Kuching International Airport
What to expect upon arrival and departure
Kuching International Airport is Sarawak’s main air transport hub. Ten kilometres south of Kuching, it serves as both an entryway and jumping off point to explore the state. Cheap online plane airfares (almost similarly priced to bus tickets) have resulted in an easier time travelling to and around Sarawak.
Kuching International has regular connections to KL, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Macau, Penang, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Bangalore, Perth and Singapore. The best way to visit the Gunung Mulu National Park and the Kelabit Highlands, two of Sarawak’s highlights, is to take the daily MAS flights from Miri: there are multiple daily flights connecting Kuching International and Miri.
The airport recently underwent extensive renovations which have resulted in a sleek and modern interior similar to KLIA. Kuching International is divided into three levels: the lower ground floor is the Arrivals Hall with baggage claim, customs and transport service counters. The Arrivals Hall has a counter for purchasing taxi coupons (cabs do not operate using a meter) and there are also a few hotel kiosks and several food outlets.
Meanwhile the top floor is the Departure Hall with check-in counters, security inspections and passport control. The mezzanine level is the main concourse: on the public side there are only airline offices but the secure side (for arriving and departing, international and domestic passengers) houses a strip of shops and restaurants as well as the flight gates.
Large planes park on the tarmac in front of the main terminal and use sky bridges for passengers to enter the terminal. However smaller aircraft occasionally park a short distance away from the terminal, leaving passengers to walk across the tarmac and then use the stairways to enter the building.Once inside the terminal, there is plenty of signage to guide passengers to the baggage claim area. Passengers arriving from outside Sarawak (even peninsular Malaysia) are considered to be international arrivals and will have to go through immigration before proceeding to collect their bags. Once past immigration, head downstairs for baggage claim: customs clearance is just after the baggage claim counters and the main Arrivals Hall is just beyond.
Kuching International Airport’s Departure Hall is fairly straightforward: after checking in at the counters, passengers bound for international destinations or outside Sarawak must proceed to the immigration counters. After immigration, there is the customary security screening and the usual rules apply: laptops and carry-on items are screened. The main concourse is located downstairs after security screening.
The most convenient way to get to your hotel from the airport is to book an airport transfer. Besides bypassing the queues at the taxi counter, you will be able to travel in style: book one on advance at http://www.visit-malaysia.com/sarawak-tours/sarawak-transfer.htm.
Kuching International is only a 15-minute drive away from the city centre and hiring a car ensures that you will not only be able to get to your hotel easily but you will also be able to explore the city later on. Book one in advance at http://www.visit-malaysia.com/car-rental/sarawak-car-rental.htm.
There used to be a public bus service that operated a route between the airport and city centre, but it has been suspended due to lack of customers. Tune Hotel has an hourly shuttle bus (RM10) that runs from the airport to the Tune Hotel along Jalan Borneo.
Taxis operate on a coupon system at Kuching International: you can purchase the fixed-price coupons from the counter at the Arrival Hall. A trip to the city centre should cost approximately RM30.
Restaurants and Shops
Accessible to the public on the upper level of the terminal (opposite the check-in counters), is a food court with a Starbucks and KFC outlet as well as a snack bar. Meanwhile, on the lower level, is an Old Town Coffee Shop and McDonald’s branch while upstairs there are several souvenir and travel stores.
Passengers who have gone through security screening can find several duty-free shops in the air-side concourse as well as a Marry Brown’s fast food restaurant and a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf joint.
Kuching International has no airport or transit hotel; the closest hotel to it (only two km away) is the four-star Four Points by Sheraton Kuching. It has 435 air-conditioned rooms with its signature Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort (SM) Bed, flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi. The sleek glass-walled hotel’s facilities include a 24-hour gym, pool, spa and business centre.