Sibu is not necessarily the first location of choice for most tourists itching to visit Sarawak, but it is a charming city with a vibrant food scene, historical and cultural heritage that is worth the visit. Check out these top things to do in Sibu that you’ll surely enjoy!
1. Explore Sibu Central Market
A visit to any city is incomplete without a visit to its local market.
Sibu Central Market is the ultimate spot for locals and tourists alike in sourcing fresh cooking ingredients. The merchants here sell a wide range of products from jungle produce, exotic fruits and even live chickens and ducks wrapped neatly in newspaper. Besides, did you know that this market is the biggest market in Sarawak, and the largest indoor market in Malaysia?
Sibu Central Market is located at Channel Road and open daily from 5:00am until 7:00pm.
2. Check Out Tua Pek Kong Temple & Goddess of Mercy Pagoda
Of all the things to do in Sibu, visiting Tua Pek Kong Temple & Goddess of Mercy Pagoda is a must. It’s a Chinese Taoist temple alongside a 7-storey high pagoda that has a history all the way back to 1850s. It is believed that this temple has one of the most perfectly proportioned pagodas outside of Mainland China.
The pagoda is open for the public and is a major tourist spot for a stunning view of Rejang Waterfront, especially during sunset!
3. Admire Wisma Sanyan, once the tallest building in Sarawak
Even if you are not much of a shopaholic, we would still recommend you to check out Wisma Sanyan. Standing at 125 metres, Wisma Sanyan is a one-stop centre that houses over 120 retail shops, 22 office levels and 5 shopping levels and 22 office levels including local government offices and Sibu Municipal Council (SMC).
4. Sample Sibu’s Iconic Foods
What turns a great holiday spectacular? For us, it’s the local food. Take a seat at any local kopitiams (coffee shops) during breakfast time and have a bowl or two of their famous Mee Sua—fine noodles in a rich herbal soup containing chunks of boiled chicken—or Mee Kampua—noodles tossed in pork lard and slices of roasted pork that is served with or without a broth.
You cannot leave Sibu without devouring its most popular pastry, none other than piping hot kompia (Sibu’s very own bagel with sesame seeds on top), which you can find in decades old bakeries. Few names are Tiong Hua Road Kompia and Sheng Kee 63 confectionary. The kompia is so famous in Sarawak that some would stop by in Sibu when passing by just to stock lots of kompia for them to bring back home.
5. Go Birdwatching at Bukit Lima Nature Reserve
Birdwatching need not be so far into a secluded forest. Luckily in Sibu, you can just birdwatch at Bukti Lima Nature Reserve which lies in the heart of town. It is home to 39 species of birds including babblers, broadbills, sunbirds and flowerpeckers. You might even bump into other animals that live here such as Sambar deer, slow lories and pangolins.
This is also a favourite urban park amongst the Sibu community because besides birdwatching, you can do various recreational activities such as jogging and running.
6. Live like the Ibans in Bawang Assan Longhouse
If you yearn to experience an authentic and traditional Iban life, Bawang Assan Longhouse is the ideal place. Here visitors will get the chance to sneak peek into the Ibans’ daily activities such as paddy planting, fishing and also learn how to Ngajat—a traditional Iban warrior dance from the tribes themselves.
Bawang Assan Longhouse is located 40 minutes away from Sibu. The best time to visit is during the month of June, during the Gawai celebration.
7. Experience Sarawak’s Diversity at Borneo Cultural Festival
If you’re visiting Sibu between July and August, you would not want to miss Borneo Cultural Festival! Usually held in Sibu Town Square (Dataran Tun Tuanku Bujang), this week-long festival is a celebration of diverse cultural backgrounds of the Sibu community comprising of several ethnic groups such as Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Malay, Melanau and the Chinese. Expect the whole vicinity to be filled with bright lights, an array of sumptuous local delicacies and a colourful display of traditional costumes and dances.
8. Learn About Sibu’s Early Days at Sibu Heritage Centre
Sibu Heritage Centre is a top place about the history of Sibu. Inside tells the story of Sibu’s rich history and its early beginnings with the coming of Chinese migrants from various dialect groups. You will be intrigued by the hanging skulls of the Iban’s past enemies. There are also exhibits on priceless old photographs, cultural exhibits on various ethnic groups of the Rejang and fine antique collection of Chinese porcelain and clay vases.
9. Stuff Yourself With Street Food at Sibu Night Market
Let it be said that no other place is filled with exciting goodies such as Sibu Night Market. In short, it is a street food paradise, for its delicious spread from dim sum to barbecued meats and local cakes. Our advice? Go for the steamed buns.
Other than food, you will be spoilt with more than a hundred stalls selling clothes, electronics, entertainment items and household goods at a very reasonable price. You can surely find whatever it is you’re looking for here.
Opens daily from 1800 till over midnight at Market Road (between Lintang Road and Bengkel Road).
10. Watch How Mee Sua is Made
Now that you know that Sibu is famed for its Mee Sua, why not watch how it is made traditionally by the hands of an expert, Ting Cheng Sieng who has been making Mee Sua Longevity Noodle. Every single day, he will produce up to 30kg of raw noodles without fail. The thinner the noodles are, the more expensive they get.
Head to 6 ½ miles, Jalan Oya, 96000 Sibu, which is 13km away from Sibu town to see Ting pull and stretch his famous homemade noodles.
11. Visit Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum
Not your typical museum, Lau King Howe Medical Museum is the first and only medical museum in Malaysia. Lau King Howe is no ordinary man. While he first came to Sibu in 1915 intending to help develop rubber plantation activities, he then became a legend after donating his hard-earned wealth to build a hospital for the people of Sibu and Rajang valley.
In this museum, you can see remnants of old medical equipment and photos that tell the stories of Lau King Howe in detail.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 0900 to 1700 and closed on Mondays.
12. Check out the Zodiac Statues at Lin’s Swan Garden
This garden has been around since 2005 and is just next to Sibu Gateway. What’s so special about this garden is that the 12 zodiac animals in the Chinese calendar, surrounding the huge Swan statue. According to the locals, this is a sign of happiness and good luck to the residents in Sibu.
A snap here is a must for that #VisitSibu ‘Gram!
13. Marvel at the majestic Jade Dragon Temple
Located about 40km away from Sibu town, the Jade Dragon Temple is believed to be the largest temple complex in South East Asia. It is a unique place of worship as it brings together 3 different forms of practice under one roof: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
A photo here can give your photo a vibe like you’re transported back in China!
Tip: Be sure to wear proper attire as it is a holy place.
14. Stroll along Sungai Merah Heritage Walk
It is worth taking a stroll at the earliest Riverine settlement for the Chinese Foochow in Sibu for a glimpse of the past! However, it is worth noting that the place has transformed completely from a jungle that’s soggy and humid to one that’s landscaped into a heritage trail alongside a riverbank that occasionally turns into hues of red—as its moniker suggests!
15. Learn about Sibu’s early days at Wong Nai Siong Garden
If you are particularly interested in Sibu’s early days, a trip here is a must. It tells the story of how Chinese Revolutionary Leader Wong Nai Siong, Sibu’s founder who hailed from Fujian, China led a large-scale migration of Foochow migrants to Sibu in 1901.
Wong Nai Siong is accessible from Sungai Merah Heritage Walk.