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Kuching is the capital and largest city of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and the district of Kuching, as well as the largest city on the island of Borneo.
Once the capital of the White Rajahs of Sarawak, now with a population of some 600,000, Kuching is small enough to walk around but interesting enough to keep you there for several days, and a good base for exploring Sarawak. It's safe and relatively clean. The name of the city, Kuching, is thought to derive from the Malay word kucing, meaning cat.
Kuching enjoys sunshine throughout the year as any other tropical cities. Rains and heavy showers occur occasionally which always due to precipitation and monsoon season. Hail might sometimes happen in Kuching. However, strong winds, tremors and heavy thunderstorms are very unlikely to occur. It is recommended to visit Kuching during hot season which is from March to October every year. Monsoon season normally occur between November to February. However, the monsoon does not hinder too much of the tourists' activities.
Kuching is a very multicultural place, and most locals speak at least Malay and their ethnic tongue, with quite a number able to speak a decent level of English as well. This is due to the fact all Kuchingnites take English as a second or third language. The ability to speak either Malay, English or Mandarin is usually enough for someone in Kuching to get by.
As Kuching is in Sarawak, which retains control of its own immigration procedures, some additional complications apply and an ordinary Malaysian visa may not suffice. Most visitors, though, can get visas on arrival at Kuching International Airport. See Sarawak for details.
Kuching International Airport (KCH) is Sarawak's main gateway. There are near-hourly connections to Kuala Lumpur as well as frequent flights to Singapore, Johor Bahru, Labuan, Kota Kinabalu and other cities in Sarawak like Sibu, Bintulu and Miri. MASwings links Kuching with Mukah. International connections are rather limited, although there are a few weekly services to Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Pontianak. Flights to Kuching are also operated by Air Asia. International airlines operating in Kuching includes SilkAir, Royal Brunei, Tiger Airways, and Batavia Air.
Getting there/away: Kuching city is about 20 min away by taxi. Purchase a fixed fare rate, RM26, from the taxi coupon stand just outside arrivals. Your pre-paid taxi can take you directly to your hotel or intended destination in Kuching city.
Kuching's regional express bus terminal is now located at the Kuching Sentral Terminal about 1km from the airport. All long-distance express buses arrive from and leave for major Sarawak cities like Sibu, Bintulu and Miri, as well as Pontianak in Indonesia. Regional buses for some towns near Kuching such as Lundu (for the Gunung Gading National Park and Tanjung Datu National Park) and Sri Aman also arrive/depart from here. However, buses for some towns and destinations nearer Kuching, such as the Bako National Park, Bau and the Semenggoh Orang Utan Centre, leave from various locations in the city centre, depending on the bus company being used.
The old bus company 'Chin Lian Long' has been taken over by City Public Link. You wouldn't miss it because it is bright green and you notice it frequently plying around Kuching city. The old rickety stage buses has been wiped out by the government in 2009. With these new buses, traveling around Kuching city has become more comfortable now. Perhaps, the only downside would be the waiting time for a bus. Frequency is about 30 mins and the fare ranges from RM1.80 to RM2.30 depends on the number of stops you are taking and you paid on the bus.
What to see
Kuching is a heaven for tourists. It is one of the main tourist destinations in Sarawak.
In Kuching, you can enjoy various sightseeing activities. Among them are visiting museums, sightseeing of Kuching city and sightseeing for nature lovers.
Kuching is quite the sunset spot, often regarded as "one of the most memorable". Take your shots, and enjoy the sunsets from the Waterfront, Santubong Peninsular or Bako Peninsular.
Tua Pek Kong Temple, Jl. Padungan (East end of Main Bazaar). This temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Kuching and located strategically at the heart of Kuching. It was just at the opposite of Chinese Museum. It was built in 1843. Various festivals are held here for example The Wang Kang Festival (to commomerate the dead) and Ghost Festival.
Sultan Iskandar Planetarium. This first planetarium ever built in Malaysia is in the Kuching Civic Centre complex. This planetarium shows videos of astronomic adventures of every planets in the solar system. Planetarium has been abandoned and shut down until further notice.
One can enjoy sightseeing of Kuching City at various locations. What is unique of Kuching city in sightseers' eyes is how the skycrapers built in the vicinity of lush green jungles.
Kuching Civic Centre, located at Jl. Taman Budaya. This is a 3-building complex, landmarked by its tower with an umbrella-shaped roof (under renovation as of May 2014. No access). This is the best place to get a 360° aerial view of Kuching City.
Kuching City Mosque, located near the open air market. It was previously the main mosque for Kuchingites and known as the Sarawak State Mosque, later it was re-designated as the Kuching Divisional Mosque.
Masjid Jamek, or "Jamek Mosque" is located at Petra Jaya. It was adjacent to the State Library and housed Dewan Hikmah, a multi-purpose hall, usually for Muslim wedding receptions. It has also some quarters for the Hafizs and the Ustazs. It was the most crowded Mosque in Sarawak due to the location nearby and area where majority of Kuching Muslims reside. It is still a most favourite place for Friday prayers due to the mosque being comfortable and air-conditioned.
Medan Raya Complex, located at Petra Jaya. Originally planned as the State Government Administrative Centre with a dual-carriageway boulevard linking the Kuching North City Hall and Wisma Bapa Malaysia, currently just having one building on the site called Baitul Makmur, which houses four state ministries.
Kuching Waterfront. Any visit to Kuching is incomplete without taking a brisk walk at the RM1 milion per 10 m strip of Kuching Waterfront. It is the most popular meeting (and mating) place in Kuching. It was once a line of old warehouses.
Main Bazaar. A very long row of shophouses for you to shop for Sarawak souvenirs and handicrafts.
Kuching Reservoir Park (Taman Budaya), located at Jl. Reservoir/Jl. Taman Budaya. Literally meaning 'cultural garden' although the cultural aspect of it remains questionable.
Sunday Market (Pasar Minggu), Jl. Matang Jaya in Tamang Foong Joon. The Sunday Market (at the new location called "Medan Niaga Satok") comes alive beginning Saturday afternoon and runs until Sunday afternoon. The market is so huge that it might break your legs to walk to every corner of this market.
The Astana. Or the Palace in English, resides the current Yang di-Pertua Negeri or the Head of State of Sarawak. The palace is situated on the north bank of the river, just across the river from Kuching Waterfront.
Friendship Garden, located at Tabuan Heights. The garden is developed to mark the symbol of friendship between China and Malaysia. The garden is beautifully crafted with small ponds and gardens. Perfect place for sightseeing, feeding the koi fishes and trying your luck at the two wishing wells.
Sarawak State Library (Pustaka Negeri), Petra Jaya, near to Masjid Jamek. For sightseeing purpose, visitors can opt for aerobic sessions hosted every afternoon at the library compound. The lake in front of the library is the most suitable place for aquatic lovers. A lot of fishes from different species are bred here. They normally get foods from the visitors, so bring your fish food or breads here.