Where to stay in Kuching – A Guide to the Capital of Sarawak
Kuching is the capital and the most populous city in the Malaysian state of Sarawak and the third-most important city on the island of Borneo. It is located on the banks of the Sarawak River, It is famous as the food capital of Malaysia and the main gateway to explore Borneo. In this post, we will explore the best areas to stay in Kuching, Malaysia.
From a tourist standpoint, Kuching has several attractions worth visiting. The central districts around the city’s Waterfront and historic Chinatown are particularly noted for their historical and cultural landmarks such as Fort Margherita, the Sarawak Museum, Astana Palace, Tua Pek Kong Temple, the Floating Mosque or the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building. See accommodation around the Kuching Waterfront.
On the quirky side, North Kuching is home to the kitsch Cat Museum.
Roughly 35 km north, the Santubong area offers amazing hiking opportunities and close contact with nature. Not too far away lie Damai Beach and the Kampung Budaya Sarawak Traditional Village. Nearby Kubah National Park has several jungle trails among waterfalls, lush vegetation and wildlife. See accommodation in Santubong.
Kuching is also home to the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, a wildlife reserve & primate rehabilitation centre home to a few orangutans and many species of birds. If you want to see Orangutans in the wild, Kuching is also a great place to book a tour to places like Batang Ai National Park, where you can explore the Borneo Jungle and maybe catch a glimpse of these endangered great apes.
Kuching, like all of Borneo, has a tropical rainforest climate, typically warm and very humid, with substantial rainfall throughout the year. With an average of 247 rainy days per year, Kuching is the wettest city in Malaysia. The North-East monsoon lasts from November to February, with January being the wettest month. The best time to visit Kuching is from June through August, during the dry season.
In order to reach Kuching by air, Kuching International Airport is located 11 km south of the city centre. It is the fourth-busiest airport in the country and offers connections to virtually every corner of Malaysia, several Indonesian cities and Singapore.
Kuching lacks railway connections. That said, this city is very well-connected to other cities in Borneo (both in Sarawak and Indonesia) via long-distance buses. Kuching Sentral Bus Terminal is located in the south of the city, near the airport. More centrally located near Chinatown, Chin Lian Long Bus Station is convenient for regional connections around Sarawak. See bus routes, fares and schedules.
The public transportation system in Kuching consists of buses and taxis. You may also choose to rent a car for your stay.
When it comes to the best location in Kuching, the best area to stay is in the city’s central Waterfront, where most of the Kuching’s attractions are located. See accommodation around the Kuching Waterfront.
For beach and nature lovers, Santubong and Damai Beach offer a more relaxed atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city. See accommodation in Santubong.
Keep reading to find out more about our top picks for the best areas to stay in Kuching, Malaysia.
The Best Areas to Stay in Kuching, Sarawak
1. Recommended area: Kuching Waterfront
The Kuching Waterfront is located on the banks of the Sarawak River and is the most interesting area of Kuching from a tourist point of view.
The actual Riverwalk stretches for about 1km on the south bank of the river, connecting the main historical districts of the city. As with many downtown areas in major cities across Asia, Central Kuching is an eclectic mix of old and new buildings.
Here, historical mosques and palaces are door-to-door with swanky skyscrapers and malls.
Some of the most important landmarks in the Waterfront area of Kuching include the 19th century Square Tower, the Chinese History Museum, Merdeka Square, Tua Pek Kong Temple, the Kuching Waterfront Bazaar or the Floating Mosque, to name a few.
The swirly Darul Hana Bridge connects the south and north banks of Kuching, on the north side of Kuching you’ll find the 18th century Fort Margherita along with Astana Negeri Sarawak, an 18th-century palace, home to Sarawak’s governor.
The Waterfront area of Kuching is home to most hotels in town. Here, you can find swanky 5-stars and small inns, as well as some budget accommodation and backpacker hostels.
Why is this a recommended area to stay in Kuching, Sarawak:
- Home to most attractions
- Shopping centres
- Fort Margherita
- Museums and palaces
- Floating Mosque
- Tua Pek Kong Temple
Accommodation in this area
- Top Choice
Hilton Kuching Hotel
Boasting an outdoor pool and 6 dining options, Hilton Kuching Hotel is centrally located in Kuching waterfront. The property is 500 m from Chinese History Museum. Guests enjoy river or city views from the room.
Harbour View Hotel
Located just steps from Kuching’s waterfront, Harbour View Hotel offers accommodations in Sarawak. Guests can enjoy meals at the in-house restaurant. Free WiFi is available throughout the property.
The Waterfront Hotel Kuching
Set atop Plaza Merdeka Shopping Centre, The Waterfront Hotel Kuching offers modern guest rooms with free WiFi access. The property boasts a semi-outdoor infinity pool and 2 dining options. For guests who drive, free parking is provided.
2. Santubong & Damai Beach
Located roughly an hour north from central Kuching, the area of Santubong offers amazing tropical landscapes, nature and beaches.
This area is home to Mount Santubong, an 830-metres-tall summit surrounded by lush vegetation. This park offers several hiking trails, a cultural village and a waterfall.
Not too far you’ll find Damai Beach, dominated by the slopes of Mount Santubong, this beach resort offers tranquillity, clear waters and fine sand.
Santubong and Damai Beach are some of the best areas to stay in Kuching for nature lovers.
Why is this a recommended area to stay:
- Mount Santubong
- Damai Beach
- Kampung Budaya Sarawak Traditional Village
Accommodation in this area
- Top Choice
Damai Beach Resort
Boasting a private beach and outdoor swimming pools, Damai Beach Resort offers pampering stay in Santubong. Guests enjoy jungle or sea view from the room. For guests who drive, free parking is provided.
Permai Rainforest Resort
Permai Rainforest Resort is an eco-friendly resort at the foot of Mount Santubong, a 5-minute walk from Sarawak Cultural Village. The resort offers a café and barbecue facilities.