The Island Of Borneo
For those seeking an all-too rare combination of nature, culture and adventure, the largest state of Malaysia – Sarawak – is the perfect destination. Situated on the northwest side of the island of Borneo, Sarawak calls itself ‘the land of colorful cultures’ and it’s a claim well-founded. With 27 ethnic groups, speaking 45 different languages making up a population of 1.8 million, this travel destination delivers a diverse but engaging cultural experience. The region also boasts some of the most, verdant jungles, unique fauna and flora, white beaches, and remote islands you could possibly wish for. Nature parks scattered all over Sarawak allow visitors to truly experience a natural rainforest unmarked by the passage of time.
Travel by river and you get “cheek to jowl” with fantastic fl ora – including the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, which measures a meter in diameter when in full bloom. Elsewhere you can see a startling array of wildlife including various species of monkeys, apes, deer, birds, boar and dolphin, among others.
All in all, Sarawak is unlike anywhere else on earth. Untouched wilderness, breath-taking vistas and colorful cultures ensure a visit to this magical location is one you will never forget.
The best time to visit Sarawak is from March to August and October to November
Kayaking is a fabulous way to explore whether it be a city centric perspective of Sarawak, a trip through the rainforests or kayaking in the sea (complete with dolphins)
Kuching (meaning Cat in Malay), is the capital and largest city of Sarawak, and a beautiful, energetic river environment. The narrow, bustling streets near the river are crammed with ornate temples, markets, historic buildings and traditional Chinese shop houses selling local handicrafts. Nearby is the Sarawak Museum with its gardens and the park built round the old town reservoir. Kuching also has nine museums, many within walking distance of each other.
The Kuching Waterfront Park is also a major attraction which shows off the city to its best effect.This riverside esplanade stretches from the main centre of the city to downtown Kuching, is dotted with food stalls, restaurants and benches and offers excellent views. The oldest street of Kuching is the Main Bazaar, a row of 19th century Chinese shops located along the river. It offers the city’s best concentration of antique and handicraft shops.
The Sunday Open Market in Kuching is also a signature event. Here you can fi nd an array of tropical fruits, jungle vegetables and a local specialty – sago worms. These wriggly critters are eaten raw by locals to promote health and vitality.
The Court House is one of the most splendid sites in Sarawak. Completed in 1874 it was once a seat of power but is now simply a landmark of incredible beauty, with a colonial type appearance and massive tapering brick pillars supporting the wide veranda. A clock tower, added in 1883 completes the wow factor.
The Sarawak Cultural Village And Heritage Center:
Situated a 40-minute drive from Kuching is an award-winning “living museum” depicting the heritage and lifestyles of the major racial groups in Sarawak.
An insight into enduring crafts and traditions take place within replicas of buildings that represent major ethnic groups in Sarawak. The rich cultural heritage in the form of dances and music presented by various ethnic groups is one of the highlights of the visit. The grand cultural show which lasts about one hour is performed in the Village air-con theater.
Gunung Mulu National Park
A United Nations, Educational, Scientifi c and Cultural Organisation (Unesco)- listed site, Gunung Mulu is the most famous of the state’s national parks and one of the most frequented destinations in Borneo. The park is an unspoiled, captivating wilderness that offers something for everyone. There’s some of the best caving and trekking in the world or if you are simply along for the aesthetic pleasure, it can enjoyed for its beauty alone.
Stand-outs are the two mountain ranges, the sandstone Gunung Mulu, some 2377m high and the 1750 limestone Gunung Api but the most famous attraction are the Pinnacles, a forest of razor-sharp limestone peaks clustered 45m above the rainforest. Also don’t miss the Headhunters’ Trail, which follows an old tribal war path. Furthermore, numerous spectacular caves are open to visitors, and a network of underground passages stretches over 300km underneath the park itself.
Bako National Park
Established in 1957, this is the oldest national park in Sarawak and falls into the small but perfectly formed category. Still some 27 square miles, Bako contains almost every type of plant life found in Borneo and enjoys a stunning coastline of steep cliffs, rocky headlands and stretches of sandy bays.
Bako is most famous for its wildlife, and it’s the best place in Sarawak to see the rare proboscis monkey. Macaque monkeys foraging on the beach are also a great draw to many tourists from around the world.
The vast caverns of Niah Caves National Park are among Borneo’s most incredible natural attractions. They contain some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in Southeast Asia going back as long as 40,000 years.
There you’ll find rock art and “death ships” – small canoe-like coffins which indicate that they were once burial grounds.
The most notable of these underground wonders is the Great Cave. Located in Gunung Subis, it is made of several huge chambers, and rises to about 400 meters above sea level. Here lies the oldest human remains in southeast Asia with many other relics of prehistoric man.
Also, don’t forget to check out the Painted Cave which displays detailed wall paintings of the boat journey undertaken by the dead into the afterlife.
Where to eat to Kuching
Kubah Ria in Gita – This area has more than 20 stalls serving Halal kolo mee and mee sapi grilled chicken wings.
Benteng Satok in Satok-Open till 4am there are approximately 30 stalls selling a wide variety of Malay food.
Madam Tang in Bishop’s Gate Rd, Chinatown prides itself on awesome food and friendly staff. Famed for its Sarawak laksa.
Benson Seafood, No. 112 Jln Tunku Abdul Rahman – A riverside restaurant specializing fresh Chinese style seafood. Popular with tourists.
Oriental Kitchen, in Satok – A variety of halal Malay and Chinese food is on offer. Excellent cuisine, reasonably priced.
Khatulistiwa, Jl. Tunku Abdul Rahman – A standout building, this distinctive circular hut is modelled on a Bidayuh skull house. Downstairs is an openair restaurant and at night the upper tiers are transformed into a bar and club. Open 24hrs.
How to get there: Kuching International Airport takes direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bander Seri Begawan and Perth, Western Australia