As far as I can remember, Kuching leave a very good memory because of the culture, people, food and the ambience. Well known of their diversified culture and the history of the White Rajahs, Kuching is the last city on my list to complete my visit to all major city in Malaysia and I did it!
Being an avid traveller, I’ve been to so many cities and none of it has a similar vibe than Kuching; although the waterfront area do reminds me of Phnom Penh Riverfront, Cambodia.
If you have only 48 hours to spend in Kuching, this is what I suggest you to do.
Day One : Kuching City Tour, History and Shopping
The best part about the city that I like the most is their location of the historical attraction, museums and ‘icon’ which is quite compact and near to each other and in a walking distance.
BUT, in order for you to easily access most of the city tour as an example, the Cat statue; the Old Courtyard, the museums, the oldest Chinese temple and many more; choose the place to stay that located somewhere near the Kuching Waterfront.
There is a lot of establishment that suits any budget; from 5-star hotels to hostels and b&b. You might want to check Ariva Gateway Kuching, a 4-star hotel that located 5 mins away from the famous Kuching landmark, the cat statue in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Starting from there, you can walk to Kuching Waterfront along with Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. If you are coming from the Cat Statue area and walk towards Waterfront, you’ll see Tua Pek Kong on your left. This is the oldest Taoist temple in Kuching that dated back to 1843 and has been on official records since 1876.
Opposite the Tua Pek Kong, there is The Chinese History Museum and it can be said that this is one of the attractions that you should not miss when you come to Sarawak, especially Kuching. The museum was formerly the headquarters of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Sarawak but was opened to the public in 1993 as a place where tourists can learn more of the Chinese people that resided in Sarawak from decades past.
There is no entrance fee to those wanting to take a look at Sarawakian Chinese history. It is open from Sundays to Thursdays and closed on Fridays.
Continue straight to the Main Bazar, the street in the heart of Old Kuching stretches along the southern banks of the Sarawak River. Traditional Chinese shop-houses dating back almost a century line the street. Some retain their original trades; others sell handicrafts. Try to find the Hornbill mural street art when you are in this area.
Besides the traditional shop, Kuching’s highest concentration of antique and handicraft shops are to be found here, and shoppers can rest between bargaining sessions in a number of old-fashioned coffee shops with panel walls and marble-topped tables.
Afternoon: Hit the museums
Grab your lunch at a nearest local restaurant, try their local dishes such as Kolok Mee or Sarawak Laksa.
After that; continue the journey to numbers of museum and gallery.
Start your visits at Square Tower, and cross the street to visit Brooke Monument and Kuching Old Courthouse. The building was used as the administrative centre of the government of Sarawak after Charles Brooke was proclaimed as the Rajah of Sarawak. The construction began in 1868 and completed in 1874.
The building is equipped with various facilities and in 2003, the building was converted into the Sarawak Tourism Complex. There is also the Ranee Museum here. Curated by the Brooke Trust, the museum centres on the life, legend and legacy of Margaret de Windt, wife of the second Rajah Brooke, who became the queen of Sarawak at the age of 19.
This exhibition will be a permanent museum fixture in Kuching, providing insight into Ranee Margaret’s life through paintings, music, literature and craft. Admission for non-Malaysian is RM20 while Malaysian is RM10.
Nearby the complex, you may find the Sarawak Textile Museum along Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg. The Museum displays local costumes and textiles and if you notice, the architecture is an attraction in itself. It is a combination of English renaissance and colonial theme.
Rectangular in structure, the Pavilion Building as it is known, was first constructed in 1907 a medical centre. The 3-storey building later became the headquarters of the State Education Department before they turn it into the museum which was opened in August 2005.
Next, you can walk past Padang Merdeka and come over to the Borneo’s oldest museum, the Sarawak Museum which is nearby inside a three-storey colonial building. Exhibits cover natural history, regional archaeology, and Sarawak’s ethnic groups.
To continue your journey, you may visit the Islamic Museum (free admission) that located opposite of the Sarawak Museum. Here, you can find seven galleries cover Islamic architecture, science and history.
Evening: the Kuching Waterfront
The best time to visit Kuching Waterfront is when the sun sets between 6 onwards. Just enjoy the night ambience of Kuching or you might want to try their street-food or maybe have your dinner at one of the stalls along the river- bank.
When you are here, you will notice a well-lit bridge, the Darul Hana bridge that links the northern and southern parts of Kuching, the city's spectacular pedestrian bridge (335m) is constructed to resemble the letter 'S' (for Sarawak),
On my visit, the is a musical fountain show and the Darul Hana Musical Fountain offers two shows from Mondays to Thursdays at 8.30pm-8.45pm and 9.30pm-9.45pm, with three shows from Fridays to Sundays at 8.30pm-8.45pm, 9.30pm-9.45pm and 10.30pm-10.45pm.
Start your day by a short trip to Sarawak Cultural Village that takes around 40 – 45 minutes from the city centre. The village is a unique award-winning living museum offering an excellent introduction to local cultures and lifestyles and it is one of Malaysia’s best-known and most iconic cultural attractions.
Nine authentic replica buildings represent every major ethnic group in Sarawak; each house has a “storyteller” who is an expert in describing and interpreting traditional cultures and lifestyles.
Or; start your day by going to The Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. For over 20 years, the Semenggoh Nature Reserve has been training young orangutans, who had been orphaned or rescued from captivity, how to survive in the wild.
After that, you can straight back to the hotel or head straight away to Kuching International Airport for your departure.
If you have longer stay say around 3 to four days; you may want to see several packages to experience 3D2N Kuching Leisure tour or the 4D3N tour.