Is Kuching worth visiting?

This article was written by Havit Abit, who was born in Sarawak and lives in Kuching. He knows better than anyone else whether Kuching is worth visiting or not.

Kuching is located in the state of Sarawak in the Southeast Asian country, Malaysia. It is the capital of Sarawak and has the highest population in the state. Kuching is considered the main gateway for travelers who come to visit Sarawak for a variety of reasons.

You probably have a lot of questions about Kuching since you’re reading this. Let’s run down some of the most frequently asked questions travelers and visitors have about Kuching!

Is Kuching safe?

For the most part, Kuching is a safe place to visit and stay in. As the capital city of Sarawak, police are constantly on the watch to keep the city as safe as possible. Most of the locals are also friendly and helpful to tourists.

That being said, you should still do everything you can to keep yourself safe by default. Try and go out in groups, try to avoid walking around in dark places at night, and avoid places as well as people that make you feel uncomfortable. Also, remember to always be aware of your surroundings!

Of course, you should always know the emergency numbers in the cities you visit! In Kuching, it’s 999. Dialing 999 gives you access to the police, the fire department, and ambulance services. The only concerning thing about safety in Kuching is the increasing number of crimes in the last three years. This piece of data was found on numbeo.com, which provides the following data for Kuching:

Level of crime48.85Moderate
Crime increasing in the past 3 years68.32High
Worries home broken and things stolen55.35Moderate
Worries being mugged or robbed52.11Moderate
Worries car stolen44.70Moderate
Worries things from car stolen50.26Moderate
Worries attacked42.25Moderate
Worries being insulted29.50Low
Worries being subject to a physical attack because of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender or religion22.12Low
Problem people using or dealing drugs41.83Moderate
Problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft50.26Moderate
Problem violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery41.00Moderate
Problem corruption and bribery68.63High
This data is property of numbeo.com

To have something to compare this data with, I checked the values in Paris, in Mexico City, and in New York. Here are the results:

CityCrime index
Kuching47.10
Paris54.67
Mexico City69.59
New York47.17
This data is property of numbeo.com

Basically, if you consider New York a safe city, you should also consider Kuching a safe city.

Is the food in Kuching any good?

The food in Kuching is unique and tasty. Kuching is a diverse and multicultural city which means there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to food in the city. Malay, Dayak, Chinese and Indian cuisine are all widely available in Kuching and the majority of it is of the highest quality.

The upside of having such a huge selection of delicious food is that there’s something for everyone to eat in Kuching. Whether you’re a meat-lover or a vegetarian or are out looking for halal food or out looking for the best booze the city has to offer… Kuching has something for you.

For those looking for halal food choices, Malay dishes such as nasi lemak, mee sapi, and ayam penyet are great choices. You’re not restricted to Malay dishes either! Generally, there are Chinese and Indian restaurants that cater to those who are looking to eat halal food.

If you’re a vegetarian, there’s a huge selection of vegetarian dishes to try in Kuching. Local vegetables such as kangkung, bayam, and bidin are all must-try dishes at the various restaurants in Kuching. Local fruit such as the king of fruit, durian is also something you need to try when you visit Kuching. Lastly, the huge variety of tofu (tauhu) dishes available in Kuching will pleasantly surprise any visiting vegetarian.

If you’re a meat-lover visiting Kuching, then you’re seriously in luck. Sarawak itself is a meat-loving state and there are so many meat dishes available in Kuching they’d need another article to fit them in. The three main things to try in Kuching as far as meat is concerned are kolo mee, barbequed pork belly, and kueh chap.

Overall, if you like mixing travel and food, you should also read the article about Intramuros in the Philippines, or the ones about Singapore and Islamabad.

How much does it cost to live in Kuching?

Kuching is a capital city that’s surprisingly affordable to live in. If you’re using a strong currency like USD or Euro, it’s a downright bargain to live here! However, the price varies greatly depending on if you’re renting, using AirBNB, or staying at a hotel.

Rent in a decently sized apartment near the city center costs RM2000 to RM3000 per month. A decent AirBNB in the same general location costs about RM150 to RM300 per night. A stay at a hotel such as the Hilton costs about RM300 to RM500 per night.

PS: For reference, 1 US dollar is worth about RM4 as of this writing. 1 Euro is worth about RM5.

A street in Kuching. Credits to imaad whd

Does Kuching have all the amenities you need to make it worth visiting?

Going to visit a Southeast Asian country always raises the question of what amenities you’d have to live without. That’s not the case with Kuching! The city has pretty much everything you’d ever need.

Of course, the basics of clean running water and electricity are available in the capital city. But what about the other conveniences in life that you just can’t live without?

Fast internet, vast mobile data coverage, malls with famous brands, gyms, parks, restaurants, cafes, clinics… Kuching has all you’d ever need. Supermarkets and convenience stores are also plentiful! I did a test about mobile data coverage on nperf.com and here is the result:

data coverage in kuching
Credits to nperf.com for this map

As you can see on the map, there is 4G or above in almost all Kuching. Of course, when you leave Kuching, the data coverage is not spread, but this is the same around lots of cities in Asia.

There’s something worth mentioning when it comes to amenities and infrastructure; Kuching doesn’t have trains. Public transport is dominated by ride-sharing services like Grab, buses, and taxis, just like in Thailand or Cambodia. You can still get around as a tourist with no problems!

Things to do in Kuching

There’s a lot to do in Kuching… but the main draw to the city is the food. Tourists and locals alike spend most of their time in the city trying and eating delicious food. The drinks (non-alcoholic or otherwise) are all great as well! So here are the things I would recommend doing in Kuching as a tourist:

  • Trying different types of restaurants
  • Tasting local drinks like tuak
  • Taste local foods like nasi lemak, mee sapi, and ayam penyet
  • Take walks in natural reserve parks
  • Go on a boat ride on the huge Sarawak river
  • Spend time (and money) in the Kuching malls

Visiting restaurants on both the low and high end of the price spectrum is a fun thing to do when visiting Kuching. The same can be said of visiting the various coffee shops, teahouses, and cafes in Kuching.

There’s something unique to Kuching and Sarawak in general when it comes to Malaysia as a whole… drinking is a part of life here. Pubs and bars are plentiful as well as eventful in Kuching. The alcohol selection in the city is also vast and impressive. 

Pro tip: If you come to Kuching, try tuak, the local rice wine. It’s the pride of the city! Don’t worry though, bars, pubs, and supermarkets all stock up on more familiar alcoholic drinks such as beer and vodka.

Kuching is also famous for its nature reserves. Take walks in natural reserve parks that are dense in flora and fauna. Or go on boat rides on the huge Sarawak river!

If you’re not into nature, you can also spend your time in any of the many shopping complexes and malls located in Kuching. They’re varied and unique in what they specialise in. Some specialise in high-end, branded goods, some specialise in hobbies and collectibles and some specialise in claw machine arcades.

The common thread among the shopping complexes in Kuching is that there’s always a place to eat, drink and relax in them for when you get tired. Kuching is a famous food tourism destination for a reason!

Is Kuching worth visiting?

Kuching is definitely worth visiting because you can eat great food, navigate easily, meet friendly people for an affordable price.

Hopefully, this article was useful to you and you come for a visit soon! There’s so much waiting for you in the city of Kuching! And now you know whether Kuching is worth visiting or not for you!

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