Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, was probably my favourite city in Malaysian Borneo. I wasn’t expecting it to be at all, and after spending several days being slightly underwhelmed in Sandakan I didn’t have high hopes flying in. Thankfully it exceeded my expectations hugely and was one of my favourite places in Malaysia.
If you’ve seen some of my previous posts or my Instagram you’ll know that I love a colourful street, and I especially love street art. I was surprised to find Kuching has both in abundance, here are some of my favourite snaps from this colourful city.
A lot of the street art celebrates their cultural heritage and famous wildlife.
One of my favourite things to do when I arrive in a new place is to grab my camera, a bottle of water, my headphones and a great podcast or playlist and just go for a wander through the streets, taking photos of the amazing architecture and hidden gems I spot. Kuching is the perfect place for this, it’s a treasure trove of old, crumbling colonial architecture, squashed up next to newer buildings. If you’re an architecture buff them make sure to check out the lotus-shaped New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building and the General Post Office on alan Tun Abang Haji Openg.
When I was staying there was a night market on the waterfront as well as some kind of festival. The atmosphere was awesome and the street food was delicious, there are often an array of street food stalls in this area and I highly recommend checking them out.
My favourite neighbourhood to wander around was Chinatown (Carpenter Street) which begins at the ornate Harmony arch. This was an area I came to most days for a glass of wine or bite to eat. The colourful buildings, interesting signage and old wooden shutters filled my camera roll. It’s only a short walk from the waterfront and close to the museums and shopping centre.
The city is full of old colonial architecture like the Police Station below.
I was a huge fan of this pastel-hued hotel.
The New Sarawak State Legislative Building is a pretty impressive piece of design, you can access it by crossing a bridge over the river.
‘Kucing’ means cat in the Malay language and whilst the original connection between cats and the city is unknown they’ve certainly embraced their namesake. There are cats everywhere! Most often in the form of street art and statues. They’re certainly proud of their feline friends and even have an incredibly kitsch and quirky cat museum.
Where I stayed:
I stayed at the Borneo Seahare Guesthouse. It’s in a great central location just a ten minute walk to the waterfront. The staff were really friendly and helpful and they provide drinks deals and social activities to help you meet people and explore the town.
Places to eat:
I had a pretty big roti addiction by the time I left Borneo and some of the best ones I found were on the little side street cafes. Jalan Padungan off Jalan Bukit Mata had several places to get delicious, and super cheap, Malaysian food.
Indah Cafe in Chinatown (Lebuh Cina) does an incredible selection of veggie and vegan food (as well as meat options). Their canai (crunchy flatbread wraps) were delicious. It’s also an arts space that regularly hosts events and has its own exhibition where you can buy crafts and prints from local artists. I got a 6 pack of postcards featuring drawings of Kuching buildings.
Things to see:
- Ethnology Museum. The state museum is currently closed until 2020 but next door is the ethnology museum which is a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of Borneo from its indigenous tribes through British rule to today. It’s really engaging and a great way to learn more about the country.
- Bako National Park is about a 45 minute drive away and there are buses from town you can hop on. Be careful not to be scammed by minibus drivers telling you they’re the bus. They will take you there but they’ll charge a lot more. The actual bus is a big red one (Rapid Kuching No. 1) that may not run to schedule but it’s hard to miss.
- Semengoh Nature Reserve is about an hour away by car, it’s one of the two famous orangutan sanctuaries in Malaysian Borneo (the other being Sepilok in Sabah) and highly worth a visit. I went to both during my trip and I saw many more Orangutans at Semengoh even though, due to a disgruntled alpha ape, I couldn’t even go properly into the reserve.
I hope this little glimpse into colourful Kuching has encouraged you to add it to your list. 🙂
Love, Sarah x