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Kuching City by Foot


August, 2017

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Kuching City by Foot

Visiting Kuching city in Sarawak Borneo for the first time could never describe how excited I am. One of the cleanest city I have ever been to ( You can realize it if you are visiting Kuching city by foot ) and also the largest city on the island of Borneo. Not forgetting the historic Sarawak River, which is very important for villagers and wildlife for their daily sustenance. Apart from that, Kuching’s architectural heritage and historic Chinatown are well-preserved, making Kuching city a unique place to visit.

So how did Kuching got its name?

1. Some folks said that Kuching city got its name due to miscommunication between Sir James Brooke, the first White Rajah, and a local man. Sir James Brooke was asking the name of the city, and the local man answered “kucing”- which meant cat in the Bahasa Malaysia language, because he mistakenly thought Brooke was referring to a cat which happened to be passing by. 

2. The Kuching city name perhaps derived from the Chinese word for the port (“Cochin”), which is a generic term in China and British India as Harbor place for trading. 

3. Some source also stated that the Kuching city got its name from a fruit called “Mata Kucing” or Cat’s Eye, which was widely grown in Malaysia and Indonesia. In addition, there is a hill in the city, namely Bukit Mata Kuching which is named after the fruit.

4. Another source claim that a letter was written by a British Woman for her son;- Kuching is actually named after the river ( “Sungai Kuching”), a tidal stream that runs from Tua Pek Kong Temple to Chinese History Museum, which is located at the foot of the hill. In the 1950s, the river became very shallow due to heavy drought, in which the river was later made into a road. 

5. There is also source stating that the name of Kuching city actually meant “old well” in Chinese word. During the Brooke administration, there was a water shortage supply and the “Great-Cholera Epidemic” broke out in 1888. Thus, the well was used to provide clean water and overcome the disease.

Whatever the name is, it shows the wonders and uniqueness of the Kuching city to the locals and travelers.

Spending your holiday in Kuching city is enough for you to experience an amazing Borneo holiday experience. There are few attraction and activities that you can explore in Kuching city by foot.

Kuching City by Foot


1. Waterfront

Kuching Waterfront is used as a meeting place, with food stalls, restaurant, and open air entertainment theatre. In the earlier days, the waterfront was a busy maritime port where trading would take place and result in the establishment of Indian and Chinese shophouses along the riverbank. Feel free to take a stroll along the Waterfront especially during the evening, because around this time of day, the stalls and small restaurants will open up, the Waterfront will start buzzing with locals and tourists. Don’t forget to witness the beautiful sunset by the Waterfront!

Kuching City by Foot

2. Take the boat to cross the river

While you are walking along the waterfront, you can see there will be few boats waiting for anyone to cross the river. Some of the boats are used as a mode of transportation by the villagers in Kuching North to head for work in downtown Kuching South. This is a good way for the villagers to avoid traffic jams and public buses at the land bridge, to reach to their working place on time. Just less than MYR 1 per person per trip, you can easily go to the other side. Be sure to check out the delicious variety of Sarawak’s layer cake or “Kek Lapis” and salted fish ( “Ikan Terubuk”).

Kuching City by Foot

3. River Cruise

Discover the uniqueness of Kuching City through the enchanting river cruise at the Sarawak river. You can choose to take the larger boats or charter a traditional boat (Tambang) for river cruising along the Sarawak river. This is where you can see some of Kuching City’s major attractions – Traditional Malay Villages, the Sarawak State Assembly, Fort Margherita, etc. As the sun sets, be sure to admire the spectacular view of the Sunset by the Sarawak river as you cruise.

Kuching City by Foot

4. Check out the Cat Statues

Since Kuching was mistakenly thought as Cat in English ( Kucing – Bahasa Malaysia word for cat), it is no surprise when you take a stroll along the Kuching City and spot some cat statues or landmarks around the town. These cat statues not only make Kuching City more unique, it is also fun to pose and capture a photo with it. Don’t miss to take a photo at the cat statues when you walk around Kuching City.

Kuching City by Foot

5. Walking around Kuching’s Chinatown

In the early days, there were many Chinese people from China coming to Kuching for trading purposes, some have chosen Kuching to make their home there. Thus, the Chinese History Museum was built and open for the public to enter, so they can get the insight history of the Chinese in Kuching. In addition, take a visit to the colorful temple of Tua Pek Kong Temple – the oldest Buddhist Temple which is still operational until now. Going through the Chinatown area, you can spot some old shophouses that are surprisingly nice to look at, especially with brightly painted walls and windows. But, the best part of it is, the area is a garbage-free area! Here in Chinatown, you can easily find Chinese coffee shops, hardware stores, antique stores, backpacking place, etc.

Kuching City by Foot

6. Don’t forget to stop by the Indian street too!

Kuching does have it’s own little India. This place is also worth to visit by foot when you are in Kuching. The Indian street got its name during the colonial days when it was fully occupied by Indian shops. However, today it seems there are Malay, Chinese, and Indian shops occupying the street. Walking around the Indian street would definitely fascinate you as the shops there sell all sorts of things such as clothes, jewelry, food, spices, fresh fruits, and lots of other interesting things. The Indian street used to be a vehicular traffic, now there are no vehicles allowed to go through the street as it has been converted into a pedestrian mall lined with shops.

Kuching City by Foot

7. Discover the street arts around the town

When you are walking around Kuching City, be sure to look around you. You might spot some creative drawings on the wall in some buildings in town. Whether it is a street art, mural art, or graffiti, the vibrant drawings are an added value to Kuching City for being so unique.

After reading this, does it make you want to travel to the capital city of the Land of the Hornbill? Well, you should put Kuching in your itinerary for your Borneo trip. Who knows, maybe Kuching can surprise you more when you travel there yourself. Take a look at our other blog post about food and drink that you should taste while traveling to Kuching city, “Kuching Food & Drink – A Taste to Savour”. If you want to travel other than Kuching in Sarawak Borneo, you can check out our page on Sarawak tours for more exciting places for you to visit.

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