Crowne Plaza Riverside Kuching

Exploring the upper Sarawak river ( Sungai Sarawak Kanan )  Nov 15, 2004. by Michael Lo.

古晋笔记 | 脉搏 • 继续悠悠 > 砂拉越河


Sungei Sarawak as a tourist draw

TRICKLING down from a small stream in Upper Kapuas Range, Sarawak River meanders and bisecting Kuching City into two zones – South and North — and ends its long winding journey to the sea 120km away at Muara Tebas.

Cruising up and down Sungei Sarawak is an relaxing and enjoyable experience for tourist.

Two centuries ago, the first white Rajah, Sir James Brooke, set up an early settlement opposite two populated Malay Kampungs — Boyan and Surabaya — on the left bank of the river as his administrative centre.

Since then, that part of the river had figured prominently in the life of the early settlers, contributing to the birth of downtown Kuching.

Apart from Main Bazaar (1864), the historical significance of Sungei Sarawak is exemplified by the heritage buildings along its banks such as the old State Mosque (1847), the Astana (1870), the Old Court House (1874), Fort Margharita (1879), Brooke Dockyard (1912) and Chinese Museum (1912), not forgetting Kampung Boyan and Kampung Surabaya which provided a vibrant hub for village life on the left bank as early as 1860.

With its natural beauty and historical sigificance, Sungei Sarawak’s potential as a tourist attraction has never been overlooked by the authorities.

A beautifully designed 1km waterfront walkway was declared open in 1993 and later extended to about 2km, making it a “must visit” tourist spot and also a leisure family hangout for locals. in the late afternoon.

To fully tap the river’s tourist potential, the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) has endorsed a masterplan to enhance regulations and develop river transport along the 24km zone between Batu Kawa and the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK).

SRB is envisaging the expansion of river transport along this stretch as a viable public conveyance alternative to reduce road traffic congestion which is getting worse by the day.

Apart from overseeing the status of rivers, wharfs and vessels, including usage, transport and charges, SRB is also responsible for passenger safety, regulating vessel types plying or crossing the river, standardising fares and ensuring better service from river-going crafts.

Besides the tambangs, there are also big motor vessels such as the Equatorial which has been providing dinner and cultural shows, especially for tourists, during a river cruise.

In recent years, the increase in tourists had also given rise to river taxis for medium-distance cruise along the 24km waterway.

The tambangs come in more or less similar size. The cruise boats, on the other hand, are big capital investments due to their tonnage.

River taxis are very popular and can be easily spotted. The mushrooming river taxis started all in just three short years.

Kuching City, Malaysia

Photo above : Kuching City. Kuching's location beside the Sarawak River was chosen for its strategic commercial importance and its enchanting natural beauty.

Below : Sunset in Kuching. It is beautiful to watch the sunset from Kuching Waterfront. The beautiful colors of orange and red sunset color streaming across Sarawak River. The sun casts lovely shadows of the lower clouds on the river's cool calm silver surface.

Sarawak River separating the city by north and south. Riding a sampan boat along this yellow river in the evening is an unforgettable experience. From the water front one get spectacular views of the Malay Village houses ,19th century Chinese shop houses,  Malay mosque, the square tower and historical Margherita Fort.

Sarawak River serves as the main highway for many dwellers who live in the coastal villages outside Kuching. Sungai Santubong where one of Kuching’s most popular seaside resorts, Damai Beach is situated joins the Sarawak River at the river mouth. Ancient Hindu and Buddhist influenced rock carvings have also been discovered around the river delta.

THE role of the historical Sarawak River will be further cemented as a tourism jewel of the city centre of Kuching.

State Tourism Department had big plans for the iconic Sarawak River as a key drawcard for tourists to Kuching as well as an important public transportation hub.

A number of upgrading and beautification projects along the waterfront include a fleet of water taxis to ply the river with about half a dozen jetties and pontoons being built to cater to the additional services.

Boat builders in Sibu are fabricating a catamaran which may be used to link major hotels in the city center to the Borneo Convention Center Kuching (BCCK).

But with so much emphasis on the river as a tourism centerpiece, its water quality has come under the microscope, causing concern for organizers of river-based events such as the recent annual Sarawak Regatta.

Headings on public panels being displayed during the recent Government Transformation Programme 2.0 Open Day reflected as much: Wastewater pollution causing deterioration of water quality in Greater Kuching; The City’s rivers have become an open sewer and Currently Sungai Sarawak is Class III which is not suitable for recreational use.

The volume of wastewater pouring into the urban waterways has increased in tandem with Kuching city’s burgeoning population. Unsurprisingly, the cleanliness of the Sarawak River has come under close scrutiny with both foreigners and locals alike commenting on its soup-like appearance, oily surface and odors.

“Sarawak River is highly polluted with biological organisms. The level of E. coli is high,”
Professor Lau Seng who Environmental Chemistry at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas)

According to Professor Lau Seng, the biggest source of pollution is household waste. He said as Sarawak is not industrialized, chemical pollutants are not the main source of water pollution yet.

There are two types of waste water discharge from households:
1 - greywater and
2 - blackwater.

1 - Greywater is the putrid mix of wastewater – everything from food washed down sinks to soapy effluents – from kitchens, bathrooms and wash areas which flow untreated directly into rivers and waterways.

2- Blackwater comes from waste generated from toilets. It is partially treated within septic tanks but conventional methods only removes 40 per cent of pollutants before it is also discharged into rivers and waterways.

Once greywater and blackwater reach the Sarawak River, it creates favorable conditions for bacteria such as E.coli (a type of bacteria which can lead to severe, and sometimes fatal food poisoning) to survive. Not only that, these rivers will become increasingly inhospitable to marine life as high bacteria content in the water causes the content of dissolved oxygen essential to their propagation to decrease.

Three of Kuching city’s smaller rivers – Sungai Padungan, Sungai Bintangor and Sungai Tabuan – are severely polluted.

The government hope the current Kuching City Centralized Sewerage System (KCCSS) project be able to reduce the growing volume of untreated greywater and blackwater being discharged into the waterways before it reaches a critical level.

The project, the largest of its kind in Sarawak, is under the auspices of the Sewerage Services Department (SSD) set up in October 2007 to tackle the issue of untreated sewerage.

The RM530 million first phase (Zone 1 Package 1) of the KCCSS is already well underway.
For this phase, densely populated areas of the city from Satok, Wisma Saberkas to Padungan are to be laid with a network of underground pipes by means of high-tech tunnel boring machines which will collect both blackwater and greywater and direct it to a sewerage treatment plant located in Petra Jaya through a gravity flow system.

On site, a multi-stage process will treat wastewater into clean discharge Standard A which can then be safely released into the Sarawak River.
SSD director Lau Hieng Ung considers the centralized sewerage system initiative a landmark project. After nearly four years of tunneling works, Phase 1 of the project is progressing well.

The Sarawak River is the best way to view the city. The river cruises give you an unobstructed view of the city and its surroundings impossible to experience from dry land.

In days gone by Sarawak River banks were a hive of trading activity. The river remains the focus of city life today. The beautifully landscaped Kuching Waterfront - popular with visitors and locals alike - provides an excellent starting point for a stroll around the city centre.

Locally wooden sampans boats were the usual mode of transport at the Kuching Waterfront.

Along the way you will see brightly-painted tambangs ferrying passengers, villagers going about their everyday activities, and fishing boats and wooden cargo vessels plying the river.



Cruising onboard the Sarawak River Cruise is a leisurely way of glimpsing Kuching and it gives you a different perspective of the historic city.

The Sarawak River Cruise is a fantastic way to turn a page back in history of Sarawak, through a cruise along the river that brings you past historical landmarks of Kuching.

A traditional ‘tambang’ yacht will take you past places of interest like the Kuching Waterfront, Square Tower (formerly a prison), a multi-purpose market, old State Mosque with five onion-shaped domes, a Malay house on stilts and the Satok Suspension Bridge before heading the other side of the river to see the Astana (former palace of the White Rajahs), Fort Margherita (now a police museum) and a fishing village.

If your cruise happens on a Sunday, you will get to see village children splashing along the river or diving from treetops while shouting greetings at you.  


Cruising onboard the MV "Equatorial" is a leisurely way of glimpsing Kuching and it gives you a different perspective of the historic city.

Enjoy the scenic highlights and the best view of the Astana, "Dewan Undangan Negeri",  Fort Margherita, historic mosque. Brockets Dockyard, modern high-rises, fishing village, traditional houses built on stilts, densely grown nipah (local palm trees) etc., set against the dramatic backdrop of the inky-blue Santubong and Matang Range of mountains.


The MV Equatorial  ship offers a few packages that are related to sunset viewing inclusive of dining on board.  

The Welcome Cruise is 1 hour and 15 minutes. It starts on 3.15pm daily.

The Sunset Cruise is 1 hour 30 minutes. It starts on 5.30pm daily.


Welcome Cruise

A leisurely cruise to view Kuching with its highlights on Kuching Waterfront, historical buildings, traditional houses built on stilts, and recent developments within the vicinity.

Departure : 9:45 am OR 3:15pm (1 hour 15mm)

Price : RM 45 / adult, RM 25 / child

Inclusive : Coffee / tea; PA system / karaoke set

Remarks : Minimum 10 person / trip

Romantic Sunset Cruise

Daily Departure

The most popular cruise for you to enjoy a memorable evening with your loved ones. In addition to the scenic highlights along the river, you will also be entertained by our dancers / performed aboard.

Departure : 5:30 pm (1 hour 30min)

Price : RM 60 / adult, RM 30 / child

Inclusive : Snacks, Coffee / tea / drink

Remarks : Minimum 2 person / trip


The best cruise for all  types of corporate functions / private charters for guests up to 130 persons / trip. With your choice of buffet menu & themed party such as Hawaiian & Pirates Nite served by our friendly crew onboard, you'll find this cruise experience entertaining and unforgettable...

Departure : 7:30 pm onwards

Price :from RM 35 / adult, RM 20 / child

Inclusive : Welcome Drink, Co/fee / Tea ; PA / karaoke

Remarks : Optional Buffet Dinner: Minimum 30 person (Early hooking required)

Themed Cruise Party (Promotional Packages)

(Hawaiian Party / Pirates Nite / Sarawak Fiesta / Sail in the 70's / White Rajah Party / Treasure Hunt / Singles Night / Valentine's Party / 'Just Married' / Creative Teambuilding etc.)


-1.5 hours cruise (+ 7z hr at waterfrontt for 50 persons  & above)

-Complimentary use of karaoke set & PA system

-Arrangement of cultural performance / ddance party / quiz / games with prizes

Buffet meal: minimum 20 persons

Menu: Fruit Salad, Chicken (Lemon / Roasted / Bamboo), Fish Fillet / Terubok (Sweet & Sour / Deep Fried), Squid Fried with Thai Sauce, Mixed Vegetable / Midin Belacan, Fried (Rice / Mee Hoon / Noodle), Cordial Drink, Assorted Cakes / Seasonal Fruits

20 - 49 person  RM 65 / adult, RM 35 / child (aged 4 to 12)

50 - 130 person  RM 57 / adult, RM 27 / child (aged 4 to 12


- 2 hrs cruise (+ Vi hr at waterfront foor 50 pax & above)

- Complimentary use of karaoke set &; PA system

- Arrangement of cultural performance / dance party / quiz / games with prizes

- VIP Reception & Lucky Draw<

- Buffet meal; minimum 20 persons>

Menu: Fruit Salad, Ulam-ulaman, Soup (Local / Fish Maw), Cold Dish - Jelly Fish, Chicken (Lemon / Roasted / Bamboo), Fish Fillet / Terubok (Sweet & Sour / Deep Fried). Squid (Butter / Fried with Thai Sauce), Mixed Vegetable / Midin Belacan, Steam Rice (White / Fried with Seafood), Fried (Mee Hoon / Noodle), Assorted Cake - Layer Sarawak Cake, Seasonal Fruits, Cordial Drink, Coffee & Tea

20 - 49 person RM 88 / adult, RM 50 / child (aged 4 to 12)  


Harbour Cruises Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Harbour Cruises & Events Group, is a fully licensed cruise company, which focuses on operating harbour cruises, creative teambuilding, and corporate events in the region.

Since its inception in 2000, the company specialises in cruise / yacht management, marine consultancy, corporate functions, themed cruise parties, marine carnivals, and investments in 'relevant joint venture projects in marine tourism.


Name :  Sarawak River Cruise (MV Equatorial)

Length  : 120 feet (36m)

Breadth : 20 feet (6m)

Capacity : 138 persons

Decks : 2 decks

Facilities : Air-conditioned dining lounge, karaoke set, PA system, open-air upper deck, performance stage, souvenirs counter, minibar, washrooms etc.

Optional : Buffet menu, Dance performance, MC / DJ, Live band, Magic show, Clown performance, Lucky Draw with Games & Prizes etc.



The new DUN Sarawak building is located at an eyes catching site right opposite the Riverfront walkway in  the middle of Kuching city. With the size of the building, you can hardly miss it.



INDEX of Kuching City  September 24, 2017 11:19:22 PM

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