Kuching, the capital of the state of Sarawak in Eastern Malaysia, is the largest city on Borneo Island and a popular base from which to explore the surrounding region. If you’re looking for something to do outside the city, you’ll find several day trip options ranging from ecological to cultural.
Bako National Park
Known for its variety of wildlife and lush vegetation, Bako National Park houses seven different ecosystems, including rocky coastline, sandy beaches and dense jungle. Keep your eyes peeled for the large-nosed proboscis monkey, a species that can often be seen foraging for food among the mangrove trees.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Orangutan conservation sits front and center on Sarawak’s ecotourism stage, and you shouldn’t leave Borneo without visiting one of the island’s wildlife rehabilitation centers to see these animals up close. Semenggok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, located just south of Kuching, provides a sanctuary for injured or captured primates and can be visited in just half a day. If you have a little more time to spare, spend a day seeing rescued animals, including orangutans, bear cats and crocodiles, at the Matang Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre inside Kubah National Park.
Gunung Gading National Park
Anyone with an interest in botany should make time for a day trip to Gunung Gading National Park, home to the world’s largest flower: the Rafflesia. The park encompasses four peaks, dense rain forests and several waterfalls. Besides the giant flower, you might also spot giant squirrels, monkeys, wild boar or civet cats roaming through the park.
For a more cultural-centered half-day excursion from Kuching, pay a visit to a traditional bamboo longhouse where several families live together in a small village less than an hour outside of Kuching. Visiting one of these villages offers a fascinating insight into the daily way of life for Bidayuh families, a way of life very different from our own.
About an hour outside of Kuching, you’ll find a massive cave system near Serian, filled with prehistoric cave paintings and massive calcite formations. If you get hot, go for a swim in an underground stream.
Sarawak Cultural Village
Known as Kuching’s “Living Museum,” the Sarawak Cultural Village brings to life the customs and cultures of Malaysia’s various ethnic groups. Some 150 people live in the village and perform traditional daily tasks, like sago-making and bamboo carving. Several longhouse replicas let you see the differences between the traditional dwellings of each tribe.