Malaysia most awe-inspiring diving sites  

Malaysia is rightly regarded as the jewel in the crown of the Far East's many fabulous landscapes. But it is away from the land that this area really comes into its own in terms of attracting visitors. Malaysia actually consists of two main land areas, ‘Peninsular Malaysia', adjoining Thailand on the Asian continent, and the East Malaysian states to the north of the island of Borneo. These masses are separated by the South China Sea.
With so many coastlines being lapped by the Pacific Ocean, it is only natural that Malaysia has gained a formidable reputation as a beautiful location for diving. Divers in all shapes and sizes, from casual snorkelers to serious ‘Scuba' explorers, flock to this part of Asia from all the other corners of the world. There are many impressive dive sites to be found in Malaysia, but here is a short list of some of the most fabulous.
Spidan is reckoned to be one of the finest sites. This in itself is somewhat unusual because it is not all that easy to dive here due to the restrictions that are in place. For one thing, a permit is required in order to go down and explore off the coast of Sipadan. These are issued on a daily basis. However, for those fortunate enough to receive the appropriate permission, the rewards are immense. The waters are free of silt, making for excellent viewing conditions. The coral reefs are home to a diverse range of marine creatures, with some spectacularly coloured fish darting around in vast shoals.
Kapalai as mentioned here because of its accommodation facilities. Due to a large Sandbank that exists here it is not that spectacular for its diving; however it is renowned for its exclusive resort – built on stilts!
Lankayan is often cited as Malaysia's next most popular diving location after Sipadan. It is a small island, just to the north of Sandakan, in eastern Sabah (on Borneo). Although there is only one resort here, it is luxurious and it is dedicated to providing divers with somewhere to relax in superb comfort while they chill in preparation for donning their wetsuits in the morning. One reason for the enduring popularity of Lankayan is the fact that this is one area listed as a natural habitat for whale sharks. While diving in the Pacific does tend to conjure images of coral reefs, coloured like a proverbial rainbow with all the exotic species of tropical fish, it is also possible to spot nature's largest fish.
The close-up and personal encounter with a whale shark is reckoned to be one of the most or inspiring experiences that any diver could possibly hope to capture. These creatures may look intimidating, but, unlike some of their smaller relatives, they are completely harmless (unless you happen to be plankton swimming anywhere near their massive jaws!)
Unlike the aforementioned tropical islands, this area is really just a concrete landing strip. Well that doesn't sound too inviting terms of providing a springboard for some serious diving action, its location - on a large sandbank just below sea level - insures that the area has not been adversely affected by any form of human contact. As a result of this, the crystal blue seas here are home to a vast array of species, including fast schools of manta rays. To catch sight of these majestic sea creatures gliding past en masse is yet another one of Malaysia's underwater highlights.


Malaysia's top resorts: Kuala Lumpur  

Malaysia is definitely a nation of contrasts. Its cosmopolitan cities are vast Asian melting pots, teeming with life, and bursting with culture and things to do. Its countryside varies from mountainous landscapes, azure coastlines and tranquil islands. For the many who are drawn to this Far Eastern location like a magnet, it is that very diversity that is the key attraction.
Naturally, prior to embarking on any river cruises, wildlife treks or city breaks, visitors will first want somewhere to pitch up and call ‘home base' for the duration of their visit. So here is a list of some of the country's most-recommended visitor resorts.
City attractions
As Malaysia's bustling capital, Kuala Lumpur is often any visitor's first port of call. A diverse location, it offers a variety of accommodation choices, from luxurious hotels to plainer accommodation. If you are looking to embark on some serious retail therapy, Kuala Lumpur has everything you could possibly ask for in terms of a shopping experience. At one end of the scale there are luxury brand stores, their shelves stocked with the latest tempting designer items. At the other end, there are thriving street markets, where you are not only faced with a bewildering range of products, you have the opportunity to try your hand at some serious haggling with the vendors.
After a long day jostling amongst the crowds, what better way to unwind than booking into any one of hundreds of luxury spa, where you can take refreshments and emerge fully re-invigorated. Your choice of eating places is almost boundless. Malaysia cuisine is famous the world over, and as well as local temptations, there are restaurants catering for every taste imaginable. Neighbouring examples of Far Eastern dining are well-represented, with Indonesian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese choices.
Other things to do in Kuala Lumpur include visiting the Lake Gardens and Bird Park. Here you can suck up the tranquil atmosphere while enjoying pleasant strolls by lakes, with exotically-plumaged birds fluttering amongst the tree canopies. If you feel like taking on-board some of Malaysia's cultural highlights, why not pop into the Islamic Art Museum and National Mosque?
Batu Caves
Just outside the capital city you can truly get away from it all by experiencing the Batu Caves. Those street markets with their chattering vendors loudly selling their colourful wares will seem a million miles away. In fact, the world itself will seem peculiarly distant as you immerse yourself in some cathedral-sized underground caverns. Some of the caves down here are over 100 metres tall. This can be an incredibly moving experience as you find yourself dwarfed by the vast geological structures, including twisting stalactites and stalagmites. Pockets of underground water, fed by droplets cascading down from far above.
All the creatures who are resident in this subterranean lair, the most numerous are the bats. If you happen to be visiting around sunset, you might be lucky enough to see the moment when thousands of these creatures swarm from their roosting spots to hunt for insects.
As if having such a firsthand experience of nature wasn't enough you may well be lucky enough brackets or (unlucky enough) to be greeted by some of the local monkey population. They are used to having peanuts given to them by other travellers, so be prepared for a spot of haggling with these boisterous cave guardians!


Malaysia's top resorts: Langkawi  

Although long considered ‘cursed', this spectacular island retreat has been remodeled as a tropical tourist paradise. To give it its official title, ‘Langwaki the Jewel of Kedah', Langwaki lies off the western coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is scarcely a single location – in fact, Langkawi is a collection of islands lying some 30 kilometres off the Malaysian coast, in the azure Andaman Sea. Altogether there are over 100 islands in this archipelago.
They form part of the Malaysian state of Kedah, which runs alongside Thailand to the north. The largest of the Langwaki islands is Pulau Langwaki, which has a population of around 65,000. It is popular among visitors for being duty-free. Nearby is the island of Pulau Tuba, the only other inhabited island in the vicinity. The remaining islands vary in size and degree of isolation, but naturally this sense of being remote makes them popular with tourists escaping the hustle and bustle of contemporary life.
Because Langkawi is an increasingly popular visitor retreat, it has developed a world class tourism infrastructure. Its facilities include a contemporary international airport, well-maintained roads and a modern marina. Its hotels enjoy excellent reputations and it also boasts award-winning luxury resorts. Langwaki's golf courses are considered superb by all who have teed-off on their luscious, palm tree-fringed fairways. There is also a host of other recreational activities to collect the appetite.
The beaches every bit the picture postcard vision: white sands lapped by turquoise seas. The unpolluted waters are crystal clear, making them a magnet for snorkelers or divers. The coral reefs are a habitat that is teaming with a diverse range of marine wildlife. Divers immersing themselves in this underwater paradise will find themselves tracking shoals of brightly-coloured fish, like constantly shifting rainbows. Larger species include marlins, giant groupers, barracudas and sharks.
For visitors wishing to explore further afield, boats can be chartered for a spot of sport fishing. Those wishing a more sedate Pacific adventure can indulge in dolphin or whale spotting from the comfort of the deck, the cocktail of choice close at hand.
For landlubbers there is also much to see in the rainforests making up the hinterland of Langwaki. Guides will explain the variety of different species that scuttle around the forest floor or flutter around the canopy. The incredible biodiversity includes beautifully-coloured butterflies, an exotic array of birds, and many different varieties of mammals. The good thing about the rainforest here is that you can explore to your heart's content, knowing you are never too far away from civilization.
A cable car will take you to the peak of Gunung Mat Chinchang where you can access the Langwaki Sky Bridge. This 125-metre long walkway towers over the surrounding rainforest canopy at the height of 700 metres. This pedestrian bridge is curved and anchored by cables. Its spectacular setting has been used in an Indian action movie; but for more down-to-earth visitors it offers an unbeatable vantage point for views over the landscape.
After your long day of exploring the natural beauty of the island, you can retreat to Kuah Town, the commercial centre of Pulau Langwaki. The architecture here is a mixture of charming colonial-style housing and modern buildings. There are plenty places here to dine and unwind.


Great things to do with the kids in KL  

The Kuala Lumpur Tower
Often abbreviated to the KL Tower, since it was opened in 1995 this 421-metre tower has become one of Malaysia's most iconic landmarks. It is the highest viewpoint in Malaysia's capital city that is open to visitors. As well as offering unbelievable 360° views, the tower offers families a zoo, pony rides, a 4D theatre and a revolving restaurant.
Batu Cave
Another attraction popular with families is Batu Cave. Situated on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, this Hindu temple has been constructed directly into a limestone cliff face. It is easily accessible, with commuter trains taking you to the entrance. From here you proceed to climb 272 steps until you arrive at the entrance of the cave. Exploring the caves will appeal to children of all ages, with mischievous wild monkeys providing an amusing distraction. Entrance is free.
Bird Park
The largest walk-in, free-flight aviary in the world, Bird Park is home to over 3,000 birds. These in a diverse variety of often spectacularly-coloured species, including toucans, great hornbills, and parrots. Although the setting can often be noisy, it is well worth it for the opportunity your kids will have to feed the brightly-plumaged birds.
Again, situated some way from the city centre (around 15 km), this museum is well worth a visit. An attractive conical building set amongst 8-hectares of beautiful grounds, a playground and water pool will keep kids amused. The museum's aim is the promotion of knowledge of key scientific areas. Its many informative themes include an environmental Odyssey, and frequent glimpses into future technology (with thinking machines a popular exhibit).
Lake Gardens
As the Bird Park, Lake Gardens comprise exercise areas, a jogging track, a butterfly, and gardens that are abundant with orchids. To visitors arriving from other parts of the world, this is one thing they will certainly find unforgettable – the colourful explosion of vibrant blooms. As well as looking beautiful, the variety of fragrances will assault your nasal senses as much as you aural senses!
Paddle boats can be hired to cross the lake. This is a terrific way to enjoy the tranquil waters – and as keeping fit goes, it is also so much more practical than spending hours on the treadmill in the hotel gym!
For those of you who like to relax, as well as finding out more about the mysteries of the universe, there is also a planetarium. Here you can settle back in luxuriously comfortable seats and gaze up at the stars. The commentary will inform you all about our place in the universe, going right back to the dawn of cosmology with the so-called ‘big bang'. The beauty of the scientific explanations here is that they are aimed at the generally curious, rather than anyone seeking to write a thesis about the subject!
Covering more than 90 hectares, these lush gardens are a visual feast, with something to keep everyone in the family occupied for hours.


Malaysia top resorts: Penang  

Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the Orient', the state of Penang lies to the north-west of Peninsular Malaysia, by the Strait of Malacca. Despite being the country's second smallest state, it is its eight-most populous. For this reason, its seaside charm, combined with an urbanized and industrialised economy, have transformed Penang into a tourist destination that is increasingly popular amongst domestic and international visitors, as well as being highly-prized by Malaysia for its income.
Penang's population of just over 1.5 million is as ethnically diverse as they come in this corner of South-East Asia. The common languages, aside from English, include Malay, Penang Hokkien, Mandarin and Tamil. As is the case in any area with such a melting pot of cultures, the end result is a colourful backdrop for any visitors. As well as listening to the range of different languages and dialects baying from street corners and open-air markets, travellers can be assured that a fine selection of ethnic cuisines await in numerous food stalls, cafes and restaurants.
George Town
George Town, the capital of Penang, lies to the north-east of Penang Island. Together with the outlying urban areas, its metropolitan population exceeds 2.25 million inhabitants, making it Malaysia's second-largest. Named after King George III, who ruled Britain between 1760 and 1820, George Town's inner city is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Like the other mixed ethnic areas of the state, George Town has schools catering for all of its diverse citizens – English, Tamil and Chinese, as well as international schools. The city is hugely popular with tourists who are drawn to its unique blend of architecture, mixing colonial-style housing with indigenous and ultra-modern accommodation.
Batu Ferringhi
Northwest of George Town, Batu Ferringhi is accessed by a winding coastal road. Here you will find wonderful beaches, where golden sands seem to stretch towards a hazy horizon. The beaches are lined with many international standard hotels, with the west-facing rooms particularly sought-after. Your choice of activities depends on how active you wish to be. For those of a more sedate nature, there is ample opportunity to just kick back and enjoy basking in the sunshine, cocktails or chilled beers to hand. But for those seeking a more thrilling holiday there are plenty of aquatic pursuits on offer. Bought rides are available that will take you up to coast, either to enjoy the rainforest scenery from a distance, to indulge in some fishing, or to spot whales cruising by en route to southern pastures. Is also a popular option, whether that involves investigating the wildlife in the mangrove swamps, or heading further out to enjoy a spot of surfing.
The Pacific Ocean in this area is known for its abundant marine life, so you may wish to hire the kit and embark on some unforgettable diving excursions. The clear waters are home to numerous species of tropical fish, crustaceans and molluscs. The more intrepid adventurers can indulge in everything from water-skiing to jet-skiing, or even parasailing. At nighttime Batu Ferringhi becomes a party zone, with barbecues on the beach soon sizzling with freshly caught fish, and an open-air bazaar hawking everything from souvenirs to locally-fashioned handicrafts.


Malaysia top resorts - Sarawak  

Sarawak, one of the two Malaysian states situated on Borneo, is known as ‘Land of the Hornbills'. It completely surrounds the tiny nation state of Brunei, and is bordered by the other Malaysian state, Sabah, to its north-west, and Indonesia to the south.

It has a rich and fertile environment, characterized by rainforests and mangrove swamps, a long coastline of white sands, and towering mountains. There are major rivers, too, although for all that its landscape is wild and beautiful, its population is around 2.5 million.
To demonstrate how popular Sarawak is with tourists you only have to consult the tourism statistics. In 2012 the state welcomed somewhere in the region of four million visitors. These were accounted for in both the domestic and international markets. By the following year this had rocketed to six million. The increase in people wishing to visit the Malaysians state has led to neighbouring Far Eastern countries, such as Japan, setting up even more direct flights.
When these visitors arrive in this corner of Borneo, they can expect a multitude of places to visit. Kuchung, the state capital, has a total population of just over 320,000. It is unusual in Malaysia in that it is divided into two separate sectors, Kuchung North and Kuchung South. Uniquely, each half has, respectively, its own mayor and commissioner.
The city offers many interesting sites to its visitors. Sarawak Museum, Borneo's oldest, incorporates fine specimens of indigenous natural history. Other places recommended for a visit include the Sarawak Islamic Museum, the Chinese History Museum, the Sarawak Timber Museum, the Sarawak Textile Museum; and, perhaps most unusually the Kuching Cat Museum. The latter was founded in 1939, and contains over 2,000 exhibits dedicated to the world's feline population. If this may seem a little eccentric to western visitors, the reason for such homage is that the cat is considered a lucky animal in Malaysian culture.
Rainforest World Music Festival
The RWMF is regarded as the region's premier music event, attracting huge numbers of devotees on an annual basis. Held in Kuching, the festival runs over three days and explores the incredible diversity of international music. As well as an eclectic bill of live concerts, the event also incorporates craft displays ,numerous food stalls, examples of local culture and music workshops. To give an example of the global appeal, previous festival performers have included Madagascar's Rajery, Mongolia's Namgar, Poland's Shannon, and Peatbog Faeries from Scotland.
The rainforest festival is also very lucrative in terms of the income that brings to the Sarawak economy. Since the festival began to be actively promoted to a wider audience by the Sarawak Tourism Board, there has been even greater scope for commercial activities. The degree to which this promotion has been a runaway success can be gauged by comparing audiences. In the festival's early years, a few hundred people attended. By 2013 the festival was able to take somewhere in the region of MYR 37 million.
The many reasons why visitors love to travel here is that the location itself is so stunning. The stages and tents are erected in the lower slopes of Mount Santubong, an 810-metre high mountain. Anywhere between 18 and 20 highly-experienced bands run through their vibrant sets against this spectacular backdrop. Between acts, the festival goers can browse through the army of food stall vendors selling choice Malaysian and other Asian cuisine.


Malaysia whale shark season  

Swimming with dolphins has become a fairly ubiquitous pursuit for western tourists. But this activity, thrilling as it may be, is surely eclipsed by one of Malaysia's aquatic activities: swimming with whale sharks.
First of all, let's be quick specific about the creatures we are talking about. Whale sharks are record breakers. They are to be found in tropical oceans throughout the world and are easily the world's largest species of fish (their name refers to their size rather than their classification amongst animal species). The sight of one of their gargantuan dorsal fins bearing towards you is nothing to be afraid of either. The only other creatures in the ocean under threat when a hungry whale shark is on the prowl are plankton (microscopic sea animals and plants) and, very occasionally, tiny fish. Individual whale sharks measuring 14 metres long have been sighted.
Tioman Island
When visiting Malaysia, if you would like to get up close and personal with a whale shark, it is recommended that you visit Tioman Island. This is the largest island on the Malay Peninsula's east coast, and aside from the likelihood of spotting and swimming with one of these ocean leviathans, there are plenty of other activities to whet any adventurer's appetite. Underneath the surface of the Pacific there are shipwrecks dating back centuries, sheltered bays to enjoy sightseeing and picnics, and rocky pinnacles to explore.
Tioman Island is covered in dense forests, so before you take to the seas it would be worth exploring the hinterland. The trees are alive with land animals, such as exotic birds, brightly-coloured butterflies and many species of monkeys. But it is certainly aquatic pursuits that draw visitors here. Tioman, and the smaller islands offshore, are surrounded by coral reefs. As well as being home to vast populations of diverse marine life, the area is a designated Marine Park. Is that all the flora and fauna of the area, not to mention the brittle reefs themselves, are protected by any damage from human activities, such as fishing, or over-enthusiastic scuba-divers seeking trophies of their undersea exploration.
Tioman and its neighbouring islands enjoy a tropical climate, with fairly uniform high temperatures all-year round. By the end of November the region is entering the monsoon season, and this will last right through to the following February. During this time, when the weather can become very unpredictable and stormy, a great deal of tourist activities close down. Consequently, accommodation can become much harder to find.
When it comes to spotting whale sharks, the best visibility is available at the beginning and at the end of the season from February to March, and from September to November. Visiting Tioman must be done by ferry, as the Malaysian government have banned speedboats. These ferry tickets can be booked online. The frequency of the crossing is subject to local weather, tides, and the condition of the sea; on unfavourable days crossings are limited to one-only.
Once on Tioman, little speedboat taxis are available for buzzing around between villages, although these can prove to be costly.
It goes without saying that if you intend exploring uncharted waters, it is recommended to do so under the guidance of experts. With a suitably experienced guide advising you the location of reefs, wrecks, and more importantly, whales, you can proceed with confidence.
Another tip is to make sure you back plenty of sun cream, as away from the cool waters, the Pacific sun can be pretty merciless.


Malaysian golf attractions  

For a long time, Malaysia has been one of South-East Asia's most-renowned destinations in terms of landscapes and attractions. It is also beginning to gain an excellent reputation for its golfing facilities.
There are upwards of 200 golf courses spread across Malaysia's peninsular and island regions, offering a vast array of conditions. Whether you are a serious golfer, or someone who just prefers whacking some golf balls while enjoying a pleasant walk, there will be a course to suit all tastes.
Malaysia possesses a fantastic range of beautiful backgrounds for its nine or eighteen hole courses. Some of them are situated high up in the country's Highlands, set amongst verdant greenery. Here the cool breezes wafting from the Pacific Ocean offer the perfect antidote to all that strolling between holes. On the other hand there are some excellently-designed golf courses by the shore of the South China Sea. These are uniformly built to international standard. In fact, you will often find that the course itself is much more than an expanse of grass with a variety of holes and flags set on it. The courses themselves are built to highlight the natural surroundings, blending in to the tropical backdrop.
Golf in Malaysia therefore serves various purposes. It provides excellent exercise. It allows you to test your technique as the courses vary, from those ideal for beginners to those aimed at sportsmen or sportswomen who already boast a number of trophies in the cabinet. But perhaps most of all, they allow you to indulge your sporting passion while immersed in Malaysia's natural beauty.
This course is spread over a magnificent 1,100 acres. It contains a variety of artificial lakes and makes the most of the countryside's natural undulations. Designed by Ross C Watson, it also boasts a light aircraft landing strip and a helipad.
Tiara Melaka Golf and Country Club
The club is built to international standard, and covers 400 acres. It is known for its picturesque lakes that reflect the treeline of mature trees that fringe the course.
Thuis unusually designed course will test the skills of all budding golfers. Each hole is star-shaped and the fairways are lined with hazards, including bunkers, old trees and dog-legs. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.
This is designed to the impeccable standards of Ted Parslow of E & G Parslow Associates. Suitable for golfers of all levels of expertise, it provides an interesting layout, making full use of the countryside's natural rises and dips. There is a golf academy on the property that will offer expertise on any subtle improvements your game might need. There is also a clubhouse possessing a wide range of facilities. This it 18-hole course is approximately 6,500 metres in length, and offers a par 72.
The Els Club Desaru Coast will comprise two clubs known as “The Ocean” and “The Valley”. The Ocean is a 27-hole championship golf designed by Ernie Els. Situated along the Desaru Coast in the southern state of Johor, it comprises 3 nine-hole Courses, each playing to a Par 36 providing a challenge for all skill levels. The Valley offers 18-hole championship golf designed by Vijay Singh. Destined to become one of the greatest golf courses in the region, it provides a challenge that will test even the best players in the world. A well-appointed plaza style clubhouse is the ideal venue for relaxing and enjoying great food and drinks with family and friends. Opening early 2017.


Meeting Malaysia orang utans  

There's one thing you should know about orang utans before going any further. It is estimated that there are, in all likelihood, fewer than 20,000 left in the wild throughout Asia. Therefore, embarking on an orang utan-spotting trip in Malaysia is more than just an excuse to indulge in some wildlife photography. It is a privilege.
One terrific holiday experience that will appeal to the whole family is the opportunity to mingle with orang utans. These two-week trips are arranged by the Malaysian National Zoo. Not only do they give the chance to actually meet these majestic creatures in person, but they will allow you to actually do some proper work with them.
There are many reasons why the numbers of these rainforest mammals have declined so drastically, but you can be sure that living so close to Homo Sapiens has not done their cause much good. Activities like logging have had a detrimental effect on their habitat. Another aspect of their lives that these trips seek to address is helping to balance their fragile position within Malaysia. So helping indigenous tribes to make orang utans an important aspect of the local economy is also touched on during the two-week course.
As well as giving visitors to Malaysia some hands-on experience with the orang utans, these trips provide a rare opportunity to explore the country's impenetrable rainforests in the hands of experienced guides and wildlife experts. As well as the magnificent primates themselves, the forests are the natural habitat of an incredible biodiversity. There are other primates, many species of monkeys, fabulous birds, colourful amphibians and a dazzling array of insects, not to mention spiders.
No visit to the orang utan conservation region is complete without popping in to the rehabilitation centre. Many orphaned orang utans are brought to this sanctuary – a sort of drop in rehab centre for the creatures – so they can be looked after, nurtured and taught how to survive in the wild. This is a crucial part of their development, as well as a key aspect of their conservation.
At the centre experienced staff will demonstrate the various techniques they use to feed and strengthen their young charges prior to re-introduction to their native rainforests.
Details of the conservation work
The oran utan conservation trips run from February 2014 right through to December, lasting for 28 days. On the first day you are met at the airport, then taken to your accommodation. After a welcome dinner and briefing, you spend the first night in Kuala Lumpur.
Day 2 sees you enjoying complimentary breakfast before your transfer to Zoo Negara. The remainder of the day will be taken up with orientation and health and safety information, as well as an extensive tour of the zoo.
Days 3 to 16 are effectively the project days, when you commence your work as a volunteer. Starting at around 8am, you will finish at 5am, all the time rolling up your sleeves to pitch in working with orang utans. You will receive first-hand experience of cleaning, feeding and maintenance, all of which will give you a valuable insight into how these fantastic creatures live. A crucial aspect of the work undertaken at the facility is to keep the animals stimulated and happy. This is where you might well get the chance to get to know individual animals.
Weekends are generally given as off-days. How you choose to spend your spare time is entirely up to yourself.

Recommended restaurants in Kuching  
Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak state on Malaysian Borneo, is a vibrant metropolitan centre of some 330,000 people. There is an incredible ethnic diversity about this part of Borneo Island, and for this reason visitors really are spoiled for choice when it comes to sampling the best of the cuisine on offer.
Bla Bla Bla
Into this restaurant you are immediately struck by its unique style and innovative atmosphere. Everything from its décor and koi ponds to a Balinese Buddha pays homage to its distinctly Chinese-inspired dishes. The chef specialities in Bla Bla Bla include midin salad (a prime constituent of which is succulent jungle ferns), mouth-watering cashew nut prawns, and ostrich steaks stuffed with mozzarella. You can indulge yourself in home-made cheesecake. The portions served in Bla Bla Bla are always generous, because the tasty dishes are designed to be shared amongst friends.
Little Lebanon
Only Arab restaurant that you'll find on the entire island of Borneo is here in Kuching. As belly-dancing music drifts through the air, customers are served fragrant and deliciously muddy Turkish coffee. Pita pillows are passed around to be dipped into mashed hummus, providing a tempting aperitif prior to the main courses. As the sun melts into the South China Sea, sheesha pipes are provided for a truly authentic taste of North Africa and the Middle East.
21 Bistro
This Sarawak restaurant is actually more of a sophisticated eating place-cum-bar. Since opening in 2012 it has proved to be very popular with young professionals, mainly due to its eclectic offering of Asian and Western dishes. Fusion dishes, including pasta, are especially popular, with particular approval for the grilled meats and fish (of which snapper is a speciality at 21 Bistro). As diners enthusiastically tuck into their dishes, the PA system provides an effortlessly cool soundtrack of chic jazz, making way for serious chill-out sounds as the evening progresses.
Lok Lok
Popular with courting couples and business associates alike, Lok Lok is known as a nocturnal eating place. The subdued, candlelit atmosphere makes for the perfect backdrop for the variety of speciality dishes. Amongst the most requested are skewers with prawn, cuttlefish or bean curd). These can be deep-fried or boiled, before being served with sweet and sour or satay sauces. Lok Lok also provides its hungry customers with rojak and curried chicken – traditional fare that is always given a unique twist.
Benson Seafood
If urban vicinities tend to evolve over the years, the somewhat downcast riverfront overlooked by Benson Seafood shows every sign of becoming one of Kuching's trendy areas. Laid out as an open-air pavilion, this restaurant boasts large round tables that are adorned with red tablecloths, and surrounded by matching plastic chairs. Naturally, being so close to the sea it serves fresh fish, cooked Chinese-style. Also on offer are local Sarawak classics, such as stir-fried midin, served with belacan (a kind of shrimp paste with a delicate but unmistakeable flavor).
The indigenous Dyak cuisine of Borneo has often been unfairly overlooked by local restaurants. However this situation has been remedied by the opening of its first dedicated Dyak restaurant. Consistently highly-regarded by critics and customers alike, this is the first in Kuching to treat the Dyak menu as the true home cooking.
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