Dive into a wonderful cultural hotchpotch, combine city and nature and visit some truly memorable festivals. This ”Cat City”, the capital of Sarawak, is a unique combination of some 45 cultures and languages. Throw yourself into new experiences - Kuching awaits you!
Kuching is the biggest city on the island of Borneo yet small enough to be explored on foot. Kuching’s streets are modern and sophisticated with a colonial twist. The city is a commercial and industrial center of Eastern Malaysia, a heaven for a culinarily traveler and a perfect base for all of your nature adventures in the Borneo rainforest.
Although Sarawak is part of Malayasia, the Malay population comes only on third place when counting in numbers: Iban is the largest group and Chinese the second. Altogether there are some 45 different languages and cultural groups to match them. Within the mix match of languages, religions and customs and a distinct culture and lifestyle, you’ll find friendly people and exciting possibilities to dig into! Despite the diversity, the people in Kuching live in harmony side by side. Together the locals take pride in living in the cleanest city in Malaysia.
What to do?
With the cultural diversity comes religious diversity. There are several religious houses worth visiting, and some of them come with a great celebration if you happen to be there at the right time. For example, the Hungry ghost festival in Hiang Thian Siang Temple and Kong Teck Choon Ong celebrations at Hong San Temple. Chinese might be dominant in population and Buddhist temples easily found but do explore other spiritual directions as well: enter another world and step into the Indian Mosque that will surely amaze you in more than one way.
Kuching is all about urban city life: walks through the different neighborhoods, museums, markets and bazaars, cafes, restaurants and food stalls. And of course the Waterfront Promenade. The waterfront walk way is a soothing place to spend an evening after a day of city sightseeing or nature trekking: admire the view of boats gliding by the Sarawak river, and enjoy the best that food stalls can offer.
There are several stories about the name of the city, Kuching. And while the myth of origin, at least not the official one, has nothing to do with cats – although ’kucing’ means ’cat’ in Bahasa Malaysia - the city has taken a full advantage of the figurative name. Baffling big kitschy cat statues decorate the urban environment here and there – great photo possibilities all around! To see funky cat figurines in different sizes gathered in one place stop by in the Cat Museum (free entrance).
Kuching is the perfect place to base your Sarawak adventures. The versatility of Kuching and Sarawak is evident also in the activities a traveler can hurl oneself into. Just outside the city (30mins drive) there is a unique orangutan rehabilitation center where you can see rescued orangutans and learn about these fascinating creatures. Also not further than a half an hour motorboat ride away, you’ll get to visit a turtle conservation on the Sarawak’s first marine national park. Or adventure a bit further out and take a 2-3 hour drive to Gunung Gading National Park to trek in the jungle, look up some amazing waterfalls and snap a photo with the world’s largest flowers, the Rafflesia flowers.
There are also dozens of other nature destinations on a day trip proximity from Kuching. However, nature, food and culture combined, definitely one of the most memorable things to do in Kuching is to attend the annual Rainforest World Music Festival!
When to go?
Kuching enjoys the tropical climate and sunshine all year around. Heavy rain showers occur from time to time during the monsuun season between November and February.
Chinese New Year, Islamic Hari Raya Aidilfitri and a cultural, religious and social festival, Gawai Day, celebrating harvest are big holiday events in Kuching. During the festival days excpect heavy traffic and great festivities!
Kuching is easily accessible by air. There are several daily flights from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Singapore. Boats and long distance busses get you around in Sarawak.