Kota Bharu, whose name means “New Fort” in Malay, is the capital of the Sultanate of Kelantan. Located on the eastern side of Peninsular Malaysia, Kota Bharu is one of the few towns in Malaysia that does not seem to fascinate the imagination and interest of most tourists. But in reality, Kota Bharu is a chest full of secrets just waiting to be discovered.
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Getting to Kota Bahru
Kota Bharu has a small, new and efficient airport located in Pengkalan Chepa currently receives flights from Kuala Lumpur provided by Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia as well as Firefly Airlines, a subsidiary of Malaysian Airline which has been considered as the first airline of the community. Flight schedules operate daily between Kota Bharu, Subang and Penang. These flights will only take less than an hour and costs only around RM29.99, not including tax and surcharges.
The nearest train station to Kota Bharu is located at Wakaf Bharu, some five kilometers away so make sure if you are going to be traveling to Kota Bharu by train that you arrange for some form of transfer service at the hotel you are staying. You can also catch either a public bus or rent a taxi at the rate of RM30.
Many long-distance buses connect Kota Bharu to the different towns in Malaysia. Most of these buses depart from the southern Langgar terminal. Be ready for a long ride ahead as the minimum travel time in buses may take at least six hours and could last as long as 10 hours. If you come from Takbai in Southern Thailand, you can hire a minibus to drive you to the Thai-Malaysian border.
Main Attractions in Kota Bahru
The Royal Museum
The Royal Museum is a massive blue-and-white building that was built in 1939 and served as the palace of the Crowned Prince from 1969 until the time that it was donated to the State of Kelantan. It is commonly referred to as the “Istana Bata”, which is Malay for “the Brick Palace.” Previously used as a venue for royal weddings and gatherings, the Royal Museum is now home to a variety of royal arts, artifacts and other historical relics which were the property of the former sultans who have governed the state.
This is must for every traveler visiting Kota Bahru. The Gelanggang Seni, or Cultural Center, would give you a taste to Kelantan’s rich cultural heritage through its different exhibits and shows. Some of those featured are popular folk arts and pastimes such as top spinning (Gasing), kite flying (Wau), shadow puppet shows (Wayang Kulit) and Silat, Malaysia’s traditional form of martial arts. It also showcases a number of exhibits on Malaysian architecture, ceramics and silk weaving.
The well-famous Central Market of Kota Bharu is perhaps one of the most colorful and active sites in the whole of Malaysia. The Central Market is situated within a modern octagon-shaped building. Here, stall-holders and locals barter and trade among the rows of a variety of produce, batik dresses and jewelry. State Museum. The State Museum, located next to the Tourist Information Center, holds a collection of a wide array of artifacts, craftsmanship, paintings photography and a collection of porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties in China. The museum also hosts a number of art nostalgic exhibits which celebrate the village life.