Kuching translates out to 'Cat City' in the local language. It is the biggest city in the Sarawak state of Borneo. The city is situated on the Sarawak River. Kuching prides itself on being a religiously diverse city.
Kuching is a great city to visit. Roughly 600,000 people call Kuching home. It is a small enough city that a lot can be covered by foot. Kuching offers many free attractions.
What to see?
Great views of the Astana and Fort Margherita. Nice place to walk and meet new people. We were walking here when we met a man named Richard. He was a retired tour guide and now in his free time he enjoys meeting travelers and showing them around his lovely city. Not to mention, he never asked for a single thing in return.
The palace in which the head of state of Sarawak lives. Pictured above.
Kuching Orchid Garden
Tons of orchids, many are extremely rare. Beautiful displays. Other flowers to view here as well. Admission is free.
Museum dedicated to cats, with over 4,000 cat artifacts. To read more visit my blog post, Kuching:Cat City. Admission is free, although you will be charged Rm 3/Rm 5 to use a camera/video.
Kuching Aquarium and Botanical Garden
Many aquatic creatures to have a look at as well and some beautiful plants. Admission is free.
Kuching City Mosque
Beautiful mosque. This was our first taste of the call to prayer. It is the oldest mosque in Kuching, near the waterfront. Usual modest dress is expected to enter the mosque (arms, legs must be covered, headscarves for the ladies).
Now the police museum. Originally a defensive structure constructed on the strategic Kuching Riverfront.
Built in 1888 as a museum for Borneo Indigenous artwork and ethnography. Now includes a natural history, and petroleum industries sections. Even has a shop where you can buy indigenous artwork. Admission is free.
Chinese History Museum
Exhibitions on Kuching's many Chinese ethnic groups and history on the Chinese in Sarawak. Admission is free.
Tua Pek Kong Temple
Oldest Chinese Buddhist Temple in Kuching. Admission is free.
How to get around Kuching?
Only useful for crossing the Sarawak River obviously. Rm o.4o one way.
A great way to see this big, but not too big city. Borneo Bicycle Hire came highly recommended.
Rm 1+ depending on distance. Good way to get around quickly for cheap. Buses depart ~ every 30 minutes.
All have meters, but rarely use them. Negotiate a price first. Expect to pay ~Rm 26 from the airport to the city center.
Numerous city buses through out the day. Range from Rm 1.80-Rm 2.30 per trip.
Oddly, Kuching is pretty pedestrian friendly for a city in Asia. Most major attractions can be easily reached by walking.
Best foods in Kuching?
I'm not going to list a bunch of restaurants on here. There are many warung style cafes around. Many serve local Sarawakian specialties, which are a don't miss. You can also find plenty of Chinese food (real, in comparison to American Chinese food). One of my favorites is a huge Chinese food stall in the middle of China Town. Sit down and a little Chinese lady will come to you and ask "what you waaaaan??" Get the jungle fern. I repeat: GET THE JUNGLE FERN!
A staple in Kuching. Our friend Richard said that we must try Laksa, and that many people of Borneo eat it for breakfast everyday, as they believe it's good luck.
Luck aside, it's effin' good.
Laksa is a shrimp broth based, curry like soup dish. Usually includes, vermicelli noodles, coconut milk, chicken, bean sprouts, egg, sambal paste, galangal and a host of spices.
Sarawak Kek Lapis is a type of layer cake that is commonly made for special occasions. It comes in all kinds of beautiful colors and designs. It's heavier and more dense than any layer cake I've ever had. Oh, yeah... and it tastes AMAZING.
Zaharah Kek Lapis has a reputation of having the best Kek Lapis in the city and was where Richard told us we must go for it. It's a small house on the north side of the river. The family lives in and works out of it. They welcome you right into their home and serve you Kek Lapis and juice. Then you may purchase some home made Kek Lapis, and even watch the family create it.
Where did we sleep while in Kuching?
There are many hotels to choose from ranging all kinds of budgets.
The Woodpecker Lodge.
It's a great centrally located cheap hotel. I think we paid about $15 USD for a double with AC. Nothing fancy here. Simple lobby, wifi, basic room. If you are traveling with someone else, hopefully you're real close. Cause if you aren't, you will be by the time you check out.
The wall separating the bed from the toilet/shower is a piece of plexi-glass. Meaning you can see right through it. I've now seen my best friend naked in the shower, and poop, and shit a leaf (a whole one, don't worry, we were impressed too). On the plus side the hotel is a few steps from the Kuching Waterfront. Visit their facebook page, here.
Get out of Kuching.
Bako National Park (visit 7 reasons to visit Bako post here)
Semenggoh Wildlife Center (visit post here)