Kuching city, located in the state of Sarawak is a wondrous potpourri of different cultures, races, and traditions. Not to mention, there is an ingrained foodie culture within each and every one of its people. Add to that the laid-back nature of this city of cats (not literally) and you’ve got a pretty great family vacation on your hands.

 

kch cat statue
Image via tripzilla.com

 

Often times, Kuching is overlooked as a travel destination compared to its more popular and touristy neighbour, Sabah. But we beg to differ, Kuching has most of what Sabah has to offer and more.

If you’re into nature, the state is covered in dense rainforest. If you’re a fan of white sandy beaches, Kuching has an amazing array not far out from the city. And if you’re a huge foodie, then you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Most importantly, Kuching is a tried-and-true budget destination suitable for the entire family.

 

Accommodation

 

kch hotel hilton
Image via commons.wikimedia.org

 

As far as accommodations go, you’ll be spoilt for choice especially in Kuching’s golden triangle area. If you’re interested in cheaper options, there are also tons of hostels, guesthouses, and b&bs situated around the city centre.

 

carpenter street kch
Image via rossharsharfanisaroslan.blogspot.com

 

Locales such as Carpenter street and the Kuching waterfront area are also great places to look for affordable accommodation options for you and your family.

 

tune hotel kch
Image via agoda.com

 

With that said, if you’re keen on splurging on a good night’s rest, we recommend staying at the myriad of low to mid-range hotels (Tune Hotel and Harbor View Hotel spring to mind) around the city.

Alternatively, you may also book cheaper lodging through homestays and host families. Airbnb is a great resource for this option.

 

Transport

 

kch bus
Image via commons.wikimedia.org

 

Public transportation wise, Kuching is unfortunately way behind its counterparts in the west. Buses are never on time, and there isn’t even a proper train system in place.

 

taxi kch
Image via teksikuching.blogspot.com

 

Taxis are prevalent in most tourists hotspots but you’ll run the risk of being targeted by unscrupulous drivers who overcharge and do not use the meter. Thus, it would be better for you and your family to instead hire a private charter. Whether you would like to include guided tours is of course up to your preference.

However, if you’re looking to explore the city at your own pace, we’d suggest driving a rental. Before you start worrying, the local drivers here are friendlier and a lot more accommodating compared to the other states in Malaysia so you’re definitely in safe hands.  

Lastly, if none of those options fit your needs, you can opt for Grab car. The car ride-hailing service is an ideal way for small families to move around in the city.

 

Attractions

 

kch cat mascot
Image via justrunlah.com

 

Now, what can you and your family actually do on a shoestring budget in Kuching?

Plenty.

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the finer things in Kuching as most of what you’re here for is either FOC or really cheap. Whether you’re in town for exploring nature, hunting food, or even for a shopping spree, Kuching definitely has you covered.

 

Kuching Waterfront

 

kch waterfront
Image via sarawaktourism.com

 

Located along the Sarawak River, Kuching’s waterfront is just a stone’s throw away from its highest tourist-concentrated area. The waterfront is an excellent place to catch the sunset in the city. You’ll also get great views of Sarawak’s DUN (New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building), the Astana, and Fort Margherita.

 

kek lapis sarawak
Image via wom.my

 

You can even travel across the river to get a closer look at the buildings. In addition, there are also shops and stalls selling local food. We’d recommend heading over to buy the famous Sarawak layer cake (Kek Lapis).

Price range of Kek Lapis: RM10.00 to RM30.00

 

sampan kch
Image via easturia.com.my

 

There are two ways to cross the Sarawak river. You may cross by paying sampans a small fee (RM0.50 per person per trip) or by using the Darul Hana Bridge. Though we don’t suggest walking across the bridge under the hot blazing sun. After all, Kuching does have a very tropical and humid climate.

If you’d like to avoid the afternoon sun, Kuching’s waterfront is also an ideal location for a nightly stroll with your family.

 

kch waterfront aerial
Image via zamholiday.com

 

Recently completing its renovation, tourists are now able to explore the entirety of the riverside. And it’s also generally safe to walk at night since the place is always full of tourists and locals alike.

 

dun musical fountain
Image via thestartv.com

 

In the evening, the waterfront comes alive with bazaars, and visitors pouring in to enjoy the night. There is even a musical fountain show set in front of the DUN which starts daily at 8.30pm and 10.00pm, for a period of 15 minutes each.

The best part about this is that it’s absolutely free. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring an extra battery for your camera and you’re good to go.

 

Damai Beach

 

damai puri
Image via sarawaktourism.com

 

If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, Damai Beach is the place to be. Located a little under an hour from the city, there are resorts and hotels that cater to visitors who want to enjoy the natural environment away from the city.

 

Damai-Beach-Resort
Image via sarawakhotelbooking.com

 

The most prominent of these “nature” resorts are Damai Beach Resort and Damai Puri Resort. Depending on your budget, we’d recommend spending at least one night at one of these resorts. Otherwise, a day trip will suffice. Shuttle vans are also available to transport you and your family to and fro the resort area.

Price of shuttle van per trip: RM20.00 for adults, RM10.00 for children 

There are also tree houses (Permai Rainforest Resort) to rent if you’re keen on experiencing a night in the rainforest. The tree houses will cost you about RM350.00 to RM400.00 for overnight stays, while day use will cost RM170.00.

Moreover, you’ll also be able to arrange fishing trips, diving and snorkelling excursions, and even island hopping sprees. Other points of interest include Mount Santubong, Damai Central, and the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Price of entry for non-Sarawakians into the Sarawak Cultural VillageRM60.00 for adults, RM30.00 for children

 

buntal seafood
Image via igomakan.com


Once you’ve settled down and gotten famished from the day’s activities, we’d suggest you skip the hotel restaurant and instead head on over to Kampung Buntal for some awesome Chinese-cooked seafood.

 

seafood restaurant
Image via pexels

 

Now we know what you’re thinking. From past experiences, seafood SHOULD be an expensive meal. Well, we’re here to tell you that Kampung Buntal (and Kuching) has some of the cheapest seafood restaurants around.

 

seafood prawn
Image via pexels

 

So, don’t hold back and order up a storm. After all, you’ll rarely get the chance to have affordable and yummy seafood.

 

National Parks & Nature Reserves

 

bako national park sign
Image via thrillophilia.com

 

Sticking to the theme of nature, Sarawak is undeniably a popular eco-tourism destination. So unsurprisingly, Kuching is home to several national parks that are suitable to bring your family to on a budget.

Off the top of our heads, Bako National Park and Semenggoh Nature Reserve are the more popular ones you could consider.

 

Bako National Park

 

proboscis monkey
Image via blog.sarawakborneotour.com

 

Ever seen a Bornean bearded pig in the flesh? How about a proboscis monkey?

Those are some of the wild animals you’ll come face-to-face with when you arrive in Bako National Park. You’ll first need to travel to Bako village, located more than 20km from the city. From there, you can then take a boat and head out to the park.

Fair warning though, the boat ride does cost a fair bit, which doesn’t include the entrance fee to the park.

Price of boat ride: RM47.00 per person per trip

Price of entry into the park: RM10.00 for adults, RM3.00 for children

 

bako cobra rock
Image via asiatravelgate.com

 

But we think that the price of admission is well worth the visit. Just the experience of getting back to nature, as well as the magnificent scenery,  is enough for us.

Moreover, hiking enthusiasts will be happy to note that the park contains numerous treks and trails of varying distances and difficulties. Some of these trails may even require an overnight stay at the many lodges found in the park!

Protip: Remember to bring sunscreen, appropriate clothing, and most importantly, bug repellent!

 

Semenggoh Nature Reserve

 

semenggoh reserve sign
Image via goasiaplus.com

 

Next up, we have the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, located about 40 minutes from Kuching city. As public buses are inconsistent, we’d suggest hiring a taxi or using Grab to get here.

 

Female Borneo Orangutan at the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Kuching, Malaysia
Image via lonelyplanet.com

 

Semenggoh is home to some of the rare and endangered Bornean orangutans. Most of which had been orphaned or rescued from captivity. The centre specializes in teaching these apes how to survive in the wild. Now 20 years later, the programme has paved way for the growing population of orangutans within the forest reserve to thrive.

These semi-wild apes spend most of their time roaming the forest and will only come out during feeding time. Despite this, they may not show up if it’s the fruiting season.

The feeding times of the orangutans are between 9.00-10.00am and 3.00-4.00pm daily. If you want to catch a glimpse of these elusive apes, we’d suggest planning your schedule around these times.

Price of entry into the reserve: RM5.00 for adults, RM2.00 for children

Museums

 

sarawak museum
Image via mygola.com

 

To get a better understanding of the history and culture of Sarawak, head on over to any of the museums scattered throughout the city. Some of the more notable museums being the Sarawak Museum, Chinese History Museum, Natural History Museum, and Textile Museum.

 

cat museum kch
Image via sarawaktourism.com

 

There is even a museum dedicated to the namesake of the city, Cat Museum. Located about 20 minutes from the city, the museum sits on Bukit Siol which is 60m above sea level. You’ll even be able to get a panoramic view of the city from on top of the hill.

Oh, and entrance is free so do check it out if you have the time.

 

Food

 

kch seafood
Image via thetravelintern.com

 

If you’re a foodie, you’re in luck as Kuching is often touted as the food haven of East Malaysia.

Kuchingites definitely take their local cuisines seriously. And Sarawakian food is considerably cheaper compared to other “food havens” such as Pulau Penang and Malacca.

Arguments aside, we do honestly think that Kuching food is quite worth it in terms of price and portion. Here are some awesome must-eat foods in Kuching.

 

1. Kolo Mee

 

kolo mee
Image via footstepsonearth.wordpress.com

 

kolo mee pork
Image via meimeizoe.blogspot.com

 

Price range: RM3.50 to RM6.00

Recommended places: Green Road Kolo Mee (Sin Lian Shin), Noodle Descendants, Ta Wan Kung, Chong Choon Green Noodle

 

2. Sarawak Laksa

 

sarawak laksa
Image via says.com

 

sarawak laksa prawn
Image via seasaltwithfood.com

 

Price range: RM4.00 to RM9.00

Recommended places: Golden Arch Laksa, Chong Choon Cafe, Lau Ya Keng Foodcourt

 

3. Kueh Chap

 

kueh chap
Image via chillout-soulout-freakout.blogspot.com

 

kch kueh chap
Image via thefoodpolice.wordpress.com

 

Price range: RM5.00 to RM10.00

Recommended places: Bintawa Kueh Chap, Lau Ya Keng Foodcourt, Poh Kwong Park Kueh Chap, 3rd Mile Wet Market

 

4. Air Batu Campur (ABC)

 

abc lock ann
Image via jseattravelplay.blogspot.com

 

white lady
Image via nayhoney.blogspot.com

 

Price range: RM3.00 to RM5.00

Recommended places: Swee Kang Ais Kacang, Lock Ann, Hui Sing Foodcourt, Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre, Ah Yeo Ais Kacang

 

5. Lui Cha

 

lui cha kch
Image via thetravelintern.com

 

Price range: RM4.00 to RM6.00

Recommended places: Hakka Lui Cha @ Jalan Pisang Barat, 

 

Conclusion

 

Food, culture, and nature. Need we say more?

Kuching is definitely an underrated choice when it comes to budget destinations. We hope that we’ve enlightened you to the contrary.

So, the next time you’re scratching your head and thinking of where to have your next family vacay, just come on over to Kuching. You won’t regret it.