Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia. Presently its population is approaching half a million people. The origin of the name Kuching, which means cat in Malay, is believed to come from two likely sources. Firstly, the word has a similar sound to kochin, which means harbour in Chinese. Another explanation has it that when James Brooke, the wealthy English adventurer, arrived in the Kuching area, he saw a lot of fruit trees bearing browish round fruits with sweet flesh. When he asked for the name of the fruit, the response was mata kuching. That name was corrupted to Kuching, and the word came to be used for the place.
Guide to Kuching Hotels
It's never easy finding the hotel that's just right for your stay. Still, by taking a little time to do your research, you increase your chance of getting a good hotel at the best price. Go through the list of hotels in Kuching which we've put together, with full description, star rating, address, location map and evaluation. Pick the hotel of your choice and view the rates offered by different booking sites. Yes, we show you prices from different websites, so you don't have to visit them one by one.
Almost all visitors arrive at the Kuching International Airport (KCH). Upon arrival, you can take a taxi to the city. The procedure is quite straightforward. Buy your taxi coupon at the taxi stand outside the Arrival Hall. The fare is fixed at RM22.00.
The city centre can be explored on foot. This include most of the sights along the Kuching Waterfront, and all the way till the Sarawak Museum. For farther away sights, you would do better to self-drive a rented car or book a local tour package.
Tourist Information Office
Tourism Malaysia has offices at Padungan, Jalan Song Thian Cheok, and Riverbank Suites, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman for distributing brochures. Tel: 246575. Opening Hours: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Mon-Fri, 8:00 am - 1:00 pm Sat.
The origin of Kuching, and for that matter Sarawak, was the stuff that swashbuckling adventure was made of. James Brooke arrived at the court of the Sultan of Brunei in 1839. Within a short period, he managed to get himself appointed Special Adviser. At that time, the sultan's influence was in decline, and he had difficulties maintaining control over his vast territory. That his officers were tyrants that forced the locals to pay high taxes did not help to endear the Sultan to his people.
When James Brooke helped to put down the rebellion, he sought and was appointed Governor of Sarawak. With help from the British, Brooke consolidated his position and expelled the sultan's people. The Sultan of Brunei tried to retaliate, but was unsuccessful. Instead, he was forced to sign a treaty with Brooke making Brooke the first White Rajah of Sarawak on November 24, 1841.
The Sarawak River and its tributaries was the only form of travel through the dense jungle, where tribal warfare was commonplace. Each time Brooke quelled a rebellion or warfare, he would seek new land grant, expanding his territory until eventually it dwarfed the Sultan's own territory. That was how James Brooke founded Sarawak.
With his death in 1868, James Brooke was succeeded by his nephew, Charles Brooke. While James was an adventurer, Charles Brooke was an excellent administrator and politician. Under his administration, many of Kuching's most elegant buildings were erected, includeing the Istana, Fort Margherita and the Court House. It was also under Charles Brooke that the well-beloved Sarawak Museum was founded.
When Charles died in 1917, his son Charles Vyner Brooke succeeded him as the third Rajah. He built on his father's achievements, setting up a State Council in 1941. Unfortunately the council was short-lived as the occupying Japanese forces put it to an end, and Vyner fled to Australia.
When the Japanese surrendered in 1945, Sarawak came under Australian military administration until Vyner Brooke ceded it to the British Government. Sarawak became a British Crown Colony on 1st July, 1946. And on 16th September, 1963, Sarawak and Sabah gained independence together, and joined the other 11 states of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia.
Kuching Location Map
Zoom out on the map to view sights outside the city of Kuching