Kuching Travel Tips - Helpful hints and advice on local destination information
Customs and etiquette
As in all Muslim destinations, displays of affection are frowned upon and though a simple kiss will not land you in jail, it will offend the people you are visiting so be respectful. Clean covering clothes must be worn on entering a mosque and shoes must be removed, as in Muslim people's houses. The majority of people in Kuching are Christian so remember that some shops will close on Sundays.
Alcohol is frowned on in Muslim society but is still widely available as Malaysian culture welcomes people from all walks of life. Tipping is not routine when dining out in Kuching though upscale restaurants may include a 10 percent service charge.
The Malaysian ringgit (MYR) is the local currency. You will have many opportunities to change money as there are plenty of banks with exchange counters. Moneychangers in local shopping areas offer much more competitive rates than those in banks, hotels and especially, the airport.
Cash is essential in the market stalls like those at Sunday Market or Main Bazaar though travelers won't have to go far to find an ATM. Credit cards are widely accepted at large department stores, upscale boutiques and international restaurants.
Most of the more regular Western goods like electrical items, unless you declare them duty free, are about the same price, however, local handicrafts like batik are very good value here, as is clothing.
Kuching has a tropical rainforest climatenot very hot but humid and very wet. It receives an average of five hours sunshine per day and the wettest months are November through to February. It is wise for these reasons to carry an umbrella at all times whilst visiting as downpours can be frequent. In the middle of the year a heat haze cuts down visibility.
Dry season is from June until August when because of humidity, temperatures can rise to 42˚C and make the city a less popular destination at these times. The best time of year to visit is early spring from March through May when there is better weather and visibility.
Bus transportation is difficult in Kuching as the buses are old, often not air-conditioned and maps are hard to find. It is best to sit in the front part of the bus so that you can ask the driver questions about the destination. Pick pocketing is common on buses so be aware of your belongings at all times.
A safer and more convenient public transport system is the yellow roofed shuttle buses. Beware of illegal buses as they are uninsured in the event of an accident you will not be covered. Taxis are a little expensive in Kuching and you will have to remind the driver to use the meter. Many hotels provide mini bus taxis, which are by far the best option.
However, travel to and from Kuching International Airport (KCH) is more controlled as the numerous taxis that wait outside have fixed prices. Mini buses and public buses are also plentiful in the airport area.
For destinations on Sarawak River, river taxis offer daily services at various points along the Kuching Waterfront. These are inexpensive and a very relaxing way to get around. However, the city is small and very pedestrian friendly and there are delightful walks along Kuching Waterfront and in Little India.
Spoken languages: Malay, English
Electrical: 220-240 Volts, 50 Hertz
Phone/calling code: +606 82
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