Kuching is a city in the South-West of Malaysian Borneo, it’s the capital of Sarawak. Kuching (Kucing) means cat in Malay. We spend here a week and we enjoyed Kuching with kids.
No one knows why the town is named “cat” (though there are different theories about it) but we do know that the name was given by Charles Brooke, the White Rajah of the Kingdom of Sarawak, in 1872. Sarawak became part of Malaysia in1963.
And yes, we learn things on world schooling trips that we would probably never have learnt otherwise.
Sarawak Cultural Village
This is the best place where to start an exploration of Borneo. Sarawak Cultural Village has all the gen to enrich and educate you for your stay on the island.
Do you know how many ethnic groups live in Borneo? Seven at least: Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu, Penan, Melanau, Malay and Chinese. Here you can visit their houses in a living museum. Role-players demonstrate in each house how the different groups used to live there. You can see and participate in their daily activities. We tried shooting poison darts, listening to old Malay folk stories and both my kids and I loved the place and all these experiences.
For me, it was a great way to learn. The place demands a bit of physical effort – climbing up to a few of the houses could be challenging for some.
Sarawak is about 50 minutes by road from Kuching Waterfront. You can get there by Uber or use the Vab shuttle which runs from Gran Margherita Hotel to the village.
All-day entry for an adult costs RM50.00 ($12) and for children RM25.00 ($6)
Bako National Park
Bako National Park is famous for its proboscis monkeys. But when we went there we also found lots of other strange animals. We spotted several silver leaf monkeys, quite a few cheeky long tail macaques, and a bearded boar that attacked Tania – but that’s a long story. We also saw lots of lizards and snakes, but probably the biggest wow for my girls were the mudskippers.
Do you know what a mudskipper is? We didn’t. It’s a fish who can leave the water for some time, and in Bako, you can see them jumping about on the mud at low tide. As you can imagine, trying to catch mudskippers was the biggest joy and challenge for a couple of mud-loving seven-year-olds.
You can visit Bako on your own or you can take the guided tour from Kuching. With kids, I would advise taking the tour. It includes transport to the pier, the boat to Bako and the guided hiking tour. Its expensive, but without the tour guide, we wouldn’t have spotted nearly as many animals as we did. And we wouldn’t have learned so many things about Borneo – especially all the types of vegetation.
Our guided tour for 1 adult and 2 children cost RM500 ($120)
If you decide to go on your own, then consider these costs:
Taxi to the pier approx RM20 ($5)
Place in shared boat RM20 ($5)
Entry to the park
Foreign Adult: RM20 ($5)
Foreign Child/Senior: RM7 ($2)
Maybe next time we will go on our own without the guide, but then we will stay there for a night. I believe that falling asleep with the sounds of the jungle will be one of the best things to do in Kuching with kids.
You cannot go to Borneo and not see the jungle, and if you are in the jungle why not do some trekking? We went with a guide through Bako National Park, and there are plenty of other options too – like trekking in Kubah Wildlife Centre or Gunung Gading National Park.
Semmangoh Rehabilitation Centre
Orangutans are native only to Borneo and Sumatra. With jungle deforestation connected with the Palm Oil industry, orangutans have become a critically endangered species.
Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Center was opened in 1975 to help reintroduce orangutans back to the jungle. All orangutans in Semenggoh are either saved from human captivity, found injured or orphaned. The centre is more focussed on helping the animals than the tourists. The best time to see semi-free orangutans is when they come in for feeding twice a day. There is a bit of luck in this we were told that sometimes they don’t show up, but we were fortunate. Six orangutans gave us a wonderful display of tree-swinging right above our heads.
Semenggoh Centre opening times
morning 8:30AM-12:30 AM
for foreigners : adults – 10RM, ($2) kids (6+) 5RM ($1)
The Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre is located 20km south of Kuching. You can get there by Uber or Grab (Malaysian version of Uber) for 30RM ($7) one way.
Visit the Cat Museum
Besides having random Cats Statues on every second street, Kuching is also home to a museum dedicated to cats. Find it in Kuching North City Hall in Petra Jaya. To get there takes about 20 minutes from the Kuching Waterfront.
This museum has almost 4,000 exhibits – everything from mummified cats from ancient Egypt to a pink Hello Kitty and a poster from the Cats musical.
I wouldn’t say that this was my favourite museum ever, but it was a great thing to do on a rainy day in Kuching and the kids loved it.
Cat Museum opening hours: everyday 9:00AM- 5PM
Cat Museum Google Map location
Entry is free, but if you want to take photos you should pay 3RM for a mobile, 4RM for a camera and 5RM for a video camera. (about a $1, plus or minus)
Sarawak Chinese Museum
This is a great place to learn how and why Chinese people came to Borneo. After the visit there, we were less surprised to see ethnic Chinese everywhere in Kuching.
The Museum is located in a pink building on the waterfront close to the Hilton Hotel. Entrance to the museum is free. You can spend there from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending upon how much you want to learn about the Chinese people and their impact on Sarawak.
Tua Pek Kong Chinese Temple
The oldest Taoist Chinese Temple in Kuching has been recently renovated. When we visited the temple we weren’t aware of the connection between China and Borneo. We learnt about that at the Chinese Museum.
Look for Orangutan Murals in Kuching
Kuching town has lots of interesting graffiti and murals, they aren’t as good as Penang street art , but still quite interesting. It’s a great idea to spend half a day walking around Kuching and trying to spot them. Our favourite was this one with a barrowload of orangutans.
Kuching Riverfront and the Darul Hana Bridge
This 900-metre esplanade is a popular meeting point for locals. They often go there in the evening and sit on the benches to talk or play games. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes and food stalls where you can sit and watch life passing by.
Kuching Riverfront is a great place for a walk, and it connects lots of Kuching attractions such as the Kuching Waterfront Bazaar in Sarawak, the Steamship Building and the Chinese Museum.
The Darul Hana Bridge gives you access to the south part of the river where you can visit Astana or Fort Margherita
The Darul Hana Bridge opened in 2017. It’s a great engineering construction and the only pedestrian bridge connecting the North and South of Sarawak River. It’s best to visit in the evening when the lights are on. The Bridge is open from 6AM till 12PM and access is free.
Admire the Flowers at Gunung Gading National Park
Have you heard about Rafflesia – the biggest flower in the world? it can grow up to one metre in diameter and when it’s blooming, it smells of rotten meat. How could we resist?
We went to see them in Gunung Gading National Park. The season is from November to February. If the flowers are not visible close to the tourist boardwalk, you will be guided by the park warden deeper to the forest to search for them.
There are other trekking options including opportunities to swim. You can stay in the park for the night, choosing accommodation either in a lodge, hostel or on a sleeping platform. If you opt for the platform, beware of mosquitoes!
The park is open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Entry fee to Gunung Gading : Adults – 20 RM, ($5) kids (6+) 7RM ($2)
Go to the Cinema
If you have been to Malaysia, you know that everyone speaks English, so international movies in the cinema are in English. And the tickets are cheap. When we were in Kuching it was a bit rainy, so whenever we couldn’t go anywhere else, we spent long afternoons in the cinema.
The Best place to stay in Kuching – hotels
Hilton the Kuching is located in the perfect place, just at the end of the waterfront walk. The Hilton has spacious rooms and suites. There are six restaurants, and the food is mouth watering. It’s the perfect place to stay with kids
Pullman Kuching is located opposite Hilton, so another great location. The advantage of this hotel is its family rooms, which make for an affordable option to stay in Kuching with the whole family.
Citadines Uplands Kuching
If you are looking for cheaper options for family accommodation in Kuching. try Citadines Uplands Kuching which is located approx 3km from Sarawak river. All the rooms are equipped with a kitchenette. There are also washing machines available for residents.
The Hotel is located opposite a cinema and a small shopping centre with a variety of different eateries.
Imperial Hotel Kuching
We stayed in this hotel just for one night on our way from Sabah to Kuala Lumpur. The Hotel is conveniently located close to the airport – 7km, and offers an airport shuttle.
Imperial Hotel Kuching is located on top of a shopping centre, with a variety of entertainment and food options.
Things to do in Kuching with kids – Pin it
Disclaimer: We have researched facts stated here as far as practicable, but please check anything critical before committing your time and money. We do not claim any special knowledge or expertise, and we are not consultants for our readers.