Kuching, the state capital of Sarawak, is arguably one of the most attractive cities in Southeast Asia. With a romantic history of Sultans, traders, warriors and White Rajahs, a rich architectural heritage, and the warm hospitality of its residents, it is quite easy to end up spending longer than intended in Kuching. The city has modern amenities yet still retains its local, laid-back charm. A place where there is time for a mid-morning kopi o’ (local coffee) and a breakfast of Sarawak laksa or kolo mee.
The Sarawak River, once an important transport link, is still a central feature of the city with the beautifully landscaped waterfront promenade providing a relaxing venue for strolling both day and night. The compact city centre means that most of the main attractions are located a short distance from the Kuching Waterfront. Brooke era heritage buildings such as the Sarawak Museum, Court House, Post Office, Square Tower and the 19th Century Chinese shophouses along Main Bazaar are all within walking distance of the city centre hotels. The nearby spice market and India Street, are testimony to the cloth merchants and spice traders of old. And small lanes provide tantalizing insights into Kuching’s colourful past.
Another expression of the relaxed attitude Kuching people have to life in general can be seen by the proximity and co-existence of Chinese Temples, Indian and Malay mosques, Churches and other places of worship that can be found within such a close area.
Cross the river by local ferryboat or the new Darul Hana pedestrian bridge to visit the Brooke Gallery, set in Fort Margherita; picturesque Malay villages, the stately Astana and the new state legislature.
Beyond Kuching, there are number of excellent national parks and wildlife reserves all located within a short drive from the city. These include Bako National Park, home of the rare and endemic Proboscis monkey; Gunung Gading National Park, where Rafflesia flowers bloom; the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre with its semi-wild orang utans; the Kuching Wetlands National Park with its mangrove attractions and diverse range of wildlife; and Tanjung Datu where the rainforest meets the South China Sea.
Kuching is also the jumping off point for Bidayuh longhouses such as Anna Rais and Mongkos; and the Iban longhouses and rainforest attractions of the Batang Ai region.