Kuching is Sarawak‘s capital city, part of East Malaysia and is located on Borneo‘s more expansive island. Anyone who has been to Peninsular Malaysia will find that Sarawak has a very distinctive feel. Thanks to its strategic location on the snake-like Sarawak River, Kuching is one of the region’s prettiest spots.
You may also be surprised to find that Kuching is covered in cats’ statues, and the reason for this is said to come from miscommunication during the colonial period. This was when the local people were asked the city’s name and thought that James Brooke, the first British Rajah of Sarawak, was pointing to a cat. As such, they replied ‘kucing’, the Malay word for cat, and the rest is history. Whether or not the story is true, anyone who loves felines should make sure not to miss a trip to all the cat statues that adorn the city as well as the peerless Cat Museum.
Stop by the Sarawak Cultural Village
Just a 35-minute drive outside of Kuching will take you to the Sarawak Cultural Village where you can learn all about the various indigenous groups that live in this part of Malaysia and take in a range of local crafts buildings.
There are live displays which will teach you ancient techniques such as weaving, bamboo carving, and bead making, and you can also tour this model village and check out all the architecture.
Some of the sights on offer include a traditional Chinese farmhouse and a Penan hut, Iban longhouses, and a Malanau Tall House and the site sprawls over 17 acres. Hence, there is a considerable amount to see and do here if you fancy an easy day trip out of the centre of Kuching.
Wander along the Kuching Waterfront
The most iconic part of Kuching, without a doubt, is its picturesque waterfront which is where all the main action happens.
Warehouses would have used this part of town in the days of old, but now you will find a pretty walking path that flanks the water and offers you incredible views over the main sights in towns such as the Astana and the majestic Fort Margherita.
At night this is the place to see and be seen, and many young couples from Kuching choose this spot for a leisurely romantic stroll.
You will also find a selection of small cafes here and although the prices are a little higher than in other spots, the views more than make up for it.
Visit the Cat Museum
Kuching means cat in Malay, and as you will soon discover on a trip here, this is a city obsessed with cats.
To that end, make your way to the Cat Museum where you will learn all about the historical and cultural significance of these felines with over 2,000 cat-related exhibits on show.
Some of the highlights include a cat in a mummified form that hails from Egypt and is said to date back 5,000 years and amounted example of a Bay Cat, a wild feline that is indigenous to the island of Borneo.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, there are even sections dedicated to the story of Hello Kitty as well as the Broadway show Cats.
Certainly if you are looking for a quirky attraction to visit on a rainy day in Kuching then this is hard to beat.
Shop at the Main Bazaar
The Main Bazaar is actually something of a misleading name as this actually refers to a row of traditional shop houses that line the main street in Kuching.
The shop houses face the water and this is the place to come if you are looking for souvenirs or traditional arts and crafts.
Some of the items you are likely to find here include beautiful beads and jewellery and textiles that show off the intricate and complex weaving techniques of the indigenous groups here.
Discover Semenggoh Nature Reserve
Semenggoh Nature Reserve is around 40 minutes outside of Kuching so it is easy enough to visit as part of a day trip.
The reason that visitors flock here is to see the Orang Utans and the center had a rehabilitation program that lasted for some 30 years.
The center sits of 2.6 square miles of land and as well as the graceful Orang Utans you will also find birds, mammals, and reptiles roaming all over the forests.
The Orang Utans in the center have been released and are considered to be wild, but there are numerous feeding sessions a day when the animals may come to one of the main feeding platforms and this is your best chance of seeing them on a trip here.
Visit Annah Rais
Annah Rais is some 100 kilometers outside of Kuching and is made up of a traditional Bidayuh longhouse which lies at the base of the majestic Borneo Highlands.
There are 500 local residents that live here and you can visit the longhouse and see how people have lived and worked here for centuries.
There are three different longhouses that you can explore here called Kupo Terekan, Kupo Saba, and Kupo Sijo. You can go on a tour where you will learn about some of these ancient buildings’ history and traditions.
Learn some history at the Sarawak Museum
If you only have time to visit one museum in Kuching then the Sarawak Museum is an excellent pick.
The museum also has the claim to fame of being the oldest in Borneo and was founded in 1891 under Charles Brooke.
The museum is housed in a huge building that dates from the Victorian period and is, somewhat surprisingly, modeled on a traditional Normandy townhouse.
Suppose you are interested in the culture of Sarawak. In that case, the museum is a treasure trove of antiquities that include tribal weapons, models of longhouses, and a plethora of stuffed animals.
Another highlight is a model of the Niah Caves which are thought to be the source of the first human settlement in Borneo.
Travel to Bako National Park
Bako National Park has the claim to fame of being the oldest national park in Sarawak and sprawls across almost 3,000 hectares of land.
This however actually makes it one of the smallest parks in Borneo in terms of its area which means that it is easy to visit as part of a day trip from Kuching and you can still manage to see a lot of the park in a short space of time.
The park lies on the Sarawak and Bako rivers and has an impressive seven different eco-systems within its boundaries including towering cliff sides and mangrove swamps.
You will also find scrubby grasslands here and animals abound including proboscis monkeys, macaques, and bearded pigs.
Admire the flowers at Gunung Gading National Park
Many people on a visit to Kuching travel to the nature reserves in the hope of seeing orang utans and other forms of indigenous wildlife.
At Gunung Gading National Park however, the big draw is the flora rather than the fauna as this is one of the spots where the famous and rare rafflesia flower grows.
Rafflesia is known for being the largest flowers in the world, and they bloom at the park throughout the year, so there is a good chance that you will be able to spot some no matter which time of year you visit.
As well as admiring the flowers you can also spend time in the park checking out the lush jungle trails and taking in the pretty waterfalls and tinkling streams.
If you are feeling energetic then you can even scale the peak of Gunung Gading Mountain.
The park is around 2 hours away from Kuching so it is possible to visit it as part of a day trip.
Shop at the Sunday Market
The Sunday Market in Kuching is also often called Satok Market as it is located at Medan Niaga Satok and actually begins on Saturday and lasts until Sunday.
The market sprawls for several blocks and you will find a huge array of produce here including local delicacies such as salted fish and exotic fruits and vegetables.
There are also other treats on offer such as local honey and you can pick up other items like clothes, textiles, and toys.
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