One of the northernmost states in Peninsular Malaysia, Kelantan Darul Naim has an area of 14,920 sqkm. It borders Thailand in the north-east, Perak in the west, Terengganu in the east and Pahang in the south.

Kota Bharu is the capital of Kelantan and the main towns are Bachok, Pasir Puteh, Tanah Merah, Tumpat and Gua Musang.

Kelantan is a unique travel destination because, rich cultural heritage, ornate handcrafts and wood carvings. Women have always played a major part in the economy of the state and the handcraft they produce, from Kelantan silver to baskets and cloth are some of the best in the peninsula. The Kelantanese seem to favour huge items and everything is big from the kites to the tops and the drums known as Rebana Ubi.

In 1990 Kelantan became a tributary state of the Siamese. With the signing of the Anglo-Siamese Treaty in 1909, control was passed over to the British.


1) Kota Bharu Central Market

Kota Bharu is Kelantan’s bustling capital. A highlight of the town is the Central Market on Lalan Pintu Pong where the majority of the businesses are conducted by women who show a great entrepreneurial spirit. The colorful market bustles with activity. Women sitting on mats offer famr-fresh vegetables, fish, preserved food, dried seafood and sweetmeats.

2) Gelanggang Seni or Cultural Centre

The Gelanggang Seni or Cultural Centre on jalan Sultan Mahmud showcases the state’s cultural heritage. At various times visitors are treated to the sight of top spinning, wayang kulit (shadow puppetry), cultural dances or kite flying competitions. Performances of wayang kulit and cultural dances like the Main Puteri take place in the evening. Kelantan is noted for its large drums known as Rebana Ubi and there is every chance of catching shows which feature these unique instruments. There are also gasing (giant top) competitions and displays of the colorful wau or giant kites in flight on the beach.

3) Cultural Zone

Jalan Sultan and Jalan Hilir Kota (Known locally as the Cultural Zone) are interesting streets located on the Padang Merdeka or independence square which is surrounded by many of the town’s museums.

4) Royal Museum

The Royal Museum was built in 1939 as a palace and used for royal weddings. The regalia of the various Sultans are kept here. There is also silverware and furniture from the royal household.

5) The Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs

Also known as the Jahar Palace, this used to be a wooden palace, built in 1887. The wooden building with a wrought iron staircase is noted for the intricate wood carvings that are examples of the superb craftsmanship of the Kelantanese. Inside there are displays of court life

6) Bambo Fort Bazaar

Near the Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs; is the Bambo Fort Bazaar, a three storey shopping complex that sells souvenirs in the form of small craftwork and knick-knacks

7) Islamic Museum

The history of Islam in the state can be traced at the Islamic Museum. It was Kelantan’s first school of Islamic studies Exhibits inside include Islamic fine arts and crafts and photographs of the belongings of Prophet Muhammad and of Islamic historical sites.

8) State Museum

This building was used as the premises of the land office from the colonial days untill 1990 when major renovations were carried out to convert in into the State Museum. Exhibits of special interest here include the paraphernalia associated with Kelantan’s traditional art. It also served as the main office for the Kelantan State Museum Corporation.

9) War Museum

The oldest brick building in Kelantan built in 1912 was actually once a bank of the Mercantile Bank Group and is now the War Museum. It contains several records and memorabilia of World War 11 and the Japanese Occupation including some Japanese long swords

10) The Handicraft Village and Craft Museum (Kampung Kraftangan)

This village has displays of silverware making, songket weaving, wood carvings and batik printing.

11) Waterfalls

The forest reserves in Kelantan contain several interesting waterfalls. Many of these are found in the district of Pasir Puteh, about 35km from Kota Bharu. Jeram Pasu is another popular waterfall site. Two others are at Lata Rek and Lata Renyok. The most spectacular waterfall is at Lata Beringin, which at 120 m is one of the highest in the country. The area has a magnificent view and lush surroundings and is a popular camping spot. The waterfall at Jelawang is nice place to picnic.

12) River Cruises

Another activity to enjoy in Kelantan is a river  cruise up the Sungai Kelantan (Kelantan River), where one will find several interesting Malay Villages along its banks. A short drive from Kota Bharu leads you to Kuala Krai from where you can take a boat to Dabong which is a two hour cruise up the Kelantan River.

13) Pantai Cahaya Bulan

Kelantan’s most famous beach about 10km north of Kota Bharu is the Pantai Cahaya Bulan (Moonlight Beach) which has sparkling, shimmering sand. Once called the Beach of Passionate Love or Pantai Cinta Berahi it is fringed by swaying casuarinas and coconut palms. There is ample accommodation including A-frame huts, budget motels, a hotel with cottages on the beachfront and a resort hotel with a swimming pool, tennis courts

14) Pantai Seri Tujuh (Beach of Seven Lagoons)

This is another popular beach just 7km from Kota Bharu at the border with Thailand. It is the site of the International Kite Festival when top kite or wau flyers meet in competition. Many of participants make their own kites of various shapes and sizes, the most common being the wau bulan or moon kite. The giant kites require special handling and the whole process of flying them is a skill that requires experience.

15) Pantai Bisikan Bayu

About 58km from Kota Bharu at Dalam Rhu, is Pantai Bisikan Bayu, or the Beach of the Whispering Winds named after the casurinas that grow not dar from the waterline. Here you will find clear waters ideals for snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming and fishing.

16) Pantai Irama

Pantai Irama or Beach of Melody is situated about 25km south of Kota Bharu in the district of Bachok. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Peninsular Malaysia it is popular with campers and picnickers, Pantai frama has stretches of clean, white sand, swaying palms and casuarinas.

17) Kuala Besar and Sabak Beach

The fishing villages of Kuala Besar and Sabak Beach about 15km from Kota Bharu are the soul of Malaysia East Coast. At 2.30pm each dat the colorful and the beach comes alive to greet the fisherman. There is plenty of activity as wholesalers and fisherman begin the bargaining process while others get busy mending nets and curing fish. There are facilities for camping and scuba-diving.

18) Tumpat

The Sultan Yahya Bridge, the longest bridge on the East Coast, takes you across to the district of Tumpat on the border of Thailand. There are scenic views of the countryside with traditional wooden houses built on stilts to beat the monsoon floods. Tumpat is the place to shop for goods which are mostly brought across the border.

19) Wat Photivihan

There are several Buddhist temples or wats around Tumpat. The most famous is the Wat Photivihan which has one of the longest reclining Buddhas in Southeast Asia. It is located at Kampung Lambu, about 12km north of Kota Bharu. The temple has been visited by many pilgrims since it opened in 1980.