Kota Bharu, Kelantan, East coast region - Malaysia
Kota Bharu, Kelantan- Malaysia
Step out of the Western comfort zone to the wonderfully welcoming and most
unique city in Malaysia for a truly authentic experience
The royal culturally-rich city of
Kota Bharu is the capital of the Kelantan state which sits on the north-eastern
part of the Malaysian Peninsula and is close to the Thai border. It’s home to
500,000 plus inhabitants. KB is considered as Malaysia’s most conservative
state due to the heavy religious influences, Islam being the most prominent but
also Hinduism and Buddhism. The inhabitants of all races and religions live in
harmony together showing how Malaysia is such an accepting place where cultures
can live side by side with no conflict. The Chinese seem to have assimilated in
KB better than any other city in Malaysia which says something about the
easy-going culture .
KB is a cultural city with many interesting museums and vibrant markets
attracting expats and tourists every year. Living in KB is not like living in
any other city in Malaysia, the Kelantanese culture offers different aspects of
life such as their own particular sort of food and very tranquil people. They
have their own distinct language too.
KB is also heavily influenced by Thai culture which adds even more diversity to the city. KB is sprinkled with
magnificent old architecture like palaces, pretty archways and many mosques.
KB neighbours the mouth of the
meandering Kelantan river and is close to beautiful
tropical rainforests and cascading
waterfalls. Living in KB means you will be frequently outside close to nature.
Real Estate in Kota Bharu
Many apartments, houses and condos are available in KB.
Living in Kota Bharu
Living in KB is distinct and is a special experience. Many people use bicycles to get to know the streets of KB, wave at the pleasant villagers,
smell the tantalising aromas of the exquisite Kelantan’s food and soak up the
rays of the ever-shining sun. Or many grab a trishaw to go to one of the many
tourist attractions. Numerous villagers open their houses to tourists so they
can get a truly authentic experience- like nowhere else in Malaysia.
KB will bring out one’s outdoorsy side with the abundance of eco-adventure
activities in the close-by rainforests. For the sun worshipers and beach
bunnies, taking trips to the stunning stretches of white-sand beaches and calm
seas in Kelantan is very easy and nearby. Or possibly become a local yourself
by learning fishing and farming- the biggest industries in the state.
KB is Malaysia’s only Islamiccity and, therefore, is heavily influenced by Islam, all women must be conservatively dressed and drinking is prohibited. There is no need for non-Muslim women to wear a headscarf but it’s important to respect the faith. Drinking is permitted in Chinese restaurants so many of them turn into pubs at night and the Kelantanese population are known for their welcoming and humble nature.
Shopping in Kota Bharu
There is a wide array of shopping malls and flea markets in KB so shoppers and
bargain hunters will be spoilt for choice- day and night. Popular shopping
malls include the new , large AEON Mall teeming with shops, delectable eateries and other activities. Also, the KB Mall is a great place to spend with the family on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Kota Seri Mutiara, Pantai Tim has many choices of shops and of course, tasty food- what Kelantan is known for.
The most popular and unique shopping experience is Pasar Siti Khadijah (Central
Market) a multi-storey marketplace where vendors showcase amazing food, special spices, colourful traditional clothing and literally everything else in-between such as gadgets, books, beautiful fabrics etc. The market possesses a lively atmosphere and is bustling with locals and tourists. The walls are painted
vibrantly in an iconic pastel green. The shopping style is far from a Western
experience making it a memorable place where you can buy items you’ll only find in KB.
Restaurants in Kota Bharu
For eager gastronomes, KB is a gastronomy paradise where you can indulge in the sweet treats and devour the mouth-watering Nasi dishes the state is
famous for. Rice is part of the staple diet but the veggies, spices, meat, fish
and sauces that they add are simply out of this world. KB attracts many
tourists each year just because of the flavoursome foods. You will have a huge
foodie awakening when you try spices you didn’t even know existed!
A restaurant to look out for is the Restaurant
Nasi Ulam Cikgu at Kampung Kraftangan which serves a healthy variety of Nasi dishes-vegetarian and meat options. But
honestly, you’ll find appealing scents of savoury and sweet delicacies all over
Travelling to and around Kota Bharu
Inexpensive flights provided by
Malaysian Airlines and AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur International airport go to Sultan Ismail Petra Airport (KBR) which is 20 minutes away from the city. KB is also accessible by car from Kuala Lumpur as they are connected by Highway 8. This is an 6:30-hour drive providing there is no traffic.
Travelling to different cities or even countries is made easy by the Jungle Railway train which is a more adventurous way of getting around. It’s a
great way to experience local life and meet people. It’s possible to go to
Kuala Lumpur and Singapore from Wakaf Bharu (6.5 km from the city centre). It’s also possible to get to Thailand from KB Central Bus Terminal to Rantau Panjang.
From there you can cross the border into Sungai Kolok, Thailand. The Special
Express or Rapid Express runs from there all the way to Bangkok. There are
flights from KB provided by Firefly going to major places like Penang and Johor
Bahru. KB is in a convenient location for keen travellers and adventure
Travelling around the city is easy. The bus (SKMK) is the most common form of travel along with trishaws and taxis.
Education in Kota Bharu
There are a handful of universities in and around KB such as UNITAR International University making it a prosperous city. There are many primary, secondary schools and higher education establishments. Also, the city has a few Chinese schools.
Top 7 Things to do in Kota Bharu
1.Central Market (Pasar Siti Khadijah)- As mentioned above, this market has every exotic fresh
fruit and vegetable out there. The market is teeming with exquisite foods and a
variety of fish and meats are available there with an abundance of appetizing spices on offer.
2.Bank Kerapu- The first stone building in Kelantan is a war museum
centred around the Japanese invasion.
3.Sultan Ismail Petra Arch- The elegant arch is the city landmark. It
symbolises and celebrates KB as a cultural city. It’s the most popular place
for tourists to visit in the whole of Kelantan.
4.Muzium Islam- The mosque-like museum focusses on the history of Islam,
how it came to the state of Kelantan and how it continues to be a large part of contemporary culture and society
5.Bird-Singing Field- Most Fridays and Saturdays locals hang ornamental
bird cages out. They sit back and tranquilly listen to the birds’ sweet song.
Tourists are often invited to come along. This an authentic and experience one
should experience in KB.
6.Kampung Kraftangan- An artfully carved wooden courtyard sits among tropical palm trees where you walk around
a museum filled with textiles, arts, and crafts. Plus, visitors simply succumb to the appetising aromas that come from the extravagant buffet with superb
Kelantanese dishes and desserts.
7.Eco Tourism Around Kelantan- The stunning landscape in the state of Kelantan
is perfect for outdoor activities such as
hiking, cycling, swimming and boating. The people of Kelantan take great
pleasure in being close to nature. Picturesque places to visit include the
majestic waterfalls at Gunung Stong National Park and Kuala Koh National Park.