Sarawak, the ‘Land of Hornbills’ is situated in Borneo Island bordering Brunei and Indonesia. It is the largest state in the country. It’s characterized by distinctive ethnic groups of which many of them are still living along riverside. Its colorful history under the rule of the White Rajahs, rich tapestry of cultures and superb natural attractions make it a mesmerizing holiday destination.
James Brooke is the first White Rajah who ruled Sarawak from 1841 after resolving a dispute between Brunei’s Sultan and local chieftains. The legacy of the Brooke Dynasty and the British includes many colonial buildings in Kuching which is the capital of Sarawak.
Many heritage buildings in Kuching reflect its rich past. Kuching, also known as the ‘Cat City’ is located along the Sarawak River. Its tourist belt is the waterfront and Main Bazaar which features old shop houses selling local pepper, artefacts, antiques, bird nest and exotic forest products.
An eco-adventure land, Sarawak is great for trekking, caving, mountain climbing, kayaking, biking, white-water rafting and diving.
The state has a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets and preferences. There are international-standard beach resorts, jungle resorts, star-rated hotels as well as longhouse-style resorts. Budget accommodation is widely available. Take your pick from the variety of cuisine, from local delicacies to Continental fare.
Getting to Sarawak
Kuching International Airport is the main entry point into the state. Sarawak is easily accessible by frequent short-haul flights from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Peninsular Malaysia. Visitors can also fly in from Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah as well as other major cities in Malaysia.
Places of Interest in Sarawak
This 900m long esplanade, with landscaped surroundings and eateries, is a popular place for locals and foreigners alike. Places of interest here are The Square Tower, Sarawak Steamship Building and Chinese History Museum. A nearby attraction is the ornate Tua Pek Kong Temple, reputed to be the oldest in the city.
This is the oldest street in Kuching. The shop houses here enjoy immense popularity for the bewildering variety of items, from ethnic crafts, textiles to bamboo mats and pottery. Take home exquisite souvenirs of your visit.
Sarawak Museum is hailed as one of the finest in Southeast Asia. The Old Wing, designed in the style of a Normandy town house, houses an exceptional ethnographic collection. Within the grounds are an Aquarium, Botanical Gardens and Heroes’ Memorial.
Sarawak Cultural Village
An award winning attraction, Sarawak Cultural Village showcases the diverse lifestyle of the state’s ethnic groups. Visit the authentic dwellings and view their crafts, household items and musical instruments. The lively cultural performance is a major highlight here. Sarawak Cultural Village is the venue of the annual Rainforest World Music Festival.
Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
Enjoy the amazing experience of standing close to orang utans in their natural habitat. Watch them swing gracefully as they make their way here during the feeding times. Other attractions include an arboretum, fernery, botanical garden and fruit orchard. Matang Wildlife Centre provides the opportunity to view animals in enclosure.
Welcome to a world dedicated to cats! Touted to be the world’s first, the Cat Museum pays tribute to these adorable felines with a range of exhibits, photos, statues and souvenirs. Kuching means cat in Malay.
Damai Beach is a major vacation spot, with some of the state’s best beach resorts. Enjoy a wide range of water sports activities at the resorts. Tours can be arranged to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphin. Other popular beaches include Siar, Sematan, Penyok, Bandung in Kuching as well as Luak Bay and Hawaii Beach in Miri. The National Parks of Bako, Similajau and Tanjung Datu also boast beautiful beaches.
Textiles and Crafts
Take a mesmerizing journey to explore Sarawak’s textile and crafts. The Textile Museum and Pua Kumbu Museum are themed attractions showcasing Sarawak’s hand-woven fabrics. More textiles and other handicrafts can be seen at Sarakfaf Pavilion and Sarawak Handicraft Centre.
Sunday Market in Satok
Browse through a profusion of goods from handicrafts, flowers, local snacks to traditional delicacies. The bustling atmosphere and colorful cornucopia of things makes a trip here enjoyable.
Bako National Park
Sarawak has many national parks, each teeming with a wealth of flora and fauna. Bako National Park is the state’s oldest, and home to the rare long-nosed proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques and various other animals. It serves as an excellent introduction to the rainforest.
Kubah National Park
The world’s largest collection of palm trees, rare ferns and wild orchids are the main attractions here. The enclave is further enriched with waterfalls and crystal-clear rivers. It is a favorite location for day trips.
Gunung Gading National Park
Beautiful cascading waterfalls, rare foliage and a chance to see Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, are the highlights here.
Mulu National Park
This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers spectacular attractions. Gunung Mulu has the world’s largest cave chamber and the world’s most extensive cave system with razor sharp limestone pinnacles.
Tanjung Datu National Park
Breathtaking vistas of rolling hills and waters teeming with corals are remarkable attractions here. Adventurous visitors can head to the nearby Telok Melano village for a delightful home-stay experience.
Niah Nationl Park
Experience the awe of standing at the archaeological site of 40,000 year-old human remains in this park.
Similajau National Park
A bird-watchers paradise, enthusiasts can see some 185 species of birds and 24 species of mammals. Lucky visitors may spot dolphins and turtles in the sea.
Lambir Hills National Park
The park is home to an incredible diversity of plant, trees and insects, some that are yet to be identified.
Loagan Bunut National Park
A natural marvel her is its large natural lake that is said to dry up and disappear during dry seasons. The Talang and Satang Island National Parks are turtle sanctuaries while Batang Ai National Park offers more jungle adventure.
Go on a river safari to visit the indigenous communities who live in longhouses along the Lemanak, Rejang, Skrang and Batang Ai Rivers. Watch how crafts are made or join in the cultural dances.
Diving enthusiasts should not miss a trip to Miri, to explore one of the richest reefs in Malaysia. Belais Reef and Luconia Shoals are among the popular dive sites in South China Sea.
Lying at an elevation of 1,000m , Bario in Kelabit Highlands is home to the Kelabit people, outed to be among Borneo’s best farmers. Visitors will be awed by their culture and lifestyle.
Location, Driving Direction and Map for Getting Around Sawawak: