A Walk in Siniawan

23 August 2018

Take a walk through Siniawan night market, located in one of Sarawak’s oldest towns.

Visit Siniawan today and you’ll find it a quaint, vintage town with no shortage of charming old wooden shophouses and back alleys to photograph. It’s hard to believe that about a decade ago, these shophouses were at risk of falling apart; the town had been hit with one of its worst floods in 2004, and again in 2009. It didn’t help that the historic town, once a bustling Chinese village in its heyday, was already facing a decline. Its location in between Kuching and Bau (a former gold mining town) made it a popular pit stop for travellers en route, but when the Kuching-Bau bypass was built, Siniawan was pushed into obscurity.

The village across the river from Siniawan, which also accessible by boat

Rather than mourn the dilapidated state of their hometown, inhabitants later formed the Siniawan Heritage Conservation Committee to save Siniawan and restore it to its former glory. With the help of architect Mike Boon, the man behind the restoration of the Old Courthouse in Kuching among other heritage buildings, Siniawan slowly underwent renovations. By 2010, enterprising locals set up the Siniawan night market, which began attracting visitors.

Pitcher plant glutinous rice, a dish prepared by the Bidayuh people, is one of the unique local delicacies available at the night market

Today, the 179-year-old town has become a popular tourist destination thanks to its lively weekend pasar malam, which features over 80 stalls selling a variety of food, toys and more.  There’s even an open karaoke stage for visitors to belt out their favourite tune for only RM1.

Most shop owners set up stalls at the pasar malam for extra business. Street food is aplenty, ranging from cucur udang, satay, ikan bakar, ice kacang, grilled meats, mee kolo, and many more.

Tian Xia Homestay, a popular place to stay in Siniawan

The market opens every Friday to Sunday from 6.30pm, but it’s best to head there earlier to soak in the old town scenery at sunset.


A shop selling vintage posters and vinyl records. Siniawan is full of interesting finds

A photo of Siniawan town in the ’60s

Address: Siniawan, 94000 Sarawak, Malaysia. Siniawan is located approximately 26km from Kuching. Visit siniawan.com for more info.

Photos by Jee Foong


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