Kuching, Malaysia

Those planning on exploring Sarawak will most likely touch down in Kuching, the second largest city in Malaysian Borneo. Visitors arriving from Peninsular Malaysia will quickly notice the city offers many differences to its mainland counterparts. Kuching boasts an aura of sophistication and trendiness, is unmistakably clean and safe, and is more multicultural than any other Malaysian city. Kuching is also a gateway to some of the best nature-focused attractions Borneo has to offer. The Gunung Gading National Park (home to the world’s largest flower), the Kubah National Park and the Matang Wildlife Centre are all within day-trip proximity.

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Languages Malay, English, Chinese
Currency Ringgit (RM)
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Area 431.02 km2
Population 325,132
Time Zone UTC +8
Dining

Sarawak’s unique historical journey and proud tribal roots set it aside from Peninsular Malaysia in a number of ways, one of which is cuisine. Sarawak boasts its own signature flavours and cooking styles, which stem from the traditions of its people and the unique composition of cultures that make up the region. Fresh seafood, black pepper and plenty of vegetables are all common in Sarawak cooking. Don’t leave Kuching without sitting down to a Sarawak laksa, an irresistible local take on the Malaysian favourite. Huge prawns, fresh lime and plenty of coriander set this dish aside from the laksa you might find elsewhere in Malaysia. Other great local dishes to look out for include tomato kueh teow (flat rice noodles), kolo mee (blanched egg noodles with mince) and midin (crunchy green jungle fern). Chinese food is also hugely popular in Kuching. There’s no better place to enjoy it than Lau Ya Keng Food Court on Carpenter Street. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this bustling food court is famous for serving up amazing fish-ball soup and pork satay, though local dishes like kolo mee and Sarawak laksa can also be found here. Street hawkers selling tea and coffee (both hot and cold) are everywhere in Kuching. Locals generally have their tea or coffee with a heaping of sugar and topped up with sweetened condensed milk; so it’s important to know what to order. If it’s a warm day (as most are in Kuching) order a ‘teh-C peng special’ for the local favourite of cold, three-layer milk tea.

Shopping

One of the most popular things to do on weekends in Kuching is to visit the Satok Weekend Market, otherwise known as the Sunday Market despite commencing on Saturday afternoon. This is a great place to mix with the locals while also picking up a few bargains and sampling some Sarawak cuisine. While the focus is on fresh food, visitors can also expect to find clothing, handbags, shoes, toys, souvenirs and more. For a slightly less chaotic shopping experience, stroll down Kuching’s oldest and best known street, Main Bazaar. Running along the bank of the Santubong River, this long strip of shops is open daily and is the best place to pick up local art and high-quality handcrafts, while also discovering a treasured piece of local history. Some of the shops on Main Bazaar date as far back as the 1860s and house some of Sarawak’s finest genuine antiques. Upscale shopping can be found at the Spring Shopping Mall in Jalan Simpang Tiga. Brand-name fashion outlets, abundant casual dining opportunities and an eight-screen cinema complex are among the main draw-cards here. The Boulevard Mall about 10 minutes south of the city centre is also well worth a look. This sprawling complex covers shopping, dining, entertaining and pampering all under the one roof.