The most rustic of the three states in the region, Kelantan truly lives up to its name as the ‘Cradle of Malay Culture’. The state’s landscape is a charming blend of quaint villages, small towns and riverine settlements. Amidst the houses built on stilts and covered with thatched roofs, one can revel in the time-honoured Malay heritage and culture. The capital city of Kelantan is Kota Bharu. Kelantan’s hinterland is a dramatic mix of mountains, caves and pristine jungles. Scale the imposing Mount Stong or trek into the Kuala Koh National Park. Experience the rustic charm of Kelantan.
One of the most photographed and widely-recognised spots in the country, the Siti Khadijah Market is a visual feast where one can find a plethora of edible goods. Try out local snacks and pickles to fresh vegetables and spices. Kelantan
is known for its assortment of desserts and visitors with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed!
Avid shoppers can visit the towns of Pengkalan Kubor and Rantau Panjang. Both towns are situated near the Thai border and are known as a shopping paradise for the varied goods and affordable prices. Visitors will find a range of souvenir items, accessories, fabrics, traditional attires to gadgets and home equipment.
Kota Bharu Tourism Zone contains the city’s major tourist attractions. Among them are Masjid Muhammadi (Muhammadi Mosque) Istana
Jahar (Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs), Istana Batu (Royal Museum), Kampung Kraftangan (Handicraft Village), Padang Merdeka, Gerbang Sultan Ismail Petra (Petra Arch) and Buluh Kubu Bazaar.
Situated in the Stong State Park, Gunung Stong is one of the country’s most popular spots for eco-adventure. Its magnificent seven-tiered Jelawang Waterfall is reputedly the highest in Southeast Asia. The park is home to a variety of animals and as well as exotic and endemic plant species.
Pristine and unspoilt, Kuala Koh National Park is the northern gateway to Taman Negara. Watch wild animals from the Bumbun or observation hides, or walk along the jungle trails and canopy walkway for a closer look at the thriving jungle flora and fauna. This eco-adventure destination beckons with other delightful activities such as birdwatching, canoeing, camping and visits to an indigenous settlement.
This is the largest market in the state, situated about 4km from Kota Bharu, and quite close to the Thai border. Functioning as a wet and wholesale market during the day, it comes alive at night with an assortment of local products ranging from fabrics and clothes to food and local fruits. Whether just wandering around and taking in the local colour or haggling with local traders, a visit here is entertaining.
Kelantan has numerous ornate Buddhist temples. The most well-known is Wat Photivihan in Kampung Jambu. This temple houses the largest Reclining Buddha in Southeast Asia. It measures 40 metres in length and 9 metres in width. Wat Machimmaram in Kampung Bunuhan is famed for its Sitting Buddha. It is said to be the second largest of-its-kind in Southeast Asia. Wat Mai Suwankhiri or the Dragonboat Temple is another famous landmark in the state, featuring replicas of a huge dragonboat guarded by two magnificent dragons.
Floating markets may be synonymous with some other countries, but Malaysia, particularly the state of Kelantan, has its own version of floating markets. A relatively new attraction, the floating market preserves the Malay culture where merchants since the era of the Melaka Sultanate traded their wares on boats and sampan. Traders sell a variety of local produce such as coconut jelly, palm sugar and honey along with food items from their decorated boats.
Serunding or meat floss is a traditional dry snack made of beef, chicken and fish. It can be eaten with rice or on its own and can be stored for a long time. This village is well-known for its cottage industries from which meat floss is made and supplied to various restaurants and shops.
There are a numerous caves in Kelantan, especially in the district of Gua Musang. Dabong is the gateway to most of these places. This town is about 160km to the west of Kota Bharu. The most well- known cave is Gua Ikan. Literally meaning ‘Fish Cave’, this formation was named after a fish-shaped rock. Another popular spot for spelunking is Gua Gelap, which literally means ‘Dark Cave’. It truly lives up to its name, with small crevices on the cave walls being the only source of natural light. Aside from Dabong, Gua Musang too has a number of caves that are worth exploring. Among the popular caves here are Gua Cha, Gua Pintu and Gua Sidang.
Known as the one-stop centre for Kelantan’s folk art, Gelanggang Seni is a place to watch, learn and immerse yourself in a variety of traditional art forms. Watch Silat, the Malay martial arts, or see how musical instruments such as Rebana Ubi (a giant drum) are played. From spinning top, to kite-flying, Wayang Kulit (shadow puppetry) and Mak Yong (a traditional musical theatre), a visit to Gelanggang Seni gives you a great insight into arts.
‘Wau’ or giant kite is an iconic attraction of Malaysia, so much so that it is featured in the logo of Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier. Wau-flying is one of the oldest traditional games in the Malay culture. At this gallery, visitors can view a collection of giant kites from wau bulan, wau kucing, wau merak, wau jala budi, wau puyuh to wau seri bulan. Watch how the skilled artisans create the magnificent kite using traditional methods passed through the generations.
Kelantan is synonymous with cultural performances and traditional pastimes. Among them is wayang kulit or shadow puppetry, which is an ancient form of storytelling. In the past, the village would gather in the evenings to watch the puppet master or Tok Dalang as he narrates the stories using prose, poetry and songs. This gallery has a collection of shadow puppets, raw materials as well as articles and information associated with this interesting art. Visitors can watch how the puppets are made or try their hand at making them.
Suluk refers to a place of isolation and seclusion to bring oneself closer to God. Suluk Tok Selehor is a subterranean hut in the Kok Pasir cemetery that resembles a Muslim grave. It was built as a place for prayer and contemplation by Tok Selehor or Abdul Rahman Bin Othman, a pious man who lived in the 19th century. He lived his life by teaching religion to children in a madrasah (school). Tok Selehor feared that he would become arrogant and wanted the grave-like structure to serve as a reminder that all of us will one day return to our Creator. The Suluk remains to this very day while the madrasah has been upgraded and converted into a mosque. Suluk Tok Selehor is one of the state’s places of interest for Islamic tourism.
This is a good place to begin your tour of Kota Bharu. Set within a beautiful courtyard, the complex houses a Craft Museum, souvenir shops, tourism offices and a restaurant. Visitors can drop by at the tourism offices here for more information on the state’s attractions. View an impressive collection of the state’s crafts at the Craft Museum, from embroidered fabrics, songket, batik, silver to pandanus mats. Visitors can learn about the history and the processes of making these unique handicrafts.
Kelantan is famed for its arts and crafts. Although many craft items are now produced on a big scale by factories, cottage industries continue to thrive and handmade crafts are very much in demand. One of the best places to see cottage industries is the stretch of road that leads to Pantai Cahaya Bulan. Here, batik fabric in various shades can be seen drying out in the sun, while roadside stalls offer prettily-decorated giant kites, bags and many interesting souvenirs.
Graceful arches and golden-coloured domes make this mosque an impressive sight even from afar. Also known
as the State Mosque, this remarkable place of worship
was named after the late Sultan Muhammad IV who contributed greatly to the state. Visitors are advised to dress appropriately.
A bewildering range of handicrafts in various colours, shapes and sizes fill the shelves at Kelantan’s souvenir shops. Take your pick from the intricate handicrafts, silverware, fashionable batik sarongs, pareos and trendy bags to the richly-embroidered songket fabric and many more. In many places, visitors can also watch how the crafts are made. Some items such as giant kites can be custom- made to suit your liking.
Among the popular shopping spots in Kelantan are:
Duty-free shopping zones:
There is a delightful assortment of local fare and most eateries are open until late at night to cater to the adventurous foodies. Rice, the staple food, is creatively cooked in many ways with the infusion of different herbs and spices. Local dishes are spicy and pungent and some dishes have Thai influences. The state is also known for its variety of sumptuous desserts. Alternatively, visitors can opt for Western food served at major restaurants and hotels. Fast food outlets are available at major towns. Try these authentic local favourites:
Crispy, barbecued chicken that has been marinated in spices and coconut gravy.
A rice-based dish served with coconut milk, fish flakes, desiccated coconut, spices and sauces.
A combination of rice and glutinous rice, nasi dagang is often accompanied by spicy tuna fish curry and pickled vegetables.
This is a fermented anchovies sauce with a hint of lime juice, chilly and onions. According to locals, budu adds that extra zing and taste to an otherwise regular meal.
A local savoury snack where thinly sliced meat is cooked until it is light and fluffy. It can be eaten as a snack or served with rice and bread.
Take your pick from the wide array of desserts easily available in Kelantan. The use of palm sugar, eggs and coconut milk give the desserts a fragrant aroma and rich taste. Popular desserts include akok, dodol, jala mas, nekbat, lompat tikam and tahi itek.
Malaysia Airlines operates daily direct flights to the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan. The flights depart from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), which is located in Sepang. Alternatively, visitors can board the Firefly airlines which operates from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Selangor. The budget carriers Air Asia and Malindo Air operate daily flights to Kelantan from KLIA2. Scoot Airlines also flies from Singapore to Kelantan.
There is a good network of roads linking major towns in the country to Kelantan. Kota Bharu is situated about 474km from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city. Visitors can drive along the East West Highway. The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Kelantan takes about five hours.
Getting around Kelantan is fairly easy as there are buses, taxis, trishaws and airport taxis. The local bus station is situated near to Kampung Kraftangan or the Handicraft Village. The buses here provide access to various places within Kota Bharu. To go outside of Kota Bharu town, visitors can take the buses that operate from the Jalan Bandar Bus Station. Outstation buses are available at the Lembah Sireh Bus Terminal. Buses here connect Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur as well as other towns in Malaysia. Taxis can be hailed from any part of the town, but determine the fare first.
There are scheduled air-conditioned express buses from Kuala Lumpur linking most towns in Kelantan. Main destinations include Kota Bharu, Gua Musang, Rantau Panjang, Pengkalan Kubor and Tumpat. Visitors can board the bus at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, Bandar Tasik Selatan (TBS-BTS). The journey takes about six to seven hours. Tickets must be purchased in advance during school holidays and festive seasons.
Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) or Malayan Railway provides daily rail services to Kelantan. Since there is no direct train from Kuala Lumpur, visitor can board the ETS train from the KL Sentral Station to Gemas, then take Express Timuran from Gemas. Visitors from Johor can board the Express Timuran from JB Sentral.
|For more information, contact:|
Tourism Malaysia Regional Office East Coast:||
+609 567 7112 / 7115 / 7116
|Tourism Malaysia Tourist Information Centre (Kota Bharu)||+606 0129674212|
There is so much to do and so many places to see in Malaysia. To make sure that you don’t miss anything, use this handy map to navigate your way across the country and find great places to visit.
Perlis is the northern gateway to Malaysia. Despite its small size, Perlis has an abundance of attractions that make it a great destination.
Kedah is Malaysia’s largest paddy producing state. Delve into history in Lembah Bujang, the site of an ancient civilisation or relax in Langkawi, a world-famous resort island.
The site of a UNESCO World Heritage City, Penang is a holiday paradise with fabulous beach resorts and eclectic cultures. It is also the undisputable haven for foodies.
A tin-rich state in its heyday, Perak beckons with a range of sights and experiences. The state’s top attractions include Pangkor, an island getaway and Pangkor Laut, an internationally-acclaimed private island.
Hailed as the Cradle of Malay culture, Kelantan is a destination teeming with age-old arts, crafts and pastimes.
Beautiful islands, culture and nature give Terengganu its magical appeal. Dive, snorkel, sunbathe at the islands or journey to its hinterland to experience the best of nature.
The largest state in the peninsula beckons nature-enthusiasts with exciting eco-adventures. From Taman Negara, the oldest national park in the country, to the idyllic Tioman Island, Pahang is simply mesmerising.
Malaysia’s dynamic capital city is bustling with attractions and activities. Explore the city by day and night.
Selangor is home to the country’s main airport KLIA, and the main gateway by sea, Port Klang. It is also the country’s most developed state with a long list of shopping malls and themed attractions.
Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia, is a well-planned township with impressive buildings, verdant parks, scenic lakes and beautiful bridges.
Find the best attractions in this vast eco-paradise.
Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, has a vast wilderness that contains numerous national parks including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mulu National Park.
Located off the northwestern coast of Borneo, this island thrills visitors with its wreck diving sites, historical relics and duty-free shopping.
The birth place of the nation, Melaka is a treasure trove of history and heritage. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage City for vestiges of the past.
Known for its fascinating Minangkabau culture and a unique social system, Negeri Sembilan is the place to learn age-old customs and traditions.
Visit Malaysia’s southern gateway, for a family vacation at the theme parks or escape to its islands for an unforgettable holiday.
Enjoy birdwatching at 55 Important Bird Areas (IBA) throughout the country, tucked away at various habitats such as islands, coasts or lush lowland and montane rainforests.
Love the cool highlands? Find refreshing destinations to unwind in Malaysia. From French-themed settings, energetic amusement parks to forest-clad hills, there is something for everyone.
Find the coolest, trendy spaces to hang out while you tickle your tastebuds with the best delights.
Find the fun and thrill that you are looking for in Malaysia. Meet your favourite characters, plunge down the world’s longest water slide or enjoy the rides and games!
Get your rod ready to reel in the best catch in Malaysian waters.
For those who appreciate the finer things in life, Malaysia is the place to indulge in sheer comfort and sophistication. Luxe Malaysia takes you beyond your expectations.
Enjoy exploring the South China Sea, Andaman Sea, Celebes and Sulu seas for incredible sights from pelagic species, sea turtles to reefs, wrecks and more.
The best way to engage with the locals, a homestay programme gives a peek into the lifestyles, customs, cultures and pastimes of a local family.
What better way to explore Malaysia than through its food! Follow the aroma to track down lip-smacking delights found around the country, together with interesting snippets on its culture and origins.
Get your complete info on cruising, yachting, anchorage facilities and land excursions around the country.
Blessed with year-round sunshine and rain, Malaysia has a wealth of tropical flora and fauna. Visit its national and marine parks to enjoy the captivating sights both on land and underwater!
Get a glimpse into Malaysia’s rich mosaic of ethnic communities and indigenous people.