Set under the spectacularly steep 810m peak of Gunung Santubong, the Santubong Peninsula is home to Sarawak's finest beach resorts and its famous Cultural Village and only 35 minutes drive from Kuching.
7th-14th Century - Santubong Era .
According to the Encyclopedia of Iban Studies the original inhabitants of Santubong are Ibans the sea Dyak. Derived from the word Si-antu-ubong which means the spirit boat in the Iban language. Antu is hantu in Malay which means spirit or ghost. Santubong are boat like coffins made from a single hollow log designed to represent the vesell in which a dead person will travel from this world to afterlife. The name Santubong may also derived from "san choo bong" in the Hakka Chinese dialect, meaning wild pig king or king of wild pig.In the past,Santubong is an important port in the area .
15th-19th Century - Brunei Sultanate Era.
Around the turn of the 17th Century, Sarawak had its first and only Sultan. The tenth Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Abdul Jalilul Akbar, had a younger sibling named Pengiran Muda Tengah Ibrahim Ali Omar Shah, better known as Raja Tengah. Since Sarawak was then owned and governed by Brunei, Sultan Abdul Jalilul Akbar appointed Pengiran Muda Tengah as the first (and last) Sultan of Sarawak, Sultan Tengah.
1841-1946 - Brooke Era
1941-1945 - Japanese Occupation
1946-1963 - Colonial Rule
1963-Today - Independence (Malaysia)
The famous myth of Santubong is the tale of jealousy and rage, which had a tragic ending.
The myth tells of two sisters who were princesses of Kayangan, the celestial kingdom, and were well-liked by the people as they assisted them in their disputes. The princesses, Princess Santubong and Princess Sejinjang were invited by the people to live among them, which they graciously did.
Princess Santubong, the more beautiful of the two, had many suitors, got married and subsequently became pregnant. This made Princess Sejinjang very jealous, and consequently, she began to claim that she was more beautiful than her sister. Santubong would not agree and a huge argument ensued between the two. In the end Sejinjang became violent and hit her pounding pestle on the head of Santubong, who fell to the earth and grew into the mountain that bears her name. However, just before Santubong fell she threw her weaving loom’s beam at Sejinjang, breaking a part of her body, which scattered into the sea, creating the islands in the area (Pulau Kera, Pulau Burong, Satang/Talang-talang and so on). Meanwhile, the rest of Sejinjang’s body also fell to the earth and became the other mountain near Mount Santubong.
That is why the profile of Gunung or Mount Santubong looks like a lady lying on the horizon if viewed from various angles from the South China Sea.
Old photo of Santubong people taken in front of Nurir Rahmani Mosque
Local people are mostly Muslim Malay living in a traditional Kampung.
By shuttle van
Minivans head to Santubong regularly from the market in Kuching, leaving when full.You can also have the place you are staying on the peninsula send one to Kuching for you by arrangement.
The minivan can be hard to find.
Public buses are far more reliable, cheap and air conditioned.
Bus no K15 heads towards Damai.
Extremely cheap (8RM) public bus service operated by Petra Jaya transport departs from the market in Kuching and heads to Damai thru Santubong. bus is air conditioned
Bus No K15
Regular tour buses leave from most of the major hotels in Kuching. Fees are RM 12 p.p. one way, RM 24 for return. Beware that the schedule found on the Visitor"s Information Centre's map may be outdated. The shuttle from Grand Margherita Hotels leaves for Damai at 9:15, 10:20, 12:20 and 2:20. It returns from Damai to Kuching at 1:15, 3:15 and 5:15.
The peninsula is very rural and less developed outside of the resorts. Which is a challenge on several fronts: the main attractions out of walking distance and none of them are next to one another. The best way to get around is to take shuttles from your accommodation. Most are Rm 5 per person.
The Santubong area is one of the best places in Sarawak to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphin, which inhabits rivers, estuaries and shallow coastal areas. On rare occasions finless porpoises and Indo-pacific humpback dolphins are sighted in the waters off Santubong. Among other things are the coastal villages (kampungs) in such as Kampung Santubong, a well-kept Malay village at the foot of Mount Santubong.
Damai Central view from the beach
- Damai Central. Damai Central is an innovative resort-styled multi-purpose complex built in Sarawak ethnic-concept design. It was born out of a vision to transform Damai Bay and the Santubong Peninsula into an oasis of life by providing facilities and services in the domain of shopping, sports, entertainment, recreation, and other leisure activities. This makes Damai Central a perfect venue for staging of festive activities and events, concerts, corporate and theme functions for both tourists and locals alike. edit
- Batu Buaya. ‘Local legend of ‘Batu Buaya’ (the Cursed Crocodile Stone) tells the story of inhabitants of a village called Kampung Landeh, who enjoyed peace and harmonious living, until the arrival of a crocodile from an area called Ulu Landeh. The crocodile was a mystical creature and very fierce. Its presence disrupted the peaceful lives of the villagers as it terrorized the villagers and killed many in the process. There were many attempts to kill the crocodile but failed as it had mystical powers.One day, a brave warrior by the name of Panglima Merpati Jepang arrived at the village. Sensing that he was able to help, the villagers promptly appealed for him to destroy the mystical crocodile. Seeing the carnage caused, Panglima Merpati Jepang agreed.A great fight and struggle ensued between the courageous warrior and the mystical crocodile, which ended in the successful inhalation of the mystical creature. During the fight, Panglima Merpati Jepang severed the crocodile’s large head from its body. The head subsequently drifted to the river mouth of Santubong River and was washed ashore. As the head was large, it remained ashore forever until it became a rock. Subsequently, the inhabitants of Santubong named it Batu Buaya as it resembled the head of a crocodile.’ edit
- Buntal Fishing Village. Kampung Buntal is a fishing village which has become a favorite place among locals and tourists alike for seafood cuisine. It is also famous for its Belacan (shrimp paste) edit
- Santubong Fishing Village. In the past, the Santubong area was famous for its trade, as evidenced by the remnants of English, Hindu and Chinese influence in Kampung Santubong. The locals claim that Kampung Santubong, previously known as Kampung Teluk Pasir Putih, was given its name by the Chinese settlers trading in the area. Guests are also able to patronize stalls selling local delicacies in Kampung Santubong. edit
The building where the tomb of Sultan Tengah located
- Batu Bergambar. A stone carved with a picture of the shape of a man. It is an evidence of early Hindu influence. edit
- BongKisam. This is a site of an ancient artifact of early Hindu influence. edit
- Sultan Tengah Mausoleum. The Mausoleum of Sultan Tengah is located just before the junction to Santubong fishing village. Sultan Tengah was the son of the third Sultan of Brunei. He died in 1641 and was the first and only Sultan of Sarawak. When Sultan Tengah passed away, he was buried together with his family members, the location of which is the Tomb of Sultan Tengah. edit
- Damai Beach. Kuching's nearest public beach. There is a small section of beach which is free to use by the public. It is just in front of Damai Central which is just opposite the Sarawak Cultural Village. Beware of rocks at high tide, Parasols and kayaks can be hired. Busy at weekends. If you go to Damai Beach by shuttle bus, they can drop you at Damai Beach Resort. You can buy a day visitor's pass for a mere RM 3,- and you can use the hotel's facilities, beach and swimming pool. Notice however that the inside restaurant and shop is pretty expensive, so it may be better to bring your own food. Alternatively the shuttle bus can drop you at Damai Central/Sarawak Cultural Village.The public beach is just in front and there is no need to pay RM 3:0. As it is right next door to Damai Beach Resort you can walk or swim to that beach as well. Damai Central has several cheap food stalls and a 7/11 as well as a more expensive restaurant and a bar. One of the cafes provides WiFi if you buy something from them. edit
- Pulau Kera. This is an island located a short distance away from Kampung Santubong. According to the local legend, the island was the site where Princess Sejinjang’s head was buried when it was decapitated by Princess Santubong. edit
Contact any local tour operator to witness yourself a superb natural attractions centred on the rainforested slopes of Mount Santubong, its mangrove forests, rivers, near shore waters and mudflats. These different habitats are home to variety of wildlife making Santubong one of the best sites in Sarawak to see a range of wildlife in a natural setting.
- Sarawak Cultural Village, . Tucked away at the foothills of Mount Santubong is the award-winning ‘living museum’, the Sarawak Cultural Village, which is the official venue for the world-renowned Rainforest World Music Festival.This living museum depicts the heritage of the major racial groups in Sarawak. Here, it is possible to see Sarawak's ethnic diversity at a glance. The handicraft is both bewildering and tempting. You can also try hands-on with making of these handicrafts. The 45-minute cultural performance of songs, dances and entertainment is something you will not want to miss out during your visit to Sarawak. Besides all this, you can also join their traditional dance and music classes. Price: Adults - RM 60, Children and concessions - RM 30. edit
- Rainforest World Music Festival, . Since 1998, the Sarawak Culture Village has been home to the annual Rainforest Music Festival, now usually held during the second weekend of July.While the event attracts performers from across the globe, it’s especially worthwhile for the opportunity to watch indigenous Bornean musicians. RM45-250. edit
Damai Central has a local food court that serves local Sarawakian food like Kolo Mee, Nasi Lemak, Chicken Rice, Fried Rice and Noodles, Basic Western Food and Drinks. The food court is halal and open from 9.00 am till 8.00 pm and during the Rainforest World Music Festival, the food court will be open early till late. Prices are very reasonable, same as prices in Kuching,but during the festival, the prices may increase a little, but still affordable. There is also a 7-11 at Damai Central while there is one bar and cafe that serves alcohol and some food.
- Bako National Park,on another peninsula. Accessible by boat from Kampung Bako jetty in another town or through resort/homestay/tour operator boat from Santubong.
- Kuching,the city center.
- Petra Jaya,has a few points of interest to check out although it is not a major tourism area.
- Talang-Satang National Park,30-minute boat ride from Damai Beach. There is no regular boat service and visitors should travel in an organised tour.