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Sibu is a town, and the capital of Sibu District (229.8 square kilometers) in Sibu Division, Sarawakmarker, east Malaysiamarker. It is located at the confluence of the Rajang and Igan Rivers, some 60 kilometers from the ocean. The population is dominated by Chinese especially the Fuzhoumarker as well as indigenous Melanau, Malay, and Iban. The district population (per year 2008 census) is 255,000.

Sibu is the main tourist gateway to the Upper Rajang River, with its small riverine towns and its many Iban and Orang Ulu longhouses.

There is no known adjective for the people from Sibu, although there have been many unofficial suggestions: Siburian, Sibuian, Sibunite, Sibu-yan - none are officially recognised.

There has been a marked increase in public buildings in recent years. Sibu now boasts the largest town square in Malaysia, and the tallest building in Sarawak - the Sanyan Tower (三洋大厦,"Wisma Sanyan" in the official Malay language), a newly refurbished waterfront, and a large number of public parks. Sibu also has university-level courses offered by United College Sarawak, which has built a campus on the site of the old Sibu airport.

Sibu Jaya, located 25 km away, is being developed as a satellite town. Sibu Airport, built during World War II, was relocated to its present site 23 kilometers from town near Sibu Jaya in 1994.


Sir James Brooke (1803–1868)
Wong Nai Siong (1849─1924)
Rosli Dhobi (1933–1950)

Sibu has a reputation as a rough, frontier town on the riverside. Even today, it is one of the most bustling towns in East Malaysia. It was originally called “New Foochow” after the Foochow (福州) immigrants from the Fujianmarker province of Chinamarker, who settled in Sibu in the early 20th century at the invitation of Rajah Charles Brooke. However, there were many ethnic groups immigrant from China at that time, such as Heng Hua (兴化), Hokkien (福建) and others. These people brought a lot of positive changes to Sibu town, putting effort to make a greater SIBU. The new settlement was located next to a small Melanau village that had been established in the 1850s. The first group of Chinese immigrants from Fuzhoumarker, China, led by Pastor Wong Nai Siong (黄乃裳牧师), reached Sarawak in year 1900.

With the Rajang River becoming increasingly bustling with economic activity, Sibu served an important role in the Brooke administration as a trading centre between the coast and the vast upriver hinterland. Sibu continues to fulfill this role today.

There used to be a Sibu Fort, which was built by Rajah Brooke in 1862. The fort was located at Race Course Road, however it no longer exists now. It was common for the White Rajah to build such forts to stake his territorial claim as well as means of protection.

The existence of Sibu Fort is proven by historical writings:

Rosli Dhoby, a Sarawakian nationalist, is one of Sibu's more illustrious sons. He was well-known for his assassination of Sir Duncan George Stewart, the second governor of colonial Sarawakmarker in 1948. He was then sentenced to death by hanging and was buried at the Kuching Central Prison in 1950. After 46 years of his remains resting in the prison compound, it was moved out from the Kuching Central Prison and buried at the Sarawak's Heroes Mausoleum near Sibu Town Mosque on March 2, 1996. To honour his struggle against the British, he was given state funeral by Sarawak Government.


The population of Sibu experienced a slower growth rate compared to other towns and cities in Malaysia. There are many reasons resulting in a decline in the Sibu population.

However, the real numbers of people living today in Sibu is much higher due to high numbers of individuals not being counted in the census who live and work in other cities and countries.
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Sibu played host to the Borneomarker Cultural Festival, a week-long celebration of food, music, and dances celebrating the diverse cultural background of the town in 2005.Since then, it has become an annual occasion and a trademark of Sibu.

In order to promote itself to tourists and for branding purpose, Sibu Municipal Council under the former Chairmanship of Datuk Robert Lau, adopted the swanas the symbol of Sibu town. According to the Sibu Chinese community, when the early immigrants arrived in Sibu in the mid 19th century and early 20th century, the present Rajang River reminded them of Swan River in Fuzhou, China. However, due to the fact that such a bird is non-existent in the town (except for the numerous huge artificial swan statues) or anywhere in Malaysia, the majority of the Sibu community, especially the natives, feel that such a choice is too artificial and does not invoke any special or deep feeling toward the so-called "Symbol of Sibu"

The completion of RH Hotel and the current Kingwood Hotel's expansion project are to meet the tourism aspiration of the town. An 18-storey building (the right model in the picture) will be constructed next to the original site of the hotel.

Year 2009 has been declared as 'Visit Sibu Year 2009', as it will boost tourism industry in the central region. Another latest attraction is Pandaw River Cruise,which already started on 1 July, 2009.


Sibu skyline by Rajang river

Geography and climate

The Sibu town has warm summers with average high temperatures of and lows of around . Precipitation is generally moderate throughout the year.


The first highrise building in Sibu is the Sarawak House hotel/shopping complex built in early 70s by a local group of businessmen. Among the interesting landmarks in Sibu are Wisma Sanyan, a 28-storey building which is the tallest building in Sarawak (to be surpassed by Kuching Tower soon), Tua Pek Kong Templeand the Central Market. The Civic Centre Museum has a display of Sibu's history, and Melanau, Iban, Malay, and Chinese artifacts. The YMCA Resort is an outskirts resort getaway for camping and retreat.

Image:Sstreet.jpg|Sibu GatewayImage:Shotel.jpg|RH hotelImage:SGY.jpg|Guanyin statue at Tua Pek Kong templeImage:Spagoda.jpg|Pagoda in Gu Tian gardenImage:Smarket.jpg|Malaysia's largest indoor marketImage:kingwoodnewplan.jpg|Kingwood Hotel expansionImage:Sibu_chinese_chamber_of_commerce_and_industry.jpg|Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry buildingImage:Ssanyan.jpg|Internal Revenue Board Building (formerly Public Bank) & Sanyan buildingImage:Sparkson.jpg|Sanyan shopping mall


  • Wisma Sanyan - The highest building in Sarawak, it is the biggest shopping center in Sibu. It houses Parkson, Giant, and many other shops. The prices for goods here are reasonable.

  • Sarawak House - It was once a popular (and the only) shopping center in Sibu. Its anchor tenant is Premier departmental store, complemented by several shops.

  • Medan Mall - Two anchor tenants here are Medan supermarket (previously Everise) and Medan departmental store. Smaller shops include VCD/DVD shops, fashion apparels and especially hair salons (resonable price).

  • Kin Orient Plaza - Well-known for the Sing Kwong supermarket housed downstairs, it has another three higher floors of shops.

  • Farley Departmental Store

  • Sing Kwong (recently opened opposite Farley)

  • Delta Mall - The latest trendy shopping mall in Sibu, opened around end of 2008. Delta Mall houses many new shopping outlets such as Popular Bookstore, SenQ Digital Station, Gintell, Ogawa, Watson, I.P.Zone, Cinderella Jewelleries, Sony Centre, Hush Puppies, Skin Food, Giordano, Valleta, Sonice Furniture Showroom, Signature Kitchen, Lea Centre, Lea Sports Centre, a supermarket – The Market Place and others.

  • Star Mega Mall - A current shopping mall which is under construction as of June 2009.

Sibu night market view

Sibu Night Market

Night market in business
The Pasar Malam (Night Market) is situated in the town centre. Local traders will usually set up their mobile stores at around 7 pm-11 pm. Items on display are general Malay and Chinese delicacies, clothing, daily necessities, handicrafts and others. The vibrant Night Market sets up every afternoonaround 5pm and operates until 10pm or sometimes later. The stalls offer all manners of household goods, footwear, fashion items, and of course allvarieties of food.

Sibu Central Market

The Central Market is the biggest indoor market in Malaysia. It is home to thousands of stalls selling everything from fresh vegetables and fruits to live poultry.

Cultural attractions


Sibu is rich in Chinese cultural attractions, especially those of the Foochow community.

The Sungai Merah Heritage Walk is a landscaped park situated in a township called Sungai Merah where the earliest Foochow settlers first landed when they arrived in 1902. The Foochow Centennial Celebration Building commemorates 100 years of Foochow immigration to Sibu.

Sarawak is the only few states in Malaysia where Chinese words are printed on the traffic and street signs. Apart from the only few attractions Sibu could offer to the outsiders, for those who know Chinese, it could be an interesting job to study the street signs in Sibu both written in Chinese and Malay (although the accuracy of the translation could be in dispute). The main roads in Sibu are Brooke Drive (布律克路), Jalan Oya (乌驿路),Jalan Lanang (南兰律),Jalan Wong King Huo (黄景和路), Jalan Rajang (拉让花园), Jalan Au Yong (后洋路), Jalan Li Hua (丽华宝岛), Jalan Aup (后埔港路),etc.

Some residential streets which are less famous but with funny names are Jalan Pipit (麻雀路), Jalan Cherry (樱桃路), Jalan Rambutan (红毛丹路), Jalan Alan (阿兰路), etc.

Sibu Gateway, which is located on Pedada Road and Kampung Nyabor Road, houses displays of the twelve Chinese zodiacanimals.

Another landmark of Sibu is the century old Tua Pek Kong Templewith its iconic 7-storey pagoda.

Iban Longhouse

Longhouse in Sibu outskirts
Trying on the Iban traditional costumes in Sibu

A trip to the Sibu area is incomplete without taking the opportunity to visit "Rumah Panjai" or Iban longhouse. Although the Ibans in the Sibu area are modern people who have fully embraced the 21st century, they still practice many traditional customs and retain their adat or traditional law.

Upon arrival to longhouse, the ibans will welcome with Tuak (Traditional Iban Rice Wine). Visitors may try your hands at shooting with a blowpipe, weaving a Pua Kumbu & feasting on traditional Iban pastries such as Chuan & Sarang Semut. Enjoy & experience the Longhouse environment and outside scenery with paddy field and the Mighty Rajang River.

The Ibans are a warm and hospitable people, and this hospitality, coupled with their rich and colorful customs and traditions, can be a memorable experience.

Parks & Gardens

Gu Tian Garden

Sibu has a few urban and suburban parks for the leisure activities of locals and tourists. Gu Tian Park is a landscaped park situated on Bukit Lima Road. It is built by the Gu Tian Community. Another park is Hoover Park, a suburban Christian park built by Methodist Church, Sibu and to be maintained by the town council. Being near Sungai Merah Heritage Walk, there are plans to integrate it into one integrated tourist destination in the future.

Sibu Lake Garden

Sibu also has forest parks such as Bukit Lima Forest Park and Forestry Recreation Park. Bukit Lima Forest Park has a 2 km plankwalk, which is ideal for jogging. The Forestry Recreation Park which covers 200 hectares of land at 18.5 km Ulu Oya Road, is managed by the Forestry Department. The park's facilities include a camping site, a 30-metre watch-tower, a cattle and deer farm, and a huge fish pond. A major attraction to be included soon is a butterfly farm.

Hin Hua Memorial Park

Bukit Aup Jubilee Park

Bukit Aup Jubilee Park, which is located 20 minutes away from Sibu town is a popular spot for sight-seeing, picnics, jogging, and relaxing. The road to Bukit Aup Jubilee Park is tar sealed which is located less than 12 KM from Sibu town. It has scenic views of the town, rivers and forests. The total undulating land for development is more than 200 acres. Currently 2 phases have been completed comprising an observation tower, suspension bridge, sky steps, a pavilion, an amphitheatre, a children's playground, a lagoon, a canteen and other buildings. This is a special place for Sibu people to relax and keep away from the hectic town life.


Accommodation in Sibu ranges from budget hotels to luxurious hotels.Below are the star-rated hotels in Sibu.

  • RH Hotel (4 star)
  • Kingwood Hotel (4 star-It will soon become a 5-star hotel after the expansion)
  • Premier Hotel (3 star)
  • Tanahmas Hotel (3 star)
  • Paramount Hotel (3 star)
  • Kawan Hotel (3 star)
  • Garden Hotel (1 star)

Sibu also provide various selection of Budget hotel around the downtown

Image:RHHotel.JPG|RH HotelImage:KingwoodHotel.jpg|Kingwood HotelImage:Premier_hotel.jpg|Premier HotelImage:Paramount.JPG|Paramount HotelImage:Tanahmas.jpg‎|Tanahmas HotelImage:Gardenhotel.jpg|Garden Hotel



Sibu have over 50 primary schools and over 20 secondary schools and colleges. The Chinese primary schools which are well-known in Sibu include:
  • SJK (C) Taman Rajang
  • SJK (C) Tung Hua
  • SJK (C) Methodist
  • SJK (C) Chung Hua
  • SJK (C) Sacred Heart
  • SJK (C) Perbandaran 4

The national schools (SK) in Sibu include:
  • SK Sacred Heart Inggeris
  • SK Abang Ali
  • SK St Mary

The secondary schools which are well-known and recognised as high performing schools in Sarawakmarker and nationawide include:
  • SMK Sacred Heart (well known for its co-curricular activities)
  • SMK Methodist (well known for its choir team - champions at state level)
  • SMK Tung Hua
  • SMK St. Elizabeth

Sarawakmarker has the highest amount of Chinese independent high schools (华文独中) in Malaysiamarker, totalling 14 schools, 5 of which are located in Sibu.These are Catholic High School (公教中学) , Wong Nai Siong High School (黄乃裳中学) and three others.


There are several colleges in Sibu, serving the tertiary education needs of the locals. These include:
  • United College Sarawak, which is well known for its quantity surveying and civil engineering programmes
  • Methodist Pilley Institute, which is well-known for its accounting
  • Sarawak Maritime Academy for maritime studies
  • Sibu Nursing college (Malay:Kolej Kejururawatan Sibu), a government-funded nursing college with its campus located next to Hospital Sibu
  • Kolej Ita, a private nursing college
  • RH Academy, catering to the hotel and hospitality industry
  • Sacred Heart College,the latest private college offering hospitality courses.

Other than that, there were several long distance study centers here in Sibu, which are:

  • Open University Malaysia ,where their local learning center is located together with Methodist Pilley Institute.(Students from Sarikei,Kapit,Mukah and Bintulu also studied here,as Sibu Local Learning Center was the OUM Sarawak Central Region Learning Center.)
  • Universiti Malaysia Sarawak,where a facility dedicated for the students of Faculty of Medicine & Health Science undergoing training in Sibu Hospital.
  • Universiti Teknologi Malaysia-Sekolah Pendidikan Profesional dan Pendidikan Berterusan (School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE),was recently opened,and also located together with Methodist Pilley Institute and Open University Malaysia Sibu Local Learning Center.
  • Universiti Utara Malaysia-Their long distance study center located in Sibu Jaya.
  • Universiti Putra Malaysia-Long distance study center,located in Lanang.


The healthcare needs of Sibu are served by Hospital Sibu, a government-funded public hospital. It is the second largest hospital in Sarawakmarker and the main tertiary care and referral hospital for the Central Region of Sarawakmarker.

The primary healthcare needs of Sibu are served by Poliklinik Oya and Poliklinik Lanang. Both are government-funded clinics.

Besides that, Sibu also has many private medical centres and clinics to serve the medical needs of the town people. The most popular are Rejang Medical Centre and Sibu Specialist Medical Centre.


Sibu Airport, originally built during World War II, was relocated to its present site 23 kilometers from town near Sibu Jaya in 1994. In 2008, the airport handled 831,772 passengers on 14,672 flights and also handled 735 metric tonnesof cargo. On April 2009, the airport was given RM150 million by the federal governmentfor the upgrade of the terminal building. Once completed, its terminal will be larger than Miri Airportand Bintulu Airport.


Sibu is known for its delicious and affordable local cuisine. The more famous ones include:(note: the names are rendered in the Fuzhou dialect, which is often radically different from Standard Mandarin.)

  • "Gam Mua" noodle (干盘面) - noodles tossed in pork lard or vegetable oil, fried shallots, spring onions and sometimes soy sauce and/or chili sauce. It is available at almost all coffee shops and food stalls. The taste for "gam mua" differs from person to person. Popular establishments serving good "gam mua" include Aloha Cafe (town centre), Shi Shan Sui Cafe (town centre), Rasa Sayang (new bus terminal) and a hawker stall above Central Market (at night), among others.
  • "Duёng Mian Ngu"(鼎边糊)- a savoury soup with soft rice cake is available at several stalls as a hefty breakfast or a late night supper. It is often served with fish balls and squid. A popular joint is in an alleyway by Jalan Blacksmith.
  • "Bian Nyuk"(扁肉, also called wanton, 雲吞) - a meat dumpling which can be had dry or in a soup. Stalls serving good "gam mua"
  • "Gom bian" (光饼)- a Foochow delicacy made with flour, baked in an oven and eaten either with or without meat and a special gravy. It is somewhat similar to a bagel. However, it can be either in a crisp or soft version. Nice soft kompia dipped in pork sauce can be sought from Chung Hua road and the Sunday Market at Pedada road. There are deep fried variations available throughout Sibu town.
  • "You Zhar Gui" (油炸桧, also called 油條 in Chinese) - deep fried twin dough batter often dipped in soup or chili sauce. It is also a great with porridge or "Bak Kut Teh"
  • "Bek Ding Yuok" (八珍药 in Chinese): The soup of eight essences - nice, sweet, tasty and nutritious Chinese soup made of at least eight types of Chinese herbal materials.

               Image:Sgammua.jpg|Gam Mua Noodle
               Image:Slaksa.jpg|Sarawak Laksa
               Image:Diang_Miang_Ngu.jpg|Duёng Mian Ngu
               Image:Kom_Biang.jpg|Gom bian
               Image:Kom_Biang_2.jpg‎|Gom bian with minced pork

Developmental Issues

Sibu faces a number of economic developmental issues. There is serious income inequality in the town. The situation is not aided by the level of corruption present.

There has been regular floods and this has caused many problems for the Sibumarker-siders, a lot had to move to another place and others had no choice but to bear with it.

External links

Pictures and videos of Sibu

Sister Cities


  1. Sibu Airport, Sarawak at Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad


1970 1980 1991 2000 2009

50,635 85,231 133,471 166,322 209,616

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