This five-star hotel from French chain Accor dominates the top of Mathies Hill in the centre of Kuching, and with 389 rooms, five restaurants and bars, spa, outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, fitness gym and conference centre, it ticks off all the essentials in style. It’s topped off by the hotel’s stunning panoramic views of the Sarawak River, so request a north-facing room.
It takes a lot to make this jungle outpost in the far south-west corner of Borneo seem crowded. Hemmed in by huge swathes of untouched virgin rainforest, the Sarawak capital seems a million miles from anywhere – a long way in spirit and personality from south-east Asia’s great bustling metropolises. By comparison, sleepy Kuching can be explored in a day – but therein lies its subtle charms.
Cat City, as locals have affectionately nicknamed it, amply rewards those who are happy to flit from bold, colourful Chinese temples to Indian-era mosques hidden away on backstreets. It has a British influence, too – that’s in part thanks to its former ruler James Brooke, an English adventurer whose exploits helping the Bruneian Empire of which Sarawak was once part, made him the first White Rajah of the state. This gives it a somewhat unexpected multi-cultural, cosmopolitan air.
Those with a desire to get themselves out into the wilderness like Brooke once did needn’t look far. Within an easy day trip you can escape to Robinson Crusoe-esque beaches, unchartered national parks like Bako or Kubah, or bundle yourself into a 4x4 for a penetrating drive into the heart of headhunter territory in the Borneo jungle. Deep among the lush, green trees, you may even find yourself coming face to face with an orangutan. It’s that kind of place.
What to doView all
Spend some time with the city’s favourite animal
Cats are everywhere in Kuching, and we don’t just mean the domestic household variety. As Kuching literally translates to “cat” in...Family
Travel back in time
The Sarawak State Museum – built in 1888 and the oldest museum in Borneo – is a one-stop shop for everything you could ever wish t...Cultural
Take the slow boat into the mangroves
Tiny putt-putting sampans ferry locals across the Sungai Sarawak river. They’re an essential experience – especially while crisscr...Family
Meet the king of the swingersFamily
Swap mobile numbers with a (former) headhunter
Overnight jungle trips to stay with indigenous tribes of the fearsome headhunters may not be the otherworldly, primordial proposit...Adventure
Where to stayView all
Hugging the southern bank of the Sarawak River, this hotel is strategically located at Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman which is home to restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas.
Another waterfront hotel, the Hilton has a choice of contemporary suites and executives – with all the mod cons you’d expect from the world’s biggest international hotel chain.
Where to eatView all
With traditional recipes from Iban, Kelabit, Kayan, and Bidayuh tribes, The Dyak has made tribal cooking a food trend.
With a seafront, estuary view, this low-key restaurant is popular with locals who come for huge plates of prawns, oysters, and rarer delicacies like bamboo clams.
The menu at Jambu is heavy with fusion cuisine, served with a French flourish and a 1920s ambience courtesy of the jazz soundtrack.
A fusion of inventive dishes – think sugarcane chicken or ostrich meat stuffed with mozzarella – this restaurant is very on trend.