The east coast state of Kelantan is a charming destination with colorful traditions, interesting pastimes and superb handicrafts. Watch captivating activities such as top-spinning, giant kite-flying or woodcarving. The batik and songket fabrics produced by cottage industries here are among the best in the country. Its laid-back atmosphere, rustic charms and friendly locals add to Kelantan’s appeal.
Accommodation in the capital city, Kota Bharu, ranges from star-rated hotels to affordable rooms. In other main towns, visitors can find comfortable inns, rest houses and modest hotels. The state has a tempting variety of local delicacies. Continental food is available at major hotels while fast food can be found at main towns.
Daily flights are available from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Pengkalan Chepa, about 20 minutes outside the city. By road, the state is accessible via the East Coast Expressway. There are air-conditioned buses and trains to Kelantan from Kuala Lumpur and other parts of the country.
Places of Interest in Kelantan
Gelanggang Seni (Cultural Centre)
Locally known as Gelanggang Seni, the Cultural Centre is a veritable showcase of the state’s rich cultural heritage. Watch an enthralling range of traditional performances such as shadow puppetry, Malay martial arts, top-spinning, giant kite flying and musical performances.
Handicraft Village and Craft Museum
Set within a beautiful village setting, the complex houses a craft museum, craft shops, tourism offices and a restaurant. Browse through various traditional tools and handicrafts in its museum. Cultural shows and craft demonstrations are held from time to time.
Siti Khadijah Market
This bustling market is one of Kelantan’s landmark attractions. Visitors can find everything from vegetables, local snacks to fresh tropical fruits. The colorful assemblage of goods and lively atmosphere makes it irresistible to shutterbugs. A unique feature here is that the majority of traders are women.
Pantai Cahaya Bulan / Beach of Moonlight
This quiet seaside town is famed for its swaying casuarinas and rustic villages. The route to the beach is dotted with vibrant and colourful cottage industries that produce batik, songket and giant kites. Other beaches that overlook the South China Sea include Pantai Irama, Pantai Melawi, Pantai Seri Tujuh, Pantai Tok Bali and Pantai Bisikan Bayu.
This is one of the most popular eco-adventure destinations in Kelantan. Situated within the Stong State Park, Gunung Stong rises majestically at a height of 1,433m. Trek to view a diversity of flora and fauna, including Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower. A highlight is the spectacular Jelawang Waterfalls, acclaimed to be the highest in Southeast Asia.
Kuala Koh National Park (Gateway to Taman Negara)
This dense jungle is a paradise of natural attractions. Delight in observing an assortment of birds, plants and animals or visit the aboriginal settlement. Kuala Koh is the northern entrance to Taman Negara, Malaysia’s premier national park which straddles across Kelantan and two other neighbouring states.
This museum showcases the arts, crafts and musical traditions of Kelantan. Other interesting exhibits include ceramic displays that testify to the early trade with China and artefacts from local archaeological sites. Islamic Museum Trace the history of Islam in the state. Highlights include Islamic arts and crafts from various parts of the world and a photographic collection of Prophet Muhammad’s personal belongings. This building was originally the state’s first school for Islamic studies.
Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs / Istana Jahar
Gain an insight into the state’s rich cultural heritage. The galleries showcase the fascinating rites and ceremonies for royal engagements, weddings and other occasions. The building is a fine example of Kelantan’s supreme craftsmanship.
War Museum / Bank Kerapu
View a fascinating collection of documents, pictures and military paraphernalia of the Japanese Occupation in the country. Constructed in 1912, this building was originally the state’s first bank. During the war, it served as the headquarters of the Japanese Kempetai, the feared secret police.
Royal Museum / Istana Batu
Originally a palace and venue for royal weddings, the building is now a repository for the history of the Kelantan royal family. View an impressive collection of royal regalia, photographs, furniture as well as beautiful crystals, silverware and palace items of former Sultans. Other interesting sites in Kota Bharu include the State Mosque, Istana Balai Besar and Merdeka Square.
Wat Photivihan Buddhist Temple
This temple houses a 40m long statue of reclining Buddha. It is believed to be the second longest in the world and the longest in Southeast Asia. Other ornate Buddhist temples are Wat Machimmaram, boasting one of Southeast Asia’s largest statue of Sitting Buddha and Wat Mai Suvankhiri, featuring a huge dragonboat.
River Rafting at Nenggiri
Enjoy the sheer exhilaration of rafting in frothy waters. Tours can be custom-made to suit visitors’ preferences. The Nenggiri Challenge is an annual rafting competition here.
There are many caves in the state, offering a thrilling time for adventure seekers. Popular caves are Gua Ikan, Keris, Batu Susun, Pagar, Sidang and Cha. Many caves are shrouded in legends and mysteries.
Local Train Ride
Traverse scenic villages, quaint towns and pristine countryside. The train service is used by students and locals to access various smaller towns in the interiors. It is a common sight to see commuters carrying vegetables, provisions and forest produce.
Fishing Village in Sabak
A unique feature of the state is its gaily decorated fishing boats. Visit this village to take in the sight of locals mending their nets and preparing their boats. Its jetty is at its liveliest when fisherfolk return with their day’s catch.
Bazar Buluh Kubu (Bamboo Fort Bazaar)
This is a not-to-be-missed spot for avid shoppers and collectors. Find everything imaginable from beautifully handmade shoes, miniature musical instruments, kites, bags, silverware to accessories.
The towns of Rantau Panjang and Pengkalan Kubor are duty-free shopping zones offering a bewildering array of items. Browse through the rows of stalls well-stocked with clothes, decorative items, handicrafts and souvenirs.
Wakaf Che Yeh
This bustling open-air night market is the place for a profusion of local snacks, fresh fruits, vegetables and clothes.
Live with a friendly local family and join in their interesting pastimes. Homestays can be experienced at the villages of Renok Baru, Pantai Suri and Blok Ulu Kusial.
Location, Driving Direction and Map for Getting Around Kelantan: