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Ozasiatraveller Blog

Central Coast NSW

Pacific Coast Highway is on the most travelled roads in Australia connecting two most important destinations Sydney and Brisbane. What lies on the way is definitely some of the best locations to explore in Austalia with pristine beaches, small coastal towns, estuaries, water inlets and lakes. If you have 5 days to yourself, here is a great itinerary to travel between Sydney and Gold Coast on Pacific Coast Highway. 

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Best Beaches in Sydey

Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities with amazing beaches along its 70km of coastline. To explore all the hidden beaches in lovely spots in detail requires a couple of days. Most beaches are very well maintained and ideal for swimming. Popular spots like Bondi, Coogee and Cornaull have a lifeguard on duty and have strict regulation for swimming and surfing. 

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KUALA lumpur to singapore by buy

Travelling by bus from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore is an interesting way to explore mainland Malaysia and travel to a fascinating destination of Singapore. The travel time between the two destinations is approximately 6 hours. Various bus services in different price ranges operate round the clock between these two popular destinations. I have travelled on these luxury buses couple of time and found it to be a better option than catching a flight from Kuala Lumpur. The bus to Singapore can be booked from Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bharu. 

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Best honeymoon destination in Malaysia

Malaysia is ranked as one of the best locations from honeymooners from across the world especially from the middle east and Asian countries. Rich cultural heritage, amazing ethnic mix, modern lifestyle and world-class holiday destination make Malaysia a very likeable choice if you are are looking for a dream honeymoon destinations.

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Mosques of Malaysia

The Malaysian population is an interesting mix of various ethnicities including Muslim, Indian and Chinese. Muslim population make approximately 61% of this ethnic mix. With a total population of Muslim exceeding 19 million in Malaysia, the strong presence of Islam is reflected in all aspects of social life including the architecture of Malaysian buildings. 

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Restaurants in KL

Kuala Lumpur is an interesting mix of modern and traditional restaurants catering to international as well as diverse ethnic population. During my various visits to Kuala Lumpur, I have explored some very interesting restaurants at all prices ranges. An interesting fact about Kuala Lumpur is that food is quite cheap as compared to other international cities. Most shopping malls have food courts where you can find local food at very affordable rates. Some of the 5 and 4-star hotels have a variety of restaurants offering international and fusion food. Here is a list of some of my favourites restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. 

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ipoh in perak

Ipoh is around 250km north of Kuala Lumpur. The driving distance from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh is around 2.5 hours using the freeway AH2 which connects Kuala Lumpur to some of the major cities in the  Mainland Malaysia. I have undertaken several road trips from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh and Cameroon Highland in last 3 years. The best way to enjoy these interesting destinations is to organize a minimum of two nights stay that will give you enough time to explore all areas of interest in these towns. 

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travel Putrajaya

Putrajaya is the administrative capital of Malaysia and an iconic city designed with a mix of modern and traditional Malay and Middle Eastern architectural designs. For lovers of Islamic and Middle-Eastern History and Architecture, this city is a must-visit for a day trip or even weekend stay at one of the finest hotels in the city. 

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Kuching Sarawak

Kuching is one of the most interesting destinations in Malaysia located in the Southern end of Sarawak in Southern Malaysia. The flight time from Kuala Lumpur is approximately 1 hour. AirAsia flights operate daily with price ranging from RM 400 to RM 1000 (between A$ 10 -30). Best way to utilize your day is to book an early morning flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching.  My knowledge about the history of Sarawak region was very little and I decided to pick and a new destination in Malaysia. Kuching, to my surprise, was a unique adventure and amazing dive into the rich cultural history of Malaysia. Here are some interesting recollections from my three amazing days in Kuching.



Arriving in Kuching Sarawak from Kuala Lumpur

First thing you notice immediately after arriving in Kuching is the lack of public transport. Therefore, install GRAB application on your smartphones before arriving as this is the cheapest and quickest way to get to your hotel. The ride-sharing application GRAB  is a must to commute in Kuching  GRAB ride from Kuching Airport to the main area of the city costs around 10 RM (US$ 2.5).

Taxis cost around 25 RM. Therefore, GRAB is the obvious choice. Mid-February is the rainy season in Sarawak. The rain has a short spell and clears up in an hour or two. It took me 25 minutes to reach my hotel Grand Margherita , ideally located at Sarawak Riverfront at a walking distance from Sarwark River Cruise and other places of interest. 

Meandering Sarawak River visible from the plane

Quick Guide to Kuching


1. Day 1 in Kuching 
1.1 Staying at Grand Margherita Hotel
1.2 Centerpoint Shopping Center
1.3 Jalan Abell & Jalan Padungan
1.4 Tun Juggah Shopping Center

2. Day 2 in Kuching
2.1 Sarawak River Cruise
2.2 Fort Margherita
2.3 Sarawak State Museum
2.4 Lunch at James Brooke Cafe
2.5 Carpenter Lane & Backpacker Hostels & Bars

3. Day 3 in Kuching
3.1 Trip to Sarawak Cultural Village
3.2 Dinner at Top Spot Seafood
3.3 Exploring Sarawak Waterfront

Day 1 in Kuching Sarawak: Where to Stay in Kuching Sarawak

Hotel Review: Staying at Grand Margherita  in Kuching Sarawak

Grand Margherita  is a great choice if you want to enjoy the city views and explore the city on foot. I explored a bit online and made a great choice based on reviews and location. Advance booking costs around A$ 60/night . The most important Landmark of Kuching, Cat Statue is located right in front of the hotel. My room was facing the Cat Statue and I could see a tourist taking photographs with this interesting landmark even in the middle of the night as the place is easily accessible by a short walk from the Sarawak Riverfront which stays busy till late over the weekends. 

Statue of Cats in front of Grand Margherita Hotel in Kuching Sarawak

Grand Margherita Hotel Kuching  

The Grand Margherita Hotel offers great services including spa, restaurants and an outdoor pool. A 2-minute walk takes you to Sarawak Plaza and Centerpoint Shopping Center. Both of these shopping centres have food courts, pharmacies, salons etc. MacDonald, as well as KFC, is located right next to the hotel. If travelling with family, Grand Margherita is a great location. I found a nice book store in Sarawak Plaza and a massage place in the basement managed by two blind individuals. They offer one-hour massage for under 35 RM. 

 

Photos are taken during my stay at Grand Margherita  in Kuching City

Book Hotel in Kuching

Other places to stay in Kuching Sarawak

I enjoyed staying at Grand Margherita because of its ideal location next to the Sarawak River. In the evening I explored all the neighbourhood on foot. There are plenty of budget hotels located with half a kilometre of Grand Margherita. Exploring Jalan Abell and Jalan Padungan. There is plenty of mid-range and budget accommodation available in this part of the city with easy access to cheap cafes and restaurants.

The shopping centre adjacent to the hotel has a number of cafes, stores, book shops and salons. Places to eat in the vicinity of Grand Margherita include

1. Feast and Furious

2. Chong Choon Cafe

3. Top Spot Seafood Food Court

4. Tom's 

Best tours in Kuching

Klook.com

Exploring Jalan Padungan & Jalan Abell

Jalan Padungan is quite popular for a mix of Asian and Malay restaurants. A lazy walk on a weekend morning takes you through a wide array of restaurants lining both sides of the road. You will find noodle shops, bars and some fancy cafes offering Malay Fusion Food.  I had breakfast at the famous Chong Choon Cafe which attracts a large local crowd for breakfast. I tried some local noodle dishes followed by a simple toast and egg brekkie. I liked the place as the food was nice and fresh and reasonably priced. 

Famous Chong Choon Cafe 

Some budget hotels in this locality of Grand Margherita include:

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Where to eat near the Grand Margherita Hotel in Kuching

Top Court Food court offers great seafood and is open for dinners. I enjoyed a lavish meal on the weekend night where the food court was packed with local crowds. The seafood is great quality but some varieties of fish including pomfret is quite expensive. Food Court at Tun Juggah Shopping Center is also a great option for lunch. 

Tun Juggah Shopping Mall located walking distance from Grand Margherita

I had a quick lunch at My Little Kitchen at Jalan Padungan I made my way towards the waterfront.

Exploring Sarawak Museum

Planning on exploring Kuching attractions?  I started my first day by exploring the Sarawak Museum and Sarawak Textile Museum which was quite an interesting experience into the cultural and economic history of the region. Both buildings are located at a walking distance from the Kuching waterfront area. I reached the Museum walking at a leisurely pace along the waterfront and then following the map to Sarawak Museum. 

Sarawak Museum is a great place to learn about the history of various tribes who lived in Borneo and Sarawak region. There is a large collection of local flora and fauna and stuffed animals found in the region. The Sarawak Museum Building comprises of several sections divided in cultural history, tribal lifestyle, artifacts & totems as well as the economic history of the region. There is a huge collection of items on display. 

Ozaisatraveller Outside Sarawak State Museum in Kuching

The museum provides an interesting insight into early exploration in the region and history of tin mining in the region. A section is dedicated to the art and crafts of local people.

Kuching Mosque visible from the boat during the Sarawak River Cruise

A 20 minutes walk towards the old part of the town takes you to Kuching City Mosque. I offered my Asr prayers at the mosque and enjoyed some peaceful moments in the serenity and calmness of this amazing building. 

Beautiful Interior of Kuching Mosque

2nd Day in  Kuching Sarawak: Sarawak River Waterfront & Grand Margherita

Sarwark River Water Front & Fort Margherita

Sarawak River Waterfront is an amazing hangout all through the day and gets quite busy on the weekend nights with riverside cafes and live entertainment. One of the star attractions is the Sarawak River Cruise. The cruise costs around RM 60. An alternative option is one-hour traditional boat tour costing around 18 RM and provides great views of the city from the river. Make sure to keep your hands out of the water to avoid occasional crocodiles feasting in the neighbourhood. 

Sarawak River Waterfront in Kuching City

I hopped on a local transport boat to go across to the opposite side to explore Fort Margherita and Astana. Fort Margherita is a historical landmark and great cultural Icon which is well preserved with a large number of relics from colonial occupation of Sarawak. The tickets to the Fort costs RM 20

The area has a very rich traditional history of Dayak and subtribes that occupied the region for centuries. The ticket also provides access to goal and execution area within the fort. The top of the fort provides amazing views across the river. 

Visiting Fort Margherita across Sarawak River 

I decided to have lunch at the famous James Brooke Cafe. The cafe is located near the riverfront and offers a great location to enjoy the local crowd. I ordered the famous Kuching Laksa and some house desserts. The decor and ambience of the cafe great and offers relief from humidity during the rainy season.  

James Brooke Cafe near the Kuching Waterfront

Exploring Bazaar and Carpenter Lane

This is the most interesting area of Kuching Downtown with narrow alleyways containing hidden eat-outs and budget backpackers accommodation. Carpenter lane is quite popular with westerners as it provides easy access to all the late-night bars and restaurants including Kai Joo Lane at the Main Indian Shopping Area. 

One of many backpackers places to stay in Carpenter Lane

The bazaar along the riverfront has a number of Souvenir and craft shops. The inner streets are painted with beautiful mural reflecting the colourful culture of Kuching. You will also find several tour operators in these streets as this area is central to most tourists. 

Main Street Along the Riverfront

In the evening, I enjoyed the festivities of Chines New Year. People visit Tua Pek Kong Chinese Temple to say their prayers and make their offerings for a happy and prosperous year. This temple is located at a walking distance from James Brooke Cafe and Sarawak Riverfront.

 

Tau Pek Kong Chinese Temple 

Day 3 in Kuching Sarawak: Sarawak Cultural Village

Sarawak Cultural Village Kuching

On the third day, I booked a tour to Sarawak Cultural Village from the reception at Grand Margherita Hotel. A shared van costs around 50RM and departs from the hotel around 9 am. A 45 minutes ride through some interesting landscape takes you to the Sarawak Cultural Village. The location is famous for Rainforest Music Festival which is held annually and brings large crowds from all across Malaysia.

Cultural Show at Sarawak Cultural Village

The cultural village needs good 2-3 hours to explores. The different sections of the village have a replica of longhouses built by various tribes that lived in Sarawak and Sabah. Each tribe has a distinct style of longhouse, totems, dress and lifestyle. It is quite interesting to observe how these tribes created weapons, made clothes from natural materials and survived in the wilderness of Borneo and Sarawak.

In the later afternoon, a performance is held in an auditorium where various artists perform wedding ceremonies, cultural dances, social ritual and hunting traditions passed down through generations. I really enjoyed this cultural show and bought some nice souvenirs before heading back into Kuching.

Ozasiatraveller with Ladies in Cultural dresses from various tribes in Sarawak

On returning to the hotel I decided to have seafood dinner at Top Spot Seafood Center. This open seafood is located at walking distance from the Grand Margherita Hotel and is very popular with local families who enjoy local seafood on the weekend nights. I tried some local varieties of pomfret fish and prawns cooked in local sauces. The food was a bit expensive but worth every penny. 

Sarawak Cultural Village

Cultural Show at Sarawak Cultural Village Kuching

Later on, at night I walked along the riverfront to Ka-Joo Lane. The street is quite busy over the weekend with local markets and looks nice with colourful murals on the walls. 

Carpenter lane is quite popular with backpacker crowd and you can book shared dorm for under RM 20.  "Wrong Place" is a popular and trendy hostel in the centre of the old city. There are a couple of nice bars in the street that stay open till late and offer a great opportunity to meet locals and travellers.  

Kuching Photo Gallery

 

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