Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, is by far the most exotic. This land of the hornbill, the near extinct Orangutans and the fabled White Rajahs is considered Borneo’s “hidden paradise”. Its rainforest, the size of Austria, is home to the world’s richest and most diverse eco-system; here snakes and squirrels that fly, plants that eat insects and small mammals, and a myriad of unique flora and indigenous animals reside. Beyond the famed national parks and caves, it is also blessed with a rich cultural heritage.
Kuching, Sarawak’s capital and major city is home to 26 native groups, each with their own interesting traditions and heritage. At Kuching’s doorstep, Sarawak Cultural Village provides a remarkable snapshot of Sarawak’s multi-ethnic society. This live museum introduces visitors to the various native groups of East Malaysia.
The village is a replica of lifestyles that showcase the dwellings, crafts and traditions of ten major indigenous groups. The Bidayuh headhouse, where skulls were stored, the Iban longhouse, where locals live in communal fashion weaving traditional crafts, the Melanau tallhouses, built on high stilts because these peoples were fishermen who lived by the sea – these are just some of the models of the cultural heritage embraced by Sarawak. Traditional dances performed here are colorful, vibrant and energetic, and incorporate visitors into the local traditions. Sarawak Village is not only an education, but a unique vacation experience tremendously popular with children!
Among its national parks, Bako National Park, the oldest and smallest of Sarawak’s parks boasts an array of wildlife like unequaled in such a small area. Here bearded wild pigs, silver-leaf monkeys, monitor lizards and the rare and unusual Proboscis monkey reside. Batang Ai National Park features a rainforest like no other, with wildlife including orangutans, gibbons and hornbills. The park offers magnificent wilderness travel including jungle treks and fishing trips of every kind. Gunung Gading National Park boasts the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, as well as wonderful mountain streams for swimming.
Gunung Mulu National Park, the largest of Sarawak’s reserves is an unspoilt wilderness offering vacation adventures of every kind – trekking, caving and wildlife watching. Its most famous attractions are the Pinnacles, a stone forest of razor sharp limestone peaks soaring 45 km. above the rainforest, and the “Headhunters Trail” which follows an old tribal warpath. Near the coast, Niah Caves National Park protects the centerpiece of Sarawak’s attractions – the Great Cave, one of the largest in the world.
For rest and relaxation, nothing beats laid back, quiet Kuching, with its fair share of charms. Kuching, meaning cat, houses the Cat Museum, the only one of its kind in the world, which features anything and everything related to cats. Many old buildings of European, Chinese, local and native origin, dating back as far as 1600, can still be seen here. The city is divided by the Sarawak River and its waterfront is not to be missed. On the regional side, adventures of every kind and for every age are to be had – the crocodile farm, Semmenggoh wildlife sanctuary, the Wind Cave and the Fairy Cave are just some of these attractions.
Combining adventure, wildlife and culture, Sarawak is indeed Malaysia’s hidden paradise and a perfect destination for family adventure travel!