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Kuching is the capital and largest city Sarwak the East Malaysian state. Kuching is a haven for tourists. It is one of the main tourist destinations in Sarawak.
Once the capital of the White Rajahs of Sarawak, now with a population of some 600,000, Kuching is small enough to walk around but interesting enough to keep you there for several days, and a good base for exploring Sarawak. It's safe and relatively clean. The name of the city, Kuching, is thought to derive from the Malay word kucing, meaning cat. Many of the locals refer to Kuching as the "Cat City" but it more likely comes from the Chinese word for port ("cochin") coupled with the Malay name mata kucing (cat's-eye) for the longan fruit, a popular trade item.
In Kuching, you can enjoy various sightseeing activities. Among them are visiting museums, sightseeing of Kuching city and sightseeing for nature lovers.
Tua Pek Kong Temple, Jalan Padungan (east end of Main Bazaar). This temple is
the oldest Chinese temple in Kuching and located strategically at the heart of
Kuching. It was just at the opposite of Chinese Museum. It was built in 1843.
Various festivals are held here for example The Wang Kang Festival (to
commomerate the dead) and Ghost Festival.
Sultan Iskandar Planetarium. This first planetarium ever built in Malaysia is in the Kuching Civic Centre complex. This planetarium shows videos of astronomic adventures of every planets in the solar system.
One can enjoy sightseeing of Kuching City at various locations. What is unique of Kuching city in sightseers' eyes is how the skycrapers built in the vicinity of lush green jungles.
Kuching Civic Centre, located at Jalan Taman Budaya. This is a 3-building complex, landmarked by its tower with an umbrella-shaped roof. This is the best place to get a 360° aerial view of Kuching City. Take a beautiful snapshot of Kuching concrete buildings in the assembly of lush green trees. The viewing platform is available for public access only during daytime, served mainly by two bubble lifts. Also at the top you can find a souvenir shop and the highest public toilet in Kuching. Just one level below, there's a restaurant call Link. Meanwhile, on the ground, there's the Sultan Iskandar Planetarium, some hawker stalls, a sports gym (which used to be a public library) and a multi-function hall.
Kuching City Mosque, located near the open air market. It was used to be the main mosque for Kuchingites and known as the Sarawak State Mosque (then it was re-labeled as Kuching Divisional Mosque). It was built back in 1968 (originally a site of a wooden mosque way back in 1852) with striking design, featuring a combination of Mid-western and Italian architecture. It is still now a perfect place for the Muslims visiting Kuching to stop by for prayers.
Masjid Jamek, or "Jamek Mosque" is located at Petra Jaya. It was adjacent to the State Library and housed Dewan Hikmah, a multi-purpose hall, usually for Muslim wedding receptions. It has also some quarters for the hafizs and the ustazs. It was the most crowded mosque in the whole Sarawak thanks to the strategic area where majority of Kuching Muslims reside. However, it is still the most favourite place for Friday prayers due to the mosque being comfortable and air-conditioned.
Medan Raya Complex, located at Petra Jaya. Originally planned as the State Government Administrative Centre with a dual-carriageway boulevard linking the Kuching North City Hall and Wisma Bapa Malaysia, currently just having one building on the site called Baitul Makmur, which houses four state ministries. This area is perfect for jogging, walking and sightseeing of romantic (sometimes erotic) couples. A man-made lake lies in the centre of the complex, where locals usually race their RC speed boats after office hours, much to the annoyance of anyone living within the radius of a kilometre. At night, the fine stretch of road crossing the lake becomes an illegal dragstrip, at most times. Come at the wrong time and the long arm of the law awaits you. Be warned.
Kuching Waterfront. Any visit to Kuching is incomplete without taking a brisk walk at the RM1 milion per 10m strip of Kuching Waterfront. It is the most popular meeting (and mating) place in Kuching. It was once a line of old warehouses. During the daytime, the Waterfront is the best place to view the Astana, Fort Margherita, adjacent Malay kampungs of Kampung Sinjan and Kampung Lintang or even the newly constructed DUN complex. At night, it is the best place to see nightlife of lovers, youngsters and love-makers. Some food kiosks are also present here (but mind the expensive charges on food!). Some word of advice, don't eat Laksa Sarawak at Waterfront kiosks, it tastes so bad that some people might puke once eating it! Having said this, 'My Kampong' have a small kiosk that serve Mee Mamak which is a tour de force of taste. If you do order traditional Malay food (i.e. grilled fish), be sure to ask them to warm it up!
Main Bazaar. It's a very long row of shophouses for you to shop Sarawak souvenirs and handicrafts.
Taman Budaya, located at Jalan Taman Budaya. Literally meaning 'cultural garden'
although the cultural aspect of it remains questionable. Once a reservoir for
water storage (hence forever named the Kuching Reservoir) is a perfect place for
jogging, walking and sightseeing of hilly nature decoration and big pond.
There's the Kuching Central Prison just next to this garden, just so you know.
Sunday Market or Pasar Minggu, located at Satok. Fancy a traditional way of trading? Then head to Jalan Satok where the Sunday Market comes alive beginning Saturday afternoon till the afternoon of the next day. The market is so huge that it might break your legs to walk to every corner of this market. It is divided into many sections such as food, fruits, vegetables, fishes (some salted terubok fish are sold here too), potted plants, jungle produce (including wild honey), pets, bundle clothing, magazines and even toys. The market is like a huge hypermarket, without air-conditioning. Some word of advice, wear shoes when you are entering fish and chicken areas. Those areas are wet in nature and the traders might not be ashamed to splash some water to your feet! It is open almost every weekend. However, during big celebrations like Gawai, Chinese New Year or Hari Raya, some stalls at Pasar Minggu are closed. The Pasar Tamu however, which is part of the market with a permanent roofed structure, operates on a daily basis.
The Astana. Or the Palace in English, resides the current Yang di-Pertua Negeri or the Head of State of Sarawak. The palace is situated on the north bank of the river, just across the river from Kuching Waterfront. It was built in 1870 by Charles Brooke as a bridal gift to his wife Margaret. Next to it is Orchid Garden and beautifully decorated garden with observation tower. A sampan deck, which is named Pengkalan Sapi is also situated within the Astana vicinity.
Friendship Garden, located at Tabuan Heights. The garden is developed to mark the symbol of friendship between China and Malaysia. The garden is beautifully crafted with small ponds and gardens. Perfect place for sightseeing, feeding the Koi fishes and trying your luck at the two wishing wells.
Sarawak State Library or the Pustaka Negeri, located at Petra Jaya, near to Masjid Jamek. For sightseeing purpose, visitors can opt for aerobic sessions hosted every afternoon at the library compound. The lake in front of the library is the most suitable place for aquatic lovers. A lot of fishes from different species are bred here. They normally get foods from the visitors, so bring your fish food or breads here!
Museums in Kuching
Kuching's major sights are its museums. Clustered just south of the center, a program of refurbishment started in 2002 is shuffling up the exhibits.
Sarawak Museum, The Sarawak State Museum is the oldest museum in Borneo. It was established in 1888 and opened in 1891 in a purpose-built building in Kuching, Sarawak. Sponsored by Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah of Sarawak, the establishment of the museum was strongly encouraged by Alfred Russel Wallace. It was now called 'Ethnology Museum' which houses various ethnic displays and historical items of Sarawak.
Dewan Tun Abdul Razak or Tun Abdul Razak Hall, Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg (opposite Sarawak Museum). Formerly the New Wing of the Sarawak Museum, now houses changing exhibitions, a rather good gift shop and the Sarawak Museum Department office.
The Sarawak Islamic Museum. It is located just behind the Tun Abdul Razak Hall and can be accessed via Jalan P. Ramlee. The museum consists of 7 galleries set around a central courtyard garden, each with a different theme. One of the interesting artifact showed here is a replica of sword used by Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Open daily from 9AM to 6PM (closed on Fridays).
Chinese History Museum, Waterfront (east end of Main Bazaar). A small colonial-era museum that used to be the courthouse for the Sarawakian Chinese, then the office of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, now houses a small permanent exhibition of Kuching's many Chinese groups and regional worthies.
Fort Margherita, Completed in 1879, Fort Margherita resides at a breathtaking and strategic position at the riverside of Sarawak River. It is located a the strategic place due to the historical reason; it was once a defensive structure to protect Kuching from possible attack. At present, 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. It can be accessed by road from the other side of the river, which is Petra Jaya, or by 'tambang' boat from Kuching Waterfront.
The Cat Museum. This is a large collection of cat memorabilia. Many souvenirs declare the fact that Kuching means "Cat". It is located at Kuching North City Hall at Petra Jaya, on top of Bukit Siol (Siol Hill). Cat lovers will find all range of exhibits, photos, feline art and cat souvenirs. Some interesting cat characters like Felix The Cat, Garfield and Sonic The Cat also housed here. Free entry. Open daily 9AM to 5PM (closed public holidays).
Sarawak Timber Museum. The museum resides in the building of Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) Building or Wisma Sumber Alam in Petra Jaya. It houses forestry, traditional wood displays, forest-based products and the exhibition of timber industry development in Sarawak. Open Mondays to Fridays 8.30AM to 4PM, Saturdays 8.30 to 12.30PM (closed Sundays and public holidays). Tel: +60 82 443477
Sarawak Textile Museum. The museum is situated in the Pavillion, yet another historical building on its own right, just opposite of the General Post Office. Open Mondays to Fridays 8.30AM to 4PM, Saturdays 8.30 to 12.30PM (closed Sundays and public holidays).
Pua Kumbu Museum. The museum is located at Tun Jugah Complex. However, this museum requires early booking/appointment. Refer to Sarawak Tourism Board for contact.
Hotels in Kuching
Threehouse Bed & Breakfast, 51 Upper China Street, 93000 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, Tel.: +60-82-423499, https://www.threehousebnb.com . Native Iban and Scandinavian ownership, located in the middle of the city (directions: if you come from the main post-office in town you have a chinese arch (gate) on the left of the building which leads to Carpenter street. you walk straight up that street passed a red temple on your right side, in the first junction you turn to your right and you are now on Upper China Street. Walk the street up and watch out for the sunflower windmill and the only red facade building on this street).
Tracks Bed & Breakfast, 1st Floor,No. 5, Jalan Green Hill, 93100, Kuching, Sarawak, Eastern Malaysia. Tel: (+6) 019-6407372, https://www.tracksbnb.com TRACKS is a new modern concept of B & B at the heart of Kuching city center, in the ‘Golden Triangle’ area near the Kuching Waterfront. We are glad to help you out if you need assistance or advice, since this B & B is runs by young generation Ibans with travel knowledge and experience of local customs.
Nomad Bed & Breakfast, 1st Floor, No.3, Jalan Green Hill 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. Tel: +6082-237831 or 016-856 3855. https://www.borneobnb.com
Berambih Lodge, No.104 Ewe Hai Street, 93100 Kuching (behind Main Bazaar). Tel.: +60-82-238589 New guesthouse, clean and friendly. Longhouse style. Highly recommended. Breakfast included.
Bidayuh Traditional Chalet and homestay (Funaborneo), Kg Tringgus ,bau (30km from Kuching city), ☎ +60105267669/+6010-9876653. A relaxed traditional bidayuh chalet with nice views of virgin forest and cooling touch of fresh water river from MR38 onwards.
The Fairview, No.6 Jalan Taman Budaya, Tel.: +60-82-240017, +60-13-8011561, . Colonial House with tropical garden, a nice place that feels like home.
Lodge 121, Lot 121, 1st Floor, Sec.33 KTLD, Tabuan Road, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak.(Opposite Borneo Hotel and next to Kuching Prison along Tabuan Road ). Tel.: +60-82-428121 New guesthouse, Come to Lodge 121 to experience the 'home-away-from-home' ambience. With our vast hospitality background, our primary objective is to provide visitors a Clean, Cozy, Comfortable and Safe place to stay when they visit the Land of the Hornbills. Highly recommended. Friendly staff. Breakfast with Kaya included.
Panovel Kuching, 2nd FLR SL.24 LOT 4370, Jalan Simpang Tiga, tel.: +60-16-866 7000 / +6-016-8666 999. Newly established self-service accommodation. Targeted at near by swinburne unversity student, 10 min drive from Kuching Airport and short walk to The Spring Mega Mall, Kuching's biggest shopping Mall. Feature: wireless internet, air-conditioning, huge room space and bargain room rate. Long-term/daily available.
Pinnacles Kuching, Level 1, Lot 21, Block G, Taman Sri Sarawak Mall, Jalan Borneo, 93100, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, Tel.: +60-82-419100, . Located right smack in the middle of Kuching’s golden triangle which comprises Hilton, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza Hotels, so rest assured that you will be strategically and conveniently located in close proximity to the best amenities and services the city can offer. Reasonable price and CLEAN.
Singgahsana Lodge, No.1 Temple Street, 93000 Kuching (opposite Harbour View Hotel). Tel.: +60-82-429 277,. A hip Back-packers lodge that is centrally located at the Kuching waterfront. Complete with longhouse decor and artifacts. The staff are a bit smug and self-important, but it is clean, safe and very reasonably priced.
Tune Hotel, Lot 281, Section 48, KTLD, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, 93100 Kuching (Opposite Hilton Kuching),. Newly opened budget hotel operated by chain linked to AirAsia
3 Star Hotels
Harbour View Hotel. Lorong Temple, 93100 Kuching. Tel: +60-82-274 666,. A two-three star business-class hotel that is centrally located in front of the Kuching Waterfront. The standard rooms are actually quite basic and is nothing to shout about. Despite that, its still usually occupied by Tour Groups.
Hotel Grand Continental. Jln. Ban Hock, 93100 Kuching. Tel: +60-82-230 399, A comfortable 3-star hotel located about 15 minutes walk from the Kuching Waterfront.
The LimeTree Hotel - A 50-room & suites boutique hotel in city center adjacent to Chinatown and minutes away from the Waterfront and malls.
Kuching Park Hotel. Lot 606 Pandungan Road, Kuching. Tel: +60-82-239 888,. A standard 2-3 star hotel located a short drive away from the city centre.
Kingwood Inn. Lot 618 Pandungan Road, Kuching. Tel: +60-82-330 888,. Another standard hotel that's probably abit better than Kuching Park Hotel.
Damai Puri Resort & Spa . Teluk Penyuk Santubong P O Box 3058, 93762 Kuching. Tel: +6082 846900. This resort fronting Damai Beach has 207 beautiful rooms and a Spa Village, which has secluded massage villas, a yoga pavilion, hair spa, and a tea house that serves organic gourmet. Damai Puri Resort & Spa also has 2 outdoor pools, tennis courts, a 600-cap ballroom, and meeting rooms, and organizes jungle treks and water sports. Wi-Fi Internet is available.
Basaga Holiday Residences . Tel:+60-82-417 069. Lot 69-70 Tabuan Road, Kuching 93100.
4 & 5 Star Hotels
Riverside Majestic Kuching, Formerly known as Crown Plaza Riverside Kuching, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, tel. +60-82-247777, . Despite the name, this is the one riverside hotel that isn't actually riverside (although it's just across the street).
Hilton Kuching, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, tel. +60-82-248200, . Probably the top digs in town, with great riverside location. Make sure you get a river view, extra but well worth it.
Grand Margerita Hotel, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, tel. +60-82-423111, . Formerly known as Holiday Inn Kuching. Visitors can gain access to the Sarawak Plaza, a shopping complex situated adjacent to it. You can also go to Tun Jugah and Parkson conveniently. International franchise outlet such as Starbuck, Kenny Roggers, KFC and McDonald's are nearby.
Merdeka Palace Hotel, Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, tel. +60-82-258000, . Kuching's oldest luxury hotel, its rooms aren't quite as spectacular as the lobby, but the hotel has infinitely more colonial character than the riverside set. Located right next to the Sarawak Museum, yet still within striking distance of the riverfront. The rooftop pool has a great view over Kuching. Rack rates steep at around RM300, but steep discounts in the off season can chop that in half.
Somerset Gateway Kuching, Jalan Bukit Mata, tel: +60-82-250958 . Part of the Ascott group of hotels, they offer comfortable serviced-apartments in the city centre.
360 Hotel. Hock Lee Centre, Hotel Tower, Jalan Datuk Aband Abdul Rahim. Tel: +60-82-484888,. located beside Hock Lee Shopping Centre.
Four Points Hotel by Sheraton,Jalan Lapangan Terbang Baru, Tel.+60-82-280888,. A brand new four star business-class hotel, located at Jalan Lapangan Terbang, 5 minutes away from Kuching International Airport.