Kelantan (Kelantan Darul Naeem, “Kelantan home of goodness”) is one of the northern states of West Malaysia, bordered to the north by Thailand, and to the south by the state of Terengganu. This state is famous for its magnificent beaches, rich cultural heritage and ancient crafts, which are still perfectly mastered by the locals. The wood carvings, silver jewelry, wicker baskets and songket fabrics of Kelantan state are among the best in the entire peninsula.
The capital is Kota Bharu. According to populationmonster, Kelantan is one of the largest cities in Malaysia.
You can look at the traditional way of life of the state by going on a cruise on the Kelantan River. The best place for this is from Kuala Krai, which can be reached by bus from the capital and its suburbs, to Dabong. Travel time is 2 hours.
How to get there
Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia fly daily from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu.
Kuala Lumpur (474 km), Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu and Johor Bahru have express bus service to the state capital Kota Bharu. Trains to Kuala Lipis, Jerantut and Kuala Lumpur depart once a day from Wakaf Bharu and Sungai Golok stations.
The beaches of Kelantan
Pantai Chahaya Bulan (“Moonlight Coast”) Beach is located 10 km from Kota Bharu. There are no problems with accommodation: there are primitive motels on the beach, and a cottage complex on the shore, and hotels with swimming pools, restaurants and a golf course. Pantai Seri Tujuh or “the shore of seven lagoons” is another popular beach 7 km north of Kota Bharu, on the border with Thailand. It is here that a colorful international kite festival is held.
Pantai Bisikan Bayu Beach (“Whispering Wind Shore”) is located 58 km from Kota Bharu, in the town of Dalam Rhu. This beach is good for diving, snorkeling and fishing. Pantai Irama (“singing coast”) is located in the vicinity of the city of Bachok, 25 km south of Kota Bharu. The coast claims to be the most beautiful in the country.
Other good beaches are Pantai Sabak Beach and Tumpat.
Entertainment and attractions of Kelantan
Kelantan is a paradise for ecotourism enthusiasts: the state has many river and forest routes, a nature reserve and picturesque waterfalls, most of which are concentrated in the Pasir Puteh district, about 35 km from Kota Bharu. Other famous waterfalls are Jeram Pasu, Lata Rek and Lata Renyok. The most spectacular, in Lata Beringin, is a 120-meter waterfall.
Wat Photiwihan Temple with the figure of the Reclining Buddha (one of the largest in all of Southeast Asia) is located in Kampung Jambu, 12 km north of Kota Bharu. Kuala Ko, the northern gate of Taman Negara – one of the entrances to the Taman Negara nature reserve (Taman Negara) is located in the town of Kuala Ko.
Kota Bharu, Malaysia
Kota Bharu, the bustling capital of the state of Kelantan, primarily attracts tourists with the charm of the traditional Kelantan way of life. Perhaps the best way to see this is in the central market – a lively and colorful corner of the city that almost never sleeps, smells of all the smells of the world and offers a huge number of all kinds of souvenirs, spices and seafood.
Shopping: Kota Bharu shops
There is no better place to buy souvenirs and colorful photos in Kota Bharu than the Central Market on Jalan Pintu Pong Street. For the most part, all local vendors are women, offering fresh vegetables, pickled snacks, dried seafood and candied fruits.
The Bulukh Kubu Bazaar (“Bamboo Fort Bazaar”) is a three-story market complex selling handmade souvenirs.
Entertainment and attractions of Kota Bharu
In the city center, on Jalan Sultan Mahmud Street, is the Gelangang Seni Cultural Center with an excellent collection of the cultural heritage of the state. Here you can watch competitions of giant gasping tops, performances of the shadow theater wayang kulit and folk dances, as well as hear the famous Kelantan reban ubi drums. And on the beach – demonstrations of flights of huge colorful wow kites.
It is worth taking a walk along the streets of Jalan Sultan and Jalan Hilir Kota – the local “Cultural Zone”, which is located in the Padang Merdeka area (Independence Square).
In the evening, you can go to listen to traditional Malay music or watch “wayang kulit”, a flat leather puppet theater that masterfully combines sound and shadows, as well as “silat”, the traditional Malay art of self-defense.
Museums in Kota Bharu
The Royal Museum used to host royal wedding ceremonies. Now the regalia of many sultans of the state, as well as court items are stored here. No less famous is the Istana Jahar Palace, now a museum of court traditions and customs. In addition to the extensive collection, the museum is notable for its wooden building with unique fine carvings.
The Islamic Museum is interesting with a collection of samples of Muslim art and crafts, photographs of items related to the life of the Prophet Muhammad, or places that played a big role in the history of Islam.
The War History Museum is the oldest brick building in Kelantan, built in 1912. A collection of documents and objects relating to the period of World War II and the Japanese occupation.
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
The capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, was completely destroyed during World War II. The city was rebuilt only in 1967, completely changing the old buildings and laying the streets in even squares parallel and perpendicular to the coastline. It is not surprising that now Kota Kinabalu is a synthesis of all possible cultures: Malay, European and Chinese. Here, side by side with high-rise buildings and new shopping malls, you can see old Chinese shops and traditional bazaars.
In the past, the city had another name, Singah-Mata, meaning “where the eye goes.”
How to get there
Malaysia Airlines operates scheduled flights to Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Labuan and Kuching. Other major companies provide connections to Singapore, Brunei, Jakarta, Manila, Hong Kong and Taipei.
Shopping in Kota Kinabalu
Every Sunday, Jalan Gaya Street hosts street fairs called tamu. The central market of the city is located halfway to the village of Kampung Ayer. Here you can buy the freshest fish, fruits and vegetables freshly delivered from farms at the foot of Mount Kinabalu.
The beaches of Kota Kinabalu
The sandy beach of Tanjung Aru, the city’s yacht club and Prince Philip Park are located on the western outskirts of Kota Kinabalu. The local hotel, The Tanjung Aru Beach, is conveniently located next to the island’s national park. Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. You can get there in 20 minutes by speedboat and enjoy swimming, diving, snorkeling and underwater photography. Here, side by side, there are five islands – Manukan, Mamutik, Gaya, Sapi and Sulug.
Entertainment and attractions of Kota Kinabalu
It is worth visiting the main mosque of the state – a beautiful golden-domed building that can accommodate up to 5 thousand people. Near the mosque is Signal Hill, which offers a beautiful panorama of the city.
A fantastic sight is the 31-story building of the Sabah Foundation in Likas Bay, a ten-minute highway drive from Kota Kinabalu. This spectacular futuristic tower appears to be encased in a glass case with 72 facets.
Sabah State Museum
The Sabah State Museum is located on Bukit Istana Lama, behind the main mosque. The museum building was built in the traditional style of the Muruts and Rungus peoples. It houses historical and tribal artefacts, handicrafts, a collection of ceramics and remarkable life-size replicas of the traditional houses of Sabah’s ethnic groups.
In addition, the museum boasts interesting expositions of flora and fauna, an art gallery and a natural science center. The complex also houses a restaurant, a coffee shop, a botanical garden and a gift shop.