Every year, tens of thousands of music lovers from around the world flock to the tropically resplendent state of Sarawak to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF).
Besides listening to a wide range of musical genres from local and international artistes, you’ll get to immerse yourself in Sarawak’s creative arts and culture scene, and take part in interactive demonstrations and tutorials.
Held at the foothill of Mount Santubong on the grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village, the festival is only a 45-minute drive away from the state’s capital, Kuching.
If you’re going to be in town for the RWMF, be sure to stay a few extra days to fully enjoy all the wondrous things Sarawak has to offer – here are a few of our favorite things to do in Kuching and nearby:
1. Hang out with the orangutans at the Semenggoh Nature Reserve
Spend an afternoon with the friendly orangutans at the reserve’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Rehabilitated and semi-wild orangutans with their babies often drop by for a free meal, so if you’re there during feeding time, you’re in for a treat!
There’s also something for avid birders, as the nature reserve is home to a variety of bird species such as the Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker, the Red-bearded Bee-eater, and the Banded Kingfisher.
Located 30 minutes from Kuching, the center is open between 9am to 4pm. The daily feeding times are at 9am-10am and 3pm-3.30pm.
2. Gobble down Sarawak’s finest local cuisine
You can’t say you’ve been to Sarawak without having tried its food. There’s plenty of dishes for you to choose from as well, the most highly-recommended being Sarawak laksa and kolok mee.
However, you should also try dishes from local tribes, such as manok pansoh, an Iban delicacy of chicken cooked in a bamboo tube, or umai, a Melanau salad made with thin slivers of fresh fish (usually iced instead of frozen) mixed with thinly-sliced onions, chilli, salt, and juice from calamansi lime or assam fruit.
For those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on the rainbow-hued Sarawak layer cakes!
3. Go jungle trekking at Bako National Park
Searching for a spot of adventure? Look no further than the wild Bornean jungles of Bako National Park, the state’s oldest national park.
Covering an area of 27 square kilometers, it’s considered relatively small for a national park, but it certainly packs a punch, featuring a diverse range of ecosystems, like swampy mangrove forests, remote beaches, and dense rainforests.
While traversing the park’s 16 color-coded jungle trails, you may bump into its most famous residents, the rare and endangered proboscis monkey. They’re most commonly seen early in the morning and just before sundown along the Telok Delima and Telok Paku trails.
4. Take a leisurely stroll down the Kuching Esplanade
Since a major restoration and land reclamation project, the Kuching Esplanade on the southern bank of Sarawak River has become a popular place to chill and hangout.
From the waterfront, you’ll be able to see the state governor’s official residence, known as the Astana; Fort Margherita; and the riverside Malay villages.
If you’d rather take it easy, see the city’s sights from a different point of view by going on a river cruise, or go jetty-hopping with the local wooden boats, known as penambang boats.
5. Step into another world at the Fairy Cave & Wind Cave
A favorite day trip for many visitors to Kuching is to the small town of Bau, a former gold mining town which is around an hour’s drive away from Kuching.
Nearby are two famous limestone caves, known as the Fairy Cave and the Wind Cave. At the Wind Cave, there are underground streams and boardwalks for you to walk on. However, the paths are not lit, so you can either bring your own flashlight or rent one at the cave’s entrance.
After, you can drop by the Fairy Cave, where you can explore the stalagmites and stalactites. It’s recommended that you wear shoes with good grip, as the cave floor can get slippery.
Both caves are open between 8.30am to 4.30pm and charge small fees for entry.
6. Express your inner cat person at the Cat Museum
Did you know that kucing (pronounced “koo-ching”) means “cat” in Bahasa Malaysia? If you love anything and everything feline-related, then the Kuching Cat Museum is the purr-fect fit for you!
Located in Kuching’s North City Hall, the Cat Museum has a large eclectic collection of over 4,000 photos, artworks, and souvenirs – all centered on cats. The museum is housed on the ground level and is spread over four galleries.
Do note that the museum will charge a nominal fee for those bringing in cameras.
7. Buy intricate handicrafts made by the Orang Asli at the Satok Weekend Market
If you need to bring back souvenirs for family and friends, then drop by the Satok Weekend Market, where native Orang Asli from various tribes come to sell handmade crafts and forest produce like wild honey.
As you wander around the colorful stalls, you can grab a bite of local snacks and delicacies, and browse through racks of clothing and accessories.