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sabah v sarawak

sydney
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sabah v sarawak

My husband and I are planning to spend a week or so in either Sabah or Sarawak in March. We are fairly active and don't particularly like organised tourism. Can someone who has been to both please help us make the decision?

Kuching
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1. Re: sabah v sarawak

People often overlook Sarawak and it really is a fantastic place to visit. I think the main reason it isn’t considered with other destinations in Malaysia is because it doesn’t have great beaches. It does everything else though.

There are Orang Utan and other wildlife sanctuaries very close to Kuching (the main stopping off point in Sarawak. Many of these also offer great hiking trails and other activities.

Wildlife and Jungle Ideas:

1. Semenggok Rehabilitation Centre has many animals including Orang Utans, bears, birds, and other primates. They also have a small walking trail.

2. Gunung Gading National Park is an interesting place with extensive walking trails where you can view the worlds largest flower the “Rafflesia”. The park also offers a cold mountain spring near the bottom and it’s a great place to swim and refresh after a long hike. If you are adventurous you can rent a lodge in the park for RM150 or stay in a cheap hotel in the nearby town of Lundu. I love Lundu but am biased as my In-laws are from there.

If you didn’t want to stay you can just take a bus or drive as Lundu is an easy and pretty drive from Kuching. It does take over an hour but the roads are good. Lundu is a wonderful and very pretty little Malaysian town. Its not at all touristy and a very “real” Malaysian experience. They have 2 small hotels with very cheap rates. Its also very close to 2 great little beaches “Siar” and “Pandan”. Lundu is a very welcoming town and I find it very relaxing. They have a great weekend market and a few small stores along with things like a hospital.

3. Bako National Park is amazing and a great way to view animals in their natural habitats. Its about 30 miles from Kuching and offers wildlife, a few nice beaches, and some great trails. This should be an all day experience.

forestry.sarawak.gov.my/forweb/np/np/bako.htm

4. Another neat place that combines culture, beach, and rainforest is Camp Permai. Its located within walking distance of the Damai beach area and the Sarawak Cultural Village and only 30 minute drive from Kuching. You can stay in an air conditioned rainforest treehouse for rm 188. Its an amazing experience.

http://www.permairainforest.com/main.html

Beaches near Kuching

1. The main beach area near Kuching is Damai. It’s a fully developed resort area including two very nice Holiday Inn’s . There are restaurants around both local and in the hotel. The beaches themselves are nice but the water clarity isn’t great. Its not pollution but a bit of sand that is stirred up in the water that causes the problem. Swimming and sunbathers will love it snorkelers will not. Nearby Satang island will be where snorkelers will want to go.

2. Satang Island is a great place that is working with sea turtles. Super clear water, great coral, and lots of fish make it a great place to snokel and visit. There are a few places offering trips here. I recommend checking with travel people on the Kuching waterfront or at the hotels in Kuching or in the Damai area. It can only be reached by boat of course and the best place to leave from is around the Damai area.

3. There are several small and nice beaches in Kuching and many aren’t noted on maps. The above Siar and Pandan near Lundu are both excellent. Siar is the better of the two as it is a bit calmer and offers a protected lagoon. Both these beaches have been totally deserted most of the times I have gone. Siar also offers a small drink and snack stand that serves fresh coconuts. The water clarity is ok but again it has a bit of sand in it. The lagoon is the best place to swim as the main beach has a bit of an undertow.

Cultural Experience

1. Kuching itself is a wonderful place and has a mixing of people. Its really nice because it isn’t a main tourist area for Malaysia so you really get to experience something different. There are several great museums in Kuching and many old buildings from the time of the White Rajah. The waterfront itself is a beautiful place and the town is very safe.

2. Small towns around Kuching are great. You will find them safe and very open to tourists. Be prepared to be stared at though as many foreigners don’t get to these places. Many of the outlying towns are divided into small Kampungs by ethnic group. You will often find a Malay, Iban, or other sections to the town. Don’t be afraid to walk around a bit and if there is a party going on chances are you will be invited in.

3. Sarawak Cultural Village is a great place. I don’t often say this about tourist targeted places but it is really well done. Full sized and authentically constructed replicas of most of the native longhouses. There is also a live dance show and many hands on exhibits about daily life. Overall a top notch place.

http://www.sarawakculturalvillage.com/

Food

Food is my favorite topic and Sarawak is among the best places in Malaysia to get it. The food is slightly less spicy than in west Malaysia and the variety is huge. From the Malaysia famous Sarawak Laksa to other Malay and Chinese dishes Kuching can be a food lover’s paradise. Lots of fresh seafood abounds and you will find prices very cheap. It seems like great food stalls are almost everywhere.

Well anyway I hope this helps a bit and if there is anything else feel free to ask. I’m sure someone in here knows the answer.

Scotland
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2. Re: sabah v sarawak

We were in both places in Sept Last year. This was our second visit to Sabah. Sarawak is greatly developed agriculturally, so much that there is practically no wildlife left except in the reserves. Yes, Bako is very good. Kuching is a great city. But Sabah has so much more to offer the active traveller - a visit to Selingan (Turtle Island)is highly rewarding. To travel up river to Sukau Rain Forest and experience life there is absolutely wonderful. Also you can trek/climb Mt Kinabalou and relax in the hot springs at Porin. If you are nostalgic then take a half day trip on the old steam train from KK to Papar. Guides and trips can be arranged locally at economic rates. Good luck.

Kuching
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3. Re: sabah v sarawak

I would have to strongly disagree that “Sarawak is greatly developed agriculturally, so much that there is practically no wildlife left except in the reserves"

Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia and has many undeveloped areas teeming with wildlife. Even though Sarawak is larger than Sabah in land area it has slightly less population.

Kuching itself is a much larger town than KK both in population (200,000 more people) and overall size though. You will find Kuching has several small towns around it than seem like part of Kuching. There are also much large businesses and industry so it may seem as if it is more developed.

One may get the impression that wildlife is only in the parks because Kuching has so many parks located within easy distance of town. But these are not the only places to see the animals. Yes you may have to drive for a bit but at least they are drivable in one say unlike many attractions like Sepilok from KK. Many of the parks are as close, or closer, than Kinabalu park is to KK. Also about the only places you can legally hike are public lands or places developed for tourists regardless of where you are. Sarawak has a much larger variety, less crowded, generally cheaper, and much easier to access places.

You can even do a river trip to several longhouses that cannot be accessed by roads. I have done this twice and can say that I have never seen a place so untouched by modern man before. (As with any river trip do not go in the monsoon season.)

The easier to access places are

Bako Park is only 40 KM away and is an amazing place. 30 KM of hiking trails filled with waterfalls, beaches, animals, and flora.

Of course we have Santubong our smaller version of Kota Kinabalu. This is located 40 minutes away very close to the cultural village and the Damai Beach resort area. It is a steep but very beautiful climb. Expect to pass even more waterfalls and wildlife while here. They also have some great park stay places.

Of course near Santubong we also have our turtle island sanctuary.

You can drive out past Lundu (the bridge is now finished) and see several unspoiled beaches, large collections of Rafflesia, and tons of wildlife. There are plenty of great mountains to climb in this area as well. It’s about 80 KM away but it is worth the drive.

Kubah National Park is only 30 minutes form Kuching and is home to one of Kuching’s Orang Utan sanctuaries. They have some good hiking trails. Expect to see waterfalls, lots of birds, and of course the Orang Utans.

We have several more parks, recreation areas, and even another Orang Utan rehab center within easy day trip distance of town. There are also numerous overnight trips that would be worth it as well.

Scotland
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4. Re: sabah v sarawak

OK - I had better expalin my use of the term "agriculture". It appeared to us during our vast travels over Sarawak that every inch of land had been cultivated. Not in the prairie sense but by using the slash and burn method to clear the hillsides to grow hill rice and pepper. This is done on a 5-year cycle so, although Sarawak appears luxuriantly green, little or none of this greenery is over 5-years old. There has consequently been an ongoing diminution of habitat for local wild life - except in the reserves. Although the aeas burned are in themeselves small, the enorous amount of burn areas add up to a huge acreage - and contribute to KL's smog problem. Not all the smoke in the air comes from Indonesia! Also, historically the native inhabitants of Sarawak were hunters and they too have taken their toll on the wildlife over the years.