Kuching is the capital of
the East Malaysian state of Sarawak.
most populous city in the state of Sarawak, Kuching emerged as one
of the most vibrant cities in the region and it is the largest city
on the island of Borneo and the
fourth largest city in Malaysia.
Kuching was elevated to city status on 1
and carries the nickname of
The city of Kuching is located in the district
of Kuching. The district
covers an area of , and is one of the three districts within
. The district of
Kuching is administered and divided into three local governments
, which are namely DBKU
(Kuching North City Hall), MBKS (Kuching South City Council) and
MPP (Padawan Municipal Council).
The area north of the Sarawak River, parts of Old Kuching, Satok
and the western Central Business District (CBD) is within the
jurisdiction of Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara
North City Hall) covering an area of . Kuching North City Hall is
directly under the supervision of the Chief Minister of Sarawak.
The area south of the Sarawak River, eastern CBD and towards the
South China Sea is within the jurisdiction of Majlis Bandaraya
(Kuching South City Council), covering a
smaller but more densely populated area of .
There are those who believe that the divisions in power for the
Northern (primarily Malay and Bumiputera
residents) and Southern
(primarily Chinese residents) districts came about due to ethnic
reasons in the 1980s. There are also those who believe the
administration is divided due to geographical reasons, as the
Northern and Southern districts are linked by only three bridges
spanning the Sarawak River.
The third local government is Majlis Perbandaran Padawan
or Padawan Municipal Council, formerly known as the Kuching Rural
District Council (Majlis Daerah Luar Bandar Kuching), which
administers the rural
areas within Kuching
district, Batu Kawa, Kota Sentosa and Third Mile. It covers a large
portion of Kuching district with an area of .
List of areas in Kuching
Kuching North City Hall area
Kuching South City Council area
was a part of the Sultanate (Jhooata) of Brunei 200 years
ago but as a reward for help in putting down a rebellion, it was
ceded to the British adventurer James
Brooke who ruled it as his personal kingdom.
Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak
made his capital and headquarters. The Brooke Administration was
given the status of Protectorate under Rajah Charles Brooke's rule
and was placed behind the Indian Rajs and Princes. The Brooke family
ruled Sarawak until the Japanese occupation
in December 1941.
Kuching was surrendered to the Japanese forces on 24 December 1941,
and Sarawak was part of the Japanese Imperial Empire for three
years and eight months, until the official Japanese surrender on 11
September 1945 on board HMAS
at Kuching. From March 1942 the Japanese
operated a POW and civilian internee camp at Batu Lintang
, three miles (5 km)
After the end of World War II
and last Raja
, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke
ceded Sarawak to
the British Crown in 1946. Sarawak and the British Commonwealth fought an "Undeclared
War" with Indonesia to keep Sarawak from being absorbed into Sukarno's Indonesia. The British gave Sarawak independence in 1963
and together with North Borneo,
Sabah and Singapore, helped form Malaysia on 16
Singapore became an independent nation in
Origin of name
The origins of the city's name have never been clear. "Kuching"
does translate into "cat
" in Malay
and "kuching" is an old Malay spelling.
However, the new official Malay spelling today would be "kucing,"
but both of them are pronounced the same. There is a separate
explanation whereby it may actually be a variation of the Indian
name for "port" - "Cochin". Kuching was first settled by Indian traders who
set up base at Santubong.
Artifacts of Hindu
origin can today be seen at the State Museum.
One highly unlikely explanation is a story based on
miscommunication. According to the story, when Rajah James Brooke
arrived in Kuching on his yacht, the Royalist, he asked his local
guide what the settlement's name was. The guide, thinking that the
English adventurer was pointing towards a cat, said "Kuching."
However, Sarawakian Malay for cat is "pusak" and this explanation
does not hold much credibility.
Another explanation is that the city was named after the "mata
kucing" or "cat's eye" fruit. Trees bearing this fruit used to grow
in abundance by the river banks - where the city's commercial
heart, is located. There is a hill in the heart of the modern city
called Bukit Mata Kuching, and was named after the fruit. Also, at
the foot of the hill, there was once a stream called the Kuching
River. The stream, located in front of the Tua Pek Kong temple, had
large amount of silt deposit and during the 1950s, was filled in to
make way for roads and the city's expansion eastwards.
Another possibility is that in those days, asking a person which
river he/she came from, was quite common. As the river that flows
along the Brooke's residence is known as Sg. Kuching (Kuching
river), it would have been a possible that Brooke's reply was
Kuching. Hence, the area which the Brookes reside which eventually
became the administrative centre would be known as Kuching.
There is another more credible explanation and that Kuching
actually means "Ku" - Old and "Ching" - Well or "old well" in
Chinese. During the Brooke's rule, there was no proper water supply
and water-borne diseases were common. In 1888, there was a Great
Cholera epidemic. However, water from a well at the present day
China Street in Main Bazaar area saved Kuchingites from the
disease. Clean supply of water from the well helped water-borne
diseases became a thing of the past. Evidence of the well is still
found at China Street. As Kuching expanded and the population and
demand for clean water supply increased, the well was not adequate
to supply the clean water and it was replaced by clean water supply
from Matang area later.
Despite those various explanations, the city was named Sarawak
under Rajah Sir James Brooke's rule. Under Rajah Charles Brooke's
rule, the city was renamed Sarawak Proper in order to avoid
confusion with the ever expanding Kingdom of Sarawak. Only in the
latter part of his reign was Sarawak Proper renamed Kuching.
The city has never been noted for having a significantly large
population of cats. In fact, the many cat statues, the Kuching Cat Museum
and other association
with cats have been largely a recent phenomenon, part of a modern
effort of tourism. Many travel brochures refer to Kuching as "Cat
City" or the "City of Cats".
Geography And Climate
is situated at the banks of the Sarawak
River on the North-Western part of the island of Borneo.
of Kuching is 01°33' N, 110°25' E.
Kuching has a Tropical Rainforest climate (Koppen climate
classification Cfa), moderately hot but very humid at times and
receives substantial rainfall. The average annual rainfall is
approximately 4,200 mm or 165 inches. Kuching is the
wettest populated area (on average) in Malaysia with an average of
247 rainy days per year. Kuching receives only 5 hours of sunshine
per day on average and an average of only 3.7 hours of sunshine per
day in the month of January (wettest month of the year). The
wettest times are during the North-East Monsoon
months of November to February and the dry
season starts from June till August. The temperature in Kuching
ranges from to but the average temperature is around in the early
hours of the morning and rises to around during mid afternoon but
the heat index often reaches during the dry season due to the
humidity. This temperature stays almost constant throughout the
year if it is not affected by the heavy rain and strong winds
during the early hours of the morning which could but rarely bring
the temperature down to . The temperature could also rise to under
rare cases due to the haze caused by open burning from Indonesia
during the dry season. The haze occurs almost annually around mid
year in Kuching.
is the 4th largest urban area in Malaysia, after Kuala Lumpur-Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru.
The 2006 census indicates that Greater
Kuching's metropolitan area, including Asajaya
Bau-Lundu, is consisted of 980,000 inhabitants.
The main urban population of 579,900 (2006 census; Kuching City
South - 143,500; Kuching City North - 133,600; Padawan- 3rd Mile/
7th Mile/ 10th Mile - 302,800) is made up of Chinese
and other ethnic groups. The
Dayaks, the grouping of local indigenous tribes, can be categorized
into Ibans, Bidayuhs, Melanaus and Orang Ulu, among others.
Chinese are made up of Fujianese (Hokkien) in the city areas and Hakka in the suburbs mainly.
Chinese consist of Foochow (Fuzhou), Teochew, Hainanese, Cantonese, Henghua and others.
those of different ethnic backgrounds are common in Kuching.
The main religions of the citizens are Christianity
practice Islam and all Malays are Muslim by definition. The Chinese
practice either Buddhism, Taoism or Christianity. Most Dayaks are
, with the exception of the
Melanaus, who are partially Muslim
is considered one of the cleanest cities in Malaysia and was voted
as one of the world's healthiest cities, recognised and awarded by
both United Nations (UN) and World Health
Organisation (WHO) and by the Alliance for Healthy Cities
(AFHC) in Suzhou, China.
A majority of people in Kuching are capable of communicating in
) and English
. English is widely spoken in
Kuching. The dialect of Malay spoken in Kuching is known as Bahasa
Sarawak (Sarawakian Malay Language), which has lexical differences
with the dialect spoken in Peninsular Malaysia.
On top of Malay and English, Kuchingites can usually speak his or
her own ethnic dialect or language. An Iban can speak Iban, a
Bidayuh can speak Bidayuh and the Chinese usually several Chinese
dialects, the most common being Hokkien
in Kuching. More
recently, it has been argued that Mandarin has become more widely
spoken than Hokkien
since it is well known
by other Chinese and is the language of instruction in Chinese
vernacular schools. For the Bidayuhs, the dialect of Bidayuh spoken
in one kampung/village may vary greatly with another
kampung/village. It is also common to find people who can speak
more than just Malay, English and their native tongue, not only due
to the wide practice of mixed marriages but because of the close
rapport amongst the people of Kuching.
Kuching offers some of the world's greatest natural flora and
fauna. With this, several international film makers have made their
ways to Kuching and chosen Kuching as their filming location.
The Sleeping Dictionary
financed by Fine Line Features was shot here in 2000 and is
probably the best-known Hollywood production to be filmed in
Other famous Hollywood movies shot in (and around) Kuching
common link in the locations of these international productions is
a Malaysian company "Southeast Asia Film Locations Services" headed
by a local Malaysian Chinese based in Kuching, Edgar Ong; whose partner, Chandran Rutnam (whose bases are in Sri Lanka, Berlin &
Angeles) have jointly been instrumental in attracting these
major studios and film producers to use Sarawak in Borneo as the
is an Oscar winner for his film
" (starring Catherine Deneuve
) which won the Foreign
in 1991. In 2007,another
" (Dir: Deepa Mehta
) was nominated for a Foreign Film
Hollywood, Kuching is also a target film location for
Kong while Japan used to
shoot a Japanese Series briefly in Kuching.
are also making their
ways to Kuching to shoot up an adventure Bollywood movie.
indirectly attracted more Indian tourists to visit Sarawak because of
Politics and Administration
Kuching is home to the New Sarawak
State Legislative Assembly Building
which was recently
completed. It is located at the bank of the Sarawak River and is
one of the latest landmarks of the city.
A new federal administrative centre in Matang is also under
construction. It is estimated to cost RM2 billion and will be
completed by 2025.
Kuching is home to Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
university now has two campuses. The old campus in Kuching is known
as the East Campus, while a new campus to be called the West Campus
is currently under development. The West Campus is located in a new
township called Kota Samarahan.
Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak
Campus is also located in the city.
offers courses in IT, engineering and business.
Future and current development
Kuching has many current and future development projects, both
public and private ones. The Matang Highway which will create a
direct Kuching-Lundu road access has been constructed. It is a
2-lane, dual-carriageway road, with a gateway bridge over the
Selang Rambungan River and a minor bridge over the Matang Sebubut
River. Construction of this highway commenced in July 2002 and was
completed in May 2007. It relieves traffic congestion on Matang
- ICONmall - The biggest shopping complex hotel
apartment project in King's Centre, Kuching, with some of gross
- Imperial Hotel Apartment - The building
consists together with Boulevard Shopping Complex, the hotel
apartment will be offering up to 700 units of rooms. It is expected
to be completed by June 2009, will be open on December 2009.
- Isthmus Hypermall - The mall is part of the
Kuching City Extension plan and will house a hypermarket &
retail shoplots all under one roof. It is expected to be the
largest shopping mall in the region upon completion.
- Jalan Tun Jugah - Jalan Song Flyover- The
fifth flyover to be built in Kuching spanning Jalan Tun Jugah -
Jalan Song intersection in the direction towards the airport and
vice-versa. The project aims to ease traffic congestion at the
intersection and will be undertaken by Global Upline company.
Costing RM75 million, the project includes widening the 2.1 km
stretch of Jalan Tun Jugah between Simpang Tiga and Kenyalang
interchange to three and four lane carriegeway in each
- Kuching Tower - A 315-room
5-star hotel cum office complex, standing 39-storeys or 150 metres
tall, will be Borneo's tallest
- Mudajaya New Township - The project comprises
a new satellite township to be built on of land. The township will
be a self-contained township comprising apartments, condominiums,
shophouses, shopping complexes, offices, private hospital, public
and private schools and college, wet and dry markets, recreational
park, town squares, sports and swimming facilities, bus terminal,
police station, entertainment centres and hawker centres. The
entire project is expected to be completed by 2015 and is expected
to generate a total Gross Development Value of more than RM1
- Pullman Kuching - An international 389-room
5-star hotel cum 3-storey up-market shopping centre, with about of
retail space. It will be a 23-storey building with 2 underground
basements. It is expected to be opened by end of 2009.
- Plaza Merdeka - A brand new CBD shopping mall
with of nett leasable area (built up - ) plus a 290-room Boutique
hotel complex (built up - ) located in the historic heart
of Kuching, it is expected to be ready in mid-2010.
- Samariang Mall - A new 3-storey shopping mall
located in Bandar Baru Samariang new township.
- Proposed Upscale Hotel - This planning design
proposal is prepared for the approved layout plan for a 12-Storey
Hotel on Lot 337, Section 46, KTLD situated at Jalan Tabuan,
Kuching. The usage of the building remains unchanged and the number
of Guest Rooms is at 220 rooms.
- Kuching Sentral - Proposed Kuching's regional
transportation terminal cum shopping complex, located at Mile 6 1/2
Jalan Penrissen is expected to be completed by end of 2009. It will
house a hypermarket and retail shoplots.
- Kuching City Mall - Proposed 5-acre 2-storey
shopping plaza, located in the neighbourhood of Taman Desa Wira , a
stone’s throw from MJC and Jalan Stephen Yong and within 10
minutes’ drive from the heart of the city. It will house a
hypermarket, department store and retail outlets.
- Batu Lintang Mall - mixed development of
office and shopping complexes.. no news about this project right
now. It may just a rumored one but it was under naim cendera.
Located at the government quarters land in front of saberkas,
somewhere around the famous rojak kuchei restaurant.
- The Spring - The second largest lifestyle
shopping mall in the state, situated along Jalan Simpang Tiga, was
opened on 10 January 2008, covering some of net lettable area
(built up - 1.2mln sq ft). The anchor tenants are Parkson
Department Store, Ta Kiong Supermarket and MBO cinemas.
- Boulevard Shopping Complex - Phase I of the
mall was opened on 22 December 2007. It is a new regional mall
located along Jalan Datuk Tawi Sli in the 4th Mile area, the major
tenant is the Boulevard Department Store & Hypermarket, with
some of net lettable area, which will be the largest one-stop
lifestyle mall in the state. Other tenants include Body Glove, Hang Ten, Popular Bookstore and
Converse. International fast food
restaurant franchise like KFC, Sushi King, Pizza Hut
and Kenny Rogers can be found
- Green Heights Mall - Kuching's first suburban
neighbourhood small mall, with an international Cold Storage
Supermarket, with some 4,000 m2 of leasable space,
opened on the 13th of June, 2008.
- OneTJ - Sarawak's first ICT based shopping
mall will be developed in the Heights Drive commercial centre, with
some of leasable area, opened on 22 November 2008.
- E-mart - A new one-stop shopping destination,
located at Matang Jaya.The anchor tenant is E-mart Department Store
- Sarawak Plaza
- Wisma Tun Jugah
- Riverside Shopping Complex
- Crown Square
- Hock Lee Shopping Podium
- Wisma Saberkas
- Wisma Satok
- Wisma Hopoh
Roads within the city are of a reasonable standard, though traffic
congestion often leads to long tailbacks during rush hour, and
especially on Saturday mornings. As Kuching is located near the
equator, potholes have the tendency to develop on the roads during
the monsoon season (usually around the end of the year, coinciding
with winter in the northern hemisphere). Roads leading outside of
Kuching to the interior are of a slightly more dubious quality but
are being upgraded from time to time, although the main resort
roads (e.g. leading to Damai
) are also reasonable.
Transport by taxi is reasonable but it is usually difficult to flag
down one on the street since they are only popular amongst
tourists. One can get a taxi from the taxi stand near the corner of
the Electra House/end of India Street, in front of hotels or by
contacting them through the telephone. Intrepid backpackers can try
the public transport by antiquated, smoky, non-air-conditioned
buses or the 'van sapu' (mini-van converted into mini-buses) which
offer cheaper mean of getting to places. Air transport is served by
, 12 km away from the city, currently the subject
of several expansion projects. Those trying to get a bird-eye's
view of the city have the option of hiring a helicopter or small
plane from Hornbill Skyways.
Kuching International Airport at
Kuching is served by several major bus companies. Among others,
Chin Liang Long Motor Vehicle Co. (traditionally blue) serving
Kuching South, Matang Transport Company (yellow and orange) serving
Matang-Kubah and Petra Jaya Transport Company (Black, yellow and
red strips) serving Kuching North. The Sarawak Transport Company
(traditionally green) and Bau Transport Company (Red) have routes
from Kuching to other smaller towns. A large portion of the buses
in service are antiquated and not air conditioned. The fares are
low. Although the routes are poorly documented, the stops have no
names and the buses not well known for being punctual - it is not
difficult to get to places because Kuching is a friendly city and
most are able to communicate in English. For tourists, the State
Ministry of Tourism has provided bus shuttles to transport tourists
Road signs adhere to the Road Sign Standards issued by the Ministry
of Transportation. Kuching is famous for many large traffic circles
or roundabouts. The roundabouts are efficient at handling medium
scale traffic. However, as traffic continues to rise in Kuching
several roundabouts have given way to traffic lights and over and
underpasses. These traffic circles are usually well
List of highways in Kuching city
Kuching, like most towns in Sarawak, has connections to other urban
centres and settlements by water transportation. Between the banks
of Sarawak River, near the city centre, many 'tambang' (small
boats) can be seen ferrying passengers from one riverbank to the
other. For those staying along the river banks, it is a faster
means of getting to the city-proper. The wharf for express boats
servicing transport to further areas such as Sibu and Bintulu, is
located in the east of the city, near the Sim Kheng Hong Port, also
known as the Tanah Puteh Port, in Pending.
is the main gateway for air passengers. It is served by
many local and international airlines including AirAsia
. The airport's history dates back to the 1940s. The
new terminal complex was opened in April 2006.
the city area, there are several museums such as the Sarawak
Museum, Chinese Museum and the Kuching Cat Museum, which attract
tourists who visit Kuching.
Interesting landmarks and sites
include The Astana
palace of the White Rajahs
currently the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak
Margherita, the Tua Pek Kong
the Main Bazaar.
The Kuching Waterfront, which is a riverside esplanade
, is situated right next to the main
hotels and commercial heartland of the city. Located opposite the
waterfront are old shops selling antique items and craft.
Some other interesting areas near the centre of town include
Padungan Street, which is the main Chinatown area of the city.
Shops here appear unchanged from 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Carpenter
Street and India Street contain rows of traditional shop houses
. The old Courthouse building, which
forms the link between Carpenter Street and India Street, has been
restored and modernised. There are also several city parks around
Kuching is also noted for its beautiful sunsets, often complimented
by tourists as "one of the most beautiful in the world".
Since 1997, Kuching has been host to the Rainforest World Music
, an annual music festival which brings performers and
spectators to the region from all over the world.
Model of the Borneo Convention Centre
The Borneo Convention
or (BCCK) is the first dedicated convention and
exhibition centre in Borneo. It was opened in October 2009.
Other attractions include:
- Padang Merdeka
- Brooke Memorial
- Old Post Office
- Warrior's Memorial
- Old City hall
- Pavilion Building
Attractions near Kuching
natural attractions including National Parks, notably the Bako
National Park and the Kuching Wetlands National
Park as well as the Semenggoh Wildlife Center which operates an
orang utan orphanage and rehabilitation
program are popular attractions near Kuching.
- Lundu Beach Resort
- Gunung Gading National Park
- Sematan Beach
- Damai Beach Resort
- Kubah National Park
Kuching has a number of notable local dishes served at hawker
- Kuching 'Kolo mee' or 'koh-loh mein'
(egg noodles, flash-boiled and then served with (classically)
garlic, shallots, minced pork, white vinegar, pork oil or in some
cases peanut oil and sliced barbecue pork
also known as "char siew") is a widely
popular dish with the local population.
- Sarawak Laksa (a spicy
coconut prawn paste-based broth served with rice vermicelli, egg,
prawn, chicken, deep fried tofu and occasionally clams), Asam laksa
- Tomato Sauce Mee (crispy noodles served with tomato sauce,
vegetables, and meat) or Tomato Sauce Kuay
Teow (flat rice noodles) are the most well-known hawker dishes
- Bubu Cha-cha, a concentrated mixed syrup of sago, agar-agar and
- Kueh-Chap, Flat rice noodles served with pig entrails, tofu and
Custom ordered dishes (usually called the "special") are available
on request. Most hawker stalls serve a variety of these three
dishes, but locals often debate
vigorously as to where to find the best
variety. Visitors should be aware that portions are half of what is
usually commonly found at Chinatowns in the West.
Kuching has some very good local seafood restaurants, often run by
the Chinese residents serving prime local shellfish. Prices are
usually very reasonable. There are many such establishments in and
around the city, most notably along the way to popular seaside
resorts located on the island of Santubong.
While global chain outlets (McDonald's
Kentucky Fried Chicken
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
) are ubiquitous in the prime
commercial complexes, a local fast food chain "Sugarbun" also
serves a variety of Malaysian food in a more Western (plastic
trays, brightly-lit menus, uniformed staff) style.
- Ooi, Keat Gin (1998) Japanese Empire in the Tropics:
Selected Documents and Reports of the Japanese Period in Sarawak,
Northwest Borneo, 1941-1945 Ohio University Center for
International Studies, Monographs in International Studies, SE Asia
Series 101 (2 vols) ISBN 0-89680-199-3, pages 6-11
- Cat Translation to Malay
- Population data from Sarawak Ministry of
- WHO Healthiest City Award
- AFHC Healthiest City Award
- Bollywood debut in Kuching
- Indian tourists attraction
- Dewan Undangan Negeri
- ICONmall @
Kuching: Shopping Mall, Cinema & Hotel
- Kuching Tower
- Mudajaya New Township
- Novotel Interhill Kuching
- Plaza Merdeka
- Plaza Merdeka
- Proposed Upscale Hotel
- Boulevard Shopping Complex