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Array of seafood at Kuching's Top Spot restaurantThe Rainforest music festival is a June highlight. Kuching, the capital of the Sarawak region of Malaysia, is a one-stop window into the region’s versatile tourism highlights.

Kuching boasts a four-pronged attitude to tourism, an intriguing history, environmental awareness, a variety of food and the friendly nature of the 31 ethnic groups living in the area.  The 26-year-old Rainforest World Music Festival is on again from June 23rd to June 25th and is expected to create a record attendance of more than 24,000 over the three days. In 2022 Australia was one of the top five nations attending the festival. The Tourism Board sees biodiversity as one of its primary responsibilities and demands accountability in practices from the tourism sector. The music festival is a non-plastic affair, and the Sarawak Tourism Board will undertake a tree-planting project in conjunction with the festival.

Kuching history was stamped forever when James Brooke came to town and started to guide the locals. Many of the buildings that were built during Brooke’s administration have been reconditioned, and their heritage is among the highlights of the five-story Borneo Cultural Museum, which was recently restored. Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak KCB (29 April 1803 – 11 June 1868), was a British soldier and adventurer who founded the Brooke dynasty of Sarawak. He ruled as the first White Rajah of Sarawak from 1841 until he died in 1868.

The government has implemented various sustainable urban development practices to achieve environmental sustainability, including energy-efficient buildings, sustainable transportation systems, and green space development.Andy's bar

The richness of the food offerings is endless, and open-air dining venues where you select from a stall and receive a great meal at little cost abound.  Such is the 500-seater Top Spot seafood area in Kuching’s CBD. Sarawak is known globally for its spicy Sarawak Laksa, which is flavoured and addictive. It is made with prawn broth and a variety of different spices only found in Sarawak, and like KFC is a secret recipe even the locals don’t know.  The late globally renowned chef Anthony Bourdain was so impressed with the Sarawak Laksa that he had three helpings in one sitting. At AUD $4, it is a bargain.

Siniawan Night Market is a similar operation, a 20-minute drive out of town. It caters to local families and has become more popular with tourists following the hard work of Dillon Lai, a fifth-generation Chinese tradie and entrepreneur who has overseen the restoration of the long line of shophouses that give the area a historic feel along with the never-ending selection of fine foods. Ex-pat Englishman Andy Newland and his lovely Malaysian wife Grace run The Bikalan bar (which means jetty), which is so named because it is beside the jetty. Trip Advisor recently voted the bar as the best bar in Kuching. They have just launched a new craft beer, 1602. “We never differentiate, Kuching is a city of many different cultures, and we see everyone equally, no matter their ethnic background, that is why we work and live in this great city.” Andy said.

Travellers might get an unexpected thunderous welcome during the monsoon season Nov – Feb for favourable weather visits from April to October are recommended.

Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier, has flight MH 0122 leaving Sydney at 13.10 and arriving in KL at 18.45. After a 90-minute stopover, the flight lands in Kuching at 22.10.

MH also has daily flights to KL from Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Auckland.




Written by: John Savage