Sibu is the largest port and commercial centre in the Rejang Basin and the gateway to Central Sarawak in Malaysia. Located at the confluence of the Rejang and Igan Rivers, approximately 130 km from the South China Sea, Sibu is a thriving modern town with a vibrant centre and a bustling, crowded waterfront.
Sibu was settled by James Brooke, the White Raja, in 1862 when he built a fort in the town to fend off attacks by the indigenous Dayak people. Following this, a small group of Chinese Hokkien people settled around the fort to carry out business activities safely in the town.
To visitors, today Sibu feels more down-to-earth than relaxed Kuching. There is still something of the pioneer style about the town, and its people are direct, plain-speaking and assertively friendly. Of course, their smiles may be partly due to the belief that Sibu has more millionaires per capita than any other city in Borneo.
The mighty Rejang, almost 1,6 km wide, is the dominant feature of the town, and a room with a river view is highly recommended for vibrant impressions of waterfront life. The river is a source of constant activity, with ocean-going vessels manoeuvring delicately between speeding express boats, battered river launches and tiny sampans. Rejang sunsets can be truly spectacular.
Sibu is not only fascinating in its own right; with its excellent road, air and river transport links it is also the ideal jumping-off point for exploring the whole Rejang Basin, from the coastal town of Mukah to the furthest reaches of the Upper Rejang, over 600km upriver.
Sibu quick facts:
– Biggest town on the Rajang River in Sarawak
– Capital of Sibu District
– At the confluence of the Rajang and the Igan Rivers
– Population 200,000
From Kuching: The town can be reached by plane (40 minutes), bus (half a day) or for the adventurous who want a great experience, by boat (5.5 hours).