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Getting your groove on at the Sarawak Cultural Village


Although I was looking forward to hiking, I was not ready to parachute out of the plane and hit the jungles just yet

The Sarawak Cultural Village provided an ideal way to ease into Borneo. I don’t know about you, but I like to settle in before turning up the adventure. Whether it is hiking, traveling, drinking beer, running, any activity, I like to get my groove on first before really hitting it hard.

When my plane flew over Borneo after a a long commute to the airport in Kuala Lumpur, the last thing I wanted to do when I hit the ground was to hit a hot humid jungle and start trekking. I felt this same way the next morning. Therefore, I was glad that my first tour on my itinerary was the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Borneo jungles

I was not ready for the jungle yet

The Sarawak Cultural Village was located about 45 minutes outside of the capital of Sarawak, which is Kuching. It was just me and a friendly couple named Trevor and Pauline from New Zealand on the tour. The village was located in the shadow of the beautiful Mt. Santubong. As soon as I saw the mountain I had an urge to break away and climb it. I had to fight with myself and remind myself to go easy.

Mt. Santubong Borneo

The beautiful Mt. Santubong disappears into the mist reminding me that great adventure awaits

The Sarawak Cultural Village consists of examples of longhouses, dwellings, handcrafts, and other examples of the seven main ethnic groups from the people that live in Sarawak. The seven groups consist of the Bidayuh, Iban, Penan, Orang Ulu, Melanau, Malays, and Chinese.

Sarawak Cultural Village

A cool house rising up from the jungle

There are actually over 40 sub ethnic groups in Sarawak alone. It would be ridiculous for the village to try and focus on all 40, so concentrating on just the main seven is a good way to acclimate visitors like myself who need to be eased into the experience.

Each visitor to the Sarawak Cultural Village was issued a passport. You could then get your passport stamped at each section of the village pertaining to the individual seven ethnic groups. The passport has a one page section on each ethnic group with a little picture of each style of housing, so it is a tremendous keepsake. I of course kept mine in my fanny pack.

Sarawak Cultural Village

Only at the Sarawak Cultural Village would a guy dressed like this stamp your passport (well, not your real passport)

At one of the longhouses, we were greeted by a very attractive young lady. She invited us in and performed a beautiful welcome dance. It was mesmerizing, and I have the video on my phone and watch it almost daily. I am not sure what I enjoyed more, the dance itself or the catchy music in the background. I have embedded the video below and now you will all come to this page everyday to watch this film.

The nice thing about being on a tour with other people and a guide is there is no shortage of people to take your picture. I am not a photo hound, but there are times I would like a picture of myself in front of something. When I am hiking alone this means either a selfie or the self timer.

Sarawak Cultural Village

No need for selfies here

Was the Sarawak Cultural Village over touristy? Perhaps, as it focused on aspects like headhunters, blow guns, and sword making that people from other countries visiting Borneo would want to see. Would I recommend the Sarawak Cultural Village? Yes, I would. As I have explained, it is a good way to gain a basic  knowledge of the people, the history, and the culture and a good introduction to the island, Sarawak, and Kuching.  Some might be turned off by the place though. I think by reading this post travelers could tell right away if this type of experience is for them.

Borneo Longhouse

Inside a longhouse at the Sarawak Cultural Village

Sarawak Cultural Village

Headhunter being smoked by the fire

The coup de grâce was the dancing performance. After visiting the traditional dwellings of the seven ethnic groups, we were herded into an amphitheater for 45 minutes of traditional dance.  Just like the welcoming dance, the performances were filled with colorful dress, lively moves, and rhythmic music that I could have listened to all day, and I am not just saying that because the theater was air conditioned.

Sarawak Cultural Village

Colorful dress from the dancing performance

We spent about three hours at the Sarawak Cultural Village, so it was an ideal way to spend my first morning in Borneo getting my groove on in Sarawak.

When you land at a new location do you like to hit the ground running or are you like me and need a little time to take in the scene first?

During my stay in Kuching, I was a guest of Planet Borneo who also provided this tour.  My thoughts on this tour were not swayed by their hospitality.  The thoughts, pictures, and the getting into the groove ability was purely my own. I do highly recommend them for tours and for your stay in Kuching.


The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then enter your email in the box to get email notifications for each new entry. Daily travel photos are excluded from your email in order to not flood you with posts. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).

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14 Responses to Getting your groove on at the Sarawak Cultural Village

  1. Leigh January 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    Sounds to me you did the right thing easing into the country. That’s how I like to do it as well but it really depends on how much time I have. It sure takes the pressure off if you have a day like this built into your itinerary in case of travel problems.

    I see in a photo you are wearing shoes with toes. I’ve always wondered about those things – comfortable or not?
    Leigh recently posted..25 Fun & Interesting Facts About Russia

    • Ted Nelson January 16, 2014 at 1:33 am #

      Yes, time is a huge factor when it comes to planning.

      The vibrams have been kind of a disappointment. I thought they would be good for many things. I thought they would be good for Quetico, but the mosquitoes can bite through the fabric and it does not protect your ankles from the biting flies. I thought they would be good for the Wisconsin River, but they don’t dry off good enough. I could go on and on. Despite the fact I don’t like them, I seem to use them a lot. They can be used for multiple things like in the canoe, on the beach, and they are light.

      I finally did find one use that they really work well for. They are great to throw in for running when you are traveling overseas with a backpack, and you don’t want to pack a heavier and bulkier pair of running shoes.

      Overall, I would not recommend.

  2. Charles Higgins January 17, 2014 at 3:26 am #

    Your international travel excursion articles are very educational and informative… allowing us to see how others live..broadens our perspectives..

    Charles Higgins recently posted..Fire causes $100K damage at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas

    • Ted Nelson January 20, 2014 at 4:44 am #

      Thanks Charles, I am glad to hear they are informative.

  3. Craig Zabransky January 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    I like the ease in approach myself… and I like when your posts are flooded with photos of you too… nicely done.

    And I love the passport made the fanny pack.. what else is in their, I look forward to a tell all post one day.

    stay adventurous, Craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..Sunset Sunday – Chillaxing at the Rhu Bar Four Seasons Langkawi, Malaysia

    • Ted Nelson January 20, 2014 at 4:46 am #

      Since this is the Traveling Ted adventure blog, it only makes sense to flood the posts with photos of that lovable cartoon character. Perhaps someday on International Fanny Pack Day I will spill the beans or the pack.

  4. @mrsoaroundworld January 19, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    I need to see those shoes in more detail please. Do they have toes?
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..My hOtel: Rosewood London @rosewoodlondon

  5. Renuka January 20, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    What a place! i’d love to explore such a place myself. I really crave to spend a long holiday at a village kind of a place. Really nice account. Thanks for sharing.
    Renuka recently posted..Charminar And The Charming Surrounds – A Photo Essay

    • Ted Nelson January 20, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

      Thanks Renuka. You would love Kuching.

  6. Erin at The World Wanderer January 21, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    What a cool experience! I loved the video of the dance and the music. Guess you’ll be getting a view at least once a day from me because I will definitely be back to watch it! 🙂

    PS Borneo is beautiful!
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: Dead Sea.

    • Ted Nelson January 22, 2014 at 1:52 am #

      You might see me when you come back to watch it as I will be there watching it too. I’ll bring the beer you can bring some chips 🙂

  7. lola January 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    so interesting. and i love the dress the girl is wearing for the dance performance! the headhunter part kinda scares me though.
    lola recently posted..One Day Stay: Montreal, Canada

    • Ted Nelson March 22, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

      I am sure they love pink too 🙂

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