The state capital of Kuching, with its old Chinese shop houses and narrow streets, is an enjoyable starting point for visits to Sarawak.
Some say that its name derives from Cochin, meaning port, although Kuching means ‘cat' in Malay so another explanation suggests that it may refer to the wild cats that once roamed the jungled banks of the Sarawak River on which the city stands.
Whichever is true, this relaxed city is well worth spending a few days in before heading into the interior. A delightful Sunday market, assorted temples and the Sarawak Museum are among its highlights. The latter is especially good - with displays that include a full-scale replica of an Iban longhouse, totems, daggers and other tribal artefacts.
The Cultural Village on the outskirts of the city, meanwhile, provides the chance to see craftsmen demonstrating their traditional skills in producing carvings and handicrafts, and cultivating sago.