Kuching

Travel Guide Asia Malaysia Malaysian Borneo Sarawak Kuching

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Introduction

Kuching Sunset

Kuching Sunset

© moonboots

Kuching, Malay for 'cat', located on the banks of Sungai Sarawak, is a small but thriving city. Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, is also most people's first point of entry when they arrive in Borneo. The city of Kuching city is also used as base for visitors to arrange day visits or trips to the Bako National Park and Batang Ai National Park.

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. The people of Kuching take pride in being the cleanest city in Malaysia and their diverse cultures, so be prepared for a totally different experience from that of West Malaysia.

Kuching prides itself on being one of the most multi-racial cities in Malaysia. The Chinese speak Hokkien, Hakka and Foochow. Other notable "dialect" groups among the Chinese include the Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese and Heng Hua. The Malays, who are comprised of Kuching's original inhabitants as well as migrants from neighboring Indonesia, form only slightly less of the population than the Chinese, while Ibans form about 5% of the population. There are also original Indian migrants who have lived in Kuching for many decades. The Indians are divided evenly between Tamils, Sikhs and Punjabis. The remainder are other indigenous races, most notably the Bidayuhs, Melanaus, Javanese and Orang Ulu settlers. What makes Kuching city unique from other towns in Sarawak is, Kuching city population does not reflect the true demography of the whole Sarawak.

Most people of Chinese descent live in South Kuching area, like Padungan and Pending. The Malay mostly live at North Kuching area, and are spread evenly throughout South Kuching area. Other races like Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau and Orang Ulu are spread evenly throughout Padawan and some at South and North Kuching. Indian communities of Tamil descent mostly live at Batu Lintang and Gita area, while Javanese communities mostly live at Mile 20 Kuching-Serian Road, Rantau Panjang (Batu Kawa) and Kg. Kolong at Matang.

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Sights and Activities

Kuching is a haven for tourists. It is one of the main tourist destinations in Sarawak. In Kuching, you can enjoy various sightseeing activities. Among them are visiting museums, sightseeing of Kuching city and sightseeing for nature lovers. Kuching is quite the sunset spot, often regarded as "one of the most memorable". Take your shots, and enjoy the sunsets from the Waterfront, Santubong Peninsula or Bako Peninsula. 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.

Tua Pek Kong Temple, Jl. Padungan (East end of Main Bazaar). This temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Kuching and at the heart of the city. 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.
Kuching Civic Centre at Jl. 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 called Link. Oe, 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 (near the open air market). It was previously the main mosque for Kuchingites and known as the Sarawak State Mosque, later it was re-designated as the Kuching Divisional Mosque. It was built in 1968 on a site that had been used for a wooden mosque as early as 1852. It has a striking design, featuring a combination of mid-western and Italian architecture. It is still now a perfect place for Muslims visiting Kuching to stop by for prayers.
Masjid Jamek, or "Jamek Mosque" 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 Sarawak due to the location nearby and area where majority of Kuching Muslims reside. It is still a most favourite place for Friday prayers due to the mosque being comfortable and air-conditioned.
Medan Raya Complex at Petra Jaya. It was planned as the State Government Administrative Centre with a dual-carriageway boulevard linking the Kuching North City Hall and Wisma Bapa Malaysia, but it has only 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 often becomes an illegal dragstrip. 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 million per 10 m 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 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 high charges on food. My Kampong have a small kiosk that serve mee mamak. If you do order traditional Malay food such as grilled fish, be sure to ask them to warm it up.
Main Bazaar. A very long row of shophouses for Sarawak souvenirs and handicrafts.
Taman Budaya, at Jl. Taman Budaya. Literally meaning 'cultural garden' although the cultural aspect of it remains questionable. Once a reservoir for water storage and hence forever named the Kuching Reservoir, it is a perfect place for jogging, walking and sightseeing and has a big pond. The Kuching Central Prison is just next to this garden, just so you know.
Sunday Market (Pasar Minggu), Jl. Satok in Satok. The Sunday Market comes alive beginning Saturday afternoon and runs until Sunday afternoon. 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 (salted terubok fish is sold here), 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, 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 (Pustaka Negeri), 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.
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. 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 and houses various ethnic displays and historical items from Sarawak.
Dewan Tun Abdul Razak (Tun Abdul Razak Hall), Jl. 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 behind the Tun Abdul Razak Hall and can be accessed via Jl. P. Ramlee. The museum consists of 7 galleries set around a central courtyard garden, each with a different theme. One of the interesting artefacts shown here is a replica of sword used by Prophet Muhammad. Open daily from 9AM-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 It now houses a small permanent exhibition of Kuching's many Chinese groups.
Fort Margherita, Completed in 1879, Fort Margherita resides at a breathtaking and strategic position at the riverside of Sarawak. 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, cannonballs, guns, pistols, swords and other vestiges of its armoury and armaments 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, since "Kuching" means "Cat" in Malay. The museum is 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, and Garfield the Cat are also housed here. Entry: Adults 3RM Child 2RM. Open daily 9AM-5PM (closed public holidays).
Sarawak Timber Museum (resides in the building of Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) Building or Wisma Sumber Alam in Petra Jaya), ☏ +60 82 443477. Open Mondays to Fridays 8:30AM to 4PM, Saturdays 8:30AM-12:30PM (closed Sundays and public holidays). The museum houses forestry, traditional wood displays, forest-based products and the exhibition of timber industry development in Sarawak. edit
Sarawak Textile Museum (situated in the Pavilion, just opposite of the General Post Office). Open Mon-Fri 8:30AM-4PM, Sat 8:30-12:30PM (closed Sundays and public holidays). Yet another historical building on its own right.

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Events and Festivals

  • Thaipusam - This annual Hindu festival commemorates the birthday of Lord Murugan. Over a million devotees and visitors throng Batu Caves on this eventful celebration, every year.
  • Chinese New Year - Chinese make up about a quarter of the total population and in honour of the Chinese New Year, Malaysia has declared the first two days as public holidays. In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between 21 January and 20 February.
  • Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Eid ul-Fitr) - This Muslim festival marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is celebrated by 60% of the population. The first two days are public holidays, and most people take extra days off to spend time with family and visit relatives and friends.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival - Alternatively known as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the full moon day (15th day) of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar – usually in September.
  • Deepavali (or Diwali) - A significant Hindu festival also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrating the victory of good over evil. Based on the Hindu luni-solar calendar, Deepavali typically falls between mid-October and mid-November.
  • Christmas - This joyous day is declared a public holiday in Malaysia. Year 2000 census indicates that almost a tenth of the population are Christians.

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Weather

Kuching, like much of Malaysia, has a tropical climate with hot and humid conditions year round. Temperatures usually are around 32 °C during the day and around 22 °C. Although there is no distinctive dry season, the months of November to March are much wetter compared to the driest months of June and July when there is still 180 mm of rain a month. January has over 600 mm of rain!

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Getting There

By Plane

Kuching International Airport (KCH IATA) is Sarawak's main gateway. There are near-hourly connections to Kuala Lumpur as well as frequent flights to Singapore, Johor Bahru, Labuan, Kota Kinabalu and other cities in Sarawak like Sibu, Bintulu and Miri. MASwings links Kuching with Mukah. International connections are rather limited, although there are a few weekly services to Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Pontianak and Brunei. Flights to Kuching are also operated by AirAsia and Firefly. International airlines operating in Kuching includes SilkAir, Scoot Tigerair, and Batavia Air.

The airport is modern and pleasant. Passengers onboard all flights leading out of Sarawak (including Peninsular Malaysia, Labuan and Sabah) must head through passport control. On the airside, all domestic flights (both within and outside Sarawak) are on the lower concourse (second floor, airside) and the few international flights are on the upper concourse (third floor, airside). The three gates on the upper concourse (H7, H8 and H9) lead to the holding rooms for gates 7, 8 and 9 below, respectively. There are neither shops nor restaurants on the upper concourse, so international passengers will not have the benefits of domestic ones (unless you are lucky enough to have a heavily delayed flight and the airport grants you access to the lower concourse).

Meanwhile the lower concourse has gates R1-R3 and 1-9. Gates R1-R3 on one end are used by MASwings flights (i.e. that requires passengers to walk on the taxiway to their plane), 1-4 are usually used by AirAsia, Firefly and other budget airlines, and the remaining gates (5-9) by other airlines. Shops, restaurants and makeshift shop stalls are found between gates 4 and 7, including Marrybrown fast food near gate 4 and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf near the holding room for gate 7. Walking from gate R1 to gate 9 takes about 10 minutes.

In the arrival hall (ground floor, landside), there are several restaurants, including the kopitiam 'OldTown White Coffee' at one end and a McDonald's outlet beside the escalators. In the departure hall (second floor, landside), there are KFC and Starbucks outlets.

Getting there: Kuching city is about 20 min away by taxi, for a fixed rate of RM30 (2019). From the city you can get a private vehicle for around RM20 or catch a mini bus (RM7.99 for Tune guests); RM10 for others. must be booked at least 1 day in advance leaving hourly from 8:30AM-evening.

A cheaper option is taking Uber or GrabCar from the airport, which will cost about RM20 (2019).

The Sarawak Transport Company's (STC) bus 12A no longer serves the 5 daily trips between the airport and the city centre. There is a series of other buses which can drop you off or pick you up approximately 1 KM west of the Airport (turn left as you exit the airport and walk to the main T intersection, turn left again and walk until you reach the big roundabout (also Express bus terminal) and catch a bus heading north to town namely 3A, 6, 8G and 9. The most convenient place to catch these buses back to the airport intersection is at the main bus terminal in the city.

By Car

To travel by car from Indonesia is pretty straight forward. As a member of Asean, an Indonesian driving license is legal and accepted in Malaysia. Sarawak is a huge state. The road networks connecting towns and places in Sarawak including Kuching are somehow quite satisfactorily maintained. However, long and winding roads with sometimes no rest stops in between might bore you or scare you.

Sabahan people as well as from Brunei can also commute freely to Kuching using Pan Borneo Highway network. However, it is subject to a lot of stopover at immigration checkpoints. Therefore, travelling to Kuching from Sabah is not advisable. Bruneian commuters should produce driving permit which is simply by filling a form at the Malaysian border checkpoint. Bruneian driving license is a valid, legal and accepted form of document in Sarawak/Malaysia.

By Bus

Kuching's regional express bus terminal (or Kuching Sentral) is along Jl. Datuk Tawi Sli, also dubbed as "3 and a half miles", south of the city, 1 km west from the airport. All long-distance express buses arrive from and leave for major Sarawak cities like Sibu, Bintulu and Miri, as well as Pontianak in Indonesia. Regional buses for some towns near Kuching such as Lundu (for the Gunung Gading National Park and Tanjung Datu National Park) and Sri Aman also arrive/depart from here.

To get to Kuching Sentral from the city centre, go to the city bus terminal near main mosque. Take Sarawak Transport 3A or City Public Link bus K3 with destination Serian (departures every 30 min during daylight hours). Oddly, city buses do not actually enter Kuching Sentral bus station: the bus stop is on the main north-south road nearby. Conversely, to get from the bus station to the city center by public transport you will need to brave 8 lanes of traffic on that road to get to the bus stop on the other side.

Buses for some towns and destinations nearer Kuching, such as the Bako National Park, Bau and the Semenggoh Orang Utan Centre, leave from various locations in the city centre near main mosque, depending on the bus company being used.

From Bako National Park: Petra Jaya Transport(red) bus No. 1 departs from the open air market near Electra House in the city centre. RM3.5 one way, journey time 45 min. There are also public mini buses, more expensive and a little bit faster and more regular. The buses bring you to Bako Bazaar where you pay your RM10 park entrance fee and transfer to a boat to reach the national park. Boat costs RM47 one way and can carry up to 5 people. See Bako National Park page for details.
From Lundu: Sarawak Transport Company (cream and green) express buses depart from the regional bus terminal at 8:15AM, 11AM, 2PM and 4PM. Buses depart Lundu at 8AM, 11AM, 2PM and 4PM for RM12 one way. Travel time approximately 2 hr. At Lundu, take a taxi or van or walk approximately 2.5 km (north) to the Gunung Gading National Park. For Tanjung Datu National Park, catch a connecting Sarawak Transport Company bus to Sematan where you will have to charter a boat to the park.
From Pontianak: Bus Asia (Biaramas Express), ☏ +60 82 456999 (at the regional bus terminal), +60 82 610111 (headquarters). Buses depart Kuching regional bus terminal for Pontianak via the Tebedu-Entikong border crossing daily at 7:45AM. RM45 adult 1 way. From Pontianak, buses depart daily at 9PM. Fare is Rp 140,000. SJS Super Executive, ☏ +60 82 456999. Buses departs the regional bus terminal at 11AM and cost RM70. See the Pontianak to Kuching for travel itinerary detail of this route.
From Semenggoh: Feeding times for the Orangutans are 9AM and 1PM so catch the 7:30AM or 11AM bus. Sarawak Transport Company buses No.6 depart from their bus terminal RM2.50, 1 hour, near the open air market in the city centre but are not so frequent (at 1 and a half hour or even rarely). Also there are plenty of mini buses at the open air market that can drive you there, public RM5-10/passеnger) and also more expensive mini bus taxies, bargaining starts from RM100 for the whole bus for return journey.
From Sibu: Various express buses depart from the regional bus terminal. Most of them go via Sarikei.

By Boat

The Express Bahagia runs an once daily service from Kuching to Sibu. RM55 one way and the journey takes 5–5.5 hours, with stops at Sarikei and Tanjung Manis. The boats depart from the 2 Pending Express Boat Jetty to the east of the city at about 8:30AM, but the exact time varies depending on the tides, so arrive an hour early to buy your tickets just in case. From city centre, City Public Link bus K1 goes to the express boat jetty for RM1. The boat from Sibu to Kuching leaves daily at 11h30 (March 2016).

Bring snacks or buy some at the terminal before you leave, as none are for sale onboard. Board early to get a good seat. The boat isn't that big and the waves are choppy, so you might feel seasick—sit upstairs to avoid nausea and for views of the water. You can even sit outside for the fresh air and views, though this also leaves you vulnerable to rain (but you can always go inside when the rain starts).

There are some cruise liners operating daily between Kuching and Singapore. One of them is StarCruise.

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Getting Around

By Car

All major roads in Kuching city and suburban areas are well tarred and fairly maintained. Driving orientation is on the left and is generally slow-paced. Speed limits on dual-carriageway roads can reach a maximum of 90 km/h and can be reduced to 80km/h or 70 km/h during festival seasons.

Tourists from cosmopolitan cities may not appreciate the driving attitude of local road users. Some drivers tend to make a turn or overtake without using indicators, and others drive beyond the speed limit. You may also find a handful of road hoggers (cars, lorries and even motorcycles alike). Honk car horns and flash high beams with careful discretion.

Self-driving in and around Kuching can be challengingly fun. Directional signs in Kuching are so inadequate and it takes a good road map and a good sense of direction to get you around. For those who use wisely their smartphone though, there are many cheap and efficient apps that can be used as GPS: here by nokia is free, has a pretty good downloadable database for borneo (for free) and warns user about speed limits. googlampas is almost as good but you need a mobile internet connection (prepaid prices from 50RM/month).

By Public Transport

The old bus company 'Chin Lian Long' has been taken over by City Public Link . You wouldn't miss it because it is bright green and you notice it frequently plying around Kuching city. The old rickety stage buses have been wiped out by the government in 2009. With these new buses, traveling around Kuching city has become more comfortable now. Perhaps, the only downside would be the waiting time for a bus. Frequency is about 30 minutes and the fare ranges from RM1.80 to RM2.30 depending on the number of stops you are taking and whether you paid on the bus.

Nonetheless, the stage buses between Kuching and its outskirts like Petra Jaya, Serian, Bau and so forth, have not been replaced with new buses.

The main bus terminal in Kuching is opposite the Old Mosque near the old city center. All the buses listed below leaves from here.

However, there is another bus terminal for inter-state departure which is at 3rd Mile Bus Terminal. You should take your bus to Sibu, Bintulu and Miri from this terminal. Check BUS ASIA for online booking.

Local stage buses are run by 4 companies of colourful assortments, but there's a reasonably logical route numbering system and bus stops usually have some signage indicating bus route numbers.

Sarawak Transport Company (STC) - these green and beige STC buses mainly serve downtown and along the protocol roads leading southbound out of the city centre.
Matang Transport Company (MTC) - these orange and beige MTC buses serve the Kuching-Matang road and suburban settlements along the northern bank of the Sarawak River. This company is the only one not included in the Kuching City Bus Services consortium.
Petra Jaya Transport - these white buses with red, yellow and black striped livery serve the outskirts of Kuching City North (routes ending at Damai and Bako) and also the Kuching-Kota Sentosa-Kota Samarahan route.
Bau Transport Company - these brown and red buses serve the Kuching-Bau route.

Bus drivers and conductors do not actually have Public Relations and Tourist Guiding as part of their training syllabi. Should the bus conductor exist, kindly demand for the ticket because some bus inspectors might just walk inside and do a surprise inspection of passengers' tickets. There are some OMO (One Man Operation) buses that are equipped with a big coin box beside the driver's seat. Ask for the fare first before inserting the exact change into the box. Sit in the front half of the bus so you have easy access to the driver or conductor. Cheating, pickpocketing and sexual harassment might sometimes occur in public buses, so be watchful of your surroundings.

Inconsistent passenger load along certain routes can lead to drops in frequency and thus, bus operators cannot comply to a fixed timetable and that results in frustrating delays.

Yellow roofed kereta sewa or shuttle vans fill the void left by stage bus operators, offering somewhat more frequent trips throughout Kuching to as far as Tebedu and Bau. Each shuttle van has their own commuting routes so watch out the routes by reading the destination on the body of the van. Minimum fare for each trip is RM1 and increases with respect to distance. Fares also differ from one shuttle van to another plying the same route by commuting frequency, peak and off-peak periods and passenger load. If in doubt, ask the passengers, not the driver.

By Foot

Kuching is unusually pedestrian-friendly for a Malaysian city, with tree-lined sidewalks and some pedestrian crossings, and the city core is compact enough to cover on foot. Good walks include the Kuching Waterfront and the pedestrian shopping street of Jalan India (Kuching's Little India).

Drivers rarely stop for pedestrians on zebra crossings if there is no traffic light. However, since most roads are single-directional and have a single lane, crossing the street in Kuching isn't as treacherous as in other cities in Southeast Asia.

By Bike

There is definitely no better way to see the sights of Kuching than by bicycle. You don't have to be Lance Armstrong to take a full day bicycle tour of the city. Roads in Kuching are adequate for moving around by bicycle. Bicycling is a healthy and budget conscious way to explore the city and it enables you to explore and see things you simply cannot achieve by walking or taking the bus.

Borneo Bicycle Hire, ☏ +60 19 484 4393 (24 hr contact), ✉ borneobicyclehire@ymail.com. 9AM-7PM every day including public holidays. They provide helmets, rain ponchos, repair kit and maps for doing a city tour by bicycles. Rates are very reasonably priced. If you prefer to start cycling early just after dawn you can rent or hire the bike the night before and bring the bicycle with you, the rental rates only starts in the morning when you begin your cycle tour. Should the hirer prefer another town as their centre for further exploration, they can be taken there, together with their bicycles, in a mini-bus for an additional charge. Full accident/repatriation insurance available from only RM15. However there are stamp duties as well.

Boat

For a leisurely commute across the Sarawak River, river taxis locally known as tambang or penambang offers daily services at various points along the Kuching Waterfront, with a one-way fare at RM0.40. The fare hikes up to RM1 from 10PM-6AM the next day. Kindly place the exact change on the designated plate instead of giving it to the operator, as you disembark the river taxi at your destination.

Boats are sometimes available for visitors who wish to travel from one place to another along the Sarawak River.

Speedboats are available for people who wish to go to Taman Negara Bako, Satang Island and Talang-Talang Island from Santubong. Rate differs according to hotels, and in regards to public holidays and peak hours. Check schedule and rates at the respective hotels, such as Damai Lagoon.

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Language

Kuching is a very multicultural place, and most locals speak at least Malay and their ethnic tongue, with quite a number able to speak a decent level of English as well. This is due to the fact all Kuchingnites take English as a second or third language. The ability to speak either Malay, English or Mandarin is usually enough for someone in Kuching to get by.

While standard Malay is well understood, the local dialect, known as "Bahasa Melayu Sarawak", is different enough to be officially categorized as its own language. Malays from coastal part of Sarawak, especially the one from Sebuyau, Kabong, Saratok, Betong, Sri Aman and the surrounding areas speak different dialect called "Bahasa Orang Laut". Malays from Sibu and Miri speak similar language with Kuchingites Malay, but they have some terms unique to their dialect, for example "Pia" in Sibu (in Kuching, they called it "Sia", which means "there"), "Cali" in Miri (in Kuching, they called it "Jenaka", which means "funny"). However, Bahasa Melayu spoken in Limbang and Lawas is a distant difference from Bahasa Melayu Sarawak spoken throughout Kuching-Miri.

Most Chinese in Kuching speak Hokkien (Minnan) as their native tongue, but Mandarin is the standard language of education and spoken by nearly all Chinese in Kuching.

The Iban language is spoken by some Iban people in Kuching, but almost all of them also understand Malay. You may also encounter speakers of other tribal languages like Bidayuh, Melanau and Orang Ulu.

The lack of homogeneous language used by the peoples is also clearly reflected around the city. Signs such as road names are written in Malay and Chinese. Street signs are in Malay. Shop names and other private signs are usually written in Malay, English or/and Chinese.

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Eat

Eating out is the major pastime, with a huge variety of eateries and food available. Most places are pretty cheap with excellent service but the more "local", the less English spoken. Be sure to sample some Sarawak laksa, but beware - it's considered a breakfast dish here and the popular places sell out fast. For the local Chinese, kolo mee, a noodle dish served with slices of roasted pork, is also a daily staple. Although most places are quite clean, there are some which are not. A rule of thumb is if you're not comfortable with it, then walk somewhere else. There are plenty to choose from.

Dishes

Unlike fellow Malaysians in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, the range of food and drinks in Sarawak, particularly Kuching is somewhat different. Here are the food you might never heard of when you browse through the food menu:

Sarawak Laksa. Sarawak laksa is the most noticeably Sarawakian food in Kuching. It was a favourite among Sarawakian from Chinese and Malay decent. It has a base of sambal belacan, sour tamarind, garlic, galangal, lemon grass and coconut milk, topped with omelette strips, chicken strips, prawns, fresh coriander and optionally lime. Ingredients such as bean sprouts, sliced fried tofu or other seafood are not traditional but are sometimes added. Non-Halal Sarawak laksa can be found at most Chinese coffee shops while Halal Sarawak laksa can be found at most Malay coffee shops (and some Mamak too). Halal and non-Halal Sarawak laksa are not that different, except for the usage of Halal chicken meat and the cooking utensils used by the cook. The Chinese version of Sarawak laksa has a less thick gravy but is rich with condiments and toppings. The Malay version of Sarawak laksa has a thicker gravy but more taugeh (beansprouts).
Kolok Mee. Kolok mee is a type of noodle dish commonly found in Sarawak. It is served throughout the day - for breakfast, lunch or even supper though some eateries only serve kolok mee until noon because supplies run out. It is made of egg noodle, blanched in water that looks like instant noodle and served in a light sauce with some condiments like sliced pork, chicken cutlets, minced meat or sometimes shredded beef though this is unusual. The difference between kolok mee and wontan mee, which is popular in the Peninsula, is that kolok mee is not drenched in dark soy sauce and water is not added to the noodles when served. Kolok mee comes in two common flavours, plain or seasoned with red sauce. Cooks tend to season kolok mee with red sauce when they are served with pork. Occasionally, diners may also request their kolok mee to be seasoned with soy sauce, to give the dish a darker appearance with enhanced saltiness.
Mee sapi. Mee sapi (mi sapi) is a gravy-ish version of kolok mee. It is garnished and prepared just like kolok mee with a slight difference in cooking method. The noodle can be somewhat egg noodle been used in kolok mee, or mee pok, mi sanggul - a curly type of noodle similar to angelhair spaghetti).
Manok pansoh. Manok pansoh is the most common dish among Iban. It is a chicken dish which normally be eaten with white rice. Chicken pieces are cut and stuffed into the bamboo together with other ingredients like mushrooms, lemongrass, tapioca leaves etc. and cooked over an open fire - similar to the way lemang is cooked. This natural way of cooking seals in the flavours and produces astonishingly tender chicken with a gravy perfumed with lemongrass and bamboo. Manok pansoh cannot be found easily in all restaurants and coffee shops. Some restaurants require advanced booking of manok pansoh dish prior to your arrival.
Manok kacangma. Manok kacangma is a Chinese type of dish which has grown in wider popularity in Sarawak. It is a chicken dish which normally be eaten with white rice. Kacangma is a type of herb which normally being used for medical and healing purposes. It is believed that woman who eat manok kacangma can enjoy ease menses. As for Malay, they normally cook manok kacangma without wine, while as for Iban and Chinese, they squinch in wine for more delicate taste. You can try manok kacangma when you eat 'nasi campur' during lunch hours in Kuching. However, it is extremely hard to find a coffee shop or restaurant who serves this.
Umai. Umai is a raw fish salad popular among various ethnic groups of Sarawak, especially the Melanaus. In fact, umai is a traditional working lunch for the Melanau fishermen. Umai is prepared raw from freshly caught fish, iced but not frozen. Main species used include mackerel, nawal hitam and umpirang. It is made mainly of thin slivers of raw fish, thinly sliced onions, chilli, salt and the juice of sour fruits like lime or assam. It is usually accompanied by a bowl of toasted sago pearls instead of rice. Its simplicity makes it a cinch for fishermen to prepare it aboard their boats. Umai Jeb, a raw fish salad without other additional spices, is famous among Bintulu Melanaus. However, it is rarely prepared in Kuching. You can try umai when you eat Nasi campur during lunch hours in Kuching. Most Malay/Bumiputera coffee shops, serve umai daily for 'nasi campur'.
Midin. The locals greatly indulge in jungle fern such as the midin (quite similar to pucuk paku that is popular in the Peninsular). Midin is much sought after for its crisp texture and great taste. Midin is usually served in two equally delicious ways - fried with either garlic or belacan. You can try midin when you eat nasi campur during lunch hours in Kuching. Most coffee shops, served midin daily for 'nasi campur'.
Bubur pedas. Unlike many other porridge that we know, bubur pedas is cooked with a specially prepared paste. It is quite spicy thanks to its ingredients, which include spices, turmeric, lemon grass, galangal, chillies, ginger, coconut and shallots. Like the famous bubur lambuk of Kuala Lumpur. Bubur pedas is exclusive dish prepared during the month of Ramadan and served during the breaking of fast. So don't expect to eat bubur pedas at anytime you want.
Linut. Linut (also known as ambuyat by Brunei people or jalit by Miri Locals) is a Melanau food. Appropriate amount of sago flour, depending on the number of people, is prepared by cleaning with water. Clean water is then added to the flour before boiling water is poured on the flour as it is stirred until it turns sticky like glue. Linut is best when served hot, and that is why the accompaniment and side dishes must be prepared before hand so that the linut can served right away while it is still hot. The traditional way to scoop the sticky linut from the bowl is to use a special clipper made from the vein of the sago palm frond. Just poke the clipper into the linut and twist it around a few times and scoop the linut which sticks to the clipper. Linut is normally served during a family reunion or a gathering of friends and visitors.
Dabai. ‘dabai’ scientifically known as ‘Carnarium Odontophyllum Miq’ is a Sarawak local fruit .
Mi Jawa. Mi Jawa (mee Jawa) in Kuching or Sarawak in general is somewhat different from the one served in Peninsular Malaysia, or even at its birthplace on Java island. It is a thick egg yellow noodle served with tiny slice of chicken and a sprinkle of 'daun sup' (or bay leaves). Some coffee shops serve a 'special' type of mee Jawa (which you need to add from 50 cents to RM1.50) with an additional few sticks of satay (chicken and/or beef). Mee Jawa is normally served at Malay/Mamak coffee shops.
Roti corned beef. Roti canai is a widely-known Peninsular-origin of Indian decent food of Malaysia. However, Sarawakian has modified one type of roti canai which you might not find on Peninsular Malaysia even in Mamak stalls or Malay coffee shops. It is a roti canai with a corned beef filling and is widely available at Malay and Mamak coffee shops. It can be bought for as low as RM2 per piece due to cheap canned corned beef. However, since the Gateway-brand corned beef was officially considered non-Halal, roti corned beef has lost its popularity and if it does exist, the price may range from RM4-RM5 per piece.
Nasik Aruk. Nasik Aruk is a traditional Sarawakian Malay fried rice. Unlike nasi goreng, nasik aruk does not use any oil to fry the rice. The ingredients are garlic, onion and anchovies, fried with very little oil and then the cook is added. The rice must be fried for a longer time compared to nasi goreng to allow the smokey/slightly-burnt taste to be absorbed into the rice. It is a common to see nasik aruk in the food menu list at Malay and Mamak coffee shops and stalls.

Places

Tumis, Jl Borneo (opposite Hilton Kuching, same row as Tune Hotel at Waterfront Kuching). Local and Malaysian fare. Standouts include ikan bakar sambal, nasi goreng tumis, meehoon Singapore, ayam bakar Solo and laksa Sarawak. Innovative desserts such as sago gula apong and fried banana fritters with cheese; and refreshing thirst-quenchers, lime lambada, oreo ooh la la and merry markisa.
Delicafe Patisseries, 88, Main Bazaar (near Hilton, opposite waterfront and Cat Museum), ☏ +30 82 232788. 9AM-6PM, Tu-Su. Charming staff, good coffee. Also does orange juice and cereal. Good change for anyone wanting a break from fried food. WiFi access.
Madam Tang, Bishop’s Gate Rd. Sarawak laksa. Teh C Peng special, beef noodles and nasi lemak rendang.
Pure Fish Ball Cafe, 214, Jl. Padungan (Kuching), ☏ +30 82 235816. Halal. It is a nice and comfortable A/C cafe selling local food especially pure fish mee noodle with 100% mackerel fish meat.
Finest Cafe, 新时代广场 Travilion (Between the "Big White Cat" and HSBC building in the same row as the Great Eastern Insurance Building). Kolo Mee and 色香味小档 stalls cook assorted hawker food, especially their 'curry mee' (very spicy) and Cantonese style 'home-cook fast food 杂菜饭'. Halal Malay-style chicken rice with juicy tender chicken meat that comes with 3 different sauces; black pepper, butter and salad. Boneless steam chicken with home-made sesame sauce and a range of Halal food. Special laksa is a real treat for adventurous taste buds.
Chong Choon, Jl. Abell (opposite Maybank). One of Kuching's two famous laksa joints. Usually sold out by noon.
Choon Hui, Jl. Ban Hock (Near Grand Continental Hotel). Another famous laksa joint. Spicy and popular, get here before 10AM.
Bishopsgate Coffeeshop, Carpenter St. Famous for what may be decades already, the vinegar 'kolo mee' and pork spare-part soup is what people line up for everyday. Also famous is the man who runs the stall, a colorful character who takes your order like a drill sergeant. It opens for breakfast and lunch, but to avoid the crowds, its best to go around mid-morning. When you get a seat, expect to wait awhile for your food. While you wait try their 'Teh-C Peng special a strong iced milk-tea with a dark sweet syrup.
Suan Chicken Rice, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman (next to Pizza Hut). A popular lunch-time joint where the office-crowd go for Hainanese chicken rice.
Open Air Market, Jl. Market (Opposite Electra House Shopping Centre and near 'Padang Merdeka' Police Station). Despite the name, the place is actually covered. It has a wide variety of stalls serving Malay and Chinese cuisine. Their most popular stall is the one serving beef noodles and sio bi (pork dumplings). Also popular is the fresh porridge and seafood stalls. But beware, this area is not the cleanest of places so order your food from only the most popular stalls.
Lau Ya Keng Food Court, Carpenter St. (just after the Harmony Arch, opposite a Chinese temple). A simple food court that has been around for decades and is very popular with locals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can buy very decent Kolo mee and Sarawak laksa here. But a lot of people come here for the fish-ball soup and famous pork satay that opens in the early afternoon.
Hock King Cafeteria Jl. Ban Hock. Basic, but quite generous meals through out the day. Mr Hock is one of the better hosts in Kuching, fluent in multiple languages and will do almost anything to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Many local celebrities stop by for lunch regularly as Hock King is well connected.
KY Cafe, Sekama Rd. (a corner shop opposite Hollywood KTV Lounge, about 10 min walk from the Kuching City South Council building). Run by a band of three brothers, they serve what is arguably the best 'Kolo mee' in town. Characterised by being served in an orange plastic bowl, this 'kolo mee' tastes a little bit on the sweet side and has the distinction of tasting much better towards the end. They also have excellent wonton soup.
Ceria Cafe, Satok. This shop served best Halal Sarawak laksa in the city. If you demand for omelette strips in your laksa, ask for special which is a mere RM1 addition to the regular price. You can try their mee Jawa and kopi keras.
Bismillah Cafe, Satok and 7th Mile. If you love Indian and Mamak food, try this one. They serve good nasi beriyani, roti canai and teh tarik.
Sepinang Sari Cafe & Restaurant, Satok next to Carpet Shop sells the best Mi Sapi HjSalleh and usually operates from 6AM-5-30PM daily. You will also find delicious laksa Sarawak and mee Jawa.
Singapore Chicken Rice, Have branches at Padungan, Satok and Kota Samarahan. Serve excellent chicken rice comparable to other established chicken rice shop. Other side dishes are baby kailan in oyster sauce and beansprouts.
Benteng Satok, Satok. There are more than 30 stalls here and it's open until 4AM. A wide variety of food are served, mostly Malay food. Choose the stall wisely because many stalls tend to serve same type of food.
Jambatan Satok, Satok. This is the best place to try Halal grilled chicken wings and grilled ikan sebelah. A total of 8 stalls make up the area with variety of Malay and Chinese food. All of the stalls serve Halal food.
Kubah Ria, Gita. This area comprises more than 20 stalls. They serve Halal kolo mee and mee sapi grilled chicken wings and is a location of local pizza chain "Pizza Ria". The pizzas are RM3.50 per quarter slice.
Rojak Kuchei Batu Lintang, Batu Lintang. This place served the best rojak India and chicken rojak in the town. Don't be surprised to see a lot of visitors during morning time because this place is constantly crowded with people from the nearby offices during breakfast time.
The Big Onion, Taman Sri Sarawak.(behind the shoplots opposite Hilton). This is a budget place, but comfortable with Wi-Fi available. Chinese food, Malay style food and western cuisine. Pork is not on the menu.
Ho Joo Café, 3rd Mile. The place where you can get the thick Hainanese-style bread, toasted in a small toaster oven before spreading butter and kaya on it. Nice to be taken during breakfast or high tea. Once appeared in a Chinese daily for this specialty.
Tracy's Kitchen, Jl. Abell (near Wisma Prudential, towards the end of roundabout with Jl. Padungan) – Serves its original "Pak Lo" duck and chicken, kolo mee, kacangma duck, wine chicken, pork leg, assam fish, rendang, and a variety of other dishes. Not to miss is its fresh cucumber juice. Open Mon, 9:30AM-6PM, Tue-Sun, 9:30AM-9:30PM. Not Halal.
Kubah Ria Complex, No 1 Jalan Matang (After the Satok Bridge on the Left side heading towards Petra Jaya), ☏ +60 168951205. A shopping and food center by the Sarawak River very near to the historical Satok Bridge. Built by SEDC to replace the former food and beverages centre. This shopping center houses 45 shoplots and 45 food and beverage outlets. This is now the most popular eating and shopping spot in Kuching.
Khatulistiwa, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman (Next to Grand Margherita, opposite Riverside Majestic hotels). This distinctive circular hut is modelled on a Bidayuh skull house. Breezy open-air restaurant downstairs with local and Western favorites including a decent Sarawak laksa. At night, the upper floors open up as a bar and club, with DJs spinning the night away, though you can also take your meal up there in the evenings. Open 24 hr
Benson Seafood, ☏ +30 82 255262. No. 112 Jln Tunku Abdul Rahman. A riverside restaurant that specializes in fresh Chinese style seafood. It is well-established and don't be surprised to see them catering to groups of tourists.
Pinoy Grill Cafe, ☏ +30 12 8965651. No. 143 Jln Pandungan (Next to Pandungan Police Station). A nice cosy place that serves Filipino food. The fried whole pork leg is popular.
Hong Kong Noodle House, Jln Pandungan, (Opposite Bing Cafe). Standard HK fare like roast duck on rice or noodles. They also serve local Chinese dishes and is open for lunch and dinner.
SideWalk Cafe, Green Heights (Towards airport, on the right-hand side of the BDC flyover/roundabout). Alfresco style western food away from the city near the airport. Its only open in the evenings till late and is popular with locals.
Mango Tree. A/C dining room, or dine alfresco in a traditional Thai garden. Thai cuisine.
Selera Asam Payak, Satok. Traditional Malay food.
Oriental Kitchen, Satok. This restaurant serve variety of Malay and Chinese food. It's halal so Muslim visitors can enjoy this one.
Hartz Chicken Buffet, Satok & Sarawak Plaza. This buffet restaurant is a franchise to the All-American Chicken Buffet. You can eat as much as you want for RM17.70 per person. Crispy and spicy fried chicken, wide range of salads, mashed potatoes, cakes, breads, ice-creams and fruits.
Dayang Cafe, Satok. It looks like a budget cafe place, but don't be fooled by its looks. The food is a variety of Nasi Campur and roti canai. It might drain out your wallet, but if you love to splurge, try this one. The old woman who guards the cash machine might look furious and loves to overcharge you, but sometimes can be helpful if you ask for something.
The Junk, ☏ +30 82 259450. Wayang Street (opposite Fata Hotel). Walking distance from the waterfront. Western/Italian menu and popular with locals and expats. Colonial Chinese decoration with lots of antiques. The portions are large and the lamb shanks and fisherman's basket seem to be the most popular. Bookings are advisable if you have a large group.
Bla Bla Bla, ☏ +30 82 233944. Wayang Street (A few shops down from The Junk). A Chinese restaurant which was opened by the same restaurateurs as The Junk. It quickly became an institution for fine Chinese cuisine in Kuching shortly after it opened in 2005. The interior is designed with a Balinese theme and some of the dishes they are famous for are the ostrich-rolls, soft-shell crabs, and drunken duck. Bookings are advisable.
The Living Room, ☏ +30 12 8880827. Wayang Street (Beside Bla Bla Bla). 6PM-12AM. A third chain by the same restaurateurs as The Junk and Bla Bla Bla. It has a nice courtyard with fountains suitable for people who are just looking for some relaxation in a busy city. It is a must for people who are looking for pure relaxation. Food from The Junk and Bla Bla Bla can be ordered here too. There are some good selections of wines as well and a living room cocktail.
See Good Food Centre (Off Ban Hock Rd., opposite Hua Kuok Inn), ☏ +30 82 251397. Casual laid-back restaurant that serves excellent and very fresh seafood, very popular with the locals. It is best to get there early in the evenings to secure a table and minimise the waiting time, as they don't take reservations. edit
Top Spot Food Court, Jl. Bukit Mata (Top floor of 'Taman Kereta' Carpark, opposite Tun Jugah Shopping Mall). Has a wide range of food stalls ranging from the budget to the pricey. Most locals and tourists come here for the fresh seafood stalls which are on the pricey side. Most of the stalls serve good food, but beware; always ask to see a menu with prices - some stalls have been known to 'accidentally' over-charge tourists.
Ristorante Beccari, Jl. Tun Abang Haji (inside Merdeka Palace Hotel), ☏ +30 82 270808. A good authentic style Italian restaurant. The wood-fired pizzas are excellent.
Li Garden Chinese Restaurant, Jl. Abang Abdul Rahim (Inside Hock Lee Centre, 1st Floor), ☏ +30 82 340785. A popular Chinese restaurant that serves a good Peking duck.
Waterfront Kiosk, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman. If you want to have a drink or two while sightseeing the Sarawak River, this is a possible venue. Wide range of food and drinks, but the food can be pricey due to the influx of tourists who stay at the nearby luxurious hotels.
Serapi Corner, 7th Mile. Peninsular Malaysia style food. Their specialty is ikan keli bakar bersambal (grilled catfish with sambal). It is a bit hot inside. Check for the price list carefully to avoid charging errors on the bill. If you don't mind waiting for hours they have a view of hilly road to kill your time.
Magenta has been relocated to the old court house at Waterfront. Beautiful colonial building with a romantic oriental ambience. Good menu with large portions. Speciality is lamb shank with mashed potato which sounds bland but is very tasty.
Popular Vegetarian Restaurant, 106, Lorong Abang Abdul Rahim 5a. Vegetarian Chinese restaurant.

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Drink

Be sure to try Sarawak coffee - it is delicious and can be found in any local 'Kopi-tiam' (coffee shop). Also, try a drink called "White Lady". It usually consists of evaporated milk and a syrup base with fruit and a slice of lemon within. The colors vary from yellow to pink.

The local favourite of "White Lady" is made by Ah Meng's stall at Hui Sing Hawker Centre at Hui Sing Garden. Another of the stall's signature drink is "Metahorn", made with jellies, syrup and local fruits. There are various knock-offs in Kuching but the taste is different.

There are plenty of good bars and are usually grouped together in areas around Kuching.

Kilkenny's - A nice place for a relaxing drink. The kitchen serves good meals and tapas and they have Kilkenny Irish beer on tap.
Soho. Loud, packed to the rafters dance club. Be sure to try the special Soho cocktail, the Maui mudslide.
MOJO@Denise. Famous for what is now known as "The De Leon Incident", in which famous Fillipino rugby player Tom De Leon claimed to be 'a man' yet was unable to finish Mojo's favourite cocktail, the lamborgini. Locals still have a laugh about the incident to this day.
Grappa, 58 Padugan Rd. A young and fun club bar with a riveting sound system that literally shakes the dance floor playing all drum and bass, hip hop, R&B etc.
Bing!, Padungan Rd. A laid-back cafe with a Balinese theme that serves excellent lattes and fresh fruit juices. They are also popular for their cakes, deli-style gourmet sandwiches and light meals.
Black Bean Coffee&Tea Company, Jl. Carpenter. Small cafe which serves excellent home-roasted Sarawak liberica, Sumatran arabica and Javanese robusta. If you're a coffee addict, you just cannot miss this one.
Cafe 175, Padungan Rd. A cafe with a funky Buddha theme, and a free fish spa inside. They serve espresso coffees, fruit juices, cakes and sandwiches. They also have a private art gallery upstairs. Before 5PM, you can enjoy lunch promotion with prices as low as RM1.40 for lemonade and lime juice.
Jase's Tea Room 1st Floor, Sublot 18, Premier 101 Commercial Centre Jl. Tun Jugah. (Above a Korean convenient store). A vintage cafe with Victorian style. A place known to serve fresh imported tea leaves and lots of varieties of drinks and finger foods.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, inside Sarawak Plaza Shopping Centre and departure lounge of Kuching International Airport. That popular franchise.
Starbucks, inside Kuching International Airport, next to KFC; and inside The Spring. Another popular franchise.
Frappe, Travillion area. A small cafe with contemporary furnishings. They have excellent coffee and cakes.
Caffe Cino, Inside Hilton Hotel. They serve good coffee, desserts and meals. But the prices are a bit on the high side.
Scoops, Taman Sri Sarawak (opposite Hilton Hotel). A cool joint that opened in 2006. They specialise in a range of Gelatos and change the flavors daily. They also serve coffee and cakes. Very good ambience and nice atmosphere.
Kluang Station, Inside The Spring. A franchise offering old-school 'kopitiam' coffee with toast and half-boiled eggs in a relaxing and clean setting reminiscent of indo-china colonial coffee shops.
Kaya & Toast, Satok. If you love classic but classy 'kopitiam' to enjoy toasted breads with wide range of filling, try this one.

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Sleep

You will find the majority of the accommodation for the city of Kuching on the south bank of the Sungai Sarawak. There are many types of accommodation available for visitors to Kuching of varying tastes and budgets from hostel and guesthouses to international chain hotels.

Berambih Lodge, No.104 Ewe Hai St (behind Main Bazaar), ☏ +60 82 238589. Longhouse style guesthouse, clean and friendly. Breakfast included.
Bidayuh Traditional Chalet and homestay (Funaborneo), Kg Tringgus, Bau (30 km from Kuching city), ☏ +60 10 5267669, +60 10 9876653. A relaxed traditional bidayuh chalet with views of virgin forest and nearby to a fresh water river. From MR38.
Brookes Terrace, 1st Floor, 231 Jl. Abell (above AirAsia ticketing office), ☏ +60 82 427008. Clean and fresh B&B with nice rooms. Friendly and welcoming staff. Large LCD-TV and fridge in room. Website link broken. Double deluxe RM80.
Drop In Guesthouse, 209 Jl. Padungan (near the padungan white cat statue (across memories cafe)), ☏ +60 82 242988. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 12:30PM. Guesthouse in Chinatown. Also sells paintings and operates a souvenir shop.
The Fairview, No.6 Jl. Taman Budaya, ☏ +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 Rd (opposite Borneo Hotel and next to Kuching Prison along Tabuan Rd), ☏ +60 82 428121. Clean, cozy, comfortable and safe place to stay in the Land of the Hornbills. Friendly staff. Breakfast with Kaya included.
Nomad Bed & Breakfast, 1st Floor, No.3, Jl. Green Hill, ☏ +60 82 237831, +60 16 856 3855.
Panovel Kuching, 2nd Flr Sr.24 Lot 4370, Jl. Simpang Tiga, ☏ +60 16 866 7000, +60 16 8666 999. Self-service accommodation appealing to nearby University students. 10 min drive from Kuching Airport and short walk to The Spring Mega Mall. A/C, wifi, huge room space. Long-term and daily rates available. edit
Pinnacles Kuching, Level 1, Lot 21, Block G, Taman Sri Sarawak Mall, Jl. Borneo (In the middle of Kuching’s golden triangle which comprises Hilton, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza Hotels), ☏ +60 82 419100. Clean.
Singgahsana Lodge, 1 Temple St (Opposite Harbour View Hotel), ☏ +60 82 429 277. A hip back-packers lodge at the Kuching waterfront. Longhouse decor and artifacts. The staff are a bit smug and self-important, but it is clean, safe and very reasonably priced.
Threehouse Bed&Breakfast, 51 Upper China St, ☏ +60 82 423499. Native Iban and Scandinavian ownership, in the middle of the city. Approach from the main Post Office in town you have a Chinese arch (gate) on the left of the building which leads to Carpenter St. 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 St. Walk the street up and watch out for the sunflower windmill and the only red facade building on this street.
Tune Hotel, Jl Borneo, Lot 281, Section 48, KTLD, (opposite Hilton Kuching and off Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman). Check-out: 10AM. Budget hotel operated by chain linked to AirAsia. Limited and basic services including hot showers. Price structure as of MAR 2016: 50 RM gets you a claustrophobic room and bed. Double that for 'amenities', including towels and internet. From RM50+++.
Wo Jia Lodge, No.17 Main Bazaar (on the Waterfront), ☏ +60 82 251 776. On the Kuching waterfront, with renovated Straits Chinese decor and clean, spacious rooms. Free Wi-Fi in all rooms. Friendly and helpful staff/owner. Rooms from RM33, private dorm maximum 3 beds at RM20 per bed. Coffee and tea round the clock. Link broken.
Sunset Homestay, E36, Level 2, Jalan Green Hills, ☏ +60 82-238808. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Hostel with three levels of bunks. The bunks are capsule-style, with a curtain, so there's more of a sense of privacy than at most hostels. Lockers big enough for a medium-sized bag. Air conditioning and free wifi. RM25 for a bunk, discounts may be available. RM50 deposit.
Basaga Holiday Residences, 69-70 Tabuan Rd, ☏ +60 82 417 069. Lot. Has an outdoor bar with a beautiful courtyard.
Damai Beach Resort, ☏ +60 82 846999. Beach resort with private beach and 2 swimming pools, tennis courts and restaurant. Can organise trips such as diving and snorkeling. Prices start from RM206.
Damai Puri Resort ∧ Spa, Teluk Penyuk Santubong, ☏ +60 82 846900. Fronts Damai Beach with 207 rooms and a spa village, secluded massage villas, a yoga pavilion, hair spa, and a tea house that serves organic gourmet. 2 outdoor pools, tennis courts, wifi is available, a 600 capacity ballroom, meeting rooms. Can organise jungle treks and water sports.
Harbour View Hotel, ☏ +60 82 274 666. Lorong Temple. 2-3 star business class hotel that is centrally in front of the Kuching Waterfront. Standard rooms are quite basic, often occupied by tour groups.
Hotel Grand Continental, Jl. Ban Hock, ☏ +60 82 230 399. A comfortable 3-star hotel about 15 min walk from the Kuching waterfront.
Kingwood Inn, Lot 618 Pandungan Rd, ☏ +60 82 330 888. Another standard hotel that's probably a bit better than Kuching Park Hotel.
Kuching Park Hotel, Lot 606 Pandungan Rd, ☏ +60 82 239 888. A standard 2-3 star hotel a short drive away from the city centre.
The LimeTree Hotel. 50 room & suites boutique hotel in city centre adjacent to Chinatown and min away from the Waterfront and malls.
Citadines Uplands Kuching, No 55 Jalan Simpang Tiga, ☏ +60 82 281 888, ✉ enquiry.kuching@the-ascott.com. The property offers studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Has a business center and outdoor swimming pool.
360 Hotel, Hock Lee Centre, Hotel Tower, Jl. Datuk Aband Abdul Rahim, ☏ +60 82 484888. Beside Hock Lee Shopping Centre.
Century Kuching Hotel (formerly Four Points by Sheraton), Jl. Lapangan Terbang Baru (5 min from Kuching International Airport), ☏ +60 82 280888. Has lost a lot of its former glory and is now quite run down and half empty. However, it's a good option near the airport with big rooms. Start from RM200. Grand Margerita Hotel, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman, ☏ +60 82 423111. Formerly a Holiday Inn Kuching. Visitors can gain access to the Sarawak Plaza, a shopping complex situated adjacent to it. Convenient to Tun Jugah and Parkson. Franchise outlets such as Starbucks, Kenny Rogers, KFC and McDonald's are nearby.
Hilton Kuching, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman, ☏ +60 82 248200. Great riverside location. Make sure you get a river view, extra but well worth it.
Merdeka Palace Hotel, Jl. Tun Abang Haji Openg, ☏ +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 others at the riverside. Next to the Sarawak Museum and nearby to the riverfront. The rooftop pool has a great view over Kuching. Rack rates from around RM300, but steep discounts in the off season can chop that in half.
Riverside Majestic Kuching (formerly known as Crown Plaza Riverside Kuching), Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman, ☏ +60 82 247777. Despite the name, this is the one riverside hotel that isn't actually riverside although it's just across the street.
ARIVA Gateway Kuching, 9 Jl Bukit Mata, ☏ +60 82 250958. Comfortable serviced-apartments in the city centre.
Pullman Kuching, 1A Jalan Mathies, ☏ +60 82 222888. On top of the hill at Jalan Mathies, Pullman Kuching offers astonishing panoramic view of the city and the Sarawak River. The hotel is adjacent to a two storey city life-style shopping centre “Hills Shopping Mall” and within walking distance to commercial centre and city attractions.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are available in cities and major towns. Wi-Fi hotspots can be found in shopping malls, restaurants, food courts and cafés. Many of these hotspots are provided free-of-charge. Internet cafés can also be found in cities and towns.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Malaysia is on the GSM 900/1800 and UMTS (3G) mobile network. If you have an "unlocked" GSM band mobile phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card and use it with your phone here for cheaper rates instead of roaming here. Prepaid mobile SIM cards are available cheaply at mobile phone shops and 24-hour convenience stores.

Below are the area codes in Malaysia:

01Mobile Phones (nationwide)
02Singapore (special access code to call Singapore)
03Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor
04Penang, Perlis, Kedah
05Perak
06Negeri Sembilan, Malacca
07Johor
080Brunei (special access code for use in Sabah and Sarawak only)
08xSabah, Sarawak (x determines the region)
09Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan
1-300Non-geographical numbers (local call rate)
1-800Non-geographical numbers (free call from landline, local call rate from mobile phone)

Area code is not required when calling a number of the same area code. However, it is mandatory when calling from a mobile phone.

There is no charge for receiving calls on any Malaysian phones. Only the caller is charged for the call made. However, if you're on mobile phone roaming service, you will also be charged for any calls received, by your operator.

To dial out of Malaysia, use the international access code 00 (zero zero), followed by the country code, followed by the area code (remove the preceding 0, if any), and finally the telephone number.
e.g. To call London, United Kingdom, dial 00-44-20-xxxx xxxx; or to call Dallas, Texas, United States, dial 00-1-214-xxx xxxx.
For mobile phones, the plus sign "+" can be used as the international access code.
e.g. Using the previous scenario, type +44-20-xxxx xxxx or +1-214-xxx xxxx and press the call button.

The country code for Malaysia is 60. To receive calls from overseas, that person will have to dial the country's international access code, followed by 60 for Malaysia, followed by the area code (remove the preceding 0), followed by the phone number.
e.g. If your prepaid mobile number is 012-1234567, and someone in the United Kingdom were to call you, the number to dial is 00-60-12-1234567. Those calling you from the United States and Canada will have to dial 011-60-12-1234567.

The emergency number is 999 and can be dialled from any phone, free of charge. The worldwide standard emergency number for GSM mobile phones, 112, can also be used on a mobile phone, even without a SIM card. Calls to 112 will be routed to 999 centres.

Post

Pos Malaysia is the national postal service of Malaysia. Rates for sending a standard letter locally is 30 sen (20 gram) to 40 sen (up to 50 gram). International airmail has minimum rates ranging from RM1.00 to RM2.00, depending on destination. It costs 20 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme locally, or 50 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme to anywhere in the world.

Expedited Mail Service (EMS), branded locally as Poslaju, is available for both domestic and international destinations. Domestic EMS has a next day delivery guarantee. International EMS guarantees mails and parcels to be delivered out of the country by the following day. The time required to arrive at its destination will depend on clearance by authorities and the postal service of the destination country. For most countries, delivery of documents can be done in 3 to 5 days.

If you need to receive mails or packages from home, there is Poste Restante service available at all General Post Offices (GPO) in the country. There is one GPO in almost every capital city of every state, and in all federal territories. Mails sent from Singapore and Brunei will be retained for one month while mails from all other places will be kept for two months, after which if unclaimed, will be sent to the Dead Letter Office.

Generally, post offices are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday, except the first Saturday of the month. They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Electricity

Electricity voltage in Malaysia is 240V AC 50Hz. The UK 3-pin plug is the standard used in Malaysia. European 2-pin plug can also be used on the 3-pin socket by inserting a screwdriver (or any hard object that fits) into the earth pin hole to open the live and neutral shutters. However, this practice can be hazardous.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 1.549073
  • Longitude: 110.3442

Accommodation in Kuching

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This is version 43. Last edited at 15:19 on Nov 4, 19 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

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