Kuching: Most Underrated Destination in Malaysia

Earlier in December, I was offered by Royal Brunei Airlines and Sarawak Tourism Board for a weekend away in Kuching, Sarawak. Kuching is the capital city of Sarawak and as the last time I was there I was barely out of diapers, I accepted the sponsorship with some trepidation – siuk kan? Apa ada? Macam Miri kah? Happening kah sana atu?

History of Kuching

Many people probably don’t realise how closely intertwined Brunei’s history is with Sarawak, particularly Kuching. Sarawak was actually part of Brunei eversince the reign of our first Sultan – Sultan Muhammad Shah (Awang Alak Betatar).

In 1500s, Sarawak actually had one Sultan – the son of Sultan Muhammad Hassan (ninth sultan of Brunei). He was the one and only Sultan of Sarawak, and his mausoleum remains in Santubong (the main administrative centre of Sarawak then), till this day.

In 1842 however, Sarawak was “gifted” to the infamous James Brooke in exchange for suppressing a rebellion. The Brookes ruled for almost 100 years until the World War II in when the Japanese took hold and Kuching was ruled as part of the Japanese Empire for 3 years. When they left, Kuching was then surrendered to the British Crown as a colony and finally joined Malaysia in 1963.

Kuching was under Brunei’s rule the longest and this lovely city, it reminded me of home ever so slightly – perhaps even Brunei in another parallel universe.

Where to Stay in Kuching

I recommend staying in Kuching city, preferably on the Waterfront. There are few hotels in the area:

  • Grand Margherita Hotel (This was where I stayed – extremely central, and right in front of the hotel entrance is the iconic Kuching cat statues)
  • Waterfront Hotel
  • Hilton Kuching
  • Pullman Kuching
  • Riverside Majestic Hotel

OR if you prefer further from Kuching City:

  • Damai Beach Resort
  • Cove55
  • Borneo Highlands Resort
  • The Culvert

Get good deals for these hotels from Agoda!

Hilton Kuching from the Sarawak River – ada a guy looking back at us hehe

How to Get Around in Kuching

Unfortunately, public transport is not a big thing here and it’s a mostly driving kind of city. So my recommendation is to:

  1. Grab!*
  2. Hail a Taxi (be prepared to negotiate)
  3. Rent a Car and WAZE your way around Kuching!

*Recommended cause cheap!

Lovely handwoven hat I bought from the Sarawak Cultural Village ❤

What to Buy in Kuching

  • Sarawak Pepper
  • Kek Lapis Sarawak
  • Handwoven Baskets
  • Terubuk Masin

3D2N Weekend Getaway in Kuching for First Timers

Day 1

  • Check in to hotel
  • Breakfast of Mee Kolok at Restoran Haji Salleh
  • Reward yourself with a seafood dinner at Topspot Seafood Restaurant, or since you’ve been in the city the whole day, drive out to Telaga Air.
The famous Oyster Pancake yang basar dari baju ku yang sais L ani

*Wajib! Kuching is littered with colonial themed buildings and greenery which makes the city highly Instagrammable!

Day 2

  • Followed by Lunch*
Umai, a local delicacy of raw fish cooked via acidity of lime, and aromatics – shallots, garlic and chilli
Kuching has a thriving dining scene – with a specific liking for fusion cuisine. Interesting and mostly, very delicious!

*Entrance can be bought with Lunch (only RM76 per adult if you buy online). Must order is the Umai, Midin and Ayam Pansuh. Food is surprisingly good and homey here despite being touristy.

** Buy online for only RM50

*** Van Shuttle to transport u to Sarawak Cultural Village is available from Grand Margherita Hotel. Check out their website for more info.

At a Christmas Parade in the city. Kuching was declared “City of Unity” by One Malaysia Foundation for racial harmony that existed in the city because of cross-racial marriages, multi-racial schools, fair scholarship distributions, and balanced workforce patterns.

Day 3

A must eat! Laksa Sarawak ❤
  • Take a RM1 boat across the river to Mira Cake House and buy Kek Lapis Sarawak for colleagues at the office

Other Attractions

  • Serikin Border Market
A visit to the Serikin Border Market takes 2 hour drive and 1 motion sickness pill
  • Bako National Park
  • Satang Turtle Island National Park (Snorkelling and dolphin sightings!)
  • Fort Margherita
  • Cat Museum

To Kuching with Love

On top of everything, a Kuching holiday is so murah! Resorts, high end hotels starting from BND55 per night, delicious fine dining and seafood, and plenty of free activities to do. So to answer my own questions:

Siuk kan? Apa ada? Macam Miri kah? Happening kah sana atu?

(Soalan yang semua orang tanya)

YES SIUK! Can’t wait to visit Kuching again!

Further Reading

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