If you’re planning on a trip to East Malaysia in the coming year and have Sarawak on the itinerary, a must-stop while you’re there is the acclaimed Sarawak Cultural Village. This award-winning living museum allows you to ‘Experience Sarawak in half a day’ and gain valuable insight into its patchwork of cultures.
Spread across 17 acres, the Village features meticulously crafted replicas of local houses belonging to the major ethnic groups of Sarawak, including the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu, Penan, Melanau, Malay and Chinese. Inside each house, visitors can immerse themselves in the culture of each tribe, interacting with members and learning about their way of life.
Inhabitants from each house are more than happy to share stories from their history and culture, enlighten guests on their everyday life and answer any questions they may have. Naturally, they are all garbed in traditional costume so that in itself is a treat for the eyes.
From the Orang Ulu longhouse to the Melanau tall house, there are few places in Sarawak that allow you to explore these buildings up close and mingle with the people that inhabit them.
The multi-cultural dances that take place in the theatre of the Village have become well-known around the region and are one of the main draws of this fascinating destination. The troupe that take to the stage here on a daily basis provides both educational and entertaining performances, shedding light on ethnic dances from across the spectrum.
Here you can watch rugged Iban warriors performing the ngajat to the rhythm of the gamelan or charming Orang Ulu maidens step to the pattern of the hornbills. There is even the opportunity for guests to participate in dances, as well as other activities including crafts like beadwork making and paddy pounding.
There’s plenty more to see and do in the Village, so much so that you could spend a few days here discovering all it has to offer. The Persada Alam located around a waterfall offers more performances, as well as fashion shows, jamming sessions and more.
Meanwhile, the Sculpture Park holds striking stone creations that reflect Sarawak’s legacy. International and local sculptors have transformed stones from Damai into beautiful rock art, using a myriad of techniques and styles.
Over at the Rainforest Music House, guests can try their hand at traditional instruments and take part in workshops by local masters. Finally, the Dewan Lagenda (Hall of Legends) is a font of knowledge that comes with dance studio, information centre, library and lecture hall among others.
If you only have a few days in Sarawak, or even if it’s a longer stay, a visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village will have you walking away with a much deeper appreciation of this colourful state and all it has to offer.
Sarawak Cultural Village
Where Pantai Damai, Santubong, P.O.Box 2632, 93752 Kuching, Sarawak
Tel 082 846 108; 082 846 078