The 3 best activities to do in Kuching - Wapiti Travel

We traveled 3 weeks through Malaysia and Borneo. We discovered beautiful nature, a mix of religions and cultures and very friendly people. I wrote quite a few blogs about our Borneo itinerary.  In this Kuching travel blog post, I will tell you more about the best things to do in Kuching.

Getting to Kuching

We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching.  We had booked this flight with Air Asia, once again voted the world’s best low-cost airline in 2013.  

Air Asia has some impressive figures, it operates with the world’s lowest unit cost resulting in a passenger break-even load factor of 52%.

It also has a crew productivity level that is triple that of Malaysia Airlines and achieves an average aircraft utilization rate of 13 hours a day.

It was our first experience with a low-cost airline and we wondered if the service and our experience would be negatively impacted by all those cost optimizations,  but that was absolutely not the case.

We had booked this flight with Air Asia, once again voted  the world’s best low-cost airline  in 2013.

Air Asia’s statistics about flight delays are also good. Unfortunately, our flight turned out to be an exception. Our flight was delayed by an hour.  Nothing too bad and we were happily surprised to receive a reduction coupon, valid on a future flight, in our mailbox a few days later.  A nice gesture!

Read also: Day trips from Kota Kinabalu

Getting from the Airport to your hotel

By far the easiest option is to take a taxi.

Just as everywhere else in Malaysia, including Borneo, you buy a voucher for your taxi at a stand in the airport.  Once you have the voucher you head outside to the taxi queue.  

Once you arrive at your destination you hand over the voucher to the taxi driver.

Payment is done at the taxi stand and you don’t need to pay the driver anymore.  The voucher is your proof of payment.

Another quicker and more comfortable option is taking a direct private transfer.  Prices start from €13.

Purchase here your direct transfer: Private Kuching Transfer 

Things to do in Kuching

Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, one of the 2 Malaysian states on Borneo.  Kuching means cat and you will find many statues of cats all around the city.  The city even has a cat museum.

It may not be that interesting but it’s still a fun place if you love cats as we do.  They seem to have gathered everything they could find about cats from newspaper articles to movie posters and pictures of people with cats, cat tattoos and so on.

Apart from the cat museum, Kuching also has 2 other museums and many other attractions.

When you are in Kuching, you should also pay a visit to the Kuching Mosque also known as the ‘Masjid Lama’ (Old Mosque). Thanks to the striking golden domes it is a famous landmark of the city. This structure was built in 1968 and replaces a wooden mosque that was built earlier in 1852.

At sunset, it is fun to take a stroll along the one-mile-long pedestrian promenade that follows the Sarawak river. As you follow the river you will certainly notice the beautiful play of colors on the gilded domes of the mosque.  Kuching Chinatown comprises the streets parallel to the promenade.  This district is a good place for both shopping and eating.

Next, to the pedestrian promenade, you will find the Old Courthouse. It consists of 4 different complexes, one of which is occupied by the Visitor Information Center. It’s also a good place to have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. 

Across the river, you will find one of the most iconic structures in Kuching, Fort Margherita.  Fort Margherita is one of the few forts built in the British Colonial style. It was built to protect Kuching from pirates.  It is very well preserved and has been converted into a Brooke Museum by the Brooke Trust. 

 The fort and museum are located across the river from the main Kuching Promenade.  A lovely way to cross the river is to take a longboat from the main promenade.   For a very small fee, the boats will take you to the other bank of the river.

If you are looking for an organized Kuching City tour, take a look here. 

The highlights of our time in Kuching were our visit to Bako National Park, the Semenggoh orangutan rehabilitation center and the Sarawak cultural village. We will describe these 3 excursions in detail below.

Bako National Park

On our first day in Kuching, we did an excursion to Bako National Park.  Highly recommended as this is a beautiful park. 

We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the best part of our visit was that we also saw many animals. 

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by many cheeky macaques. But for us, the stars of the day were the funny-looking Proboscis Monkeys which are also known as the Dutch monkeys.

We originally planned on spending the night in the park but finally decided not to do so because of all the bad reviews about the accommodation.  We did have a quick look at the accommodation when we were there and it didn’t look that bad at all but at that time it was too late to change our plans.  I think the reviews are either exaggerated or outdated.

The park offers many trails of different lengths and difficulties.

We hiked the Lintang trail with a side trip to Pandan Kecil. The lintang trail is a beautiful walk that, as described, will take you through different landscapes each with their own fauna and flora. With these 2 trails, we had a well-filled day.

In Bako National park we saw many animals including the Proboscis Monkey and many cheeky macaques.

We found most of the animals near the visitor center on our arrival and departure. Proboscis monkeys, different macaques, silvered leaf monkeys and 1 large and 2 smaller snakes. 

During our hike, we couldn’t spot many animals but I’m sure that they’re there. 

If you want to see more animals during the hike you can book a tour with a guide.

Be sure to bring enough water because some parts of the trip are steep and some sections are open and exposed. There are no opportunities to buy water once you leave the visitor center.

How to get to Bako National Park from Kuching

You could go on your own or book an organized Day Tour.

If you want to get to the park making use of public transportation head to the bus station at the market or ask for the schedule of the buses at the tourist information center.

If you go to Bako you will need to take a boat from the last stop of the bus to the entrance of the park.  Each boat fits 5 persons.

 

Make sure you find somebody to share the boat (look around you on the bus :-)) as the price for the boat is fixed independently from the number of persons that go with it.  The tickets are return tickets (except if you’re staying in the park) and your group will need to share the same boat back as well in the evening.

Read also: Spot bats with a tour in Mulu

Semenggoh

The next day we went to Semenggoh.    Semenggoh is an orangutan rehabilitation center and a popular excursion from Kuching. I definitely recommend visiting such a center as the number of orangutans that remain in the wild has decreased dramatically. The chances that you will see the animals in the wild are rather small.

Best time to visit the center is during the feeding times of the orangutan which are at 9 am and 3 pm.

These centers are trying to help grow the population in the wild.  At this center, you will have the occasion to get close to the animals and take some great pictures.  It is important to know that you will especially see the slightly smaller, since younger, animals.  Rehabilitation centers like Semenggoh, another one is Sepilok, their mission is to place the adult animals back into the wild.

The best time to visit the center is during the feeding times of the orangutan which are at 9 am and 3 pm.

 I would recommend you to pick the 9 am session to avoid the heat.  The feeding sessions are well attended but the viewing platform is big enough to grant everybody a nice view of these amazing animals.

We also visited the center in Sepilok which was slightly more professional.  It has a visitor center where you could watch a movie about their operations.

 If you can choose between both I would probably advise choosing Sepilok but of course, the real stars are the orangutans and you can see them equally good at both locations.

Another great experience is to visit the orangutans with a cruise in Tanjung Puting national park or you could also do a river cruise through the Borneo jungle on a Klotok.

Read also: A Kinabatangan river cruise, a must-do in Borneo

Getting to Semmenggoh

You can choose to do this as an organized trip, with the shuttle bus that leaves from the Margherita hotel or you can opt for the much cheaper option and pick public transportation.  We saved ourselves some ringgits and chose to go by bus.  As I said before it’s pretty easy to find the bus and they drive on a  schedule (our experience even learned that they tend to be slightly ahead of schedule).  The bus drops you off at the entrance of the park, from there you will need to walk more or less one mile to the center.  (Organised tours drive into the park and drop you off closer to the center.)

You can choose to do this as an organized trip or you can opt for the much cheaper option and pick public transportation.

The bus schedule is well aligned with 9 am feeding session as the bus will drop you off in time to make the walk to the center and will be there again after the feeding session leaving enough time to walk back.

Sarawak Cultural Village

About a one hour drive from Kuching is the Sarawak Cultural Village.  This village promotes the ethnic diversity of the State of Sarawak.  

You can visit the longhouses and huts of the different cultures.  

In each longhouse you’re welcomed by people in traditional clothing and traditional food and drinks are offered to buy.  We visited the cultural village on a rainy day and unfortunately, the enthusiasm of the staff was as bad as the weather.

The show was performed with much more enthusiasm than I experienced in the village itself so make sure to arrange your visit around one of these shows.

The same can be said about their knowledge of English (with exception of the Malay and Chinese house). 

It would have been great to get some extra explanation about some of the houses or the tools displayed but we didn’t manage to do a proper conversation with the staff. 

This would definitely be something that would create a better experience.

Twice daily you can attend a cultural show.  This performance is included in the price of your ticket.

The show was performed with much more enthusiasm than I experienced in the village itself so make sure to arrange your visit around one of these shows.

To visit the village you should calculate more or less half a day.

Getting to Sarawak cultural village

If you want to visit the cultural village you can use their shuttle service (20RM one-way) or you can take the public bus that goes to Damai. 

The shuttle leaves from the Grand Margherita Hotel in Kuching. 

The public bus runs less often than most others so be sure to check the schedule.

 If the schedule has not changed since our visit your only option is to go in the morning as there was no bus back in the afternoon that allowed us to see the cultural performance at 4 PM.

Where to stay in Kuching

There are plenty of options to stay in Kuching from more budget-friendly option to luxury 5-star hotels. Kuching has it all.

Here we share 4 of the best hotels in Kuching. 

Luxury hotel

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Hilton Kuching hotel

 

Hilton Kuching is a very centrally located hotel where you can enjoy a beautiful view over the Sarawak river. Spacious and clean rooms. After a busy day, you can relax at the wonderful pool.

Ask for a room facing the waterfront.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices: HILTON AGODA BOOKING

Premium Comfortable hotel

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Grand Margherita hotel

Grand Margherita Hotel KuchingIf you plan on using the shuttle to Semmenggoh and Sarawak you could make your life easier by staying in this hotel, where the shuttle leaves from.  The hotel is located right in the center of Kuching. The outdoor pool is great to take a plunge after a warm and sweaty day.  Guests love the comfortable beds, the good breakfast options and location within walking distance of the boardwalk.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices: BOOKING  AGODA

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Imperial hotel Kuching

 

Imperial Hotel Kuching Borneo Malaysia

The Imperial Hotel is a modern hotel with very comfortable rooms and a big bathroom. Staff are super friendly and speak very well English.

It’s a bit out of the center of Kuching, however, it is barely a 10 rm ($3) roundtrip fee for a Grabcar ride and there are always cars available.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices: BOOKING AGODA

Comfortable hotel

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Harbour View Hotel

 

Harbour View Hotel Kuching Borneo Malaysia

The Harbour View Hotel is newly renovated and located in the middle of town. Spacious and clean rooms. Comfortable beds. Very helpful and friendly staff.

Book a high floor room that’s facing the Waterfront.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices: BOOKING AGODA
Maybe this is not what you were looking for?  Check out other hotels in Kuching with Booking.com and Agoda: BOOKING AGODA

Have you been to Kuching?  Share your tips in the comments!

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What to do in Kuching  

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Categories: Malaysia

4 Comments

Dewi | Backpack vol verhalen · March 16, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Heel leuk om te lezen! Toen is vorig jaar naar Maleisië ging, ben ik helaas niet op Borneo geweest, maar wil hier graag nog eens naar toe. Vooral Bako National Park lijkt me heel bijzonder met de neusapen.

Sylvia Van Overvelt · March 16, 2018 at 3:58 pm

De neusapen zijn inderdaad best grappig om te zien. Maar ook de orang-oetans zijn zeker en vast de moeite. Zo’n een mooie beesten.

Visiit Malaysia Tour · April 16, 2018 at 11:44 am

Wow! What a fantastic post, a must for anyone visiting malaysia. You’ve covered everything. Thank you for such a detailed and informative post

Tonkin-Travel Vietnam · July 27, 2018 at 6:56 am

Thanks so much for the great post! Now I have discovered the new spot in Malaysia. Maybe I will combine Kuching with Kota Kinabalu in 7-day trip for my next holiday.

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