Things to do in Kuching with Kids – Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo

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Not a lot has been written about things to do in Kuching with kids, but I think that this will soon change. Family Travel in Malaysian Borneo is becoming more popular and more accessible to adventurous travelers, including families. Here are our Sarawak family travel tips: what to do, where to stay, and what to eat in Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak, Borneo.

Things to Do in Kuching with Kids

Kuching is one of my new favorite cities in Southeast Asia. We’ve spent lots of time in Malaysia, and love exploring this fascinating, safe and diverse country. In fact, our recent trip to Borneo made us realize that there was so much more to discover.

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Where is Kuching?

Malaysian Borneo consists of two main states: Sabah in the northeast and Sarawak in the southwest. Most people know Sabah for the city of Kota Kinabalu. We had a great time in Kota Kinabalu and will recommend it to all adventurous families.

The other main state of Malaysian Borneo is Sarawak, with Kuching as its capital. We loved both places but noticed significant differences between spending time in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching with kids.

Kota Kinabalu vs Kuching: Sabah & Sarawak with Kids

To us, family travel in Kota Kinabalu is more fast-paced. The streets seemed more active and energized. There were lots of activities for travelers, too: snorkeling, scuba diving and all manner of watersports. Streets are more crowded and people are hustling.

Touts and restauranteurs were more assertive, too. Not aggressive like some places in Southeast Asia, though. For example,  we love Vietnam, but sellers there can be a bit pushy. In Kota Kinabalu (a.k.a. “KK”), they are assertive, but not in your face.

In contrast, Sarawak seemed to move at a much slower pace. There are plenty of things to do in Kuching with kids, but the town felt more laid-back than Kota Kinabalu. The beautiful riverside promenade was mellow. And the colorful shops on side streets reminded me more of Penang or even Taiwan.

Put another way, if I could only visit one city in Borneo I’d visit Kota Kinabalu. But if I wanted to live in one city in Borneo, it would be Kuching. Seriously: I thought about it.

Getting Around Kuching with Kids

Downtown Kuching is a very walkable city. Sidewalks are wide and clean, and we enjoyed walking from our hotel in Chinatown to the promenade. Walking at night is cool and safe.

For everything else, there are taxis. We used buses a few times (for example, to get out to Bako National Park mentioned below) but in general, we used apps like Grab and Uber the entire time.

Some of the National Parks and wildlife tours require a boat to get in and out.

Things to Do in Kuching with Kids

The Kuching Riverfront

Out of all the things to do in Kuching with kids, this is possibly the easiest and most recommended. This particular stretch of the Kuching river is lined with sidewalks, food stalls, restaurants and other places to pass the time. It’s easy to find and has fences along the water so you don’t need to worry about little ones falling in.

There are small boats that can take you to the other side, as well, for only a few ringgit for each person.

Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking

This was one of the best things we did in Sarawak with kids. Fun, beautiful, and easy, this is downstream kayaking which is a lot easier than sea kayaking.

The brothers that served as our guides were fun, courteous and professional. The river was calm and easy. The meal served afterward was filling and delicious.

Hiking and Jungle Trekking

Things to do in Kuching with Kids — Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo Bako National Park Hiking jungle trekking

One of the best things to do in Borneo is to experience its amazing flora and fauna. How better to do this than to go for a hike? There are a number of huge national parks near Kuching. You can hire a guide or go there yourself by bus, taxi, or a hired driver.

Bako National Park

Bako National Park is one of the most popular options. This is one of the easiest parks to reach from town and one of the most recommended things to do in Kuching. Here you may see butterflies, bearded pigs, and many species of simian, including the famous proboscis monkey

Notice I said that you “may” see them. There are no guarantees with wildlife. For example, when we went, we saw almost no animals aside from one big boar and some bright blue crabs on the beach.

Then again, we left late and arrived in the park during the hottest part of the day. A friend of mine went about a month later, stayed in the park overnight, and saw nearly everything he wanted to see.

Things to do in Kuching with Kids — Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo Gunung Mulu jungle trekking

Gunung Mulu National Park

Another national park worth considering is Gunung Mulu National Park with its stone pinnacles, biodiversity, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Then there is Niah National Park, with more rainforest flora and fauna, as well as cave paintings that go back thousands of years.

We only visited Bako National Park simply because of its proximity to Kuching. It’s easily one of the most accessible national parks in Borneo.

Dolphin Watching & Wildlife Tour

Things to do in Kuching with Kids — Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo dolphin watching tour

About a half hour from downtown Kuching is the village of Santubong. From here and other locations you can book tours on boats with locals. This can be a great way to see monkeys, crocodiles, and — if you’re lucky — a pod of Irrawaddy dolphins.

Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Kuching

Things to do in Kuching with Kids — Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo orangutan

Another wildlife opportunity is to see orangutans in the wild. Well, the semi-wild, anyway. This isn’t a zoo, and the Rangers don’t control when and where the orangutans will come to feed. That said, it can be a great place to see them in a natural habitat.

If you would rather see them in the wild, then consider visiting Bukit Lawang in Sumatra, Indonesia. It’s not far from Kuching, and other Malaysian destinations, and we loved it so much we went twice.

Sarawak Cultural Village

Things to do in Kuching with Kids — Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo sarawak cultural center

There are many indigenous groups living in Borneo. If you’re in Kuching with kids, this can be an interesting cultural experience.

You may find the performance a bit schmaltzy, but kids will love t. Even teens will enjoy…especially if you let them try the blowgun.

Cat Museum, Cat Statues, and Cat Cafes, etc

Things to do in Kuching with Kids — Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo cat statues

Kuching is known as “cat city” (the name “Kuching” literally means “cat” in Malay). If you’re a cat lover, then you’ll enjoy this. But if not (my son and I both have severe cat allergies), then feel free to skip this one.

For the record, the city isn’t teeming with cats as you might suspect (we were a little worried). Sure, there are strays, but no more/less than we saw in Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Lombok or the Gilis during the same 8-week period. If anything, I think we saw more cats in the Gilis than anywhere.

Sarawak Museum

Taxidermy, longhouses, and headhunters. If you find these things interesting, then the Sarawak Museum may be something to do in Kuching with kids. Entry is free, but no pictures are allowed. It is air-conditioned, but it’s an old drafty building.

Where to Eat in Kuching with Kids

Things to do in Kuching with Kids — Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo Sarawak laksa noodles street food

There is plenty of great food to try in Kuching with kids. Many people talk about the trying kek lapis, a colorful local pastry. We liked it — think of it like a tye-dyed pound cake. That said, when it’s time for something more substantial, see our short list of where to eat in Kuching below.

Topspot Fishmarket

This outdoor dining area is located on the roof of a downtown shopping center. Basically, Topspot isn’t one restaurant but a dozen of them. Most of them are the seafood-on-ice type place, where you pick your fish and pay by the kilo. Lots of shellfish and veggies, as well.

You can try a number of cooking styles. If you don’t like spicy food, make sure they know that. We tried sweet & sour on a fried fish and something called “wet butter” on shrimp, and we liked both very much.

Chong Choon Cafe

This breakfast spot has about 10-15 hawker stalls to choose from. There’s something for everyone here: sweet, savory, spicy and possibly all three at once.

Min Hong Kee

Another hawker-stall center in-between buildings near the Check-In Lodge in Chinatown. Noodles, dumplings, juice and more.

Noodle Descendants

Right across the street from Check-In Lodge, this pork noodle shop is very popular. The service was very slow when we were there, but it was worth it.

Not for everyone, though. This is Chinese style pork noodles. Each bowl comes with many parts of the pig, including intestines and other offal.

Where to Stay in Sarawak with Kids

The Kebun

This is a very unique place to stay in Sarawak with kids. These refurbished longhouses sit in virgin rainforest about an hour outside Kuching.

This is not a hotel. This is a working farm and a great way to experience ecotourism in Borneo with kids.

The Kebun rents out four cars with navigation systems. That way you can drive there yourself and have access to greater Sarawak with kids while you’re there. Roads and infrastructure in Borneo are some of the best in Southeast Asia. We drive all over the Peninsula, and will happily drive in Borneo next time we visit.

We planned to stay here because it had been recommended to me a number of times. Then we discovered that they had lots of cats on the property. My son and I are severely allergic to cats (it’s a drag, I know), so in the end, we couldn’t stay.

Check In Lodge

This clean and bright hostel was so nice that we stayed there twice. Located in Chinatown, the Check In Lodge was well-located and staffed by imminently cheerful young local women.

From the front entrance (shoes off!) to the 3 floors of rooms, everything was clean and air-conditioned. The wifi worked well, too.

They have rooms with private bath, but we booked a 4-bunk room for our family. They even held our stuff for while we went to Kota Kinabalu and back.

Conclusion: Things to Do in Kuching with Kids

We loved visiting Sarawak with children and will be happy to return. The small, sleepy downtown is charming. The opportunities for nature and wildlife unique. The local indigenous cultures fascinating. What’s not to like?

Do you know of other fun things to do in Kuching with kids? Tell us in the comments, or contact me directly.


Things to do in Kuching with Kids — Sarawak Family Travel in Borneo

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find fun things to do in Kuching with kids. Family travel in Borneo is great, so if you’re headed to Sarawak with children I hope that this post helps you a lot.

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