Sarawak is generally less visited by tourists than Peninsular Malaysia. As the capital of the region, Kuching is the main gateway and a great way to visit Sarawak safely. The city is a melting pot of cultures, and as such has a vibrant culinary and cultural scene!
With it being off most tourist radars, it can be hard to figure out which area of Kuching to stay in. The city is large and densely populous, making it trickier to navigate than other cities.
That is why we have created this guide! We have thoroughly researched the city and collected information from expert travel writers to help you choose where to stay in this hidden gem.
So let’s just jump right into it!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Kuching
- Petra Jaya – Best neighborhood in Kuching for your first time
- Kuching City Centre – Where to stay in Kuching close to everything
- Jalan Song Thian Cheok – Where to stay in Kuching for nightlife
- Damai Beach – Best neighborhood in Kuching for families
- Padungan – Where to stay in Kuching on a budget
- Santubong – Best neighborhood in Kuching for couples
- Satok – Where to stay in Kuching for local culture
Where to Stay in Kuching
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Kuching.
Best Hostel in Kuching
This hostel in Padungan is perfect for backpackers visiting Kuching! The communal facilities are fantastic for meeting other guests, and the roof terrace has great views across the city and river. The sleek interiors give it a more upmarket feel, whilst still maintaining great prices.
Best Budget Hotel in Kuching
Kuching and the surrounding areas have plenty of fantastic budget options, but Permai Rainforest Resort is definitely one of the best! It is a truly unique experience, with each guest staying in a lodge surrounded by the rainforests of Santubong and Damai. They also offer great activities.
Best Luxury Hotel in Kuching
This is by far the best splurge option in the City Centre! Attached to a major shopping mall, it is close to all the amenities you require and gives easy access to the waterfront area. What’s more, the facilities are second to none with five restaurants, an outdoor pool and luxury ensuite showers.
Kuching 7 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods in Kuching. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
(Best neighbourhood in Kuching for your first time!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Petra Jaya – discover local plant life and marvel at the orchids at Sarawak Orchid Garden
- BEST place to visit in Petra Jaya – marvel at the beautiful Astana, a palace located in Petra Jaya with gorgeous public gardens
Petra Jaya is the large region just across the river from central Kuching. This is where the city’s Malay population are largely based, and therefore makes it a hub for Malaysian culture in Sarawak! The streets are calmer here, making it a great place to unwind after exploring the region.
It also has some great hole in the wall style restaurants showcasing Malaysian cuisine and local bars where you can meet locals and enjoy budget-friendly drinks. If you are visiting Kuching for the first time, Petra Jaya allows you to ease yourself into the city before exploring the more hectic central region!
- Head to Fort Margherita, a historic fort in the region originally controlled by the British Empire and now run as a tourist attraction
- Check out the quirky Cat Museum, one of the few museums in the world dedicated entirely to our feline friends
- Sample cheap and authentic Malaysian cuisine at the many restaurants across the region – we suggest 3H’s Corner
- Watch orangutans and other Southeast Asian animals at Matang Wildlife Centre
- Admire the modern architecture, well-designed gardens and vast collections of international literature at the Pustaka Negeri Sarawak
- Embed yourself in local religious practices at the Masjid Jamek mosque
Best Hostel Petra Jaya
Though located on the opposite side of the river, this guesthouse is right next to the Golden Bridge and gives you easy access to the area. This is a peaceful hostel with modern interiors that aims to cater to guests of all ages! They organise regular cultural activities and tours across Sarawak.
Best Budget Hotel in Petra Jaya
Set right on the river, this hotel provides guests with spectacular views over Central Kuching! It is great value, with well-equipped rooms and a communal dining area. They have a helpful tour desk that allows you to arrange tours and activities of the city and wider Sarawak.
Best Luxury Hotel in Petra Jaya
Also located just across the river, this luxurious hotel is right next to the quick river connection to Petra Jaya! There is a great restaurant on-site, and a 24 hour help desk to assist you with planning your itinerary. All of the rooms are fully air conditioned with modern fittings, and some come with a river view.
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(Where to stay in Kuching for your first time!)
- COOLEST thing to do in City Centre – shop at the Main Bazaar, a street by the waterfront with market style shops
- BEST place to visit in City Centre – marvel at the Tua Pek Kong temple, the oldest in Kuching!
As with most cities, the centre is the place to be if you want to get around easily and be right in the heart of the action. The real star of the show here is the waterfront! It boasts busy markets, quirky monuments and great views across the river.
This is Kuching’s multicultural hub where you can find yourself hopping between Malaysian, Chinese and Indonesian restaurants within a matter of seconds. Seasoned travellers will love the vibrant nature of this area. It truly has everything you could want out of a Southeast Asian city!
- Take a tour out to Bako National Park and see proboscis monkeys – though it is outside of the city, many of the tour companies depart from the centre
- Stroll along the waterfront to take in the sights and smells of the city, and admire the beautiful temples along the way
- Visit the Sarawak State Museum, filled with ancient artefacts it also has a neighbouring art museum with Islamic and Chinese pieces
- Sample the famous Sarawak coffee at Black Bean Coffee
- Admire the gorgeous Islamic architecture and take part in local religious customs at the Kuching City Mosque
Best Hostel City Centre
This hostel features both capsule style beds and regular bunk beds with curtains, giving you a little extra privacy during your stay! There are large communal areas for meeting other guests to explore the city with, and all rooms are fully air conditioned. This is perfect for backpackers based in the centre.
Best Budget Hotel in City Centre
This hotel is located right next to the waterfront – perfect for getting right into the heart of the action! They offer a full continental breakfast each morning, and rooms are fully air-conditioned. The 24 hour reception offers tourism services as well as luggage storage and currency exchange.
Best Luxury Hotel in City Centre
This is the ultimate in luxury for Kuching! Right on top of the Hills Mall, this is perfectly located for getting around the city easily. There are five restaurants on-site offering a variety of cuisines, and guests have access to an outdoor swimming pool. Rooms have a rain shower, and the breakfast choices are vast.
(Where to stay in Kuching for nightlife!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Jalan Song Thian Cheok – head to the Song Keng Hai Hawker Centre for great local cuisine at budget-friendly prices
- BEST place to visit in Jalan Song Thian Cheok – take some unique photos at the Upside Down House, where all of the furniture is on the ceiling
Jalang Song Thian Cheok is a street sandwiched between Central Kuching and Padungan. Though nightlife is fairly spread out across these areas, Jalan Song Thian Cheok is the epicentre for the bar and club scene in the city. This vibrant street will keep you entertained 24/7
It is also close to many great restaurants, cafes and bars – as well as important monuments and temples. It provides great access to the neighbouring regions and is one of the safest streets in the city despite the varied nightlife. If you are looking for a vibrant atmosphere with plenty to do, this is the place to be!
- Visit Sri Srinivasagar Temple, the only Hindu temple close to the centre of Kuching – it even has a great Indian restaurant!
- Drink at Monkeebar – it has cheap beer and a laid-back vibe, and a third of profits are given to conservation projects across Borneo
- Looking for something a little livelier? Head to Terminal 1 Club, a highly rated nightclub with live performances and great cocktails
- Nurse your hangover at the Alleycat Cafe with great Sarawak coffee and simple (yet delicious) brunch items on the menu
- Enjoy 24/7 local food at budget-friendly prices at SDMM Cafe, just off Jalan Song Thian Cheok
Best Hostel Jalan Song Thian Cheok
This hostel has an easy going atmosphere, giving you a calm respite from the bustling nightlife in the surrounding area! There is a bar on-site with pool tables, making it the perfect way to meet others during a relaxed start to your night. Free WiFi is available, and there is a complimentary breakfast included.
Best Budget Hotel in Jalan Song Thian Cheok
This hotel is conveniently located just off Song Thian Cheok, giving you great access to the nightlife district and the waterfront. There is a restaurant on-site and all rooms are fully air-conditioned with modern conveniences. The WiFi is high speed – perfect for digital nomads and business travellers!
Best Luxury Hotel in Jalan Song Thian Cheok
This is an absolutely stunning hotel close to Song Thian Cheok! There is a rooftop pool providing you with excellent views across the city. The rooms are beautifully furnished with large ensuite bathrooms, and a continental breakfast is served every morning. It is also well located for exploring the city centre.
MUST READ – Heading to Kuala Lumpur next? Check out our post about some of the most fun day trips from Kuala Lumpur!
(Best neighbourhood in Kuching for families!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Damai Beach – discover rural Sarawak culture and the ancient traditions of locals at the Sarawak Cultural Village
- BEST place to visit in Damai Beach – unwind on Damai Beach itself with great views to both the sea and mountains
Damai Beach is located about half an hour north of Kuching, and is a popular resort town with families from both Malaysia and abroad. The laid back town has a very calm atmosphere and offers excellent facilities for visitors! Though outside of the city itself, it offers great transportation if you want to explore further.
Whether you are looking to relax in a country club, or enjoy some adventure activities, Damai Beach has plenty to offer! This is definitely one of the best options if you are looking to get away from the city and get a more typical beach holiday experience.
- Enjoy golf, volleyball and a private beach at the Damai Golf & Country Club – it also has a great guesthouse with multiple dining options
- Experience the warm hospitality of Sarawak locals and discover the importance of fishing in Borneo at the Malay Fishing Village
- Learn about Sarawak’s royal history at the Mausoleum of Sultan Tengah – the only Sultan to have ruled over the region
- Enjoy an active day out with the family at the Permai Rainforest Walk, where you can admire the nature and enjoy a trek through the forest
- Interested in watersports? Head to Aquabase Scuba Diving, who also provide snorkelling and kayaking activities
Best Hostel Damai Beach
BB Bunkers is a great option for families looking for a cheap hostel. The beds are in a pod style, with couples pods and three-person pods available. It is located right on the beach – perfect for enjoying nearby activities! All pods are fully air-conditioned and they have security lockers for you to store your valuables.
Best Budget Hotel in Damai Beach
This is a very unique accommodation option and is incredibly well priced! It is an eco-friendly resort, making it ideal for environmentally conscious visitors. Guests stay in wood cabins right in the rainforest, and a continental breakfast is provided every morning in the Rainforest Cafe on-site.
Best Luxury Hotel in Damai Beach
The Damai Beach Resort is a little slice of luxury in the northern tip of Sarawak! It has its own private beach, outdoor pools and spa facilities. Every room has either a jungle or sea view, giving you a great place to wake up in the morning. They offer outdoor activities in the rainforest, and there are special kids facilities.
Editor’s Note – If you are visiting Malaysia, you HAVE to check out our article about some of the most AMAZING places to visit and things to see in Malaysia!
(Where to stay in Kuching on a budget!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Padungan – tantalise your tastebuds in Chinatown with cuisines from all of the major regions of China
- BEST place to visit in Padungan – discover Kuching’s obsession with cats and learn about their local significance at the Cat Statue
Padungan is the main hub for Kuching’s Chinese population! Chinatown is located in the area, offering plenty of culinary delights, unique stores and a great atmosphere. There are also some interesting monuments and cultural attractions throughout the area, as well as large recreational facilities.
Though most of Kuching is very budget friendly, Padungan is the cheapest area close to the City Centre. Its position on the riverfront offers great scenery, and Jalan Padungan is another great nightlife area of the city with slightly more favourable pricing than Jalan Song Thian Cheok! If you want your money to go further, stay in Padungan.
- Learn about the history of textile making in Sarawak, form the Iban Tribe right through to modern times at the Tun Jugah Foundation
- Keep your fitness levels up with various sporting and recreational activities at the Jubilee Recreation Grounds
- Just south of Chinatown you will find a small area for the Filipino community – we recommend visiting Pinoy Fiesta for great food
- Take in great views of the city and enjoy delicious cocktails, beer and wine on the LimeLight Rooftop Lounge
- Stroll along the Padungan section of the waterfront for a more peaceful experience – perfect for watching the sunset!
Best Hostel Padungan
This hostel has modern interiors and slick customer service that will make you feel welcome throughout your stay! There is a rooftop terrace for socialising with other guests, and a small indoor dipping pool to relax in after a day of exploring. All rooms are air-conditioned and they offer both privates and shared.
Best Budget Hotel in Padungan
The Meritin Hotel is great value for money! They provide a complimentary breakfast every morning at the on-site restaurant, and the ensuite bathrooms are large and equipped with modern conveniences. The shared lounge is a great place to mingle with other guests, and there is a small business centre if required.
Best Luxury Hotel in Padungan
Located right next to a shopping mall, this hotel gives you great access to the waterfront and nearby facilities! All rooms are air conditioned, and come with great views of either the waterfront of the city. There is an outdoor pool and three restaurants on-site, with an Asian style breakfast provided each morning.
Editor’s Note – Have you seen our guide to the most underrated and coolest neighborhoods in Penang?
(Best neighbourhood in Kuching for couples!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Santubong – take a hike up Mount Santubong, with lush rainforests along the way and great views from the top
- BEST place to visit in Santubong – visit Santubong Beach, which is much calmer and more relaxed than neighbouring Damai Beach
Located right next to Damai Beach, Santubong is also a little out of the city but great for a short getaway. As it is not quite as touristy as its northern neighbour, Santubong has an even more laid-back atmosphere and great outdoor activities. It is particularly popular with couples looking for a weekend getaway!
Santubong Beach itself has great views across the sea, and the spectacular Mount Santubong is surrounded by gorgeous forests and unique recreational activities! Though the restaurants here are a little more expensive than in the city, they offer high-quality seafood and Malaysian cuisine.
- Discover historical sites across the region including Batu Bergambar and the Cursed Crocodile Stone – many of the artefacts date back centuries!
- Head to Escobar for great drinks – it is especially popular in the evenings where you can watch the sunset over the South China Sea
- Hire a kayak at Permai Beach Resort and enjoy a relaxing paddle in the sea
- Head into the jungle to discover rock pools, luscious vegetation and great hiking trails – including one that goes around the mountain
- Take a cruise through the nature of the Santubong Peninsula and Kuching with the Kuching Wetlands Cruise
Best Hostel Santubong
The Village House is a truly beautiful hostel with wooden details and exposed balustrades. It has an outdoor pool available for all guests! Their no-children policy ensures a peaceful atmosphere, and they also offer private suites with cable TV and Nespresso machines. Both private and shared bathrooms have rain showers.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Santubong
As Santubong is a little pricier than other areas, there are no budget hotels – however, the Culvert provides great value as a mid-range offering! The unique suites offer pod style beds giving you a secluded space to rest. There is a private beach area, as well as on-site restaurants and an outdoor pool.
Best Luxury Hotel in Santubong
A little further out from Santubong village, Cove 55 is a secluded gem! It is the perfect choice for couples looking to splurge on a relaxing vacation, with a large outdoor infinity pool that faces the sea. All rooms come with balconies and rain showers, and the on-site restaurant serves continental and full English breakfasts.
(Where to stay in Kuching for local culture!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Satok – head to the weekend market to embed yourself in local culture and pick up a bargain on souvenirs and food
- BEST place to visit in Satok – visit Reservoir Park to see koi fish, terrapins and Japanese style gardens
Located just west of Kuching City Centre, Satok is usually off most visitors’ radars, however, offers a lot if you are interested in discovering the local way of life! The lack of tourism to the area has kept it authentic, and there are plenty of cultural activities to participate in whilst there.
It is also a much calmer area than the City Centre, so is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle! It is well connected to the more well-known tourist areas to the east, and to Petra Jaya by a bridge in the west.
- Learn how to cook like the people of Sarawak with Bumbu Cooking Class – they have different classes depending on what dishes most interest you
- Visit Mirage Spa for a truly luxurious holistic experience with modern facilities and top-notch customer service
- Sample Sarawak coffee and next level mouthwatering baked good at Mita Cake House
- Looking for something more active? Take a bike tour through the city with Paradesa Borneo, who depart from Satok
- Visit the Brooke Gallery to learn about the British annexation of Sarawak, the White Rajahs period and the independence movement
Best Hostel Satok
Kenyalang Urban Lodge is located in the Malay village area of Satok, taking you to the heart of local culture! It is housed in a large bungalow, giving it a homely vibe. The Urban Lodge is a collection of two hostels and a private apartment, giving you a great level of choice.
Best Budget Hotel in Satok
Located just off Jalan Satok, the Serapi Hotel is a great basic option if you are looking to save some cash but want a private room. There is an on-site restaurant that offers both continental and buffet breakfast options! The interior decor draws inspiration from local culture.
Best Luxury Hotel in Satok
This lavish hotel is located on the edge of Satok, giving you great access to the City Centre as well! There is free parking for all guests – perfect if you are hiring a car. The hotel has six restaurants and an outdoor pool, as well as kids facilities for families to use.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Kuching?
Kuching is a beautiful and vibrant city that should definitely be included on your Malaysian itinerary – or visited as a destination in its own right! It offers a slightly calmer atmosphere than the country’s larger city but still has the great attractions and cuisine.
In terms of best area, we have to go with Padungan! The area has great cuisine, is very budget friendly and hosts a wide range of the city’s cultures.
We hope this guide has helped you figure out the best area in Kuching for you. The city is just waiting to be explored, and we are sure you will love your time there!
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments.
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