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Enjoy An Idyllic Rendezvous in Kuching’s Waterfront

kuching travel guide 01

What tourists said about the Kuching Waterfront, Sarawak

“Amazing Calmness”

Kuching Esplanade is amongst the most visited touristy spot in Kuching. Kuching is blessed with the slow flowing and calm Sarawak River, cutting across the City.

The view from both sides of the river is astonishing. You can use a “sampan” i.e a traditional wooden boat to cross the river at RM 0.50 each; an unforgetable experience. Try it and you will not regret!

Visited July 2015

“Clean, pleasant, lovely”

Strolling along trying to guess the nationality of the tourists, Admiring the scrupulously turned out children and proud mothers, Watching the boats wend up and down the river, and working out which café to stop at for a jus limau. great place.

Visited July 2015

kuching waterfront

A scenic view at the Kuching Esplanade.

“Nice place to have an evening walk”

A fantastic place to have an evening stroll along Sarawak River as the path is well-built offering good view of buildings and other landscape on both banks of Sarawak River. It is so convenient as it is just a few minutes from your hotel and center of the old town of Kuching. Plenty of stalls to stopby to fill your appetite and quench your thirst.

It can be quite busy during many times of the year as many events are also undertaken there. Be careful not to be victims of pickpockets as they are said to be on the prowl despite a good number of tourist police patrols. Take a boat to cross on the other side to sample what’s on the other bank of the river too.

Visited June 2015

“Colonial grandeur with a stint of local flavor”

The whole stretch of the waterfront esplanade has the colonial grandeur mixed with a stint of local flavor. The Astana, the old British Courthouse, the awesome Sarawak Craft Council and the Textile Museum showcase the grandeur of the old British architectural splendor mixed with a stint of the local flavor of the taxi sampans plying between the coasts of the Sarawak River.

Right at the front end of the esplanade is a building that imitates the architectural appearance of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The bright bold red Tua Pek Kong Temple and the pinkish Chinese History Museum across the road junction from the esplanade and the rows of pre-war shop houses lined along the whole stretch of road beside the Sarawak River added a strong Chinese taste into the dynamism of this quaint capital of Sarawak.

state assembly

The state assembly at the Esplanade.

I have been to Sibu and had seen the waterfront esplanade along the Rajang River (the longest river in Sarawak), there the Rajang River is milo soily colored and the waterfront jetty is berthed with many long motor boats. The jetty is bustling with the dull engine noise from the motor launches that were heavily laden with loads of cargoes on their top.

Here, in Kuching, unlike the sister city of Sibu, the waterfront esplanade is quiet and the atmosphere tranquil and calm. You really feel relaxed and easy strolling along the whole stretch of the esplanade without any noise interference. The movement of the taxi sampans that ply across both sides of the Sarawak River created only slight and occasional ripples over the calm water surface. It is really different though both are cities of Sarawak.

After the stroll at the esplanade, you can proceed to the souvenir shops across the street beside the esplanade. The souvenirs here are uniquely reminiscent of the exquisite aborigininal culture in this Borneo city. Further down the streets you can taste the specialty kolok mee noodles of the local chinese at a cheap price.

The weather is scorching hot in the day but a night stroll would be relaxing and cooling.You can order a cup of coffee sit by the riverfront and slowly enjoy the river scenery as you sip your coffee and let the day slowly wanders away. I think it is no wonder the British colonalists treat this place as the capital of Sarawak.

I am not sure if the construction of a golden bridge across the Sarawak River will damage the original tranquility of this place.

Visited August 2014
Source: Tripadvisor

kuching waterfront

Kuching Waterfront

About the Kuching Waterfront (Esplanade)

Once a go downs and trading stores, the old waterfront was greatly transformed in 1993 to become the Kuching Waterfront.

The waterfront is a kilometer-long stretch of recretional areas, gardens, walkways, stalls and restaurants, dominated by the impressive white edifice of the Hilton Hotel right at the end of the walk.

The park is extremely popular with locals, who can be seen enjoying themselves here at all hours of the day and night.

At the down-river end of the Waterfront Park, the one-time Chinese Chamber of Commerce building has been transformed into an interesting Chinese History Museum.

chinese history museum kuching

The Chinese History Museum which has been transformed from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce building.

Top Attractions at the Kuching Waterfront (Esplanade)


Built in 1870 for the newly married second Rajah, Charles Brooke, it is now the official residence of Sarawak’s head of state.

Several renovations later, it consists of three bungalows, supported by square brick pillars, with the low, spreading roof giving shade to the interior.

You cannot enter the buildings, but you may walk in its compound.

kuching astana

The Astana

Fort Margherita

The Fort Margherita holds a commanding position overlooking Kuching town. The first of a series of forts that lined Sarawak’s main rivers, Fort Margherita was built in 1879, at a calm and peaceful time.

The fort was never used for its intended purpose during the Brooke era.

The only time it came under attack was during a Japanese air raid in World War II. No severe damage was caused, however, and since the war, the quaint fort has been used mainly as a barracks by the police force.

It also houses the surprisingly interesting Police Museum.

fort margherita

Fort Margherita was named after Charles Brooke’s wife.

Square Tower

Back across the river is Kuching’s Square Tower, an imaginative building built in the same year as Fort Margherita.

Its architecture resembles those buildings during the Virtorian era. Although equipped with a real dungeon for prisoners, the tower later came to be used as a popular dancing hall.

square tower

Square Tower

Tua Pek Kong Chinese Temple

The Tua Pek Kong Chinese Temple is located across the waterfront road, opposite the Chinese History Museum and a stone throw away from the Hilton Hotel.

The temple is possibly the oldest in Sarawak and the most beautiful Chinese temple that i have seen.

Devoted to the god called Tua Pek Kong, the temple construction in the late 18th century marks the strong Chinese presence in Sarawak.

The Chinese community trades not only in the main towns and cities, but also up river, with trade boats stocked like floating supermarkets, or other attached to remote longhouses, supplying down river goods and building up a network of trade and news wherever they go.

kuching tua pek kong temple

The beautiful Tua Pek Kong Chinese temple.

Main Bazaar and Carpenter Street

The streets facing the Waterfront is known as Main Bazaar, its shop now forms the main tourist area. And right across the Main Bazaar, there is another street called the Carpenter Street which is also as popular as the Main Bazaar as a shopping heaven for tourists.

Both of them form a shopping mecca not just for touristy souvenirs but with pieces to interest serious collectors.

Many of the old shop-houses are taken over by travel companies, handicraft and antique stores specializing in primitive arts.

carpenter street kuching

The Carpenters Street in Kuching Waterfront.

Old Court House

If you stroll along the Main Bazaar, you will reach the former Court House, a quietly impressive colonial building, standing stolidly beneath shading trees.

Arguably the most beautiful colonial buildings in Kuching, the building has been converted into the Sarawak Tourism Center, and now houses a Visitor Information Center on the ground floor and a Lebanese restaurant on the first floor.

A clock tower was added in 1883 whereas the court house was built in 1874. There is also a memorial, Charles Brooke Memorial which was erected in 1924, facing the court house.

This magnificent memorial features four superbly crafted copper plaques, depicting an Iban warrior, a Chinese courtier, a British soldier and a Malay warrior.

clock tower court house

The clock tower of the old court house.

Round Tower and the Pavilion

Neighboring the old court house is the odd-looking Round Tower. The Round Tower was built in 1886 to serve as an extra fortification in times of war.

The Round Tower is now occupied by the Sarawak Handicraft Center, where skillful crafts people can be seen making mats, weaving textiles and embroidering.

If you are looking for some high quality handicrafts, the Round Tower is one of the few places you would want to visit.

Next to the Round Tower is a building called the Pavilion. The Pavilion is a colonial building which looks very different from the rest of the colonial buildings in Kuching due to its rectangular design which resembles those colonial buildings from the southern United States.

Today the Pavilion houses the Textile Museum or Muzium Tekstil Sarawak.

round tower kuching

The Round Tower. Next to it is the rectangular Pavilion.

pavilion kuching

The Pavilion is now housing the Textile Museum.

General Post Office

The General Post Office on Jalan Tun Haji Openg is another good example of Kuching’s cosmopolitan architectural mix. Built in 1931, it appears to belong to the early 19th century with its neo-classical style and Corinthian columns.

This majestic building was designed by Denis Santry of Messr. Swan & McClaren Architects (Singapore). Completed in 1932 under Charles Vyner (the third Rajah), the Neo-Classical facades were quite in contrast to the style of buildings favoured by James and Charles Brooke (the first and second Rajah).

The site was once used for a police station and also the Rajah’s Stables. Occupants of the old Medical Headquarters across the road fondly recall looking to the Rajah’s Stables, surrounded by areca palms, to the coach house, hay loft and harness room, and watching the horses being fed, watered & groomed.

Source: Sarawak Tourism

genera post office kuching

General Post Office Kuching

general post office kuching

General Post Office Kuching

Sarawak Museum

Sarawak Museum is perhaps one of the most important places of interest to tourists and it’s highly recommended that you pay a visit to the museum.

The museum is regarded as one of the few places solely dedicated to the soul of Borneo.

The purpose of the construction of the museum at that time in 1891 was for the housing of the exhibition of native arts and crafts and specimens from Alfred Russel Wallace who was a famous naturalist.

It’s documented that during the 19th century that Alfred Wallace, who was one of the co-founder of the theory of evolution along with Charles Darwin, has spent many months in Borneo, exploring and collecting specimens.

Wallace had become very good friends with Rajah Charles Brooke and he had suggested to Brooke to build a museum so that all the specimens he had collected could be housed in the museum.

sarawak museum

General Post Office Kuching

Sunday Market

The Sunday Market is another popular attraction nearby the waterfront. The Sunday Market actually starts on Saturday afternnon and continue until midday Sunday.

The market is situated on the outskirts of Kuching town at Jalan Satok and most of the stallholders who set up their stalls here are the Dayak who are from the surrounding countryside.

Other than the usual fruits and vegetables and fish, you can find other unusual stuffs such as wild jungle produce, wild boar, bats, lizards, monkey, turtles at the Sunday Market.

It’s worth a visit if you are into fresh local produce.

sunday market kuching

Sunday Market, Kuching

sunday market kuching

Sunday Market, Kuching

India Street

The India Street derives its name from the fact that it has always been a street occupied by the Indian shops.

Most of the Indians are from the southern and northern India. At first it was called as the Kling Street in the 1850’s, but the Third White Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke changed the name to India Street in 1928.

In 1992, the street was closed to vehicular traffic and converted into a pedestrian mall.

The India Street is mostly made up of a labyrinth of small Indian shops and spicy-curry-scented restaurants.

india street kuching

India Street, Kuching

india street kuching

India Street, Kuching

Recommended Hotels and Resorts in Kuching

Nearby attractions that you might be interested

  • Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation 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.
  • Damai Beach – 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.
  • Bario – 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.
  • Bako National Park – Bako National Park is the state’s oldest, and home to the rare long-nosed proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques and various other animals.
  • Diving in Sarawak – 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.
  • Niah National Park – Experience the awe of standing at the archaeological site of 40,000 year-old human remains in this park.

Photo credits: Marufish,
Li Tsin Soon
, Lan Rasso,Dustin Iskandar, AndyLeo@Photography, shizham, Colin Charles, davida3, Igor Mróz, chipmunk_1, stratman² (2 many pix!), MyBukit, Adamina, flippy whale, Antoine SIPOS, Peter Ashby.

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