Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sibu, Sarawak

Newer posts about Sibu are available at:
Attractions in Sibu
Accommodation and Food in Sibu

Sibu is a simple town in the Land of Hornbill. Simple, in terms of the society (with around two hundred thousands of population). Simple, in terms of the location. However, we believe that it is the place for all the visitors to land their feet on Sarawak.

Two major hotels in Sibu, Tanahmas and Premier, located side by side in the heart of Sibu town.

Let us share a history with you. Year 1900, people at Foochow, China were suffering under the ruling Dynasty Qing. Wong Nai Siong, a pastor, a leader, travelled to Nanyang for a better place and better life for his tended sheeps.

February 20, 1901, 72 pioneers from Foochow touched down their first daring feet in a place called Sungai Merah, or "Sin Zhu Shan" in local Foochow dialect, few kilometers away from current Sibu town centre. Then, the second and third waves followed, made a grand total of 1118 people. LS's great grandfather was one of them.

From a degree below zero, they builds wonderful town on the top of the swamp and marsh beside Batang Rejang, the longest river in Malaysia. With their bare hands, they fought and thrived in the middle of the tough and merciless Borneon jungle.

Today, sun shines on Sarawak for its economic networks, and many of the great networks start from Sibu. That's the reason why, if you wish to know more about Sarawak, you need to visit Sibu.

How long that you need to stay in Sibu? At least 2 days one night. And you might like to start the tour at the "ground zero" at Sungai Merah. More information about Sibu Tour is available at Greatown Travel.

Ground zero, the landing site for Foochow immigrants from China- Sungai Merah (Red River). Wong Nai Siong Memorial Park is located beside this river.

Wong Nai Siong Memorial Park beside Sungai Merah. The history of the Foochow immigrants are stated at the park beside the sculpture of Rev. Wong Nai Siong.

Then, head back to Sibu town. Starting from Sibu Town Square, take a walk down the Island Road. Take a look on the Hoover Mission House and Masland Methodist Church. The church is one of the biggest and most elegant in Sibu.

Masland Methodist Church that can accomodate more than 1500 people, flanked by Hoover Mission House. Hoover Mission House is named in commemorating James Hoover, an American missionary who had lived and brought modernization (such as generator of electricity, rice hulling machine, and motor launches) and faith in Christianity to Sibu. He established 40 schools and 41 churches. He died in 1935, yet still live in many hearts until today.

 Photo shows a close up on the church, with a cross raised high above the ground.

At the end of the Island Road, turn right to visit the pagoda of "Yong An Ting", or the Temple of Peaceful Forever. The temple is located just beside Rejang River.

Along the riverside, 150 meters from the pagoda, you can see a big 2-storeys building with green rooftop. That's the biggest central market in Malaysia- Sibu Central Market. Allocate an hour or two in the market guarantees a surprise. Many local fruits, vegetables, food, and souvenirs are available, bring straight away from the longhouse and the farms into your hands. So, make sure that you spare your hand before entering the market.

Sibu central market on the outside (left) and on the inside. The ground floor is mainly for the raw products, such as fruits and vegetables, handicrafts, pottery, and groceries. The first floor is for the clothes, shoes, bags, and a food court with local food.

Some of the local products available in the central market- honey lime from Bintangor (upper left), rattan products (upper middle), and mulung from the sago trees (upper right). Mountain durian (lower left), "conventional" durian (lower middle), and midin (lower right) can be found too.

If you ever have the chance to visit Sibu central market, don't forget to take a look on the stalls selling life chicken. The packaging for the chicken using newspaper can only be described with one word- "creative" (left)! The world famous rice- Bario fragrance rice is sell with RM 5 per kilograms (middle). Sibu pottery famous with it's fine first grade clay. It is available in the central market too.

If you enter the market from the temple side, then the exit from another side of the market will lead you to Sibu Gateway (just go strait after crossing the road). Sibu Gateway is small nicely decorated open area beside one of the busiest street in Sibu. From Sibu Gateway, walk towards Tanahmas and Premier Supermarket. Turn left after the one and the only McD in Sibu. Walk through the nice town area back to Sibu Town Square. Take a coffee at Wisma Sanyan. Late afternoon, take a walk around the town square, take a look on the Rejang River, and the connection point of Rejang River and Igan River. Sibu town is designed to be pedestrian friendly. You will find nice alleys throughout the town area.

Nicely decorated walkway, connecting Sibu central market to Sibu gateway (upper row). Sibu gateway and Swan garden are located side by side ( lower row).

Standing a total of 28 floors, Wisma Sanyan is the tallest building in Sarawak at the moment, flanked by RH Hotel with 226 rooms.

The largest town square in Malaysia- Sibu Town Square, spreads in front of Wisma Sanyan, few hundred meters long to meet with Rejang and Igan River. The photo above shows the nice sculpture of swans at the town square.

Sunset at Rejang River (upper left) and the 1 km wide river at the point where the mighty river splits into two and run to the sea in different directions (lower left). Scenes at the town square- gazebo at the side of Igan River (upper middle), a century old tree left by the British Colonial, fighting for survival at the middle of the town square (upper right), Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum (lower middle), and Rejang Port Authority.

Entrance of Kampung Nyabor Road- A place where many major banks located (Upper left). Kampung Nyabor Road is connected to Raminway (incorrect info in Google map). A nice scene at Channel Road, beside Island Road (upper middle). There is very nice souvenir shop- Alih Craft, located at the entrance of Channel Road. Paramount Hotel and Garden Hotel are some of the major hotels in Sibu (upper right and lower middle). Bas terminal provides intercity shuttle is located beside Pahlawan Road, three kilometers away from town centre. The best way to travel from the bus terminal to town centre is by taxi. Kopitiams are abundant in Sibu, offering food and leisure to the townfolks. Finding a good kopitiam is as simple as counting the customers inside the shop. The crowd inside always represent the taste of the food.

Alih Craft from the outside. Some of the souvenirs for sale in the shop.

Potteries, handicrafts, kompia, and above all, Sarawak pepper! That's the best thing that you can bring as a souvenir from Sibu. Fresh peppers from Sibu are available in a different packaging (middle and right), with the smell and taste out-matched the others. Besides, you can try to get some Chinese tranditional medicine like "ba-zhen-yao" (which is made by the mixture of eight types of herbs) as well.

Food to eat- small town always been gifted with nice local food. Kampua noodle at Sungai Merah, Sarawak laksa at Kampung Dato, Sibu prawn mee (noodle) opposite of Sibu bus terminal, seafood, especially fish head curry at Sheraton Restaurant, and many many more.

The "fried-cooked" noodle with soup is one of the favourite dishes for the locals (left). Laksa Sarawak (upper right), kampua noodle (lower left), and amazing prawn noodle (lower right) are some other nice food that you should try. Noodles are really low price in Sibu, most of them are below RM 3 (USD 1). The prawn noodle, however is RM 13, due to the low supply of local freshwater prawns.

Kompia is the bun-like food made by the main ingredient of flour. It is one of the legacy inherited long ago from China.

The best way to reach Sibu is by airplane. The international airport is 25 km away from the town centre. Taxi is the most confortable mean of ground transport here. Besides, you can reach Sibu by bus from all the major cities around Sarawak. For more information about Sibu, please visit Sibu Travel Guide @ Lonelyplanet, Sibu @ Tripadvisor, and the Official Site for Sibu.

Take a look about our sharing on the other places in Sarawak

[Kuching] [Attractions in Sibu] [Food and Accommodation in Sibu]
[Roadtrip from Tanjung Manis to Mukah] [All Our Destinations]


  1. 谢谢分享.

  2. HI,

    I coming to Sibu with family on this coming SEPT, this blog just suit me for 2D1N itinery.
    I have 2 question here,

    1) To travel the place above did i need to rent a car?

    2) Any 3 rooms apartment to rent for a night?

  3. Dear Penny, great to know that Sibu is your destination.

    1. All the places mentioned above can be accessed by foot, except Wong Nai Siong Memorial Park (around 5 km from town area) and fish head curry at Sheraton (1 km from town area). So, taxi might be a good option to serve the purpose. Of course, a rented car will grant you more freedom (with around RM130-RM200 per day). Kongteck is one of the car rental company with counter available at Sibu airport:

    2. To date, I cannot find any reliable service appartments in Sibu, for tourism purposes. Maybe you need to find rooms in hotels. Better hotels with private carparks: RH, Premier, Tanahmas. Middle hotels: Sarawak Hotel (no carpark provided), Phoenix hotel (no carpark provided) and Garden Hotels. Take note that Kingwood, Li Hua (no carpark), and Kawan (no carpark) are good, but you might need to take 15-20 minutes walk to the center of the town.

    For more information, you can try to access to the pages below, go to directory and browse for more information:

    Let us know if you need more help.

  4. hi! i always dream to visit sabah n sarawak. its nice to read bout those useful n interesting places in sibu. i would like to know if my friends n i would like to stay in a hotel which might be nearest or easy access to many places that u listed which one is the best. n how about the expenses there? i mean food n shopings * im planning to go there. hopefully :)

    1. Dear Wanabee, if you are visiting Sarawak soon, the focus should be on Kuching and Mulu National Park.

      For Sibu, one day trip is enough to cover many interesting points in the town. We would recommend Tanamas and Premier Hotel, as both are located at the heart of the town. For budget hotels, we would recommend Sarawak Hotel and Garden Hotel. Li Hua is another budget hotel that located at the side of Rejang River, but it is about 500 meters away from some major attractions.

      The food are cheap, especially the local dishes. A single serving noodle can still be less than RM3. Local delicacies such as kompia, pompiah, and fruits are very cheap as well.

      For shopping, local rattan work and very fine potteries can be obtained at central market with bargained price. Never buy before you bargain. 10 - 15% of discounts is normal. Central market is a must visit site in Sibu. To date, it is still the largest central market in Malaysia.

      Taxi is the most convenient mean of transport, in case you wish to visit some of the places outside of the town, such as Wong Nai Siong Memorial and Hover Memorial park. Taxi is not run by meter. Always consult the hotel personnel for the current charges.

  5. I need to know, how i can reach sibu, from Indonesia! Jakarta .
    What flight have Services from Indonesia to sibu.

  6. Sibu is a simple town in the Land of Hornbill. Simple, in terms of the society (with around two hundred thousands of population). Simple, in terms of the location. However, we believe that it is the place for all the visitors to land their feet on Sarawak.
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