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Welcome to Asia's Best Kept Secret
Kuching, one of the region's most livable cities
Facts to Know
Other Interesting Links

Welcome to Asia's Best Kept Secret

Sarawak is located in the heart of Southeast Asia, nestled between Peninsula Malaysia to the west and Indonesia to the south and east. Being the largest state in Malaysia, Sarawak houses one of the world's richest and most diverse ecosystems.

Comprising one third of the island of Borneo, it has emerged as a premier tourist attraction in the region, promoting its richness in culture, nature and adventure.

Despite its growth and development, Sarawak still maintains its reputation as the most exotic state in Malaysia and Asia's best kept secret. Its rainforests are among the oldest in the world, boasting the Rafflesia "a flower the size of a coffee table - snakes that 'fly' and bearded monkeys.

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Kuching, one of the region’s most livable cities ...

Swinburne’s Sarawak Campus is located in Kuching, the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak. The city has been described as one of the most attractive and livable in Southeast Asia. In the Malay language, Kuching means ‘cat’. Rich in history with old-world charms blended into 21st century modernity, the city is home to more than half a million people.


Originally a busy riverine trading post in the old days, Kuching is today a delightful blend of the old and new. The Brooke family, who once governed Sarawak from 1841 until 1946, left behind a legacy of buildings which still stand majestically amidst modern-day buildings. The Sarawak Museum, built in 1891 in the style of a Normandy town hall, is regarded as one of the best museums in Southeast Asia. The Textile and Costume Museum is housed in the Pavillion, a three-storey rectangular structure built in 1907. Located just in front of the general post office, this is the place to learn more about the textiles of the indigenous people of Sarawak. Other places of interest include the Chinese History Museum, Islamic Museum, Cat Museum, Courthouse and Brooke Memorial, and the Round Tower.

Take a walk along the award- winning Kuching Waterfront, a beautifully landscaped esplanade on a stretch of the old part of the city. It is the main gathering place especially as the sun sets beyond the scenic Matang Mountains.

Near the Waterfront, shops on the Main Bazaar dating back to 1864 offer a rich variety of souvenirs, antiques, arts, crafts and the like, for sale. The city offers entertainment and nightlife to suit most tastes, and eating out is a favorite pastime among city folk. Restaurants, food courts and open-air eateries offer a wide variety from traditional Chinese, Indian and Malay to contemporary Japanese as well as Western cuisines. Shopping malls, pubs, bars and cineplexes abound in the city.

Kuching is also home to world-class resorts and golf courses. Only minutes away from the city are sandy beaches and virgin tropical rainforest.

Although it is not exactly a place that never sleeps, there is certainly enough to keep you well-occupied during your time in Kuching.


Moving about is easy as the city and its surrounding areas are well serviced by taxis and buses. The fares are reasonably low. Taxis are only a phone call away and many queue at major hotels. Bus fares are cheap and moving about by this means of transportation is a good way to see the town.


Sarawak, the largest state in the country with a population of only 2.3 million, is also the most culturally diverse. Its 29 ethnic communities are well-known for their friendliness and hospitality. Each community practices their own customs and traditions and no where else in Malaysia can such colorful diversity be found.

With daily tropical temperatures ranging from 23° C to 32° C, light clothing is recommended.

This vast state is linked to other parts of Malaysia and the rest of the world via air. Internally, Sarawak is well-connected by a network of air, road and river transportation.

With its rainforest the size of Austria, Sarawak houses the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystem, making it a popular destination for eco-tourism. Its numerous national parks are known for their many natural wonders.


Sarawak also revels in showcasing major events. One of these is the annual Rainforest World Music Festival, a unique festival that brings together on the same stage renowned world musicians from all continents and indigenous musicians from the interiors of Borneo.

While it may be better known for its ethnic diversity and natural wonders, each year Sarawak plays host to a multitude of sports events such as the ITF World Junior Tennis Championship, Sarawak Junior World Masters Golf Championship, Borneo Mountain Bike Festival, Sarawak International Triathlon and Asian Cup Series.

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Facts to Know

Sarawak is 8 hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of the U.S. Pacific Standard Time

Kuching City - population: 600,000 and growing

The official language is Bahasa Malaysia but English is widely spoken. Other languages include Chinese dialects, Iban and a number of other native dialects.

The official religion is Sunni Islam. There are also Christians, Buddhist-Taoists, Sikhs and followers of various traditional beliefs. Freedom of worship is respected.

Typically equatorial with daily temperatures in the lowland varying between 23°C and 32°C. Rain falls throughout the year but the heaviest falls occur from November to February.

Visitors to Malaysia must be in possession of a valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting period. Most nationalities do not require visas for social or business visits. Sarawak issues its own visit passes upon entry into the territory. These passes are valid for the rest of Malaysia. For further information please check with Malaysian diplomatic missions or Tourism offices.

No vaccinations are required unless you have been in a yellow fever area in the last six days. Very good overall health situation with most tropical diseases eradicated. Consult a physician if in doubt. Clean and efficient clinics are found throughout Sarawak.

Government offices open from 8.00a.m. to 4.30p.m.; private sector offices from 9.00a.m. to 5.00p.m.; banks from 9.30a.m. to 3.30p.m., Monday to Friday, half day on Saturday; shops generally open from 10.00a.m. to 9.00p.m., Monday to Saturday.

The local currency is the Malaysian Ringgit (RM). Money can be exchanged at banks, hotels and licensed money-changers. There are also Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in the towns and at major airports. For the latest on-line currency information go to the The Oanda Currency Converter or The Universal Currency Convertor.

IDD phones are widely available, many accepting credit cards. Mobile phones are affordable, with many different packages for pre-paid talk plans.

Electric supply is on a 220 - 240 volt/50 cycles system, with three pin British-type plugs.

Safe to drink from taps in towns. Bottled mineral water is widely available.

Visitors should bring light, comfortable, casual clothes. A jacket and tie or evening dress may be required for formal wear, but only in an air-conditioned venue. 

Sarawakians appreciate good manners as much as anybody else. Please take care to remove shoes before entering homes, longhouses or mosques. Dress appropriately when visiting places of worship. Pointing with the index finger or foot should be avoided. When refusing food or drinks, the dish should be lightly touched with two fingers of the right hand. Never handle or pass food with the left hand. Public displays of affection are frowned upon as are unnecessary losses of temper. Nude sunbathing or swimming (other than for very small children) is unacceptable.

Probably one of the safest places in the world. Crime rate is very low and there are few animals or plants in the rainforest that may be harmful to people. And because Sarawak is politically stable, kidnapping, terrorism or religious/ethnic internal strife are unheard of.

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