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Sibu Travel Guide, Malaysia

Sibu Travel Guide: General Information

The town of Sibu, situated in Sarawak, East Malaysia, is the capital of Sibu District, 130 km from the South China Sea, at the confluence of the Igan and Rajan Rivers. It is also the most prosperous town in the Rajang valley. This town is a rapidly growing commercial center and main port for the Rajang Basin. The town derives its name from the local Sibau fruit. The population is a racial mix of Chinese, Ibans, Malays, and other ethnic races. The Foochow community was the first to settle in the region in the early 1900s, a race that was known to be hard working.

Earlier, Sibu was part of the Sultanate of Brunei that was later ceded to James Brooke of Sarawak who later established Fort Brooke in town. Sibu now has the distinction of having the tallest building in Sarawak, and the largest town square in Malaysia, which are regular features found in any Sibu travel guide. From Kuching, people travel upstream along the Rejang River to get to Sibu, while there are regular flights from Johor to Sibu. Here is a precise Sibu travel guide featuring some of the interesting facets of the city.

Sibu Travel Guide: Key Facts

Area: 8,278.3 sq Km (3,196.3 sq mi)

Population: 209,616 (as per 2009 census)

Monetary Unit: Malaysian currency unit is Ringgit (RM) and sen, where 100 sen equals one Ringgit

Official Language: Bahasa Malaysia

International Dialing code: +6084

Sibu Travel Guide: Architectural Heritage

Sibu has several interesting landmarks, which include the Civic Center Museum. The museum is an ideal place to relive Sibu’s history, and marvel at some Chinese, Malay, Iban, and Melanau artifacts. The Foochows have left an indelible mark on the city. The Sungai Merah Heritage Walk in the township of Sungai Merah is a beautiful park that is dedicated to the Foochows. The Centennial Celebration Building is a landmark built to commemorate hundreds of years of their existence in Sibu.

The old temple Tua Pek Kong is one of Sibu’s well known landmarks, and is famous for its 7-storey pagoda. The temple was built in the nineteenth century but redesigned later with Chinese fixtures. The temple withstood the ravages of a fire that devastated the entire town of Sibu in March 1928. The 1942 Japanese invasion also left the deity at the temple unharmed. Thereafter, the temple went through a series of reconstruction with the 7-storey Pagoda which is now a prime tourist attraction.

Sibu Travel Guide: Economy and Infrastructure

Being a region of extensive tropical rainforests, timber extraction forms a major part of the economy. The industry witnessed a decline over the past few years, with the focus steadily shifting to tourism. Tourism today is a major contributor to Sibu’s economy, with a particular emphasis on ecotourism by the government. Oil palm and pepper are the main agricultural products produced in the region. Peat swamps in the region have always been a challenge to Sibu’s agricultural development. Communities have come together to build the city’s infrastructure and contribute a great deal towards environmental sanitation and resettlement schemes. With an idea to encourage investments, the government plans to transform Sibu into a ‘Riveria City’ by 2020 with sustained efforts involving work along the 760 km long Rajang River. This river is home to exotic flora and fauna and runs through the tropical rainforests.

Sibu Travel Guide: Culture

The hardworking and enterprising Chinese Foochows have influenced Sibu’s culture to great extent. There is also a fair mix of Malay, Ibans and Melanaus culture in the area. Although the official religion in Malaysia is Islam, the freedom of worship exists all over the country. Being an Islamic nation, special attention must be paid to your dress code. Beach lovers can wear a normal bathing suit or bikini, which is acceptable. Some traditional homes, places of worship, shops, and restaurants require that you remove your shoes. For a tryst with nature, don’t forget to experience the great community living culture of the Ibans in their longhouses. The never-ending rituals of music, song, and dance will keep you enchanted for hours. The best times to visit Sibu are during the festive seasons that include Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Gawai and Christmas.

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Sibu City Ratings

  • Rating71%
    City Rank217
  • History & Culture: rated for 60%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 70%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 80%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 50%
  • Food: rated for 80%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 70%
  • Shopping: rated for 70%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 90%
  • Must visit this place: not rated
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