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Kuching 6 Day Self Drive Holiday · Summary of The First 8 Hours

Kuching is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, an accolade awarded by the United Nations in 2021. 

We set off on a 6 day self drive, free and easy adventure of discovery of Kuching food, people and places.

I was surprised and delighted that the flight from Singapore Changi Airport to Kuching International Airport took only 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Kuching UNESCO City of Gastronomy could become our alternative playground. Let's find out what it has to offer during the next six days.

Immigration and customs at Kuching International Airport was a breeze.

We rented a local car which was waiting for us at the airport when we arrived.

We were in our car, on the way to our hotel within 30 minutes of landing, partly because the airport wasn't busy when we arrived.
Our local buddy Chai (left), born and raised in Kuching is a Kuching food and culture expert. Chai is a columnist with Sin Chew newspaper

Chai's passion and in-depth knowledge of Sarawak food, history and culture is amazing and he shares it generously. Our trip benefited greatly from his friendship and hospitality 🙏

On our way to hotel, we stopped at Nuromen Cafe for a quick bite and coffee. Nuromen's signature is beef noodle, Sarawak style. It is kolo mee noodles with beef in a dark beefy soup at the side. It is eaten with a chili sauce heavily spiked with blue ginger or galangal.

While enjoying our first meal in Kuching, we received our official welcome from the Kuching South City Council. It was handwritten, so touching 😂

So glad we can settle our parking fine right there at the collection booth at the carpark.

Next stop was the historic Jalan Padungan (where our hotel is conveniently located). No, that gleaming glass tower is the spanking new Sheraton Kuching Hotel, not our hotel 😄

We checked in and drop our bags at The Meritin Hotel less than a km from Sheraton.

We hit the streets without a pause - so excited 😄

Chai brought us to CPH Travel (#70 Jalan Padungan) - founded in 1968, it is one of the oldest travel agencies in Sarawak.

Before leaving Singapore, I was reading up on Kuching history and came across reviews of a book Children of the Monkey God by FS Choo. I mentioned to Chai that I hoped to buy a copy, if it is available. I knew it is a rare book with limited quantities printed.

The Choo family who runs CPH Travel gifted us a copy of the precious book each. The book is about the Choo family. I am so grateful for this book that tells The Story of a Chinese Hakka Family in Sarawak, Borneo 1850 - 1965.

Thank you Fion 🙏

Jalan Padungan was built in phases from around the 1920s during the rubber boom.


There are quaint bicycle shops, traditional bakeries, coffee shops, etc., with emerging new cafes and restaurants following the opening of Sheraton Kuching Hotel at Jalan Padungan in Oct 2023.

Jalan Padungan is known for their traditional medical halls, and over half a dozen are still operating today. 


Besides selling medicine and herbs like a pharmacy, they still boil herbal tonic and sell them in bottles.

Chop Guan Hock BBQ Pork at #56 Jalan Padungan, established in 1980 specialises in Singapore style bak kwa.

Made the traditional, artisanal way with charcoal fire, the bak kwa tastes as good as the best in Singapore.

I have written a full post on Chop Guan Hock BBQ Pork here 👈 click

Century old Teochew baker Chin Hian Chia, was closed today. It happens. Shall come back again another day.

Dinner was at Lepau. A pioneer of Dayak cuisine, Lepau has become a must check-in destination for visitors.

Lepau was full house on the Friday evening we were there.

Lepau is a pioneer in Dayak cuisine. Indigenous Sarawak / Borneo cuisine is one of the least known Southeast Asian cuisines but is growing in prominence thanks to restaurants like Lepau and also Kanti, which has an outpost in Jewel Changi Airport.

We thoroughly enjoyed the rainforest food at Lepau which were priced within reasonable range.

My detailed article on our dinner at Lepau 👈 click

Back to Jalan Padungan for Hotel Meritin.

This column looks even more beautiful at night.

Finally, a chance to lay on my bed for today 😂

This is non sponsored. I like Meritin Hotel because the location is smack in the centre of the Jalan Padungan strip. If you like to walkabout like I do, you can walk and see the whole old city on foot from here.

The room is clean, odour free, amenities are comprehensive, service is efficient and friendly, wifi is strong, room rate is competitive. I don't need anything else 🤭

So much to see and do in just a few hours since we landed. More to come tomorrow, Day 2


Follow us as our Kuching adventure continues - next stop historic Bau and Siniawan.

Day 1 👈 today
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6.

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Written by Tony Boey on 5 Feb 2024

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