Be Charmed by Kuching: Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids

Friday, December 01, 2017

"Congratulations! You are a lucky winner of the AirAsia's T4 Changi Open House Contest! You have won for yourself 2 x flight vouchers to Kuching!", I read aloud.

Woohoo! We won air tickets! ... Wait ... to Kuching? Sounds like a boring place for kids. What can we do there? Honestly, that was my first reaction after knowing that our Instagram photo (below) won us two return flight tickets. A little disappointed, I left the vouchers aside as I was hoping to win a more exciting getaway.

Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids

IMO, it is not easy to plan for family holidays with 3 kids ranging from 6 to 12 years old, whose idea of a good holiday is staying in a hotel all day and eating the same food for every meal if they find one that they like. Also, K's walking ability is currently that of a 2yo so we still need a pram if we want to venture out for a few hours. Thus, the places we visit must be interesting enough to draw them away from their "ideal holiday" and easy to get around.

It was two months later that a chat with a friend piqued my interest in Kuching again. He remarked that Kuching is a place worth visiting for its cultural attractions and local food. I recall my unclaimed prize and was inspired to find out more about this place, other than it is the capital of Sarawak (East Malaysia), the hometown of one of my aunts and that the name means "cat" in Malay. Based on recommendations from my aunt and her brother (Thanks for your help, Uncle Alfred!), as well as a few top-rated family travel websites, here is our list of the best things we want to do in Kuching with our children. Be ready to get charmed by Kuching's unique beauty!
Kuching welcomes visitors warmly, but it does not put on an act for them. Instead it goes about its own business in a relaxed manner that hasn't changed in 160 years of vibrant culture, crafts and cuisines. - Sarawak Tourism Board

Best Food to Eat in Kuching

Haha, American food writer, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, nailed the Singaporean's love for food when she said this -

hence, let's talk about Kuching food first! Being a multi-racial city, you would expect Kuching to have the typical Malaysian cuisine from various ethnic groups. Sarawak Laksa, Kolo Mee, Kek Lapis (a layered cake), rojak, prawn fritters, jungle fern (midin) and seafood are some of the "must try" local delicacies.

Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Sarawak Laksa at Choon Hui Cafe
Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Midin, a jungle fern. Best stir-fried with belacan or garlic
Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Local Aboriginal Food
Although Western fast-food joints are commonly found in this city, looking at the long list of recommendations from well-known food blogger Thanis Lim and travel blogger Christine Ka'aloa, I am sure there is no need for these backup meals for my kids.

Best Places to Visit in Kuching

Kuching Waterfront 

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Golden Anniversary Bridge (inaugurated on 11 Nov 2017)
Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Spacious walkway on the Golden Anniversary Bridge
Described by writer Derek Kho as the "DNA of this city", the Waterfront is a testament to Kuching's history. Take a leisure walk on the newly opened Golden Anniversary Bridge (also known as Danu Hana Bridge) across the Sarawak River to enjoy in recreational activities at the north part and soak in the beautiful riverfront view of old and new Kuching. Or walk along the riverside and enjoy the bustling of food stalls and restaurants in the evening. 

You can also get across the Sarawak River on a sampan (RM1 per person per trip) to the opposite side or cruise along the river in style for a relaxing introduction to Kuching.

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Sampan ride along Sarawak River
Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Sarawak River Cruise

Main Bazaar

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A shop at Main Bazaar
Opposite the Waterfront, this is the oldest street in Kuching. Beautiful Chinese shophouse architecture that house handicraft and souvenir shops can be found here.  

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Orang-utan spotted among the trees
Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Walking trail in the forest
Wanna see free-roaming orang-utans in their natural environment? Set up in 1975, this centre cared for orang-utans that had been previously kept as illegal pets, orphaned or found injured in the forest. Although the rehabilitation program has been transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre, the Semenggoh forest reserve still houses some of the rehabilitated and thriving population  The best time to visit the Centre is at its feeding times (9am and 3pm) where you might catch a glimpse of the orang-utans returning to have a meal.

Damai Beach

Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Damai beach resorts with Mount Santubong in the background
Damai is a popular beach resort area about 35 km away from Kuching. From here, you can go jungle trekking to the summit of Mount Santubong, cruise along the Santubong and Salak Rivers, have fun watching Irrawaddy Dolphins, or take a day trip to the nearby Satang Island to snorkel and learn about turtle conservation.

Sarawak Cultural Village

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Many steps up the Melanau tall house
Simply Lambchops_Best Things to Do in Kuching with Kids
Lady preparing traditional food
At a walking distance from the Damai Beach, this "living museum" is an "All you need to know about Sarawak in half a day" attraction which is specially set up to introduce the cultures and lifestyles of people in Sarawak. There are replica buildings of the majar ethnicities like the Bidayuh longhouses, the Malay townhouse and the Chinese farm house. Each building has a few staff dressed in traditional clothes with a "guide" who will describe what you see. 

Museums, Galleries, Historic Buildings

The kids love playing with cats but I didn't list the Cat Museum as one of our top places to visit because it'll be like having a bull in a china shop. If your kids are ok with museum visiting, do include the Cat Museum in your itinerary as it has more than 2000 exhibits of cat-related art, souvenirs and photos. There are many other historic buildings and museums worth visiting too. 

Things to take note

:: There are many interesting events and festivals held in Kuching. Uncle Alfred recommends visiting in August as the annual Kuching Festival is usually held to boost local tourism and food industry. The food fair is one of the main attractions of this festival where you can savour the local delicacies.

:: Public transport is almost non-existent but it is easy to get around with a pair of walking shoes. Else, just Grab as the fares are very affordable.

:: Kuching also has a few shopping malls and kids entertainment near the Waterfront. Modern civilisation is not that remote in Kuching.


Writing this post has changed my initial impression of Kuching and I really hope to visit with the family one day. It is very cheap and easy to fly to Kuching, thanks to Air Asia Malaysia, and the journey takes about 1h 30m from the new Changi Airport Terminal 4. Get your flight tickets here.

Do you know of any other fun things that families with young kids can do in Kuching? Let me know in the comments.

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Disclosure: All the photos used have been given permission by the photographers for the purpose of this article.

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  1. Wow! A great opportunity to learn first hand another culture which we otherwise normally not go! It must have been such an enriching trip for the whole family!

  2. Wow wow! Lucky you...This place seems to be giving very warm family vibes. Beautiful too. I too wish to visit it one day.

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