FlyKLIA Travelling Guide: Sarawak, Land of the Hornbills

FlyKLIA Travelling Guide: Sarawak, Land of the Hornbills

Sarawak is the largest state of Malaysia by landmass, being more than 15 times the size of Selangor. Even in terms of population, it is the fourth largest after Selangor, Sabah and Johor. That being said, there are many interesting places for all people, from flower gardens to jungle trekking. The local food culture is also very special as even Sarawak laksa and kolo mee have gained a reputation in Peninsular Malaysia. Of course, there is a lot more food over in Sarawak that is unique to the culture there. Here are some of the best places in our opinion for those who are exploring Sarawak.

Advisory:

At the moment, entry into Sarawak from other states, including Sabah, requires visitors to undergo RT-PCR tests three days prior to entry. After entering Sarawak, all visitors have to undergo 10 days of quarantine, and after that a further 4 days of home quarantine for a total of 14 days quarantine.

Destinations

Beautiful Caves of Sarawak

Mulu Caves of Sarawak

Sarawak is quite well-known for the amazing caves that attract spelunkers from all over the world. Mulu Caves is the collective name of several caves in Mount Mulu (Gunung Mulu), including Sarawak Chamber—largest cave chamber in the world by area—as well as Deer Chamber—one of the largest cave passages on Earth. Several other caves in Mount Mulu include Lang Cave, Wind Cave, and Clearwater Cave. It is highly recommended that you wear a poncho as you explore these caves since they are all teeming with bats and swallows. For further details about the caves and the fees for accessing them, kindly refer to the link here.

  • Entrance fee:
    • Mulu World Heritage 5-Day Pass:
      • Foreign Adult: RM30
      • Foreign Child: RM10 (6–18 years) 5 and below no charge
      • Malaysian Adult: RM15
      • Malaysian Senior: RM7 (60 years and above)
      • Malaysian Child: RM5 (6–18 years) 5 and below no charge
  • Opening times: 8AM–5PM daily
  • Contact: 08-5792 600/601/602/603

Bako National Park

Bako National Park is just 37 km from Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. Among the many national parks in Sarawak, it is one of the smallest, but almost all flora throughout Borneo can be found in this park alone. There are several trails in the park that you can trek through depending on your level of fitness, and you can even stay overnight at one of several different accommodation options, from 3-bedroom chalets, 2-bedroom lodges, 4-bedroom hostels, and even a camping ground for a more literally down-to-earth experience. At the park, you can also find interesting wildlife such as the famous proboscis monkeys and Bornean bearded pigs. Getting there, however, requires you to take a 20-minute boat ride from the Bako Open Air Market which operates from 9 AM to 3 PM daily. You will need a permit to engage in professional photography or filming, which you should arrange in advance with the National Park Booking Office.

  • Entrance fee: RM10
  • Opening times: Always Open
  • Contact:    011-6572 9229 (Bako Boat Terminal)

011-1964 6870 (Bako Boat Service)

1800 882 526 (Sarawak Forestry Corporation Kuching Office)

Batang Ai National Park

One of the oldest Iban settlements in Sarawak can be found in the site called Batang Ai. The Batang Ai National Park adjoins the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and the Bentuang-Karimun National Park of Indonesia. The total area of these three parks is about 10,000 square kilometres, but for conservation reasons, the only part open for visitors is the Batang Ai National Park, which has a total of around 24 square kilometres. What’s being conserved are the close to 1,000 orangutans living in the rainforest, along with many other endangered species. Batang Ai, however, has the highest orangutan population density in central Borneo, so this is one of the best places for a chance to spot orangutans in the wild. There are five different trails in the Batang Ai National Park that range from Easy to Moderate to Strenuous, with the most difficult taking up to 6 hours to complete. These trails allow you to have a look at all the different terrains and vegetation, with ancient burial grounds scattered in the area. Thus, visitors are required to have a registered guide or park ranger at all times. Access to the park is only by motorised traditional longboat from the Aiman Batang Ai Resort jetty or the Batang Ai public jetty, and transport needs to be arranged in advance.

  • Entrance fee: RM20
  • Opening times: 8 AM–5 PM daily including Public Holidays
  • Contact: 08-224 8088 

Padawan

Padawan—a sub-district in Kuching, not a Star Wars Jedi-in-training—is a haven for both leisure travellers and nature lovers. It is blessed with beautiful mountains, waterfalls and the rich culture of the Bidayuh people. Visitors can choose to visit the villages, jungle trek to a waterfall with a local guide, have authentic tribal food or experience the village lifestyle here. Due to its proximity to Kuching city, it is suitable for those who wish to have a short adventure away from the hustle and bustle urban environment.

Annah Rais Longhouse

The Annah Rais Longhouse in Padawan is about a hundred years old, and it is predominantly Bidayuh, hence a lot of Bidayuh culture has been preserved and showcased here. This includes a Head House, or Panggah, where a collection of skulls are displayed in a cylindrical wire cage. These skulls are believed to belong to invaders who were caught and beheaded by the locals many decades ago. For non-Muslims, a glass of tuak, which is a traditional rice wine, would be served when you purchase the entrance ticket

  • Entrance fee: RM8
  • Opening times: N/A
  • Contact: 08-261 5566 (Padawan Municipal Council)

Orchid Park

Those who love flowers would not want to miss out on visiting the Orchid Park that is next to the Sarawak State Assembly Complex and Astana Negeri. With a total of about 75,000 orchids covering 65 genera, it is a place of beauty and a sight for sore eyes. Even more so, it also houses the world-famous Borneo orchids, which are among the most beautiful flowers in the world. Visitors are free to enter and to take photos and videos as much as they like.

  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Opening times: 9:30 AM–6 PM Tuesdays to Sundays including Public Holidays. Closed Mondays.
  • Contact: 082-446688 ext. 217 (Landscape Division)

Food

Everybody knows Sarawak laksa and kolo mee, but what about all the other delicacies available in Sarawak? Here are some of the eateries that are highly-recommended by Sarawakians.

Lepau Restaurant

Lepau Restaurant in Sarawak

One of the best restaurants for a truly authentic Sarawak food experience is Lepau Restaurant. They won Best Innovative Ethnic Restaurant for the 20th Malaysia Tourism Award, and for good reason. Their original chicken and freshwater fishes are cooked in bamboo exactly like how it’s done traditionally, and in their menu you will also find pucuk ubi kayu, midi, paku, tepus, etc., along with their special tapai ice cream. More importantly, they do not serve pork or use lard in their dishes.

  • Address: Lepau Restaurant, 93400 Kuching, Sarawak
  • Opening times: 10 AM–2:30 PM; 5:30 PM–9 PM. Closed Sundays.
  • Contact: 012-884 5383

the.Dyak

That’s not a typo, the name of the restaurant is intentionally spelled “the.Dyak” based on the colonial-era spelling of “Dayak”. Serving up authentic Dayak-Kenyah cuisine, the.Dyak is non-halal as they also serve pork in the traditional Dayak method called “pansoh”, not to mention that they also serve tuak. Even for vegetarians, there is also the ulam raja which is not to be missed, and the anchovies, known in West Malaysia as ikan bilis but called ikan pusu there, are also optional.

  • Address: Sublot 29, Panovel Commercial Complex, Jalan Simpang Tiga, 93300 Kuching, Sarawak
  • Opening times: 11 AM–9 PM
  • Contact: 011-1072 5512

Black Bean Coffee & Tea Co.

Black Bean Coffee, Sarawak

Coffee lovers would find themselves at home in Black Bean Coffee & Tea Co. Not only do they have Arabica and Robusta from all over the world, they also have their own Sarawak Gourmet Coffee called Sarawak Liberica. These are beans grown in the hilly southern region of Sarawak by small scale Bidayuh and local Chinese plantations, which are then brought to the shop and roasted right there, so the coffee is as fresh as you can get! These are on a different level altogether.

  • Address: No.87, Ewe Hai St, 93000 Kuching, Sarawak
  • Opening times: 9 AM–6 PM. Closed Sundays and Public Holidays.
  • Contact: 08-275 1276

Travel

Flight

There are five major airports in Sarawak which are Kuching International Airport (KCH), Bintulu Airport (BTU), Limbang (LMN), Miri Airport (MYY) and Mulu Airport (MZV). In order for you to get to Mulu, it is best recommended that you take a flight from Kota Kinabalu International Airport to Mulu Airport.

Accommodation

Damai Beach Resort

Damai Beach Resort, Sarawak

Damai Beach Resort is one of the most highly-regarded hotels in Kuching. They are the proud recipient of the Traveloka Hotel Awards 2019. They also have a tour agency, car rental and shuttle service in the hotel itself. Look out for the many offers they have, especially their Cake of the Month! The Damai Beach Resort is perfect for those seeking to relax at the beach and those who are looking to golf as they are only a 5-minute drive away from an 18-hole golf course.

  • Contact: 08-284 6999

Annah Rais Longhouse Homestay

Annah Rais Longhouse in Sarawak

For those looking to immerse themselves in the longhouse experience of Annah Rais, the Annah Rais Longhouse Homestay is a given. The managing director of the longhouse homestay, Joseph Reis Anak Enang, is passionate to share the stories of his tribe with you. He is also full of tips and knowledge about good places to visit. Choose one of several packages available, whether you are looking for a 2D1N stay or a 3D2N stay, complete with transportation between the airport and the longhouse, entrance fees, three meals a day, trying on traditional Bidayuh costumes, and many more activities!

  • Contact: 016-866 3277 (Joseph)

Bako National Park Accommodation

Bako National Park, Sarawak

Bako National Park hosts four different accommodation choices for those who want to be closer to nature as you will be staying overnight in the national park itself. The campsite is the cheapest option at only RM5 per person; camping equipment is not provided, so you will have to bring your own, but facilities such as public bathrooms and toilets are provided. Other options include hostels and lodges, although towels and blankets are not provided for hostel stays.

  • Contact: 08-224 8088 (National Park Booking Offices)

And there we go, those are some of the most interesting parts of Sarawak that caught our attention! What’s your favourite part of Sarawak? What is your best experience in Sarawak? Let us know in the comments down below! 

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