Set upriver from the swamp-ridden coastline, Kuching is Sarawak’s best shopping quadrant. Orang ulu beadwork, Bidayuh basket weavings, traditional wooden carvings and hand-woven rugs can easily be found in the state’s capital city. If you’re looking for ceramics and potteries, then be sure to stop over at the potteries clustered along Kilang Pasa. Borneo tribal textiles such as batik, as well as handicrafts, are available in Sibu, Kapit and the longhouses in the interior. Meanwhile, the city’s oldest street – Main Bazaar – plays host to a seemingly never-ending string of souvenir stores from ‘art galleries’ to garage-style retailers. Quality varies and don’t expect many bargains – you’ve got to negotiate in order to get good prices.
ARTrageously Ramsay Ong
ARTrageously Ramsay Ong is a private gallery showcasing selling contemporary paintings by Ramsay Ong, Narong Daun, Chew Fang Chin, Wong Neng Lee and many other local artists. Primarily an exhibition point for local artists, it’s run by the proprietor of Singgahsana Lodge, an amateur photographer.
- Location: 94, Main Bazaar
- Tel: +608 224 4346
Borneo Headhunters Tattoo & Piercing Studio
Founded in 1998 Borneo Headhunters Tattoo & Piercing Studio is a tattoo parlour that seeks to promote the art of tattooing as an integral part of the Iban community. Run by international tattoo artiste Ernesto Umpie, the designs featured here are prominently related to the Iban culture and it’s a truly unique ‘souvenir’.
- Location: Ministry of Pain, 47, Jalan Wayang
- Tel: +6019 856 6317
Sarawak Craft Council
Located along Jalan Haji Openg, the Sarawak Craft Council features daily demonstrations by local artists and retails a variety of authentic handmade tribal bric-a-brac from different ethnic groups in Sarawak. Housed in the Round Tower – one of the city’s prominent historical structures – it is situated beside the Sarawak Textile Museum.
- Opening Hours: 08:30 – 16:30 Monday – Friday
- Location: Sarawak Handicraft Centre, 32, Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg
Located along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Sarawak Plaza is close to the Holiday Inn Kuching and this shopping mall is one of the only places in Sarawak to get Western products; there’s also handicraft merchandise for sale. On the first floor is a pharmacy.
- Location: Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
One of the city’s best known and busiest markets, this ‘pasar minggu’ takes place along Jalan Satok to the west of the town centre. The market begins late on Saturday afternoon – you’ll find a wide assortment of merchandise ranging from produce and livestock to handicrafts and local delicacies. Vendors sleep at their stalls and the souk continues on till the next day; in the Chinese section of the market you can find freshly carved boar for sale.
- Location: Jalan Satok