The Best Things to do in Kuching, Sarawak
Kuching makes a great base for exploring the wildlife and national parks of Borneo Malaysia’s western state, Sarawak. Yet this laid-back city has plenty on offer to explore within its centre too. Here are the best things to do in Kuching and its surrounding areas that you shouldn’t miss out.
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Although nothing much happens on Kuching Waterfront during the day, it comes alive at night. Each evening the promenade becomes lined with stalls selling souvenirs. Chairs and tables spill out from pop up restaurants. Street performers entertain locals and tourists alike. And strings of lights twinkle from the trees and lampposts.
Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
This is definitely one of the best things to do in Kuching, being the place to see semi-wild orangutans in the area. The rehabilitation centre is just a short bus or taxi ride away, set a few km outside of the city. It’s only open during feeding times which are 8 am – 10 am and 2 pm – 4 pm, which is when you can observe the orangutans eating. Be aware that as they are semi-wild there is no guarantee you will see orangutans here, especially during fruiting season when there is plenty of food in the jungle for them to forage. However, we were lucky enough to see a mother and two babies, plus the alpha male of the jungle! Entry is very reasonable here compared to Sepilok Sanctuary in Sabah at just 10 MR per person.
State Legislative Assembly Building
You can’t really miss this new landmark on Kuching Waterfront. It’s the one that looks a little bit like a futuristic temple but also a little bit like a spaceship. As the building is for official government business, it’s closed to visitors – but it’s actually best appreciated from afar anyway. Other than the waterfront, another good view of this building is near Carpenter Street where it sits perfectly between the two sides of an adjoining road.
Bako National Park
Bako National Park is easy to do in a day trip from the city making it another one of the best things to do in Kuching. Scenic jungle treks, dramatic coastlines and rock formations and an abundance of unusual wildlife (think bearded pigs and proboscis monkeys!) all await you here. The perfect playground for adventure lovers. Better yet, the park is just a short bus and boat ride away, with the boat dropping you off right at the headquarters. From there you can pick a trail length and difficulty level that’s right for you and set off exploring for the day.
Carpenter Street is the closest Kuching has to an edgy and hipster neighbourhood. There are plenty of cute cafes and cool bars here alongside some rather captivating street art. Highlights include Black Bean Coffee for your caffeine fix, Wrong Place for great burgers and Drunk Monkey Bar for drinks.
Nestled on the banks of the river, The Astana is a 19th-century palace built in the style of an English Manor House. Although it was originally commissioned for the second “White Rajah”, Charles Brooke, as a gift to his bride, today it’s the official residence and office of the governor of Sarawak. Similar to the State Legislative Assembly Building, you can’t go inside The Astana, but it’s still a notable Building to take a look at when you’re in this part of town. We even saw the governor arrive in his vintage Bentley whilst we were there alongside a huge police escort!
Just a 5-minute walk from The Astana this pretty garden is another best thing to do in Kuching. Filled with, yep you guessed it, hundreds of orchids, its landscaped grounds make a peaceful spot to take a break from the city. It’s quite compact so doesn’t take too long to stroll around and entry is free.
Mira Cake House
If you’ve got a soft spot for desserts then this cake shop is definitely one of the best things to do in Kuching. Mira Cake House bake and sell a style of Sarawak sponge layer cake (Kek Lapis Sarawak) called Kek Lapis Basah. There’s a range of over 50 flavours to choose from and each has its own colourful sponge pattern. You can try samples of each flavour before you buy, and prices are very reasonable at 10 MYR per cake.
A few other best things to do in Kuching
Do you have any other top recommendations for the best things to do in Kuching? Share them in the comments below!