Islamic Museum, Police Museum at Fort Margherita, Sarawak Timber Museum, Sarawak Textile Museum, and Pua Kumbu Museum.
Talang-Satang National Park
This expansive park was established with the primary aim of conserving Sarawak's marine turtle population. It comprises the coastline and sea surrounding four islands off the southwest coast of Sarawak; Talang Besar, Talang Kecil off Sematan, and Satang Besar and Satang Kecil off Santubong, near Kuching. These four 'Turtle Islands' are responsible for 95% of all the turtle landings in Sarawak. The park also includes the Tukong Ara-Banun Island Wildlife Sanctuary, two tiny islets which are important nesting sites for colonies of bridled and black-naped terns.
One of Sarawak's main beach resort areas, Damai is located on the Santubong Peninsula, about a 35-minute drive from Kuching. The area has sandy beaches at the foot of an imposing jungle-covered mountain, and is ideal for observing a spectacular array of diverse marine life and bird species. The Santubong Peninsula features three world-class resort hotels, including the Damai Beach Resort, Damai Puri Resort and Spa and One Hotel Santubong. Each resort has their own private beach, swimming pool and offers jet-skiing, waterskiing, windsurfing, mountain biking, tennis, squash and fitness centres. A spectacular, 18-hole golf course designed by legendary golfer Arnold Palmer is located nearby.
This imposing, 2,658-foot (810-metre) mountain in the Malaysian state of Sarawak is located approximately 22 miles (about 35 kilometres) north of Kuching. The mountain is a popular tourist attraction, and noted for its trekking activities.
Sarawak Cultural Village
Nestled at the foot of Mount Sanubong, the Sarawak Cultural Village offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the different Malay tribes from Sarawak, along with their housing, dance and traditional dress.
Bako National Park
One of the most popular parks in Sarawak, Bako National Park is located at the tip of the Muara Tebas Peninsula at the mouth of the Bako and Kuching rivers. Its coastline features steep cliffs, rocky headlands and stretches of white, sandy bays. The park features multiple biomes, including a rainforest, abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, secluded beaches, and walking trails. Abundant wildlife found here includes endangered proboscis monkeys, pigs, otters, reptiles, and over 150 bird species.
Kuching Wetlands National Park
The remains of the former Sarawak Mangrove Forest Reserve, beautiful Kuching Wetlands National Park is comprised of coastal, marine and freshwater ecosystems. They are protected by a mangrove system that includes an extensive network of marine waterways and tidal creeks created by the interconnecting rivers that form the boundary of the park. A wealth of diverse flora and fauna, wildlife, fish and bird species can be found here.
Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
Situated within the boundaries of the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was established in 1975 for the research, care and rehabilitation of injured, orphaned or abandoned wild animals. It is perhaps best-known for its orangutan orphanage and rehabilitation program.
Kubah National Park
A haven for nature-lovers, Kubah National Park features several rainforest walking trails, the most popular being the Waterfall Trail. The waterfall is approximately 20 feet (about six metres) high, falls into a big pool and cascade to a series of big boulders, with smaller pools along the way. The water is cool and refreshing, and is an ideal locale for a swim and picnic.
Festivals and Events
Kuching is home to numerous seasonal and annual festivals and events. Among the most notable are the
Sarawak Regatta and Rainforest World Music Festival.
Kuching offers a splendid array of outdoor activities, including nature-watching, mountain, jungle and rainforest trekking, off-road exploring, bicycling, caving, bird-watching, national parks, zoos, a scenic cruise along the Sarawak River, and/or a relaxing round of golf at the spectacular Samarak, Damai or Borneo Highlands golf clubs. The idyllic, world-class beach resorts of the Santubong Peninsula, along with Kuching's bays, harbours and teeming coastal waters, are ideally-suited for swimming, canoeing, rainforest kayaking, wind- and kitesurfing, jet-skiing, waterskiing, fishing, boating, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving, and other water sports.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.