CLIMATE: Kuching is only 2 degrees north of the Equator and has a humid cli mate. All year round, there is little variation in temperature: it rarely rises about 34 degrees Centigrade (93 degrees Fahrenheit) in the early afternoon or falls below 23 degrees Centigrade (73 degrees Fahrenheit) at night.
RAINFALL: The mean annual rainfall of 4042 mm (160ins) gives Sarawak its green luxuriant environment. The more pronounced rainy seasons is the October to February period when the heaviest rainfall occurs. The prevailing wind of this time is from the north-east. The wind is not usually very strong in Kuching itself but on the coast the sea can become quite rough, even though Sarawak is well out of typhoon belt.
WATER: Tap water is safe to drink in Kuching and major towns. If travelling in rural areas, it is advisable to drink only boiled or bottled water.
LANGUAGE: Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) is the national language and the language of instruction in schools, but English and Mandarin are spoken and written by much of the population and also widely used in business.
Most tour operators offer the services of multi-lingual guides for their clients.
RELIGION: Islam is the official religion, but there is freedom of worship. Other major religions include Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Christianity.
DRESS: Casual is the order of the day and going about in shorts and T-shirts is both acceptable and comfortable. Attending official functions require more formal wear and Batik is very often the Malaysian form of formality, Malaysians by and large do not use jackets, and ties are optional.
HEALTH DOCUMENTS: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required if arriv ing from or via an infected area (except children under one). Cholera and Malaria precautions are recommended.
CURRENCY: The unit is the Ringgit, comprising 100 sen, and the present rate of exchange is RM = 56 yen; or 37 US cents. Travellers cheques and major credit cards, like Amex, Diners, JCB, Visa, and Master Card are widely accepted. Banking hours are 10.00 am to 3.00 pm on weekdays and 9.30 am to 11.30 am on
Saturdays: Banks are closed on Sundays and public holidays.
TIME: Like the rest of Malaysia , Kuching is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT or UTC). Sunrise is about 0545 and sunset is 1845; There is little sea sonal variation.
AIRPORT CHARGES: There is a RM20.00 departure tax for all departing pas sengers of international flights and RM$5.00 for travel within Malaysia Reconfirmation of flights must be made 72 hours ahead.