Kuching, Sarawak, is a city of many things, and it’s the one place where you can experience both culture and adventure, and it would be a memorable experience. The name “Kuching” comes from the word “cat”, and you can see its impact on the city through the numerous cat statues and Cat Museum. Not only that, but there are also many places that you can visit in this city, and here are some of the top Kuching attractions.
Located around a 30-minute drive away from the city centre is the Sarawak Cultural Village, one of the most unique and informative Kuching attractions. You will get to witness demonstrations of traditional crafts like weaving and bamboo carving and replica buildings of every major ethnic group in the region in what is known as Sarawak’s only living museum. Malaysia’s rich indigenous culture, such as Penan huts or Iban longhouses, are showcased here with their characteristic stilts-like legs called bale houses, besides getting the opportunity of trying on a variety of traditional clothing on site.
If you wish to stay nearby, you will be glad to know that Damai Beach Resort is nearby. Due to the expansive place, one would need at least half a day to enjoy everything. Opening hours are 9 AM to 5 PM every Tuesday to Sunday, with Mondays closed due to maintenance and sanitisation.
The Kuching Cat Museum is one of the best places for cat lovers. Featuring over 2,000 exhibits dedicated to the history of these felines, visiting all 1,035 square meters of the world’s first Cat Museum would undoubtedly be an immersive experience. You get to enjoy what is one of the most interesting Kuching attractions for a mere RM3 (RM5 if you wish to take videos).
You haven’t indeed visited Sarawak if you haven’t at least seen the famous traditional longhouses here. Annah Rais is a traditional Bidayuh longhouse located 100 kilometres outside Kuching, with 500 inhabitants. The Bidayuh ethnic group is the second-largest population of Sarawak, so visiting the Annah Rais longhouse would undoubtedly expose you to the rustic and traditional qualities of the Bidayuh culture. Bear in mind that there are three longhouses you can explore here — Kupo Terekan, Kupo Saba, and Kupo Sijo.
You can visit this place in Kuching anytime between 8 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and weekends, with an entrance fee of RM8. Should you stay here, you would be staying with a family, which is an opportunity to understand the Bidayuh culture and way of life. Of course, you could also choose to stay here for a more holistic experience, as the concept of a longhouse is that everyone in the village lives under one roof. Either way, you are sure to enjoy your visit and can choose to relax in the hot springs nearby.
Kuching Old Courthouse is revered for its enchanting architecture and design and is often flooded with locals and tourists. This historical courthouse houses the Sarawak Tourism Complex and dates from 1871. The complex has a great spot for history buffs to visit, including some buildings such as the clock tower built in Baroque style Renaissance Pavilion during the colonial period, which has since been converted into a Textile Museum that showcases authentic textiles made from ethnic communities.
The complex is conveniently located next to the main promenade in Kuching, so it makes a good place for visitors who want some fresh air and scenic views at the same time. This Kuching attraction is open daily, from 9 AM to 12 AM. Be sure to come here early while driving, as traffic can be bad during peak hours.
Kuching’s scenic waterfront is where the main action happens. In the olden days, this would have been a hub for warehouses. Now you can find a great walking path that flanks the water that offers passersby incredible views of some of the town’s main sights like the Astana skyscraper or majestic Fort Margherita (historical site). As you take a stroll here, you will understand why this is one of the popular Kuching attractions and what makes this city so unique.
Kuchingites fondly refer to this place as the heart of Kuching, providing all necessities and souvenirs sold at reasonable prices. Don’t be fooled by the name; the main bazaar is just a long row of traditional shophouses lining Kuching’s main street. You can find all sorts of souvenirs here, like jewellery, beautiful beads, and even textiles intricately woven by the indigenous Sarawak groups.
If you’re lucky, you might even be able to enjoy traditional dances performed by locals on some days of the week while browsing through the shops. These attractions make for an entertaining afternoon out with friends or family. It is open every day from 10 AM to 6 PM, and don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes as there will be much walking to do here.
The snake-like river bisects Kuching, giving it a unique blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, contributing to Kuching’s charm. Just near the Main Bazaar, you could choose to admire the view or enjoy it up close with a boat ride. You can do this any day of the week, as it departs from Kuching Waterfront daily, though it is only available from 5.30 PM to 7 PM.
The admission fee of this Kuching attraction is just below RM100 (RM65 for adults, RM35 for children) and is a pretty good deal considering how one could soak in the city’s colours, sounds, and sights with a good drink in hand.
Built in 1879, Fort Margherita has since elevated its status from a barrier against attacks to one of the most iconic Kuching attractions. Museums like The Police Museum are housed here, displaying a fascinating array of ancient weaponry, including cannons, swords, pistols, and cannonballs. Besides, this English castle in the jungle has an almost romantic and sad story revolving around the second White Rajah of Sarawak, so be prepared for a good story.
Due to it being across the river, you can take a scenic boat ride there or go by road instead. Either way, you will get the chance to visit this historic site, which opens daily from 9 AM to 4 PM, and even on public holidays.
Sprawling over 3,000 hectares of land, Bako National Park is one of Borneo’s oldest and largest national parks. Tucked between the Borneo and Bako rivers, this park offers visitors a glimpse of the wildlife nearby, such as fresh crocodiles and dolphins, Proboscis monkeys, bearded pigs, macaques in the sea, and the scrubby grasslands. One good thing to note is that the animals here are accustomed to humans, ensuring a safe experience.
You can also appreciate the lush scenery due to the well-preserved ecosystem, such as the teeming mangroves, swamps, and towering cliff sides. As one of the natural Kuching attractions, it is a great spot to visit and is open from 8 AM to 5 PM daily, including public holidays. However, one thing to note is that Bako National Park is not accessible by road to protect the park, so you would have to take a boat ride from the jetty to the entrance with a maximum of five passengers on board. While the entrance fee is RM10, the boat ride is RM47, and it takes approximately 30 minutes to get there.
If you are a sports enthusiast that loves nature, Mount Santubong is a must-visit. Located just 35 kilometres from the city centre, Mount Santubong will provide a breathtaking experience, with scenic views that would be Instagram-worthy. However, professional filming or photography would require a permit from the park’s office beforehand. There are two hiking trails here, and you can begin your hike as early as 8 AM; though there is a cut-off time at 3 PM to ensure hikers have descended before dark, the official closing time would be 5 PM.
Nonetheless, no accommodation is provided here, though this mountain is a standard natural backdrop for many hotel resorts. Be sure to bring lots of water, as the experience can be exhausting.
Overall, Kuching has so much to offer, and it would be hard to not fall for the city’s charm. All you need to do is get your bags packed, travel here, and be prepared to be blown away by the many Kuching attractions.