Late Night Guide: Kuching
We’re always on the lookout for hidden gems and lesser-known cities to satisfy our wanderlust and thirst for adventure. An overcrowded beach or a city filled with tourist traps isn’t anyone’s idea of a relaxing retreat. Located at the southwest tip of Sarawak on the island of Borneo, Kuching is definitely Malaysia’s best kept secret.
With an endless supply of delicious food that is available all day (every day), amazing national parks and a laidback atmosphere to boot, Kuching is an up and coming travel destination that you should add to your bucket list. The Sarawak River weaves through the city, creating a unique landscape which attracts both tourists and locals to flock along the waterfront to grab a bite of their local delights while enjoying the breath-taking views that the city has to offer.
As with all great holiday destinations, the fun doesn’t stop when the sun sets. From unique local eateries to vibrant weekend markets, we’ve cooked up a Late Night Guide to take you through all of Kuching’s hottest hotspots!
The Barber Café & Bar
74, Wayang St, Kuching, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Opening hours: 4:00pm to 1.30am, closed on Mondays
Don’t be fooled by the name and décor! Once an old and iconic barbershop in Kuching, the space has now been transformed into a trendy café and bar known simply as The Barber. Dining in the café almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time as much of the old hairdressing tools and decorations have been kept, preserving a sense of old world charm and nostalgia. This quirky concept, however, is not just a gimmick, The Barber serves a legit selection of gourmet food with a touch of local cuisine. Unique and creative, the menu definitely matches the style of the café!
If there’s one dish you must try, it has to be the Duck Jepun Nasi Penyet, which is a Malaysian-style crispy fried duck paired with aromatic Japanese rice that is seasoned with nori (seaweed) and sesame. It’s also topped with a sunny side up and served with a side of vegetables. A clever fusion of Japanese and Malaysian cuisine, the flavor combination is just to die for. Highly recommended and we’ll eat this all over again!
There’s always room for dessert, and you’ll definitely want to save some space for the O.M.F.G. Shake. The name says it all! This mug of pure indulgence is essentially a banana milkshake topped with popcorn and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce. The rim of the mug is also covered in chocolate because, why not? You might expect the taste to be too sweet and creamy but the addition of crushed ice in the milkshake mixture actually gives it a surprisingly pleasant and refreshing quality. Feel free to treat yourself, but before you dig in, remember to do it for the gram. This shake is extremely photogenic!
Siniawan Night Market
Siniawan, 94000 Bau, Sarawak, Malaysia
Opening hours: Fri to Sun, 5.00pm to 11.00pm
Located 45 minutes from the city centre, Siniawan Night Market is definitely worth the road trip. Upon arriving at the small town, you’ll be greeted by the magical sight of red lanterns, the delicious aroma of food and the soft murmurs of the crowd. Only open on weekends, the market has a fantastic vibe – super local with a perfect balance of liveliness and chill. A great spot to unwind and hang out with family or friends after a full day of sightseeing.
The market consists of two rows of shops with a road filled with tables separating them in the middle. With a total of 48 shops, there are bound to be stalls selling similar food but fret not, foodies – there’s still a wide selection of street food, snacks, cakes and kuihs (Malay pastries) for you to choose from, including grilled meats and seafood, fried chicken wings and rojak. It’s best to come with an empty stomach!
One of our top picks would be the deep fried pork ribs wrapped in water lily leaf. When you unwrap the pork, your mouth will instantly start to water as the aroma hits you, and rest assured, the taste does not disappoint, either. The pork is juicy and oh-so-satisfying, and the water lily leaf has a wonderful umami flavor to it.
Chong Choon Café
275, Jalan Chan Chin Ann, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Opening hours: 6.30am to 12.30pm
The epitome of Sarawakian cuisine has to be the Sarawak Laksa (rice vermicelli noodles in sour spicy soup most commonly served with juicy prawns) and that’s exactly what you should eat at Chong Choon Café. The mark of a good laksa lies in the flavor of the broth and with countless spices and ingredients that go into it, you can bet that this broth has the perfect balance of flavor. Locals usually have this for breakfast and you’ll understand once you get a taste of it because the delicious combination of flavors will wake you right up!
This humble, no-frills café is small and quaint with an old school hawker feel. It opens bright and early in the morning and closes at around noon. It’s normal to see the café packed with customers, so be sure to head down as early as possible as their famous Sarawakian Laksa tend to sell out by 11am. As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm!
Sarawak River Cruise
1st Floor, Lot 42, Section 33, 124, Jalan Tabuan, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Operating hours: 5.30pm to 7.00pm
Going on a cruise along the Sarawak River is the best way to take in the city sights. From the river, you’ll be able to see 19th century Chinese shophouses, quaint Malay villages, and Kuching’s amazing architecture including a golden-domed mosque and a palace with majestic wooden roofs. All these set against a backdrop of the beautiful mountains in the distance, what a sight to behold! The Daily Signature Sunset Cruise is highly recommended as the view looks even more magnificent when bathed in the warm orange hues of the sunset.
Refreshments are served on board so you can enjoy the gentle breeze while sipping on a drink of your choice and nibbling on a variety of tasty Malaysian snacks in the comforts of the spacious Sky Deck. You can’t go wrong with a refreshing glass of orange juice and yummy kueh lapis (layer cake).
Immerse yourself further into the cultures of Kuching as the cruise also offers a traditional performance! Priced at RM65 for adults and RM32 for children, this relaxing cruise experience is an absolute steal.
Kuching Cat Statues
Kuching literally translates to “cat” in Malay. There are a number of theories on the origins of the city’s name, and while it is highly unlikely that it has anything to do with our favorite furry feline, there are still many cat statues built throughout the city. See how many you’re able to find during your trip and don’t forget to take a selfie with them before you leave.
It’s an absolute privilege to discover Kuching’s rich heritage and laidback charm. The city is an ideal destination for a quick weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life! Foodies with a free and easy itinerary can treat themselves to its eclectic mix of quirky eateries and delicious traditional local cuisine! Pack your bags and start eating!