With MCO restrictions slowly being lifted, it’s now possible to leave home and travel to all domestic destinations. Do you want to spend hours in a car to visit somewhere that looks and feels the same or take an exciting trip that requires airports, planes and is a unique destination but still at home?
Well if you miss the thrill of boarding a plane and exploring a destination that is unique and beautiful then why not take advantage of the upcoming long weekends and visit Sarawak? The natural beauty, unique locations and diverse cultures in Sarawak makes it an irresistible choice for a domestic getaway that has an international feeling.
Nearly every Malaysian has said at some stage that they want to visit Sarawak, but many have decided it’s too difficult or preferred to travel regionally over a long weekend. In the current situation, with regional travel too restricted, it’s the perfect time to spend a long weekend in Sarawak. To go somewhere very different, yet stay at home. So here’s a brief round up of suggestions on where to go and what to do for a long weekend in Sarawak, all while bearing precautionary measures in mind.
The state government, in conjunction with the federal government continues to work tirelessly to ensure the safety of locals and tourists alike so temperature checks as well as public sanitization initiatives are in place in public areas throughout the state.
Malaysians are now permitted to enter and travel within Sarawak. However because of the current environment, please monitor the news to see if there are any changes to entry into Sarawak. Malaysians are required to download the COVIDTrace app for health self-declaration to the government. Foreign travellers would still need to adhere to a 14-day quarantine after entering Borneo.
Throughout your stay in Sarawak and for your safety as well as others, please wear a face mask whenever you are in public areas, maintain social distancing and wash your hands at every opportunity.
Fill up the e-Health Declaration Form within 12 hours before departure time to ensure you’re eligible to enter Sarawak. Finally, make sure you arrive early at your departure airport to follow health screening requirements.
Sarawak is the perfect destination at any time, but especially now if you want to avoid crowds. Malaysia’s largest state has the lowest population density, which means you can escape from the crowds all year round. And of course all that space makes social distancing easier to practice and dispels some of the worries that come with being in a densely populated place such as the main cities and towns of Semanunjang.
The first stop in our suggestions for a long weekend in Sarawak is the state capital, Kuching. In and around Kuching, there’s a wide variety of natural beauty to explore, from pristine forests to tranquil beaches, all within a short distance from your base in Kuching. And what better spot to shake off all the MCO cobwebs and get an introduction to the state’s thriving wildlife than Bako National Park, Sarawak’s oldest national park? The Bako National Park is a 45-minute drive from Kuching and is located in Bako village. Take a boat from the village for a 30-minute ride to the park. For reservation details, check out their official site.
You can actually spend a long weekend exploring Bako National Park because there are 18 colour-coded jungle trails of varying difficulty levels throughout the park. If you’re a beginner, fret not – choose an easy trail on day one, such as the Tanjung Sapi trail which takes only 30 minutes to cover 700m. Try out the slightly more challenging Teluk Paku trail on day two and walk through a cliff forest to go to a deserted beach. Dutch monkeys are regularly seen on this route! Once you’ve built up your momentum, come back and tackle a more difficult trail on day three! Check out the full list of trails here.
Many visitors to Bako prefer to return to their hotels in Kuching however more adventurous souls can camp at designated areas. Sleeping in this outstanding national park really should be on everyone’s bucket list! There’s nothing quite like a night under canvas in the oldest rainforest in the world. You’ll need a mid size rucksack, proper hiking shoes or sturdy sports shoes with good grip while flip flops for exploring beaches and waterfalls will do. Expect to see the unique proboscis monkey, Bornean bearded pig, silvered langur and the world famous pitcher plants during your visit.
On your way back from Bako National Park we recommend you make a detour to Kampung Muara Tebas. This quaint Malay fishing village has a traditional, authentic feel to it but is also worth visiting for the beautiful scenery against a backdrop of laid back, local culture. The village fronts the estuary of the mighty Sarawak River on the coast and would have been the first village seen by James Brooke as he arrived in Sarawak in 1838. Wander around, mingle with the villagers and enjoy the serene sight of fishing boats setting off as they have done for hundreds of years while taking in the sea air.
One highlight of this Malay village is the Ching San Yan Temple, a 200-year old Chinese temple declared a historic building under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance. Chinese seafarers built the temple centuries ago as an expression of gratitude to their Gods for letting them settle in Sarawak.
It is customary for many Kuchingites to visit the temple during Chinese New Year celebrations to pray for good fortune and prosperity. The Chinese temple’s existence in the Malay village and location near the Muslim cemetery is often seen as a symbol of the harmony and religious tolerance that makes Sarawak so special and a role model for religious harmony and the embodiment of unity in diversity. Whatever your beliefs, you’ll be welcome. Before leaving the village, make sure to also drop by the seafood restaurants in the area for some fresh and delicious fare straight from the sea!
Photo credits: https://unsplash.com/photos/zanBJ1JapzA
There’s a pretty little Orchid Garden in Kuching that most tourists miss. Featuring an astonishing 75,000 orchids, it’s home to the stunning Normah orchid, Sarawak’s state flower. We recommend going there in the cooler hours before dinner, work up a bit of an appetite as you immerse yourself in the sensorial delights of beautiful orchids. Entrance is free! However, call 082 446688 before your visit to ensure the park is open. Under normal circumstances, the park opens Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:30am to 6:00pm.
Still got a day to spare and can’t get enough of the outdoors? Explore more wildlife and learn about them at the Kubah National Park, about 30 minutes out of Kuching. It’s a perfect place to learn about Sarawak’s colourful birdlife and the best time to see them is early morning so start your morning with a bird-watching tour! Explore the natural habitats of numerous exotic forest birds with the help of friendly and knowledgeable English-speaking guides. Well-known birdlife native to the area include the blue-banded pitta, Bornean blue-flycatcher, Bornean Black-magpie and if you hear what sounds like the swoosh of a dragon it can only be the Sarawak hornbill!
If amphibians are more your area of interest, check out the evening frog tour which retails at RM650.00 per pax. This comes inclusive of a tour van and an English-speaking guide to get you sorted for your adventure. With 61 species of frogs in the area, you’re bound to be amazed by the variety of nocturnal life out in the wild. Bring a camera, binoculars, flat shoes with good gripping-soles and insect repellent to ensure a unique experience!
There’s plenty to see and do in Kuching and now is the time to make that long put off visit to an integral part of Malaysia many Malaysians are yet to visit. Ready to pack your bags and go? Great but please, before you leave, familiarise yourself with the necessary precautionary measures and complete this form a minimum of 12 hours before your trip.
Once that’s done, you’re all set for a relaxing escape from the crowds to somewhere very different where you’ll feel at home!
Finally, if you are looking for more things to do in Sarawak, then please visit this site for some fantastic deals that are only available for a limited period.