Just a short drive (32 km / 20 miles) outside of Sarawak’s state capital of Kuching, the Sarawak Cultural Centre was created to showcase the tribal way of life and to preserve the various tribal traditions and customs from the Malaysian state. A visit is well recommended for anyone interested in learning more about the people of Borneo and the local heritage and culture, and having heaps of fun!
Sometimes called the Living Museum, you can see a variety of different traditional homes, along with people who usually live in said homes, throughout the expansive grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Centre. The reconstructed buildings show the different styles of building and living conditions from different ethnic groups. There is a towering multi-level Malanau Tall House, and an Iban Long House, which you can reach by way of a narrow log bridge. Step inside the small huts that represent the homes of the timid Penan people. A traditional Chinese farm house invites visitors inside, and you can enjoy seeing a regular Malay home. Others include long houses built by the Bidayuh and the Orang Ulu. You can get your village passport stamped at each house, a wonderful keepsake to take home with you, and a good way of keeping track on which homes you have already visited. Access to the different homes is as it would be in real life, with bridges, steep steps, and high thresholds.
Inside many of the houses you will find people from the various groups giving cultural demonstrations, Hear captivating music and singing, be wowed by the colourful traditional outfits, see craftsmen whittling and carving wood, watch as tribesmen make scary-looking daggers, observe cooking demonstrations, be impressed by basket weaving, and see an array of arts, ceramics, and crafts, and more. For a more hands-on experience, you can pay extra to join a variety of workshops.
The various buildings are set around a large pond, and you can further explore the lovely natural area by talking a walk along the Penan Nature Trail. You’ll see various flora and fauna, including insects, flowers, lizards, birds, and monkeys. Wander to the small waterfall and enjoy the peaceful vibe.
A highlight for many visitors, the entrance ticket includes a lively and captivating cultural show, where you will see dancers clad in their traditional outfits, listen to harmonious and rhythmic music produced using traditional musical instruments, and watch in awe as a fearsome tribal warrior gives a blowpipe demonstration. Shows take place twice a day in the small onsite theatre, and they last for around 45 minutes.
Don’t worry if you feel peckish whilst visiting, as the onsite restaurant dishes up a tempting assortment of Malay meals. You can, of course, also get drinks and snacks. Pick up some interesting souvenirs from the gift shop too. Accommodation is available within the grounds.
The Sarawak Cultural Centre hosts the annual World Rainforest Music Festival; see where global crowds gather for this popular event.
A visit will take around three hours, including the show, and the entrance fee is 60 Malaysian ringgits for adults and 30 Malaysian ringgits for children between the ages of six and 12. There is no charge for children under the age of six.
/// Written by Sarah-Jane Williams, Thailand