Sarawak's capital city is as culturally diverse as it is openly friendly. It's an absolutely brilliant base from which to explore one or two of Borneo's lesser-known National Parks. Semenggoh Nature Reserve, for instance, is the Borneo orangutan rehabilitation centre that you've never heard of. Bako National Park is another really wild Sarawak secret. As both are close to Kuching, you'll have every opportunity to escape into the jungle before returning to your choice of high-end property overlooking the river.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Kuching's shimmering mosques, temples and cathedrals create peaceful places to pray on the banks of the Sarawak River. This is a city built on diversity. It's somewhere to seek out Chinese districts, Indian enclaves and Indonesian influence, as well as traditional Malay culture among the riverside kampungs. Elsewhere, you'll find tell-tale signs of British colonialism: Fort Margherita, the Governor's Residence and the Old Courthouse are all reminders of times past. Walk along the waterfront and the reflections are much more modern. Street food stalls and air-conditioned food courts offer a local choice of eating delights; kolo mee noodles, kacangma chicken, kompia butter buns and kek lapis layer cake are all worth a try, and the prices away from the prom are much more tasty.
If you're hoping to observe orangutans in Borneo, Semenggoh Nature Reserve is Sarawak's less crowded answer to Sepilok. Often, the orphaned and rescued animals arrive in Semenggoh after having their natural rainforest habitat destroyed. The park's tropical perimeters serve as a natural playground for the animals, giving them the opportunity to roam free as well as a safe place to return to if they're in need of food. If you're looking for an even wilder orangutan experience in Sarawak, Batang Ai National Park is an absolute must. Working in partnership with indigenous Iban communities, Batang Ai is one of Borneo's most sustainable conservation initiatives, providing protection for the animals as well as dedicated education and volunteer programmes.
Bako is Sarawak's oldest and most established National Park with numerous educational programmes and well-marked trails enabling a really immersive wildlife experience. In fact, it's tricky not to feel as if you’re being followed when walking through it! This protected environment is home to an incredibly diverse range of animals, several of which have become accustomed to human visitors. That's not to say that Bako's wildlife is tame - far from it - but if you're walking at dawn or dusk you're very likely to catch sight of at least one or two pairs of bright eyes peering out from the undergrowth. Pendulum-faced proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, flying lemurs and shuffling pangolins are all firm favourites, and certain to get your pulse racing as you step into the Park’s variety of wetland, coast and jungle habitats.
Explore an untamed habitat concealing endangered animals, rare birds and plants with mysterious medicinal properties; all before steeling away for a remote island retreat.