Sibu is located in the heart of Sarawak, serving as an essential gateway for trade between Malaysia and Indonesia. The city population stands at 163 thousand people, with their historical sites preserved to reflect these traditions’ significance today. While Sibu is not a popular travel destination, it has its uniqueness that would undoubtedly make it a worthwhile visit.
Housed in the former Sarawak Municipal Building, history lovers would adore this place, as one could learn about the rich history of Sibu in its early days. Among the things that you will find here are stories of the migration of Chinese migrants from different dialect groups, besides being treated to seeing old photographs and cultural exhibits on other ethnic groups in Rejang and the collection of fine antique artefacts like Chinese porcelain and clay vases. You will also be treated to special exhibitions like genuine skulls from Iban longhouses, as headhunting used to be common in the Dayak culture, and taxidermy animals such as the Moon Rat, Orang Utan or Rhinoceros Hornbill.
The Bukit Lima Nature Reserve lies conveniently in the heart of town, amid the Kampung Sentosa settlement. Besides owning jungle trails suitable for forest walks and running, the Bukit Lima Nature Reserve is also home to 39 species of birds, and one can just come here to watch and admire rare birds like the flowerpeckers, sunbirds, and babblers. You can even catch a glimpse of the wildlife nearby like pangolins, the Giant Squirrel, the Plantain Squirrel, Treeshews, and the Sambar deer while going for a leisurely jog.
This is a must-visit for anyone coming to Sibu, as it is the first and only medical museum in Malaysia. The museum is dedicated to Lau King Howe, who has helped and impacted many lives since he moved to Sibu in 1915. What started as an intention to help rubber plantation activities eventually became a lifelong purpose for helping the people of Sibu and Rajang Valley. Lau King Howe is most known for donating most of his wealth to build a hospital.
The Lau King Howe Hospital Museum features remnants of old medical equipment and old photographs with more detailed explanations of his story. Closed on Mondays, you can visit this museum on any other day of the week, from 9 am to 5 pm and within 5 minutes from Sibu town.
Apart from the Sibu Heritage Centre, the Wong Nai Siong Memorial Park is an excellent spot to soak in the history of Sibu, particularly stories of the Chinese Revolutionary leader, Wong Nai Siong, who led a large-scale migration of Foochow migrants to Sibu in 1901. The site is chosen as it is believed that that particular land was where they first stepped foot. Located on Sungai Merah road, it takes approximate 20 to 25 minutes by car to get there from town, and visitors can come here to stroll or explore the nearby night market.
This 17-year old temple is located just 20 minutes away from town and is still a hidden gem in Sibu. It is so remote that even locals might not have heard of it. However, those who are lucky enough to step into this temple have commented on how unique it is.
The entrance of the Tiger Emperor temple resembles that of a mouth of a tiger, alongside tiger statues guarding the sides of the temple. The temple is said to have been built by a Chinese couple who wished to create a space for people to worship their ancestors, similar to those in China.
Built in 2005, Lin’s Swan Garden is an enthralling place to visit and is undoubtedly an excellent spot for photo-taking. The highlight of this garden is the display of the statues of the 12 zodiac animals from the Chinese calendar, with a colossal swan statue as the centrepiece. According to the locals, this display symbolises happiness and good luck to the residents.
With interactive exhibits, beautiful sights, and sounds of nature that surround you, the One Malaysia Culture Villageis a must-visit. Not only does this spot provide a glimpse into Malaysia’s diverse culture, but it also provides an opportunity for locals and foreigners alike to experience what life was like before modernization. Getting there usually takes less than an hour, and it is located just across Jubilee Park, where you can take a car there, or bus number 3.
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and the way to a city’s heart is the food. Food is a massive part of every Malaysian, and the best place to discover the local delicacies is through the local market. Built in 1996 and located on Jalan Channel opposite Express Boat Passenger Terminal, Sibu Central Market is the place to go to, as it is the pinnacle for fresh cooking ingredients, besides being the largest market Sarawak and the largest indoor market in Malaysia.
Besides being open daily, you can come here for fresh and affordable ingredients as early as 5 am, and it closes at 7 pm. Apart from fresh produce, there is an extensive range of stalls selling exotic fruits, jungle produce, and general handicrafts. You may even spot Chinese hawkers selling live chickens wrapped in tubes made of old newspapers. Just be sure to bring drinking water with you, as you will be doing quite a bit of walking.
Once hailed as the tallest building in Sarawak, Wisma Sanyan is a 125-metre one-stop centre that houses 120 retail shops, 22 office levels and 5 shopping levels, including local government offices and the Sarawak Municipal Council (SMC). Located by the Rajang and Igan rivers, this landmark has become the largest town square with its vast space and is the official venue to host the annual Borneo Culture Festival. You can visit this place from 10 am to 10 pm, on any day of the week.
The Sungai Merah Heritage Walk is located beside the Sungai Merah (Red River) and is an old bazaar that is said to be the earliest settlement of the Chinese migrants in Sibu, particularly the Chinese Foochow. The moniker is certainly apt, as the heritage trail along the riverbank looks red occasionally due to the iron content in the river. This makes it a unique place to stroll and an exciting spot for photo-taking, especially during sunsets.
Just off this bustling market, visitors will find themselves walking along a riverfront trail, ending up at Wong Nai Siong Memorial Garden – a homage from the town founder himself. Walking here is undoubtedly an experience one shouldn’t miss.
Sibu is a beautiful town in Sarawak that should be explored. It offers the perfect balance between nature and culture, so whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or want to soak up some of Malaysia’s unique history, this area has something for everyone.