What to do in Kuching, Borneo

Borneo is one of the favorite destinations of many travelers who visit Malaysia. I totally agree! I’ve been to many places in Asia, but Borneo will always have a special place in my heart. From food, friendly local people to music, nightlife, culture, wildlife and jungle – Kuching has a lot more to offer than many other countries in Asia.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear the sounds of the sea and the splashing waves, read a book under palm trees, relax and then jump into a swimming pool, but after a week I’m craving for some adventure. Kuching, and Borneo for that matter, has something for everyone!

When I decided to stay in Kuching for 3 days, the the owner of my hostel convinced me to stay at least 5 days since there’s so much more to discover than jungle/wildlife only. He was totally right! I eventually stayed for almost 1 week. I’ve spent four days outside the city and three days inside the city of Kuching. You probably won’t expect it – neither did I – but Kuching has a lot of trendy restaurants where they serve top notch food and wines and cafes that come alive at night where locals play the guitar and sing oldies like the Beatles. Definitely my cup of tea:)

Let me take you along a journey you will never forget!

The city of Kuching

Kuching is the Capital of the Sararawak province. The city is well know for it’s style, culture and natural habitat. It might be a small city but it it’s big in it’s venues. You will see statues of cats everywhere – the city’s name is derived from the Malay word for cat — Kucing. A bit weird in the beginning but you will get used to it. It’s a vibrant and dynamic city with beautiful new and historic buildings with impressive architecture. The locals are very friendly and warm, you feel at home right away.

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Cruise along the majestic Sarawak River

Explore the city by boat along the Sarawak River. The Sarawak River, separating the north and the south called, is the best way to view the city. Relax and take a moment to see the city from another angle. Normally you will pay around RM60 (13 euros) per person when you do a tour via an agency where you share a big boat with at least 15 people. Tip » I took a small taxi boat where the locals travel with. A lot cheaper – RM 30 (6 euro) for two people – you will get a lot more inside info and you will have the boat all for yourself! You will have to negotiate, but my trip took 1.5 hours and the local guy I had was so lovely. Take a breath and enjoy the calm river while sipping a cold refreshing beer.

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Walk along the waterfront

Kuching’s Waterfront Boulevard is great for a walk during the whole day. During the day you see the daily activity on the river where local people using the small ferry boats to travel to and from their homes across the river. There are food with beverages and snacks to eat as you stroll along. In the afternoon/beginning of the evening when the sun sets you will enjoy the beautiful view of the waterfront where locals preform almost every night. There’s not only a harmonious vibe on the streets but also in different bars and restaurants!

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Visit China Town

Kuching’s Chinatown is Carpenter Street, marked on its western end by the large Chinese gate officially called the “Harmony Arch”. While there are a few guest houses and lots of restaurants along the road, the area is not very ‘touristy’ at all. Somewhat surprisingly, Carpenter Street still has a few carpenter shops, along with bicycle shops, printers and other small businesses.

DRINKS | Drunk Monkey Old street Bar
Drunk Monkey Old Street Bar brings a taste of the urban hipster scene to Kuching. Nice ambiance, great beers and music.
TIP! Check out the other side of the bar/terrace – Beautiful street art!

FOOD | Saigon Fusion
If you’re hungry you should definitely check out the authentic Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Fusion. Try the PORK PHO, amazing! The owner Allan Goh know how to surprise people with his excellent food and service!
You can also ask the staff of Drunk Monkey Old Street Bar for the food menu, they can get the order for you from this amazing Vietnamese restaurant. 

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Check out the Street Art in Kuching

Next to the open air market and India street you will see beautiful street art of the talented Lithuanian painter Ernest Zacharovic, famous for his interactive street art in different countries. This was the first time that I’ve ever heard of him and immediately I became a huge fan. He brings his street art to life and interact with local people by letting them participating in his work. His work is widely shared on social media and I understand why!
More of him to come in my next blogpost about George town Penang, Malaysia, where I have seen a lot more of this impressive work.

Ernest Zacharevic

Ernest Zacharevic

5. Hip Hang outs
Kuching is a hip and happening place. I never expected Kuching to be so trendy, but it is!
Kuching has a great bar and restaurant scene, where many

DRINKS & FOOD | The Barber
Before an old barber shop with mirrors and barber chairs, became a trendy and chic venue to dine and have cocktails. They serve American style food, like burgers.

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FOOD & DRINKS | The Junk
After a jungle trekking and some street food dinner we wanted to have a few drinks before going to bed. We found this place – a few doors away from The Barber – The Junk. It’s quit a unique and impressive place, it’s divided into 4 areas which named as Backstage, Red room, Junk bar and restaurant area. Every room is different and if full with great decor pieces like red lanterns. At night this restaurant turn into one of the hottest clubs in town! Oh what a night…

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I hope I have inspired you a bit… More of Malaysia and Borneo down here!

Love,

Sarah

THE BEST OF BORNEO, MALAYSIA

Borneo is third largest island on earth, a tropical paradise with crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, the oldest and most bio-diverse rain forest, impressive wildlife and an abundance of natural wonders. back to.

If you plan to visit Malaysia, then Borneo should be on your travel list!

Tips before you visit Borneo:

» Book your domestic flights ahead as far as possible. Often tickets will be cheaper than traveling by bus and it saves you a lot of time.
» Air Asia & Malindo Air are your best friend. They offer low fares online across Asia. Make sure to bring your credit card, the only other option you have is to book a flight at one of their shops.
» Ask the locals for help! Generally, they speak English very well and they like to help. It saved me a lot of time and money!
» You will find the best food on the street food markets in Sabah Borneo
» I made the mistake by not setting my bankcard to International before I left

Borneo island, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu

I took a 2.25 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu (KK) with Malindo Air. KK is the capital of Borneo and a part of the Sabah province. I decided to stay just for a few days because I wanted to have enough time to explore Kuching and it’s nearby jungles. Perhaps you may think Kota Kinabalu isn’t as vibrant or diverse like Kuching, but it is still worth visiting for a couple of days.

Most travellers who come to KK don’t come here for the city itself but to travel further into Saba to the numerous idyllic islands, jungles and other various nature sites in the area, but if you do want to spend some time in KK, you should definitely pass by the Filipino night market. This famous food court in Borneo located at Jalan Kampung Air is open from 5PM until the last paying customer is ready to leave. Over here you will find a diversity of a culinary mix of food dishes from South East Asia.

Man in Borneo

Another thing you should do is snorkeling in KK, simple, easy, affordable (like these destinations) and a fun activity. It’s easy to arrange a snorkeling trip via an agency, but if you want to save money you need to take the local bus to the jetty at Jesselton Point and book your trip over there. You will find various tour operators inside who can bring you to one of the 5 islands for about RM100 and RM200.

Borneo has a typical equatorial climate with sunshine all year round!

Kota Kinabalu
Jesselton Point

Manukan island

If you ever wondered what heaven looks like? This is the closest you will get! Near Kota Kinabalu, just a 15 min boat ride, you will find a place that is a wonderful treat to nature and adventure lovers, talking about Manakan. It’s one of the five tropical islands  – Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Sulug and Pulau Mamutikis – of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP) and the second largest of all 5 islands. TARP is full with colorful fish, crystal clear waters, idyllic beaches and a turquoise sea. Plenty of tourists come here for the underwater activities, so it can be a bit crowded but still Manakan is the best island for diving and snorkeling.

Borneo Turtle

Extra Tips:

» Don’t forget to go up hill for a great walk in the jungle. After 1.5km you will see some of the best views.
» You need to buy a ticket for about RM40 when you arrive to enter the island
» T
he last boat will head back to KK at 4PM

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Snorkling at Manukan island

Love,

Sarah

Check out our full Kuala Lumpur Guide!

Aloft Kuala Lumpur

This will inspire you to visit Malaysia

How do you know where you need to go to next when you have so many options to choose from? I’ve have visited a lot of places in various countries, but there’s definitely one that really surprised me: Malaysia. Malaysia is ‘the ultimate destination’ to visit for your next vacation:
An amazing climate, idyllic islands, crystal clear waters and stunning sunsets. It’s also great for snorkeling and a true heaven for food lovers. And what about the jungle, super friendly locals, art & music plus it’s very affordable! 

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A moment for yourself in Manukan, Borneo

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Crystal clear water and idyllic islands

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Cozy streets in China Town, Kuching.

Street food in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Super cheap and delicious Indian food in the streets of Kuala Lumpur

“Get inspired by these images that I shot in Malaysia back in November”

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Beautiful views in Penang

Street art in Penang Malaysia
Amazing street art in Penang

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Breathtaking sunsets in Langkawi

Palmtrees in Malaysia
Palm trees everywhere

You can fly to Malaysia from most international airports with arrival in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi or Kota Kinabalu in north Borneo. Have fun!

Love,

Sarah

*Check my previous blogpost about Malaysia here!

Malaysia » Wildlife & Adventure in Borneo

As mentioned in my previous post, Kuching in Borneo – the Capital of the Sararawak province – has a lot to offer. You now know your way in the city of Kuching and in this post I will guide you through Borneo’s natural wonders and cultural delights!

Borneo is An absolute treat for nature lovers

The city center of Kuching is a great starting point and from there it’s easy to arrange day treks. From secluded beaches, picturesque coastline of steep cliffs, abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, trekking – all in just 37 km away from Kuching.

BAKO NATIONAL PARK
Transport
There are a number of ways of getting to Bako. The most cheap and easy way to get to Bako National Park is by public bus. The public bus (red public bus number 1) takes about 45-60 minutes and costs RM 3.50 each way with various stops in the city center. Buses leave to and from Bako about every hour, starting from 7AM from Kuching and finishing about 6PM from Bako National Park.
Tip! This bus is not always on time, so make sure you arrive a bit earlier.

Ticket

Before you enter the park, when you arrive at the Bako Bazaar right in front of the jetty,  you need to register at the visitor center deck and purchase your entrance ticket to the park – RM20 per person for foreigners, RM15 for Malaysians – and your boat ticket that takes you at high speed to the the start point of many trails in the park – RM20 per person each way. The only way to reach park headquarters is by boat along the scenic Santubong River.

Bako Borneo

The 20 minute boat ride is already a magnificent introduction to the beauty of Borneo and Bako. Keep an eye for crocodiles and eagles on the way into the park, it’s all part of the exciting Bako experience when you pass through it! Bako is a protected area.

Trekking
There are 16 color-coded jungle trails which offer a range of walking and hiking options for the full day. For the adventurous there are various trails with heavy jungle hikes and for those who prefer to take it more easy can choose the more relaxing jungle trails.
Get more info here

One of the best experiences I’ve ever had was during my day trip at Bako National Park. It is a small, breathtaking, beautiful and manageable park, and easy to get to, and even if you are just interested for a day trip, you have a good shot at seeing some pretty unique wildlife and some secluded baches even without tour guide. When you enter the park you will find a notice board that gives you the KM and estimated time of each trail. We chose to do 3 trails which take about 4 hours in total. I must tell you that I’m pretty fit but in the heat I found it quite a challenge..
We did spot macaques, proboscis monkeys, bearded pigs and plenty of colorful butterflies!

TIP! Try to bring your own water and food. There’s a buffet at headquarters, but it’s a bit overpriced and the food is freshly made in the early morning so it will not be as good anymore during lunch.

Trail bako
Trail Bako National Park

The proboscis monkey
The proboscis monkey
in Bako

Bearded pigs in Bako Borneo
Bearded pigs in Bako
View at Bako Borneo
View at Bako National Park
The jungle from another angle Borneo
The Jungle from another angle
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

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The end of the trails Telok Pandan Kecil & Telok Pandan Besar

Needs:
» Camera
» Sun screen
» Mosquito repellent with deet
» Walking shoes
» Hiking pants
» Rain coat or poncho
» Zip lock bags to keep your camera/clothes dry
» Bottles of water

WETLANDS WONDERS
I went on a boat trip to Santubong and Salak river in the hope to see crocodiles and dolphins. We didn’t see any unfortunately, but the trip was still so amazing! We saw proboscis monkeys, a number of eagles and awesome fireflies. We also passed by a traditional Malay fishing village on stilts filled with massive catfish. The local family sell these fish to locals traders and restaurants. Soon the boatman will move into a smaller river in the hope to spot some crocodiles where the boat chugging slowly by the river banks where it’s almost touching the low branches of the mangrove trees. I can tell you, this is very exciting when it’s getting dark and knowing that crocodiles are around you. I hope you have more luck than I did. 
Next to that we enjoyed the magnificent Borneo sunset.Best time is in the early morning or afternoons. You can book your trip via a travel agency for RM 188.00 per person inclusive Good Service Tax and a tour guide.

Safety on a boat Borneo
Safety first!
Local boatmen Borneo
Our friendly local Boatman
Local fisherman Borneo
Malay fishing village on stilts
Sunset Borneo
Breathtaking sunset

Needs
» Comfortable clothes
» Bottles of water
» Camera
» Sun Lotion

» Sunglasses
» Mosquito repellent with deet
» Rain coat or poncho

It was an adventure of a lifetime I will never forget.

Love,

Sarah

* pictures made with Olympus PEN camera