Known as the Land of the Hornbills, Sarawak is a fascinating state filled with natural wonders, cultural marvels and yes, glorious food.
Its capital, Kuching, is usually the first pit stop for visitors, but your exploration of Sarawak shouldn’t end there – here are the top things to see and do in Sarawak beyond the confines of the city:
Wander through the mysterious caverns of Niah Caves
Located in Niah National Park near Miri, the remarkable Niah Caves are a sight to behold. Niah Great Cave was once the site of an ancient human settlement – some of the oldest human remains discovered in Southeast Asia were found here.
Marvel over the Painted Cave, where prehistoric drawings mark the walls overlooking a gravesite filled with boat-shaped wooden coffins. See if you can spot the Niah Cave gecko, a lizard found only in Borneo, but watch out for guano (bat droppings)!
Watch the sun set over Miri from the top of Canada Hill
Canada Hill is a limestone ridge that overlooks Miri, offering stunning views of the city and sea. It’s also the site where oil was first struck by Sarawak Shell in 1910 and is considered the birthplace of Malaysia’s petroleum industry. Oil Well No. 1, known as the “Grand Old Lady”, still sits at the top of Canada Hill to this day.
Nearby is the Petroleum Museum, where you can learn the history and progress of Malaysia’s oil and gas industries. The hill is also popular among locals for its hiking trails, which range from challenging to moderate.
Be awestruck by the Pinnacles at Gunung Mulu National Park
If you’re experienced in mountain trekking and want to do something that gets your blood pumping, then you may want to try conquering the Pinnacles, a collection of sharp limestone crags that cling to the side of Gunung Api.
However, the entire excursion will take 3 days and 2 nights. The package requires advanced booking with a minimum of three people and will cost RM 423 per person, including guide, boat and camp fees. It will be an arduous trek (the descent is said to be more tough than the ascent), but once you reach the viewpoint, the dizzying heights and awe-inspiring sight of the Pinnacles will take your breath away.
Eat your way around Siniawan Night Market’s street food stalls
Just a 40-minute drive away from Kuching, the sleepy town of Siniawan feels like it was left behind in time. Old-school wooden shophouses line the streets, which are transformed into a bustling outdoor market every night from Friday to Sunday. To add to the nostalgic atmosphere, local karaoke lovers take to the stage to belt out evergreen favorites, while red Chinese lanterns strung up above glow with a warm light.
While the food stalls generally sell Chinese food, you will also find some stalls selling Malay and native food. Be sure to try the crispy chicken wings and colorful, chewy muachi (glutinous, bite-sized rice flour cakes covered in ground peanuts and sesame seeds).
Have a lunch date with orangutans at Matang Wildlife Centre
Set on the grounds of Kubah National Park, Matang Wildlife Centre is home to a menagerie of endangered wildlife species. Visitors mainly come for the orangutans, which were either orphaned or rescued from captivity. Besides orangutans, the centre includes spacious enclosures housing sambar deer, crocodiles, sun bears and civets. There are also three large aviaries featuring hornbills, eagles, kites, storks and a host of other birds native to Sarawak.
The park also has several pleasant picnic areas and jungle trails to explore. The best time to visit the centre is from 9.00am to 11.30am and 2.00pm to 4.00pm for feeding times. For Malaysians, entrance fees cost RM10 for adults, RM5 for disabled persons, and RM3 for children aged 6-17 years old. Children aged 5 and below can enter for free.
Visit Malaysia’s largest indoor market at Sibu Central Market
Located on Jalan Channel opposite the Express Boat Passenger Terminal is Malaysia’s largest indoor market – Sibu Central Market. Featuring both a wet and dry market, the market is teeming with locals in the morning.
Head upstairs to the food court for breakfast, where you will find Chinese, Malay and Iban-run food stalls serving up local delicacies, such as kampua mee and kompia. Many of the stalls will close by noon. Keep an eye out for the Iban women selling exotic fruits, jungle produce and handicrafts.
Relax in the healing waters of Annah Rais Hot Springs
Take a scenic day trip out of the city with an hour-long drive to Annah Rais Hot Springs. The natural hot springs bubble up from underground wells and flow into Sungai Semadang, more commonly known as Sungai Sarawak Kiri.
Rock pools were built to allow the soothing hot waters to mix with cool river water, creating the perfect temperature. Best of all, you get to relax in the hot spring while surrounded by the sounds of nature. The entrance fee is also very affordable, at RM5 per person.
Buy crazy-cheap fabrics and trinkets at Serikin Market
If you love great bargains, head to Serikin Market, set near the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan, Indonesia. About an hour and a half away from Kuching city, this rustic market is famous for its lovely yet cheap fabrics.
Only open on the weekends and public holidays, you can also find a good variety of household items at the market, such as furniture and decor, as well as traditional Dayak handicrafts and accessories.
For exciting once-in-a-lifetime experiences, make Sarawak your next staycation destination – check out the deals on Traveloka today to plan your trip!