Kuching Division is one of the twelve administrative divisions in Sarawak, Malaysia. Formerly part of what was called the “First Division”, it is the center and the starting point of modern Sarawak. Kuching Division has a total area of 4,559.5 square kilometres.

Kuching Division consists of three administrative districts; Kuching, Bau and Lundu and two subdistricts; Padawan, and Sematan.

When locals say ‘Kuching’, they usually refer to Kuching (/ˈkuːtʃɪŋ/), which is officially the City of Kuching which is the capital of the most populous city in Sarawak in Malaysia.

The city itself is a centre of business, commercial, mixed industries, service sectors, education hub and tourism centre for Sarawak. Kuching relies heavily on its productive population to run its economy, rather than exploiting its natural resources.

History of the name

The name “Kuching” was already in use for the city by the time Brooke arrived in 1839 with many theories as to the derivation of the name “Kuching”. Some theories say it perhaps derived from the Malay word for cat, “kucing” or from Cochin, an Indian trading port on the Malabar Coast and a generic term in China and British India for trading harbour.

Other theories say that the name comes  from a fruit called “mata kucing” (Euphoria malaiense) and also perhaps a Chinese word which means “Ku” (古)- Old and “Ching” (井) – Well or “old well” (古井).

Some Hindu artefacts however stated that Kuching was previously known as “Sarawak” before Brooke arrived and was only renamed to “Kuching” in 1872 by Charles Brooke.

History of Kuching

Kuching was the third capital of Sarawak, and was founded in 1827 by the representative of the Sultan of Brunei, Pengiran Indera Mahkota. Pengiran Raja Muda Hashimit later ceded the territory to a British adventurer, James Brooke as a reward for helping him to counter a rebellion.

Brooke was appointed as the Governor of Sarawak with the title of Rajah. It was not announced until 18 August 1842, following Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II’s ratifying the governorship, and requiring Brooke to pay an annual sum of $2,500 to the Sultan. Since that time, Kuching became the seat of the Brooke government which soon was to rule Sarawak.

After the end of World War II, the third and last Rajah, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke ceded Sarawak to the British Crown on 1 July 1946. Sarawak, together with North Borneo, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya, formed the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 with Kuching keping its status as the state capital.

On 1 August 1988 was gained itself a city status.

Tips: To celebrate the city status, the city makes it a point to make plenty of activities during June to October every year.

Kuching local authority

Kuching is the only city in Malaysia to be administered by two mayors.

The city is divided into Kuching North and Kuching South, both named Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) and Kuching South City Council (MBKS) respectively.

The city is defined within the borders of what is the Kuching District with 1,868.83 square kilometres.

The area is then subdivided into two sub-districts, namely Kuching Proper and Padawan. Kuching Proper included the city area and northern part of Padawan municipality (e.g. Batu Kawah, Matang Jaya), while Padawan sub-district (southern part of Padawan municipality) included Kota Padawan, Teng Bukap and Borneo Highlands (Mambong).

The combined area of Kuching North City Hall, Kuching South City Council, Padawan Municipal Council, and the Kota Samarahan Municipal Council is known as Greater Kuching.

Tips: Kuching North is largely occupied by government building with Kuching South being the business centre of Kuching


Kuching has a tropical rainforest climate and is one of the wettest places in Malaysia.

The wettest times are during the North-East Monsoon months of November to February and the city’s driest months are June through August.

The temperature in Kuching ranges from 19 °C (66 °F) to 36 °C (97 °F) but the average temperature is around 23 °C (73 °F) in the early hours of the morning and rises to around 33 °C (91 °F) during mid afternoon.

This temperature stays almost constant throughout the year.

Tips: Wear thin, comfortable cotton clothing when coming to Kuching.

Religious belief

Freedom of religion is practised in Kuching. Census from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) reports that Kuching has a total population of 402,738.

The population consists of Malays (146,067), Chinese (138,620), Iban (82,743), Bidayuh (20,065), Non-Malaysian citizens (5,048), other Sarawak Bumiputras (Orang Ulu) (4,076), Melanau (1,840), Indian (3,257) and others (1,022).

The Iban, Bidayuh, Dayak and Orang Ulu are mainly Christians, while the Chinese practise either Buddhism, Taoism or Christianity. Most of the Malays and Melanau are Muslim. There is also a small number of Hindus, Sikhs and secularists within Kuching.


The Malay of Sarawak (Bahasa Melayu Sarawak) is a local dialect that is widely spoken in Kuching.

This is followed by Chinese, particularly Hokkien, Hakka, and Mandarin Chinese.

English is also widely spoken by locals with both Bahasa Melayu and English recognized as the official language of Sarawak.

Tips: Most locals can speak basic English but picking up some Malay would go a long way.


Sarawkians can go in and out of Kuching as they please but must carry thier national identification card (MYKAD).

Non-Sarawakians (including foreigners) can stay for 90 days and must carry along their visiting pass when going around Kuching.

Tips: Do not loose the slip you are given upon entering Kuching as you need to reproduce it when exiting Sarawak.


All transactions within Kuching are done in Ringgit Malaysia (RM or MYR).

Major credit cards particularly VISA, Mastercard and American Express (Amex) are also accepted in major shops and stores.

The use of digital wallets (e-wallet) is also widespread with DuitNow, SPay (Sarawak Pay) and Apple Pay accepted in many merchants.

Tips: E-wallets are very popular in Kuching so you might want to use Apple Pay or Union Pay if you don’t have DuitNow.


Almost all telco companies in Malysia have coverage in Kuching.

However, 5G connectivity is only available in selected areas. In sub-urbs and rural areas, CelcomDigi provides better coverage.

Tips: Get your SIM upon arrival in Kuching International Airport here.

Public transportation

Kuching is well connected by roads. Most roads are sealed and are toll free.

Bus service however remains unreliable despite improvements, and ride sharing services are popular within Kuching City. Taxis are also easily available.

Tips: It is advisable to rent a motorbike or car if you want to save on travel expenses. RENT a car here.


Kuching education starts from pre-school until tertiary level. There is a good mix of national and private schools and colleges in Kuching to pursue education.

Tips: SEE education institutions in Kuching here.

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