KUALA LUMPUR, 21 DECEMBER 2018: It is the Visit Sarawak Year in 2019 with the campaign promoting “Sarawak, More to Discover,” a tagline that underscores the destination as a plethora of culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals not found anywhere else in the world.
With the campaign rolled out, there’s never been a better time to experience this beautiful and exotic destination that is home to 37 national parks, 14 nature reserves, 5 wildlife sanctuaries, including dozens of attractions and activities, along with a rich history of culture and heritage.
So what does Sarawak have in store for tourists in 2019? Here are 5 great reasons to visit Sarawak in 2019:
- DISCOVER UNIQUE CULTURES:
- EXPLORE NEW ADVENTURES:
- BE ONE WITH NATURE:
- ENJOY DELICIOUS FOOD:
- CELEBRATE VIBRANT FESTIVALS:
Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, is home to 27 ethnic groups, each with their own dialects, stories, beliefs, traditions and festivals.
You can meet people from the Iban tribe, known for their legendary headhunting customs from days of old. They have long since ceased this practice, of course, but their festivals, art, language and culture remain an integral part of their life even as they assimilate with the modern world.
The Orang Ulu, or ‘people from upriver,’ comprise of various tribes such as the Kayan, Kenyah, Lun Bawang and Kelabit. Their exotic art and music have spread internationally, as seen in the growing popularity of the boat lute or sape. The sape has become the symbol of the Rainforest World Music Festival, an event that has garnered international interest year after year.
Entrenched in Sarawak’s history are the remnants of the reign of the White Rajahs, the Brooke family monarchy that ruled the Kingdom of Sarawak from 1841 to 1946. Traces of this era can be found throughout the state, from physical reminders such as colonial buildings, preserved relics that populate today’s museums, and events such as the Sarawak Regatta, to the more intangible traces within the law and culture of the people.
Sarawak’s ever-expanding world-class museums, authentic hospitality, and a diverse religious and cultural trade, all form part of the cultural attraction.
Land, water, sky…take your pick of an adrenaline-pumping adventure! On land, there is everything from jungle trekking, mountain climbing to adventure caving and rock climbing. In the water, you can choose from river activities like scuba diving in Miri and Kuching, watersports, deep sea fishing, jet skiing and yachting.
Looking for some airborne adventure? You can jump from Sarawak’s tallest building…safely. Or you can peer down from the treetops on your canopy walk in Mulu!
Urban explorers can visit Kuching, which has one of the most interesting architecture mix in Malaysia, with colonial buildings amongst religious, cultural and modern architecture.
Don’t forget to take home the arts and crafts created by local artisans, or better yet, learn how to make them from the local skilled craftspeople. The Orang Ulu are genius at beadwork, while the Iban are deft weavers. Both the Melanau and Bidayuh are associated with basketry making and weaving of hats and artifacts using natural resources like bamboo, palm, rattan and tree bark.
Sarawak has a whopping 56 totally protected areas, 37 gazetted national parks, five wildlife sanctuaries and 14 nature reserves. Its rainforests are the size of Austria.
Sarawak’s rainforests house one of the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystems. It is home to the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia (that can grow to the size of a coffee table), squirrels and snakes that fly, deer the size of cats, plants that eat insects (and small animals). The orangutan, proboscis monkey, hornbill, the Rajah Brooke butterfly and the silverleaf monkey all call Sarawak home. Experts believe that there are some species of flora and fauna yet to be discovered. Sarawak also has the most number of Important Birding Areas (IBAs) in Malaysia, with a great portion of Borneo’s 650 bird species having been recorded here.
Mulu National Park is a priceless UNESCO World Heritage Site, in a league of its own as it qualifies for all four of the World Heritage criteria. Fewer than twenty World Heritage areas have managed this feat. Meanwhile, Bako National Park traces its first visitors’ footprint to 1957, making it one of Malaysia’s oldest National Parks.Niah National Park is famed for Sarawak’s genesis, with evidence of human presence from 40,000 years ago discovered in the form of Paleolithic and Neolithic burial sites.
So much to eat, so little time! Sarawak definitely has a long list of unique culinary offerings, i.e. the delectable “manok pansuh” which is chicken cooked in bamboo; the savoury “Sarawak laksa;” the delicious “kolo mee;” the mouth-watering jungle fern “midin” dish; the herby broth known as “kueh chap;” the rich “manok kacangma” made from motherwort and rice wine; the seasonal “dabai” fruit; the Melanau “umai” delicacy with thin slivers of fish and rich sago pearls, and more
The late Anthony Bourdain had popularised the “laksa Sarawak” as a breakfast option where he referred it as “breakfast of the gods” and had featured the delectable dish in his globally-acclaimed series, “No Reservations” and CNN’s “Parts Unknown.”
The month-long Kuching Food Fair isn’t all about local cuisine. The dazzling array of street food is inspired by cuisines from the world over. It’s a great way to mingle with the locals while sampling some of the best dishes from around the world. The festival typically stretches over the July/August period.
For those interested in learning the art behind the dishes, there are even traditional cooking classes available. You can bring a taste of Sarawak back to your own home.
Sarawak is home to the most unique festivals in Malaysia throughout the year, thanks to the diverse demographic found here. From the Gawai harvest festival of thanksgiving, to the Kaul which is celebrated by the Melanau fishing communities to mark the beginning of the fishing season, Sarawak offers a plethora of festivals for tourists to participate in.
The world-renowned three-day Rainforest World Music Festival has been running for 21 consecutive years and continues to attract up to 20,000 festival-goers a year. The festival sees world music performers come together to perform and host workshops in the heart of a rainforest which has attracted ardent followers worldwide and has been voted among the top 25 festivals in the world by London-based Songline magazine.
Other spectacular festivals include Borneo Jazz, Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival, Tidal Bore Festival, Borneo Cultural Festival and Sarawak Regatta.