Whether it’s exploring museums, taking a scenic river cruise along the Sungai Galas, wandering the caves of Gua Ikan, Dabong or hiking the trails of Mount Stong State Park, there’s plenty to keep travelers busy on a visit to Kota Bharu. This mostly Muslim city is known for having a traditional, conservative slant, but visitors looking for a taste of local Malaysian life say it’s definitely worth the trip.
Bustling day and night markets selling local handicrafts and spicy Kelantanese cuisine—a mix of Thai and Indian flavors—are an essential stop during any trip to Kota Bharu. History-loving travelers can explore British pillboxes from World War II on epic bicycle treks through Pengkalan Chepa. Temple-seeking travelers can visit Wat Pothivihan, home of the reclining Buddha, and museum lovers will enjoy Muzium Kraftangan, which explores the history of local artisans. Thrice-weekly shows at the Cultural Centre provide the perfect opportunity for families to experience regional traditions in the comfort of one of Kota Bharu’s most-visited sites.
Kota Bharu is located on the east coast of Malaysia and is considered by some to be the gateway to the Perhentian Islands. The city is considered socially conservative and visitors should be respectful of the culture and traditions of the mostly Muslim population here. It is accessible by the Wakaf Bharu railway station and the state-run SKMK bus company.