Kuching, Malaysia: what to see plus the best restaurants, hotels and bars
The capital of Malaysian Borneo is one of Asias most alluring cities, with fabulous food and new hotels, but little traffic and few high-rises to spoil the laid-back vibe
Just as Penang was swiftly transformed into one of Asias hottest destinations a few years ago, the buzz in Malaysia right now is all about another under-the-radar place, the little-known city of Kuching, riverside capital of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. There are several hypothesis as to how the city got its name( Kuching is cat in Malay ), but its roots are as a trading post, built up by the family of Sir James Brooke, the first of the white rajahs who ruled Sarawak for a century. When I first visited 20 years ago, Kuching was a backwater, where tourists would hardly transgress their journey on their route to trek in Borneos rainforests and national parks.
Going there today still reminds me of a day when Asian cities were not clogged with traffic, pollution and skyscrapers. Kuchings architectural heritage and historic Chinatown are well-preserved, even though it absences Unesco protection, and there is scarcely a high-rise to spoil the skyline.
The street food has always been spectacular here, but now there are also bistros and fun bars, and a great choice of accommodation from boutique hotels to backpacker hostels. Despite its growth it retains a laid-back, small-town ambiance, with friendly locals who love to meet travellers who have made it all the way to Borneo.
What to see and do
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