Choose from 136 Fun Things to Do in Malaysia
Bako National Park is Sarawak’s oldest national park and, at 2,728 hectares (6,738 acres), is also one of its smallest. It packs a lot in for its size, however, containing almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo.
Sitting on a promontory at the mouths of the Sarawak and Bako rivers, Bako National Park contains no less than seven eco-systems – from cliff and coastal vegetation to mangrove, peat swamp and dipterocarp forest and grasslands.
But it is the wildlife most people come for - the rare proboscis monkey, macaques, monitor lizards and bearded pigs – that, and the amazing number of pitcher and canivorous plants that call the National Park home.
Bako National Park is only 37km (23mi) from Kuching, and is an easy day trip from Kuching, though a longer stay is highly recommended.
Set on the northern bank of the Sarawak River no visitors are allowed to enter the interior of the Astana, the one exception being the annual Hari Raya festival at the end of the month of Ramadan. During all other times of the year, however, visitors to Kuching are encouraged to wander the well-manicured palace grounds and peruse the various ethnic artifacts which lay scattered amongst the property. It’s a popular hangout for locals and a serene spot to enjoy a sunset while gazing back at the Kuching waterfront.
During the time of Rajah Charles Brooke, it was understood that he planted a grove of betel nut trees behind the Astana in order to offer them to visiting Dayak chiefs, and although not entirely open to the public, the Astana is nonetheless one of the more important architectural and historical monuments pertaining to the curious history of Kuching.
- Be mindful that the Batu Caves are a sacred site so be sure to dress modestly.
- Avoid feeding the monkeys as they can behave unpredictably.
- Make sure you stop at the easy-to-miss Cave Villa, located halfway up the steps.
- If you want to explore the Dark Cave, make sure you book a tour in advance.
Though the fort saw no major military action, executions of prisoners were carried out in the fortress courtyard up until the Japanese occupation of Sarawak during World War II. At one point a police museum occupied a portion of the fortress grounds, although it has been a number of years since the artifacts and displays were removed.
Though there isn’t much action that still takes place at Fort Margherita, it nonetheless is an important part of Kuching history and a monument to the heritage of Brooke Dynasty rule. To reach Fort Margherita visitors must pay a nominal fee to cross the Sarawak River by sampan boat and then continue down an unmarked footpath before reaching the fortress grounds. Though the fortress has recently fallen into disrepair, it’s still worth the journey simply to climb the spiral staircase of the watchtower for a panoramic view of one of the more curious territories in the history of modern Malaysia.
When Captain Francis Light landed on this spot in 1786 and took the island from the Sultan he built a wooden fort, Fort Cornwallis, to defend it against the French, Kedah and pirates during the Napoleonic Wars.
Rebuilt in 1808 using Indian convict labour it is the largest and most intact fort in Malaysia. Once protected by a great moat this was filled in after a malaria outbreak in the 1920s.
The famous great cannons guarding Fort Cornwallis date back as far as the 17th century.
On the edge of water on Jalan T. S. S. Barakbah (off Lebuh Light), Fort Cornwallis can easily be reached on foot from central Georgetown.
Grass Lawns and park areas nearby along the esplanade offer a popular spot to picnic and cool off with ice cream in the shade.