With more Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) opening up, it’s the perfect time to start planning that long-awaited getaway. There are plenty of things to do in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. And since it’s a holiday destination so close to Singapore (just a 90-minute flight), it’s also a great option for a weekend getaway. From golf and beach escapes to cultural discoveries, here are some activities and accommodation options so you can plan your stay in Sarawak.
Where to stay in Sarawak
Damai Beach Resort
Beyond its lush forests and interesting cities, Sarawak will also appeal to lovers of sun, sand and surf. Damai Beach Resort, on a peninsula of the same name just north of Kuching, is set between greenery and gorgeous beaches. When you’re not taking in the surrounds, explore the rest of the Damai Peninsula or take a dip in the resort’s two pools. The rooms and suites are bright and airy and feature traditional wood elements; there’s also a suite styled after a traditional longhouse.
Food-wise, Cafe Satang offers all-day dining, with a menu of classic local and international dishes. For a spot to wind down with a drink after exploring the area, head to Santubong Bar. And, if the beach setting hasn’t already lulled you into a sense of calm, visit Sadau Massage & Spa and let the expert therapists knead your aches away. There’s also a tour agency at the hotel, which makes it a breeze to find fun things to do in Sarawak.
Riverside Majestic Hotel Astana Wing
The premier Astana Wing of the Riverside Majestic Hotel overlooks the scenic Sarawak River and offers great views of the waterfront and the iconic State Assembly Building. The wing is located in the heart of Kuching’s entertainment, dining and shopping district so you’ll have easy access to all the city has to offer. A range of rooms and suites is available, with all the comforts you need, from minibar to Wi-Fi and LCD TV.
You can dine within the hotel, too; there are five restaurants, lounges and cafés to choose from. Sape Restaurant has a show kitchen that highlights local favourites along with Western classics. For an elevated fine dining experience, Suasana on the 18th floor provides a 180 degree view of the city and is perfect for a romantic dinner. And, for a nightcap, pay a visit to the Sky Lounge and take in the views of Kuching’s waterfront while enjoying a selection of wine, spirits and draught beers. The hotel also has a pool and a gym.
What to do in Sarawak
Damai Golf and Country Club
So you’ve explored Mulu’s remarkable caves and come face-to-face with Sarawak’s orangutans – how about a little recreation? Set by the foothills of Mount Santubong, the Damai Golf and Country Club is the first in Malaysia to feature a course designed by golfing legend Arnold Palmer. Here you can tee off at the club’s international standard championship 18-hole, par 72 course. The course features both a mountain nine and an ocean 9 that are distinct in character. There’s some spectacular scenery, thanks to sprawling grounds that border beaches, rugged outcrops and mangrove forests.
Facilities at the club include a golf shop, VIP room and a restaurant specialising in local cuisine. There’s also a driving range and a putting green. While the club doesn’t offer accomodation, Damai Beach Resort and Riverside Majestic Hotel are five and 20 minutes away respectively.
Sarawak Cultural Village Kuching
For a deeper understanding of the state’s vibrant culture, a visit to this ‘living museum’ is one of the best things to do in Sarawak. At the village’s air-conditioned theatre, award-winning dancers and musicians stage multi-cultural performances that introduce guests to Sarawak’s culture. The exciting show sees Orang Ulu women perform dances inspired by the patterns of hornbills; and fearsome Iban warriors perform the ngajat to booming gongs and traditional instruments.
If you love the sound of the instruments, visit the Rainforest Music House and learn how to play them yourself! You can also head to the Legend Hall to view a gallery of traditional costumes.
The cultural village is also home to a collection of ethnic longhouses and buildings that guests can explore. Each longhouse is built in the traditional style of Sarawak’s many ethnic groups, including the Bidayuh, Iban and Orang Ulu. Download the Sarawak Cultural Village App for a virtual tour of the houses. The app also features a treasure hunt (available March 2022) that will keep the kids occupied.
What to eat in Sarawak
After immersing yourself in Sarawak’s culture, and perhaps a round or golf, you’re likely to have worked up an appetite. If you’re completely flummoxed by Sarawak’s many specialty dishes, start your culinary explorations with a bowl of Sarawak kolo mee. A favourite here, it consists of springy egg noodles tossed in a light fragrant sauce and topped with minced meat and slices of char siew. Another classic dish is Sarawak laksa. Distinct from laksa in Singapore or Penang, it’s made with a shrimp, tamarind, lemongrass and coconut milk for a rich, intensely flavoured broth.
Want to go off the beaten (culinary) path? Try manok pansoh, a tribal dish associated with the Dayak and Iban tribes. It’s made with chicken marinated in ginger, tapioca leaves and lemongrass. Its distinct taste and remarkable tenderness is a result of a unique cooking method; the marinated chicken is stuffed into a bamboo log and roasted over an open fire.
For more information on things to do in Sarawak and where to stay, click here.
Readers in Singapore who’d like more information on Sarawak tourism, trade and investment opportunities, can visit the Sarawak Trade & Tourism Office (STATOS Gallery) at #01-02A at 80 Robinson Road (open weekdays, 9.30am to 5pm). There’s also Retail@Gallery, a new initiative by STATOS, showcasing authentic Sarawak handicrafts including unique Penan handwoven bags and foods. You can also stay up to date on current operating hours and updated information on Sarawak at fb.com/statossg.
Written in collaboration with STATOS and SEDC.