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Essay Interesting Place In Sarawak

As many travelers may be asking 'What to do in Kuching?', there are actually quite some interesting things you can do in Kuching town or the outskirts. Many who have been here will instantly brand Kuching as a not so active place but if you have been here enough times, there are actually quite a few things to explore here. Anyway, I have created this list for the first times or those who have a few days in Kuching, Sarawak.

Before I go there, Kuching is the capitol of Sarawak and is well known as a gateway to all of Sarawak's nature and wildlife. Kuching is also a great place to try local Sarawakian food for the foodies or food lovers. Another popular thing many locals like to do is go shopping for handicraft and antiques here. 

Sarawak River Cruise

1. Take the Sarawak River Cruise - Only for those who want to see the mighty Sarawak River. Cruises are available from the main Kuching Waterfront area where huge ferries take passengers on a cruise down the river. What can you see here? In the beginning get to see popular monuments, heritage buildings, the old dock traders area and locals taking the common river taxis to get across the other side. As you go further, you will see the simple river life of the locals who have homes by the river and everyday life here.

The common cruise is via the larger ferry-like boat that charges about RM60-RM70 per person for a one and a half hour cruise while there is one more much smaller one that charges about RM20-RM25. I would recommend you take the larger one as it is more comfortable with full facilities with orange juice and local layer cakes served complimentary. The smaller one is is a wooden sampan or traditional boat and only takes you around for about 30 minutes. 

Sarawak Museum
2. Visit the Sarawak Museum - And you thought museums were boring? This amazing museum located next to the Merdeka Hotel at Dataran Kuching is noted to be one of the best museums in the world. Established in 1891, this is hands down the oldest museum in Borneo. If you ever wanted to learn about the Sarawakian culture, tattoos and so on, this is the best place to start. And the best part - Admission is Free! 

Sarawak Museum Address - Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, 93566, Kuching, Sarawak

Sarawak Museum Website

Kuching Main Bazaar

3. Explore the Main Bazaar and Carpenter Street - These are one of the oldest trading streets in Kuching where nowadays, you get a myriad of shops selling all sorts of local souvenirs. The Main Bazaar in Kuching is a well known area for buying souvenirs, antiques and the much talked about Sarawak Layer Cakes (Kek Lapis Sarawak). Best time to visit this place is in the mornings till about after lunch. Most of the shops here will close by 5pm. For Malaysians, there are shops that sell the famous Sarawak Mats (Tikar Sarawak) where after purchasing them, they are air-flown to your home, at a cost of course.Some new budget hotels have recently opened along the Kuching Main Street Bazaar while towards one end, you will find numerous goldsmith shops.

Carpenter Street Kuching

At the back of the Main Bazaar is Carpenter Street, a well known road that offers budget hotels, popular coffee shops, restaurants and cafes and also stores selling souvenirs and so on. Many locals like to come here for the food as there are some notable restaurants like Aladdin Chicken Rice and also the Temple Hawker Centre which has a few local Sarawakian dishes. This place is best visited from mornings till about lunch.

Kuching Cat Museum

4. Visit the Cat Museum - Yes, they have an amazing Cat Museum. If you don't already know, Kuching is Cat in the Malay language so a Cat Museum is appropriate in this case. Located in the north of Kuching town at the city hall building, you can simply grab a taxi here but tell him to wait for you to send you back. The Kuching Cat Museum houses over thousands of cat memorabilia from around the world. Famous cats like Garfield and even Disney popular cats. If you're a cat lover, this is one place you must visit. There is a small entrance fee and more information can be found at the Kuching Cat Museum Website.

Satok Weekend Market in Kuching

5. Go to the Satok Weekend Market - Only if you are here in a weekend, you can pay a visit to the famous Jalan Satok Sunday Market which is vibrant, colorful and interesting open air market. Exceptionally fresh fruits and vegetables are offered while you can also find unique wild ferns and exotic vegetables from the interiors of Sarawak. Besides fresh groceries and raw food sold in the market, there are also handicraft and handmade souvenirs available. Don't forget to try the famous sago worms which can be found here - yes, the worms that can be eaten. Other interesting things at Satok include pets such as rabbit, puppies and fish. Avoid if you dislike crowds and markets. 

Note: The Satok Weekend Market is now located at Medan Niaga Satok, a new area which is cleaner and is open on Saturdays and Sundays only. Take a taxi here.

Fairy Caves in Bau, Sarawak
6. Visit the Fairy Caves in Bau - A two hour drive from Kuching takes you to one of the most amazing caves in Sarawak called the Fairy Caves. You will need to book a tour service for this as it is best done this way with a professional guide. Upon arriving, you need to climb up about 10 flights of stairs before entering the cave system where it leads you into a fantasy land hence called Fairy Caves. All this can be done in half a day and best to go in the mornings. Avoid if you dislike climbing, hot and sweaty situations or nature.

Pasar Serikin Market

7. Shop at the Serikin Market - A very popular border town market that locals love to visit. Locals, mostly Malaysians, Bruneians and Singaporeans are the ones who flock here to buy the cheap border items like curtains, rattan items, comforters and anything for the home.This place is also one of the closest towns to the earth's equator therefore can be hotter than normal. So bring sun protection when you visit here. Taxi's or tour companies can be used to get here while it takes about two hours from Kuching to get here.

Female Orangutan at Semenggoh

8. Visit Semenggoh Wildlife Centre - This nature attraction is located about an hour from Kuching and you are almost guaranteed to see some Orangutans here. For those who have never seen them in their natural habitat, Semenggoh is the place. Best to take one of the tour services from Kuching that bring you here and back. You simply need about 3-4 hours here to see the Orangutans. Great fun for families and also kids. Avoid if you dislike nature, jungles or animals.

Bako National Park

9. Take a day trip to Bako National Park - If you are the nature kind of person or not, this is one national park trip you must take. Noted at the most popular national park in Sarawak, Bako offers you the opportunity to see the renown Bearded Pig and the Proboscis Monkeys apart from other wildlife here. You can do day trips or even spend the night here as they have park accommodations at the Bako National Park, Sarawak. Getting here requires you to hop on a 15 minute boat ride from Kampung Bako. Best to get here using a tour company package which usually includes lunch. Avoid if you dislike trekking, hiking or nature.

Sarawak Cultural Village

10. Go to the Sarawak Cultural Village - Nothing beats the 'mother-of-all attractions' and I will personally recommend this place as it is the one place everyone must-visit if you are on a short trip to Kuching. This 'Living Museum' showcases the  main ethnic tribes of Sarawak in one massive village. If you were to go to each of the tribes original homes around Sarawak, it would most likely take you a couple of weeks or more. 

Here, they have cleverly brought the original homes to one place and the experience is well worth it. The Sarawak Cultural Village is located in Santubong which is about one hours drive from Kuching. Best to visit here in the morning and catch the cultural shows before returning back to Kuching in the evening. An entrance fee applies and can be seen at the Sarawak Cultural Village Website.

Main Street Bazaar in Kuching
Now if you noticed I had left out Top Spot as a popular place to eat. I personally think it is over-rated and if you ask any local Sarawakian, they would share the same sentiments. There are many other equally great food places to explore as Kuching is not well known for their seafood but for their local interesting ethnic delicacies. All you need to do is explore or ask around.

Sarawak 3 Layer Tea selection

Kuching is also well known for the famous Sarawak Laksa, a soupy noodle dish. A number of popular places sell these and you can simply ask locals about where to get some good ones. Apart from that, Sarawak is also known for their Three Layer Teas and if you're a tea or iced tea lover, this is a must-try. I also wrote an article about eating local food in Kuching, Sarawak.

Finally, for those of you who have never been to Kuching, you should always take a free and easy day to explore the city. Kuching is also now one of the popular places for conventions and exhibitions where a number of world class events will taking place in 2014. The Asean Travel Forum 2014 will also be happening next year therefore you will be seeing more tourist visiting Malaysia's largest state and hopefully this list will be of help for those thinking of What to do in Kuching, Sarawak.

Top Sarawak Attractions

I have compiled this list of Top Sarawak Attractions based on my travels and extensive research. It is probably the most comprehensive list you can find on the internet.

Sarawak is Malaysia's largest state with an area of 124,000 but with a population of only 2.5 million made up of a multicultural mix of 27 ethnic groups.

Despite the state's vastness and inaccessibility, it is much easier than it used to be to get around. In 1960 there were less than 500km of sealed roads in the whole state but now there are over 11,000km. All the major towns have their own airports while boat services on the state's 55 navigable rivers are still the only way to access many inland and remote rural areas.

Forest cover is said to extend to 84% of Sarawak's land area but rainforests are under threat from logging, agriculture, plantations and development. Around 5% of Sarawak's land area is classified as Totally Protected Areas, comprising 25 national Parks, 8 Nature Reserves and 4 Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Sarawak is a biodiversity hotspot and its forests, caves, wildlife, mountains and beaches are its main attractions. 

On this website, it is my policy to only write about places that I have visited personally but I am making an exception for Sarawak due to its size. So far I have only visited the areas around Kuching, Limbang and Miri but I feel there is a need to create a comprehensive list of Top Sarawak Attractions for those intrepid travellers who would like to explore further afield. 

On this map of Top Sarawak Attractions I have tried to place the marker points as accurately as possible for those places I have visited but some marker locations are rough estimates only and should not be relied upon without double checking.

Top Sarawak Attractions 
1. Kuching City Highlights Walk

Kuching is an interesting city with a colourful history. Its heritage buildings include stunning Chinese temples, mosques, colonial era buildings, vibrant street markets and bazaars, museums and plenty of cat statues (Kuching meaning 'cat'). Cover the main sights using my Kuching City Highlights Walk.

Other attractions in Kuching City and Kuching Division include:

  •  Cat Museum
  •  Sungai Apong Fishing Village
  •  Pitcher Plant & Wild Orchid Garden 
  •  Batu Lintang PoW Campsite Memorial in Sarawak
  •  Anna Rais Hotspring and Bidayah Longhouse
  •  Jong's Crocodile Farm
  •  Rafflesia Monument, Lundu

Top Sarawak Attractions 
2.  National Parks

Sarawak has 25 National Parks:

 This is one of the smallest national parks in Sarawak but one of the most interesting, containing a wide variety of vegetation and terrains which can be accessed by a well-maintained network of nature trails. It is only 37 km from Kuching. There are some fine beaches here too - Telok Sibur, Telok Pandan Besar and Telok Pandan Kecil among them. Bako Sea Stack is a much photographed unusual rock formation jutting out of the sea. You need to hire a boat to access it. You can read about my trip to Bako Bational Park here.    

  •  Gunung Gading National Park, Kuching

The park includes four jungle-clad mountain peaks, dense primary rainforest, crystal clear streams and waterfalls and is one of the best places in Malaysia to find the giant Rafflesia flower. The park is easily accessible from Kuching on a day trip.    

  •   Kubah National Park, Kuching

Another easily accessible park, just 22km from Kuching, is Kubah National Park. It contains three sandstone peaks, the highest of which, Gunung Serapi (911m), takes 3-3 1/2 hours to reach the summit where a viewing platform provides great views on a clear day. The Matang Wildlife Centre is located nearby.   

  •   Tanjung Datu National Park, Kuching

Tanjung Datu is one of Sarawak’s smallest National Parks with an area of just 14 sq km. There is no road access to Tanjung Datu so independent travel to the park may be difficult. For those few who make the effort, pristine beaches, stretches of coral and unspoilt rainforest await.

  •    Talang Satang National Park, Kuching

Talang-Satang is a marine park established with the primary aim of conserving Sarawak’s marine turtle population. The park comprises the coastline and sea surrounding four islands of the southwest coast of Sarawak; Pulau Talang Besar (Greater Talang Island) and Pulau Talang Kecil (Lesser Talang Island) off Sematan, and Pulau Satang Besar (Greater Satang Island) and Pulau Satang Kecil (Lesser Satang Island) off Santubong, near Kuching. These four “Turtle Islands” are responsible for 95% of all the turtle landings in Sarawak. Pulau Satang Besar is a 30-minute boat ride from Damai Beach, Sarawak Boat Club Jetty or Telaga Air Jetty. There is no regular boat service and visitors should travel in an organised tour. 

  •    Kuching Wetland National Park, Kuching
  •    Santubong National Park, Kuching
  •    Bungo Range Nature Reserve, Kuching
  •    Sedilu National Park, Samarahan, Kuching
  •    Ulu Sebuyau National Park, Sri Aman, Kuching
  •    Sampadi National Park, Lundu, Kuching
  •    Batang Ai National Park, Sri Aman

Batang Ai National Park is part of a wider protected area covering adjoining regions in Sarawak and neighbouring Indonesia. It is a rainforest and wildlife conservation area and one of the few remaining areas where orangutans are found in the wild.  Batang Ai National Park is the only part of this area open to visitors. Access is by motorized traditional longboat from the Hilton Batang Ai jetty or the Batang Ai public jetty. There is no public longboat service and transport should be arranged in advance. 

  •    Maludam National Park, Sri Aman
  •    Similajau National Park, Bintulu

Similajau features a stretch of fine beaches with clear water suitable for swimming, especially during the dry season (February to October).The park is located 30 km north-east of the town of Bintulu. It gets busy at weekends but is fairly empty at other times. 

  •    Bukit Tiban National Park, Bintulu
  •    Gunung Mulu National Park, Miri

This is probably Sarawak's number one natural attraction. Gunung Mulu National is a UNESCO World Heritage Site including the world's biggest caves, trekking (including the famous Pinnacles trail), canopy walks, and pristine rainforest. The park is not accessible by road and requires a short (and relatively expensive) flight from Miri to Mulu.

Another great location for cavers, Niah contains a vast cave complex swarming with bats and swiftlets with ancient cave paintings and archaeological remains. The majestic rainforest is criss-crossed with walking trails. The park is located a couple of hours drive from Miri town.

Lambir Hills National Park is thought to be one of the world’s most diverse forest eco-systems with a wide variety of plant, bird, insect, reptile and animal species. The park is also known for its waterfalls (including Latuk Waterfall and Tengkorong Waterfall). Lambir is only 32 km from Miri.

  •     Loagan Bunut National Park, Miri

Loagan Bunut, which centres on Sarawak’s largest natural lake, is one of the most unusual aquatic ecosystems in Malaysia. The lake normally covers an area of approximately 65 hectares. However when the water level in the adjacent Tinjar river is low, the shallow lake can drain completely, leaving a huge expanse of dried and cracked mud. This normally occurs two to four times a year, in February and in late May or early June/July. This unique cycle of flood and drought has created a remarkable food chain which supports a large variety of aquatic and terrestrial animals. Loagan Bunut is approximately 120km or 3 hours by road from Miri, with half the journey along gravel roads. 

  •    Usun Apau National Park, Miri
  •    Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park, Miri

This park, close to Miri, is the best area in Sarawak for divers with reefs lying at depths from 7 to 30 metres and interesting wreck dives. Year round diving is possible but the best time to dive is from March to August.

  •    Gunung Buda National Park, Limbang, Miri
  •    Pulong Tau National Park, Limbang, Miri

Mount Murud, Sarawak's tallest mountain (2422m) is located within Pulong Tau National Park, close to the border with Kalimantan. Climbing Mt. Murud entails an arduous four day adventure. The Kelabit Highlands are also in this area.

  •    Rajang Mangrove National Park, Sibu   
  •    Pelagus National Park, Kapit, Sibu

This park is home to Pelagus Rapids.

Top Sarawak Attractions 
3. Nature Reserves

In addition to the National Parks, there are a further eight Nature Reserves in Sarawak:

The Wind Cave Nature Reserve near Bau is a popular day trip excursion from Kuching. Fairy Cave is nearby. Read details here.

Fairy Cave is an impressive show cave within easy reach of Kuching. For photos, details and directions read here.

  •   Sama Jaya Nature Reserve, Kuching

On the outskirts of Kuching City, Sama Jaya (formerly known as Stutong Protected Forest) is a small urban wilderness and one of the oldest protected areas in Sarawak.

  •    Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Kuching

The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, 24km from Kuching, cares for injured or orphaned wild animals. Its orangutan rehabilitation activities have been transferred to the Matang Wildlife Centre.

  •    Bukit Hitam Nature Reserve, Limbang
  •    Bukit Sembiling Nature Reserve, Limbang
  •    Bukit Lima Nature Reserve, Sibu   
  •    Pulau Tun Ahmad Zaidi Nature Reserve, Mukah, Sibu

Top Sarawak Attractions
4. Wildlife Sanctuaries

There are also four Wildlife Sanctuaries in Sarawak:

  •   Samunsam Wild Life Sanctuary, Kuching
  •   Pulau Tukong Ara Tukong Sanctuary, Kuching
  •   Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, Sarikei, Sibu, Kapit

The Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (187,000 hectares), together with the adjoining Betung Kerihun National Park (800,000 hectares) in neighbouring Indonesia, make up the most important biodiversity sanctuary in Borneo and, added to the adjoining Batang Ai National Park, may be home to 10% of the remaining wild population of orangutans and other rare and threatened plant and animal species. 

  •    Sibuti Wild Life Sanctuary, Miri

Top Sarawak Attractions
5. Santubong Area

Here you can find a number of Top Sarawak Attractions:

  • Gunung Santubong. You can climb this 810m high peak if you have the energy. Expect to take about 5 - 6 hours to go up and down. It is harder than it looks - it is steep and involves scrambling over countless tree roots and a number of rope ladders but climbers are compensated by excellent views, weather permitting.
  • Sarawak Cultural Village at Damai, at the foot of Gunung Santubong, is a living museum where you can encounter all the ethnic groups of Sarawak in one place and experience their culture, dress, traditions, dance and homes. I thought the longhouses and other houses were very interesting. The cultural show is a bit touristy and you can expect to be invited on stage to join the dance or try a blowpipe. They have similar shows in Sabah and elsewhere but well worth experiencing at least once. This year's Rainforest World Music Festival was held here.
  • Santubong Fishing Village
  • Damai Central. You can read about my trip to Damai Beach and Damai Central here.

Top Sarawak Attractions
6. Beaches

Considering how long a coastline Sarawak has, it has relatively few good beaches. Apart from those already mentioned, you could consider the following:

  •  Damai Beach, Santubong (Kuching Division)
  •  Sematan Beach, Sematan (Kuching Division)
  •  Pandan Beach, Lundu (Kuching Division)
  •  Taman Selera Beach (or Brighton Beach, also known as Tanjung Lobang), Miri
  •  Hawaii Beach, Kampong Bakam, Miri
  •  Bungai Beach, Miri
  •  Sibuti Beach, Miri
  •  Peliau Beach, Miri
  •  The Luak Bay Esplanade, Miri
  •  Tanjung Batu Beach, Bintulu
  •  Kala Dana Beach, Mukah

Top Sarawak Attractions
7. Miri Town Attractions

Top Sarawak Attractions
8. Sibu Town 

  •  Rejang Esplanade
  •  Tua Pek Kong Temple & 7 Storey Pagoda
  •  Sibu Cultural & Heritage Centre (formerly Civic Centre Museum)
  •  Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum
  •  Sibu Central Market
  •  Wong Nai Siong Garden
  •  Sibu Mist Garden (no more?)

Out Of Town

  •  Yu Lun San Tien En Si a.k.a Jade Dragon Temple
  •  Skrang River Safari & Iban Longhouse
  •  Batang Ai Longhouse Resort

Top Sarawak Attractions
9. Bintulu Attractions

  •  Bintulu Promenade
  •  Taman Tumbina Bintulu (Botanical and Zoological Gardens)

10. Limbang Attractions

  •  Limbang Regional Museum
  •  Merarap Hot Springs

11. Up-Country Forts (Now Museums)

  •  Fort Sylvia, Kapit (Also see the Kapit Museum)
  •  Fort Emma, Kanowit
  •  Fort Alice, Sri Aman (Also see the twice daily Tidal Bore Phenomenon or benak at the Sri Aman Waterfront)
  •  Fort Hose, Marudi (Baram District Museum)

More Top Sarawak Attractions will be added to this list as I explore further. 

Looking for places to stay in Sarawak? Take a look at Agoda's website for a wide selection at discounted rates.

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