Sarawak-the largest state of Malaysia-is better known as the land of fabled White Rajahs, the hornbill and the orangutan. Located on the northwestern shore of the island of Borneo, Sarawak is a preferred tourist destination for those seeking culture, nature and adventure tourism. The rainforests of Sarawak are home to the richest and most diverse ecosystem of the world. The rich flora and fauna include the world's largest flower Rafflesia, squirrels and snakes that fly, plants that eat insects and various other species of plants and insects that are yet to be discovered.
Due to its location along the ancient trade routes of the China Sea,
Sarawak was a center for trade for merchants from China, India and
Arabia. Chinese coins and Han pottery found at the mouth of the Sarawak
River show that Chinese traders had been on Sarawak from as early as the
7th century. Besides trade, immigrants came to Sarawak to take advantage
of its abundant natural resources, which included gold, antimony,
timber, and the famous Sarawak black and white pepper.
Sarawak later fell under the control of Sumatra's powerful Srivijayan
Empire, which reached its height in the 11th and 12th centuries. Many
Sumatran Malays settled in Borneo during this time. About a century
later, Srivijaya Empire crumbled under the attacks of the Hindu-Javanese
kingdom of Majapahit, and this period left a considerable number of
Indian remains in Sarawak. The Majapahit Empire fell in the early 15th
century, just as Islam, which was introduced by Muslim traders, was
gaining a foothold in the coastal areas of Borneo. Sarawak then came
under the control of the Malay Sultanate of Brunei
In 1839, when Sarawak was rebelling against the Brunei Sultanate, an
English adventurer named James Brooke arrived and volunteered to quell
the revolt. Brooke was successful, and as a reward the Pengiran Mahkota
of Brunei made Brooke the Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. James was succeeded
by his nephew Charles Brooke in 1868, who in turn was succeeded by his
eldest son Charles Vyner in 1917.
During the Second World War Sarawak was occupied by Japanese forces,
but it was subsequently ceded to Britain after the war and became a
British Crown Colony. Sarawak joined Malaysia in 1963 and today observes
a democratic system of government.
Sarawak has equatorial climate. It is hot and humid throughout the year
with average daily temperature ranging from 23°C during the early
hours of the morning to 32°C during the day. It experiences two
monsoons. The North East Monsoon, which usually occurs between November
to February, brings with it heavy rainfall. The South West Monsoon from
June to October is usually milder. Despite our monsoon seasons, the
climate in Sarawak remains fairly stable throughout the year. Annual
rainfall varies between 3300 mm to 4600 mm for the greater part of the
Best Time to Visit
The best time of year for visiting Sarawak is from March to August and
October - November.
Tourist Attractions / Places to See
Sarawak Museum: Located in Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, Sarawak
Museum is one of Asia's finest museums. It houses a collection of
Bornean ethnological and archaeological items and an exhibition
featuring a reconstruction of the great Niah Caves, with remains of the
Neolithic people who lived in the Caves
The Sunday Open Market: The Sunday Open Market exhibits a vast
variety of handicraft items that include woodcarvings, beadwork, bamboo
and rattan products, woven clothes, hats, baskets, sleeping mats and
Kuching Skrang River Safari: The river safari is a four-hour
journey along the Skrang River and will take you to the Iban longhouses.
The safari is a thrilling affair as it occasionally shoots the rapids.
Pepper Plantations: Sarawak is Malaysia's largest exporter of
pepper. Pepper plantations can be seen along the Kuching-Serian Road.
The Sarawak Cultural Village and Heritage Center: A living
museum located at Santubong, the Sarawak Cultural Village conserves and
portrays the multi-faceted cultures and customs of ethnic groups such as
the Ibans, Bidayuhs, and Melanaus. The Heritage Center is an integral
part of the cultural village, which offers traditional arts of
Santubong Fishing Village: Santubong is an attractive beach
resort. Hindu and Buddhist archaeological remains have also been found
National Parks: Sarawak is also home to a number of National
Parks. Some of the famous National Parks are Bako National Park, Batang
Ai National Park, Gunung Gading National Park, Gunung Mulu National
Park, Lambir Hills National Park, Similajau National Park, and Tanjung
Datu National Park
Caves of Sarawak: Sarawak's massive limestone outcroppings are
honeycombed with caves, carved over millions of years by the run off
from tropical downpours. While most of the caves are for serious and
well-equipped cavers only, sections of the more accessible passages have
been equipped with lights and marked paths for tourists. They are:
Clearwater and Wind Cave, Deer Cave and Lang's Cave, Wind Cave &
Sarawak is a wonderful place for buying antiques and handicrafts. In
Kuching, the Main Bazaar, once the main shopping area fronting the port,
has been preserved as a colorful reminder of the city's trading past.
Now it houses dozens of arts and crafts, curio and antique shops as well
as travel agents offering up-country adventures. Similar shops in Sibu,
Miri and Kapit also sell native handicrafts and antiques.
Some of the popular buys include Iban umbu (hand-woven textiles) that
make attractive wall hangings or table covers and Malay kain songket,
which is a popular fabric intricately woven with threads of gold and
How to Reach Sarawak
The capital of Sarawak is Kuching. Kuching International Airport has
direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bandar Seri Begawan and Perth
in Western Australia and to Hong Kong via Kota Kinabalu.
There are also direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Miri and Sibu, from
Johor Bahru to Kuching, and from Kota Kinabalu and Labuan to Kuching and
Sarawak is also well connected by road to all the major towns of
Malaysia and buses are available for Sarawak from all the major cities.