Langkawi has been considered as one of Malaysia’s most popular tropical island destinations that the Malaysian Tourism Board has dedicated itself to the protection and promotion of this beautiful and mysterious island. In 2007, UNESCO considered Langkawi as a World Geopark with three of the main Geopark components as Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Kilim Geoforest Park and Pulau Tasik Dayang Bunting.
Situated off the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Langkawi is surrounded by 104 uninhabited islands. Its remarkable landscape and architecture provided the backdrop for the movie Anna and the King. It had also been host to a number of international events including the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Show, the Annual Royal Langkawi Regatta and the Tour de Langkawi.
Langkawi is the ideal destination to enjoy nature at its finest whether it is spending a day at the marine park, heading out to the fairway for a round of golf, or charter a boat and explore the pristine coral reefs.
Getting in to Langkawi
There are a number of high-speed ferry trips from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Perlis, Satun in Southern Thailand. Various airlines including Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Singapore Airlines and Firefly Airlines, fly in and out of Langkawi International Airport on a daily basis.
Local Transportation in Langkawi
While there are a lot of taxis and car rentals available to help you get around the island, it is best to rent a motorcycle or a bicycle instead to take in the marvelous scenery. Just make sure you don’t forget to wear your helmet.
Main Attractions of Lankawi
Pulau Marine Park
Pulau Marine Park lies just 30 kilometers southeast of Langkawi, on the West Coast region of Peninsular Malaysia. This well-preserved marine park is composed of jade green islands untouched by humans with Pulau Payar being the largest of these islands. Here you can head off to sea on a floating platform where you can step into the underwater observation chamber to get close to the teeming marine life without getting wet. For scuba divers, the marine park has one of the best diving spots in the world. But because visibility varies throughout the year, it is best first to check with your diving operator. There is no accommodation within the marine park. But visitors have never saw this as an issue because it is just an hour’s boat ride from Langkawi.
Also called Eagle Square, Dataran Lang is the most prominent landmark when traveling to the island and the first thing to greet visitors arriving in ferries.
Taman Buaya Lankawi
Taman Buaya Langkawi is a crocodile farm located in the town of Kubang Badak. It is home to about one thousand various species of crocodiles native to Malaysia and found in other countries.
A paradise within paradise! This park was designed in order to mimic the natural habitats of thousands of various species of birds.
While this is not the largest mall in Langkawi that offers a large range of retail stores and a supermarket, it does have an international ATM machine where you can withdraw from your own banks back at home.
Alor Setar | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
As the capital of Kedah, Alor Setar is located on the Northern region and one of the oldest Sultanate in Malaysia. In the Malay Language, Alor Setar literally translates to “small stream.” It is a bustling city dotted with modern-day structures and shopping complexes and is currently known as the rice and rubber trading center of Malaysia. It also prides itself as one of the cleanest and most friendly cities in Malaysia. I passed through Alor Setar so many times and it never changed. The people are friendly and warm, the taxi’s have fair prices compared to the horror of taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur that many visitors are subjected too.
Getting to Alor Setar
Through the North-South Expressway, which extends from the Malaysian and the border of Thailand all the way to Singapore, travelers have the option to drive themselves up to Kedah if they have rented a car, hail a taxicab or hop onto one of the many bus companies in Peninsular Malaysia. Unlike most cities, the buses en-route to Alor Setar are air-conditioned. Should you decide to take the bus, you can purchase tickets at the various bus terminals in the major cities of Malaysia. You also have the option to take a train to the city of Alor Setar, courtesy of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) railway company, which will take you to the Central Business District of the city. You can purchase railway passes directly from the train station or online.
The Sultan Abdul Halim Airport is a state-of-the-art airport located 15 kilometers north from the city of Alor Setar. As of today, the airport only caters to domestic flights courtesy of Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia.
Passenger ferries are provided by Jetty Kuala Kedah and services regular trips to and from Langkawi. However, the jetty is located some 25 kilometers away from Alor Setar so you will need to take a bus or a taxi from the jetty to get to the city.
Where to stay
During my last stay in Alor Setar I booked a hotel room at the Seri Malaysia Hotel Alor Setar.
Main Attractions of Alor Setar
Menara Alor Setar
Considered as the most prominent landmark of the city, the Menara Alor Setar is located at the heart of the city and serves as a symbol of the rapid development of the city and the entire state of Kedah as well as a telecommunications tower. Visitors can climb up to the top of the tower to take in a spectacular and breath-taking view of the entire city of Alor Setar.
The Zahir Mosque is the state mosque of Kedah and has become an architectural landmark of the city. Built in the tradition of Moorish architecture, it is one of the largest and grandest mosques in Malaysia and the site where the annual Koran reading competition in Kedah is held. If you do plan on visiting the mosque, make sure that you first obtain permission from the Religious Department of the city and observe the dress code being implemented. Balai Nobat. This is the home of the sacred instruments used by the Kedah Royal Orchestra. These instruments are so sacred and special that it is only being used and played during royal ceremonies such as company inaugurations, weddings and funerals, hence the name.
Also known as the “Great Hall” in Kedah, this structure serves as a testimony of long-standing historical and cultural relationship between Kedah and Thailand.
Once serving as the royal palace of the Sultan of Kedah, the Royal museum is now home to various artifacts unique to the Sultanate of Kedah, as well as a State Art Gallery where an extensive collection of paintings, photographs, antiques and traditional arts and crafts from the Sultanate are housed. Moreover, it offer collections showcasing Thailand’s influence over the Sultanate which includes traditional artifacts originating from the ancient Hindu-Buddhist civilization from the Bujang Valley.
Prime Minster Mahathir’s Birthplace
The birthplace of former Malay Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad who was born on 10 July 1925 at a house near the Kampung Seberang Perak.
Muar | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Muar is the second biggest town and district of the state of Johor, at its northeast, in southern Malaysia. Muar is also known by its other name, Bandar Maharani, which means Empress Town.
History and etymology
Muar’s name is believed to have originated and derived from its geographical location at the mouth or estuary of Muar River, the Malay words “Muara” which means eastuary or mouth of river. Muar is rich in history as mentioned in many historical records and archeological evidences. It is believed that the history of Muar started much earlier than the Sultanate of Malacca which witness the rise and fall of the empire. There were many accounts recorded and said about the history early and modern days of Muar. There are a few famous old historic legends which evolved around the area of Muar namely, Hikayat Malim Deman (Epic of Malim Deman), Legenda Lembing Awang Pulang Ke Dayang (Awang’s Spear Return to Dayang Legend) and Legenda Puteri Gunung Ledang (Mount Ledang Princess’ Legend).
Geography and climate
Muar district (inclusive of Ledang) covers 2346.12 km². Muar sits at the mouth of the Muar River, on the coast of the Straits of Malacca. Muar’s geographical ground and area generally has a flat terrain. The town is about 150 km (93 miles) southeast of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, and about the same distance (166 km) northwest of Johor Bahru. It is 45 km south of Malacca Town. It is also 50 km north of Batu Pahat.
Muar as the rest of peninsular Malaysia enjoys a year-round tropical rainforest equatorial climate which is warm, humid and sunny, along with plentiful rainfall, especially during the southwest monsoon season from September to December. The temperatures is between about 22°C/72°F (night) and 30°C/86°F (day), between 70% and 90% humidity, and an annual total rainfall of about 2400mm. The climate is very much dictated by the adjacent sea and the wind system.
Population and language
Muar has a population of 437,164 (2020) with a multiracial demography, consists of mainly Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc. Beside the local languages like Malays, Chinese (Mandarin and other dialects Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese) and Tamil, English is widely understand and spoken.
Government and administration
- District Office of Muar/Pejabat Daerah Muar Tel: +60 6-9521021/06-9522615 Fax : 06-9528817
- Municipal Council of Muar/Majlis Perbandaran Muar(MPM) +60 6-9521204/5/6
- Muar District Police HQ +60 6-9526222
- District Hospital :Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital +60 6-9521901
- Muar District Immigration Department +60 6-9522685
Nearest airports to Muar are the Malacca (Batu Berendam Airport) with the Johor Bahru (Senai International Airport) and Sepang’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport(Kuala Lumpur International Airport) airports located farther afield. There is also the southern neighbour, Singapore’s Singapore Changi Airport across the causeway. Transfer by bus or taxi has to be taken to redirect to Muar.
The nearest train railway stations are Segamat with Seremban or Kluang located farther. Transfer by bus or taxi has to be taken to redirect to Muar.
Besides federal roads, Muar is also accessible via the North–South Expressway through the Tangkak and Pagoh interchanges exits which are located 20 km and 30 km from the town, respectively.
If you’re driving from Kuala Lumpur on the North South Expressway (NSE), take the Tangkak exit (Interchange 235) and drive on past Sg. Mati and Parit Bunga (on highway 23 and 5). Muar town is about 27 km from the Tangkak exit. If you are driving from Johor Bahru, exit at Pagoh and head to the Muar town.
There are two bus stations in Muar; Hentian Maharani Bus Station and Bentayan Express Bus Station (formerly Pagoh Bus Station).
- From Kuala Lumpur (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan(TBS)) – RM16, 2-3 hours. Mayang Sari Express. Hasry Express. Sks KL. Transnasional.
- From Johor Bahru (2-3 hours).
- From Malacca (1 hour or less). SKA (every 15 minutes), Mayangsari (9AM, noon and 4PM), MOS, Orkid.
- From Batu Pahat Mayangsari Express.
- From Ipoh, Penang, Alor Star and Northern Malaysia
- From Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bahru and East Coast
- From Segamat
- From Singapore: HKKL Express.
- From Hat Yai Thailand: HKKL Express.
There are also chartered taxi services available below two taxi terminals.
- Hentian Maharani Bus Station (+60 6-9529980) (Pakatan Pemandu-pemandu Teksi dan Kereta Sewa Daerah Muar).
- Hentian Bentayan Bus Station (formerly Pagoh Bus Station) (+60 6-951 5341)(Persatuan Tuan-Tuan Punya Kereta Sewa Daerah Muar).
These chartered taxis travel within Muar district and outside Muar such as to Kuala Lumpur International Airport International Airport, Kuala Lumpur and even Singapore. They carry up to 4 passengers at a time. The taxis in Muar don’t have a metered system, and they often charge according to the travel distant, time and number of passsenger.
Ferry services from Bengkalis and Dumai, Sumatra, Indonesia are available on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, ticketing booth located at and ferries departing from the Custom Jetty at Jalan Maharani at noon. Journey time is just under two hours. Tickets cost RM80/160 one-way/return. (+60 12-6363614) Muar is the only district (besides the state capital Johor Bahru) in Johor that has its own Custom and Excise Duty Department office and checkpoint at its own jetty.
Taxis chartered service (Perkhidmatan Kereta Sewa) at the taxi stands or bus stations.
Trishaws, or Beca, locally called Teksi to get around the town for sight-seeing.
The flat terrain of Muar’s geographical ground and areas has enable the extensive use of bicycle and tricycle vehicles as the main and major mode of transportion in Muar. Bike rentals and bike guide: NO-JOB (North Johor On Bike) +60 16-6412716.
What to see and do
Recreation and leisure places
- Donhu Jurassic Garden (麻坡東湖恐龍園有限公司), 2700, Pintasan Muar, Kampung Sabak Aur. Theme park.
- Tanjung Emas Park – Tanjung Emas recreational park overlooking Muar River is the place to go. This recreational park has a food court offering local delicacies if you get a little hungry- try the ikan asam pedas (fish cooked with tamarind sauce and chilli paste) for which this town is famous. There’s plenty of rest shades if the sun gets too hot and also a children’s playground to keep the little ones amused. The park, which is much visited during the weekends, also houses a 9-hole golf course, Tanjung Emas Golf Club. A 45-minute to one hour Muar River Cruise departing from this park is also available to offer tourists views of Muar town from the river. Nearby, Tanjung Ketapang is next to Tanjung Emas facing the Malacca Straits. The mangrove along the coastal line is home to wild monkeys or macaques but harmless and tame to visitors who feeds them.
- Laman Maharani Padang Nyiru – The garden at the new park called Padang Nyiru near the Sultan Ismail bridge, named Laman Maharani, includes a modern clock tower with old English architecture, a mini Roman Colosseum, a neatly manicured lawn, a pavement under leafy trees, a fountain, a dome-shaped pavilion, parking bays and a beautifully-designed seawall. The garden immortalises the old days when the site was a busy trading centre where junks and boats anchored with merchandise and charcoal. It is now a green lung for the town folks and visiting tourists to take leisurely walks and enjoy the natural beauty of the Muar River in the town centre.
- Gunung Ledang – about 30 km from Muar town Gunung Ledang (formerly Mt Ophir) is well known for the Legend of Gunung Ledang story of the mystique Puteri Gunung Ledang, entwined with its mysterious tales of supernatural encounters among the locals besides its beautiful natural attraction. Standing at 1,267 m, Gunung Ledang is Johor’s highest mountain and it can be accessed both from Johor (Sagil) and Melaka (Asahan). There are nice camping sites by the side of waterfall at the mountain foot and those who are adventurous can take up the challenges to climb to the peak of the mountain. The journey to the top will take approximately five hours through the dense but scenery virgin jungle. There are 2 options of access to the mountain top and mountain foot lodgings available by 2 different managements namely; Gunung Ledang Resort and Taman Hutan Lagenda-Taman Negara Gunung Ledang which has a range of options from a dormitory to chalets. Hiring a guide is necessary so it’s best to plan in advance. Gunung Ledang can be reached by buses that run between Tangkak and Segamat by getting off at Sagil or take a taxi from Tangkak.
- Pantai Leka, Parit Jawa – A nice sea-side fishing village and the coast is an important stopover and winter feeding ground for 60 bird species of migratory birds including egret, eagle, heron, sandpiper, swift and kingfisher, and efforts is being taken to gazet the area as a bird sanctuary. There are many sea foods, grilled fish and assam pedas stalls and restaurant serving nice delicious foods. GPS coordinates 1.951372N 102.635517E.
- Sungai Gersik Hot Spring – Kolam Air Panas Sungai Gersik, the natural wonder of hot springs can be found in the district of Muar, about 10km from Parit Jawa town. The hot spring, with water temperature is estimated at 50 to 70 °C, was discovered over 100 years ago in the peaty area, was believed to have healing power due to its high sulphur content. The hot spring area has chalet, public amenities like toilet, bath room and parking facilities, Muslim prayer room, a children’s playground and some shops. The place is opened from 7AM to 7PM. Admission is free to locals and foreigners. GPS Coordinates: GPS 1.940900N 102.741300E.
- Nasuha Spices & Herbs Farm. Ladang Rempah Ratus Nasuha farm is located at the 19 Km of Jalan Muar Pagoh. It covers an area of over 3200 acres, known to be the largest Herbs and Spices farm in Asia, producing 6 to 10 metric tonnes of raw herbs and spices each day. The farm is planted with 135 types of herbs collected from all over the world. There is a museum, restaurant, a herbal SPA, a resort and a processing plant inside the farm. Group tour can be arranged to visit the farm for bird watching, hiking activities, stress management and motivational course is also offered to public members.
- Dusun Damai. An scenery fruits orchard homestead resort on a scenic hill in Pagoh, Muar, midway PLUS highway between Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru. 15 minutes from Pagoh toll plaza.
Religious sites and worship places
- Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim, Tanjung Emas -completed in 1930 and was officially opened by Johor’s Menteri Besar, Dato Mustafa bin Jaafar to replace the old wooden building build in 1887. Located along Jalan Petri, close to mouth of Muar River. The building captures an unusual combination of the Anglophile’s Victorian and Moorish architectural influences similar to the Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque in Johor Bahru will be of interest to any visitor with a fine eye for aesthetics.
- Masjid Jamek 2 Sultan Ismail, Tanjung Agas -built in 1999 on the opposite bank of Muar River in Tanjung Agas, is exactly an identical replica of the Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim. The 2 majestic mosques are just like reflection image of each other on the other side of river is a breathtaking sight at the mouth of Muar River. This 2nd mosque can accommodate 5,000 Muslim congregants at a time.
- Nan Hai Fei Lai Goddess of Mercy Temple : The “Nan Hai Fei Lai (南海飞来/南海飛来nán hǎi fēi lái) Temple”, fondly called Ah Nio Keng(亚娘宫 yà niáng gōng/觀音庙 Guānyīn miào), literally the temple of Guanyin Goddess of Mercy, on the riverside main road of Jalan Maharani opposite the Bentayan Express Bus Station, is the oldest Chinese temple in Muar.
- Kerng Tang Kou Bioh Temple, Muar (粤东古庙) – The temple also fondly called Tua Lau Yah Keng (大老爷宫) in Teochew dialect is located at the Muar Kwangtung Association building at the beginning point of intersection of Jalan Bakri and Jalan Meriam in the town centre was founded by early settlers from Teochew/Chaozhou in 1895, is one of the oldest temples in Muar town. Its name Kerng Tang Kou Bioh (粤东古庙); means “Guangdong’s Ancient Temple” was derived from Teochew’s geographical location in Kwangtung/Guangdong (粤东/广东) province in China and its ancient Teochew patron deity worshipped at the temple, the “Tua Nang Kong” (大人公) or “Xuántiān Shàngdì” (玄天上帝) (the Lord of Profound Heaven or Black Heavenly Emperor God). It was brought in from the Riau Archipelago, Indonesia by Tan Song Hai (陈松海) for worship in a shop house at Jalan Maharani before it was saved in a fire and relocated and installed at the present temple in 1913. The temple was renovated several times and a major one was when the entrance arch with traditional Chinese temple architecture and the big sitting deity statue at the compound build and erected in 1998. During the “Chap Goh Mei” celebration on the last day of Chinese New Year festival, on the 15th day of first lunar month of Chinese calendar, drove of Taoism devotees will throng to congregate to pray at the temple and to observe a traditional Teochew custom, called “Puak Tau Sai” (博豆狮).
- San Chai Temple, Parit Unas (善才爷庙) – The Parit Unas’ (南亭寺) Nán Tíng Sì Temple was founded by late Dato Kor Thian Peng, the temple’s medium who was touted to be the foster son of late Johor Sultan for their good relationship ever since he helped to cure an illness of a Johor Sultan royal family member and conferred the Johor datukship award. According to legend, the temple divine deity god had protected devotees who seek to hide in the temple during 1969 May 13 racial riots and has helps many devotees in many occasions from near and far especially, droving flocks of people to throng the temple to worship especially during the birthday of the divine god, San Chai Yeah (善才爷) on the 23rd day of the 1st moon of Chinese lunar calendar(around January/February after Chinese New Year) every year. A Chinese primary school adjacent to the temple, SRJKC San Chai was built and operates with the aids of the temple and the Sultan’s donation.
- Sian Kong San Temple, Bukit Bakri (神公山庙) – A beautiful and tranquil Buddhist temple located on top of a hill at Bukit Bakri with magnificent scenery.
- Nagamalai Koil Alaiyam Temple, Bukit Pasir – Snake Hill temple, Bukit Pasir, Muar. Local folks call it Hindu snake temple. This temple, located in the Sime Darby Palm Oil Plantation in Bukit Pasir is said to be a very auspicious temple among Hindus. There are small shrines on the forested hill with cobra and Hindu God statues. According to The Star, Nagamalai Alaiyam is the third most important hill temple in Malaysia after Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur and Thannimalai temple in Penang.
- Nattukottai Chettiars’ Sri Murugan Temple – The oldest Hindu temple in Muar town in Jalan Meriam has a unique and beautiful steeple of the dome with old Indian Hindu achitechture element, but has been torn down as it is now undergoing some major re-construction. It is also fondly known as the Chettiar temple for the contribution of the community in building the temple where local devotees visit for the divine Lord Murugan’s blessing since the early days it was build. There is a grand annnual celebration with a chariot procession. +60 6-9537358.
- Sri Muthu Mariamman Temple(ஸ்ரீ முத்து மாரியம்மன் கோவில்) – at 29 Jalan Mohammadiah, Muar held its Hindu consecration ceremony between 8.45am and 9.45am. Annual temple celebration, Amman Festival, celebrated around October end yearly with procession of the Amman Chariot. +60 6-9515470
- Sri Maha Kaliamman Alaiyam Temple – at Jalan Junid Dalam, Parit Perupok Laut, Muar. Annual temple celebration, Amman Festival, where goat sacrificial offering ceremony held will be celebrated on the first weekend of August yearly. GPS Coordinates: 2 6 56.39N 102 41 38.13 . Tel :016-2533648
- Balai Polis Bukit Kepong – This police station at Bukit Kepong with a history museum is famous for the notorious attack by the communist terrorist on 23 Februari 1950 during the emergengy period.
- Kubu Bentayan – The last fortress of the retreat Malacca Sultanate soldiers before it falls during the attack of the Portuguese in the 15th century situated at mouth the Sungai Bentayan, the Bentayan Express Bus Station (formerly Pagoh Bus Stand) location now. Another fortress but built by the Portuguese later, Fortaleza de Muar was also believed to be in the same area.
- Makam Panglima Lidah Hitam, Parit Sakai – The grave of a legendary Malay warrior Panglima Lidah Hitam (the Black Tongue Warrior) or Baginda Zahiruddin from Padang Pariaman, Minangkabau, Sumatera, Indonesia; the founder of Silat Lintau, whose tongue was black colour when he die and buried in Parit Sakai Laut, Jalan Junid.
- Makam Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah I, Kampung Raja, Pagoh – The tomb of the Malacca Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah I is located at Kampung Raja, Ulu Pagoh. Sultan Alauddin is 7th Sultan of Malacca Sultanate from 1477 to 1488, and he also built a residence palace in Pagoh. GPS Coordinates: 2 9 38.27N 102 45 29.59E.
- Tapak Sejarah Kota Buruk, Jorak – The Kota Buruk fortress historical site at Tanjung Selabu, Jorak, Bukit Pasir, Pagoh is where the founder of the Malacca Sultanate, Parameswara, stayed for more than 10 years upon his exile from Temasik before proceeding to Melaka. Another historic site, ‘Biawak Busuk’, opened by Parameswara, is said also to be located just nearby.
- Rumah Adat Bugis – Rumah Adat Bugis or Bolla Lopo or literally Bugis Customary House is a traditional Bugis house at Km 19 Parit Pechah, Sri Menanti. It was built 100 years ago by Tahir bin Daeng Mustapha, a descendant of Raja Bugis. In the language of Bugis, ‘Bolla’ means house and ‘Lopo’ means big; literally means “Big House”. The house design and elements are unique with many beautiful carving and features. It also house many old traditional items. Located at Parit Pecah, along the stretch between Sungai Gersik and Parit Jawa. It’s easy to miss, so visitors have to go slow and look out for it on the left while moving towards Parit Jawa Muar or on the right if travelling towards Batu Pahat.
What to do
- Take a relaxing stroll along the scenery riverside from the town to the park, over 1 km away, have a picnic at the beautiful riverside garden and catch the sunset by the beach of the Tanjung Emas Park. Enjoy the scenery with nice landscape of rows of trees and majestic old colonial buildings and pre-war shophouses along the way.
- Get on the boat and join the river cruising along Muar River at Tanjung Emas jetty. Jeti Tanjung Emas, Tanjung Emas. +60 19-6658827.
- Have a round of golf at the Tanjung Emas Golf Club in Muar. The Tanjung Emas course may not be a dream golf course but one can surely relax and enjoy a round of golf in cool soothing breezes. But beware of the wayward wind which can play havoc with your game which can be treacherous and may even blow away your ball. The par-35 (2,721 m) 9-hole layout is a flat and short golf course, but challenges come in many forms: the wind, large ponds, numerous 0.B. markers and sand traps provide it all. The course is open to the golfing public armed with handicaps. +60 6 9521550
- Muar is touted to be food haven for gluttons. Check out the Eat section, plan and have a round of nice local foods at the many eating places in town.
- Try having a big catch by fishing at the Muar River at a few local anglers’s favourite fishing spots, i.e. Tanjung Emas, Tanjung Ketapang, Tanjung Agas, the Sultan Ismail Bridge.
- Go for the adventurous freshwater prawn (udang galah) fishing at Panchor, Grisek, Kundang Ulu, Lenga, Gombang or Bukit Kepong areas located at the upstream of Muar River by renting a boat. Fire-fly watching eco-tour also may be arranged. (+60 6-971 1150, +60 13-680 2265 Hj Rahmat bin Idris)
- See the oyster harvesting by fishermen diving to the bottom of Muar River at Pengkalan Tiram, Parit Tiram, Jalan Sallleh, Muar. Grab the opportunity to buy the cheap and fresh oyster for dinner. Tel :012-6363614
- Stay at the local village homestays and experience the colourful local kampung cultures, foods and life of the Malays of Java and Bugis descends. Enjoy the local warm hospitality and friendliness of the host and family. Visit the village local small industries like traditional delicacies making, agricultural activities like local fruit harvesting at orchard or livestocks animals, poultry and fish farming or activities at rubber, oil palm or coconut plantation. Learn the interesting local traditional festivals, games, music and dances like the Javanese’ Kuda Kepang and Barongan or the Malays’ Zapin and Ghazal, and also local martial art Silat performances. For contact, see “Sleep” section.
- Visit the Orang Asli village at Lenga and Gunung Ledang area.
- Trek up the top of the magical jungle-capped legendary Gunung Ledang. Seek out the challenges and adventures to go on an expedition to the peak of the mountain, camp in the rugged wilds, or a convention amidst nature and get soak in Air Panas waterfall at the mountainfoot.
- Ride bicycle across the town, across both bridges and by the beach. Bandar Maharani is so flat that you don’t need to be strong rider to go anywhere.
- Try to get yourself a motorcycle and ride from the town through Bukit Pasir, Lenga to Bukit Kepong and back to Muar town through Gerisek, Bukit Gambir and Serom.
Events and festivals
- Johor Sultan’s Birthday – will be celebrated on 22nd November every year to commemorate the birthday of the new Sultan who just succeeded the throne. Cultural activities, fishing competition, duck catching competition at Tanjung Emas Park. Muslim Tahlil and Thanks-Giving Prayers at the main mosque. Guard of Honour parade and Swear of Allegiance Ceremony in the morning at the Dewan Jubli Intan. +60 6-9521021
- Malaysia National Day – celebrated on 31st August every year, the national independence day. Cultural and entertainment show and fireworks will be on display on the eve of celebration at Tanjung Emas Park. A celebration parade by the government agencies, uniform bodies, political entities and private organisation in the early morning of celebration. All celebration mostly held at the Dataran Tanjung Emas square and park vicinity. +60 6-9521021
- Chap Goh Mei’s “Puak Tau Sai” (博豆狮) – celebration on the last day of Chinese New Year festival, on the 15th day of first lunar month of Chinese calendar (around February). Drove of Taoism devotees will throng to congregate to pray at the Kerng Tang Kou Bioh (粤东古庙) temple and to observe a traditional Teochew custom, called “Puak Tau Sai” (博豆狮) where devotees seek the divine deity’s blessing for the new year to obtain home the “peanut lions” (Chinese guardian lion statues made of sugar and peanut) but to repay back the “peanut lions” statues to the deity and temple the next coming year in double the number of statues they obtained. The quest to obtain the “peanut lions” will be decided through the “toss of the victory cups” (博胜杯) to ascertain the divine’s will of the deity. +60 12-2510338
- San Cai Deity’s Birthday – celebrated on the 23rd day of the 1st moon of the Chinese lunar calendar (around March) every year by Taoism devotees for the divine Taoist deity San Cai Yeah’s(善才爷) birthday at the San Cai Yeah Temples, Parit Unas which is very famous and revered among the devotees.
- Nine Emperors Gods’ Birthday – celebrated from the 1st day to the 9th day of the 9th moon of the Chinese lunar calendar (around October/November) every year by vegetarian Taoism devotees for the Taoism deities Kiu Ong Yeah’s (Nine Emperors’) (九皇爷) birthday. During the 10 days celebration, Chinese opera theatre, interesting colourful religion ceremonies, fire crossing ceremony, knife ladder climbing ceremony by mediums and devotees will be held at the 2 main Taoism temples; Jalan Bentayan’s Tao Tian Keng (斗天宫) temple and Jalan Arab’s Tao Boo Keng (斗母宫) temple. Celebration peaks with grand colourful procession on the 8th day morning and 9th day evening at the town centre. A “send-off” ceremony will be held at the Tanjung Emas river side on the 10th day marking the end of the celebration.
Famous local delicacies and products can be found at:
- Coffee powder Kopi Serbuk Sai Kee 434.
- 434 Sai Kee Kopi Serbok Kopitiam.
- (34, Jalan Maharani, Opposite Bentayan Express Bus Station/Pagoh Bus Stand, Muar) Tel:+60 6-951 3828
- 434 Sai Kee Kopi Serbok Kopitiam.
- Tao Sah Peah (Red Bean Paste Biscuit), Heong Peah, Mooncakes and Chinese cookies.
- Yong Sheng Confectioneries and Food Gift Shop
- (30, Jalan Sayang, Muar). +60 6-952 1362
- (Lot. 1965, Batu 3 ½, Simpang Jeram, Jalan Bakri). +60 6-986 3362
- Yong Sheng Confectioneries and Food Gift Shop
- Bak Kua (Barbecued Roasted Pork)
- Muar Yuen Chen Siang
- (86, Jalan Meriam). +60 6-955 5007
- (5, Jalan Lama). +60 6-952 1528, 952 3109
- Muar Yuen Chen Siang
- Otak-otak, frozen-packed-uncooked or attap-leaf-wrapped-grilled.
- Food stalls and hawkers at Jalan Haji Abu Hawker Centre or Jalan Bentayan Hawker Centre.
- A Class Otak-otak Products Shop . (Chun Long Frozen Food Industry, 55-17, Jalan Bentayan). +60 +60 6-9545517
- Mee Bandung Mee Rebus, Soto, Nasi Beriani & other Malay dish paste (perencah), herbs and spices (rempah ratus).
- Kedai Haji Senan
- (197-6, Jalan Abdullah, behind Kedai Kopi 343/near Karaoke Maharani/Bangunan Mara) Tel:+60 6-9510129 013-3223100 012-6880646
- (29, Jalan Sultan Ibrahim, opposite Muar Stadium). +60 6-9535676, +60 12-3936054
- Syarikat M.R.S. Kapia Pillai (Indian Curry Powder and Spices) (126 & 127,Jalan Maharani, next to 434 Kopitiam, opposite Bentayan Express Bus Station/Pagoh Bus Stand). +60 6-9519149
- Syarikat CHLC Ching Hing Long Chan (Adami Brand) (Jalan Maharani, next to 434 Kopitiam, opposite Bentayan Bus Station/Pagoh Bus Stand). +60 6-9513399
- Maharani Best Enterprise (Sarbiah Brand) (RS 65, Lorong Keluarga, Jalan Junid)
- Mak Pon Perencah Mee Bandung (Jalan Junid, opposite JJ Asam Pedas). +60 6-95394640, +60 12-2620044
- Pak Uda Beriani Gam (PUBG Brand) (28C, Jalan Omar, Parit Tengah, Parit Jawa). +60 6-9873971 012-6869857
- Kedai Haji Senan
- Durian and also Dodol. Local fruits.
- Stalls at the roadside.
- Mussels, oyster, siput and scallops(Kupang, tiram, siput and lokam) and also other fresh seafoods.
- Stalls at the roadside, Pengkalan Tiram Jalan Salleh or Parit Jawa wet market.
The town is also robust of business and trading activities, with many old traditional Chinese shops offering variety of products at reasonable and attractive price. There also Pasar Malam and Pasar Tani selling variety of local products
The shopping centres and supermarkets or hypermarkets in Muar are Wetex Parade, The Store, Giant, Econsave, Astaka Shopping Centre, Lagenda Complex, K-Mall, Fresco, One-Stop, and Arked Mara.
There are two wet markets in Muar town:
- Pasar Awam Bandar Maharani (Tua Pa Sat) (Below Astaka Shopping Centre), Jalan Maharani, Muar.
- One Central Market (Sin Pa Sat) (formerly Hock Hai Market), Jalan Ali/Arab/Haji Abu.
- Giant Hypermarket Muar, Lot 6530 Tanjung Agas, Mukim Kesang. 10AM-10PM. Supermarket.
Local delicious Malay foods; Mee bandung, rojak petis, satay Muar and asam pedas are the signature foods of Muar. And don’t forget delicious Javanese foods like soto, mee rebus, lontong and nasi ambeng. Locals are famous of eating goreng pisang(fried banana) and goreng tempe(fried Javanese fermented soya bean cake) with thick soya sauce with hot chili deeping. Pau Maharani is a favourite too. The local version Nasi Beriani Gam is good too. Ikan bakar; freshly catched, delicious dan cheap grilled fish and sea foods like prawn, squid, crab, mussel, and clam, best eaten with banana leaf wrapped Nasi Lemak are available at Medan Ikan Bakar Sabak Awor, Jalan Bakariah and Medan Ikan Bakar Parit Karang every evening. Mee Siput; a local delicious snack eaten with sambal, local chili paste; only can be available in Muar. Johor Laksa is another delicious local food. Here are some tips: Eat Satay and Mee Rebus as the locals do for breakfast in the morning, mee bandung for lunch, rojak petis for afternoon and asam pedas at Parit Jawa for dinner.
Muar is also famous for many Chinese foods like the Muar Otak-otak (乌达), Teochew Or-Luak/Or-Chien(Fried Oyster Omelette), Hainanese Steamed Chicken Rice ball, Muar Char Kueh Teow (fried rice noodle with clam), Hokkien Hae-Mee (Fried Prawn Mee), Cantonese Wonton Mee, Muar Char-Siew Perng (Red Roasted Pork Rice), Teochew Lo-Ak-Perng (Braised Duck Rice), Teochew Mee Poh (Fish Ball Noodle), Teochew Her-Moi (Fish Soup Porridge), Teochew Kueh Chap (Big pieces cut flat rice noodle in soup with braised pork, pig offal, egg and bean curd/tofu), Teochew Chwee Kueh (a delicious rice cake with salted raddish), Char Chai Tow Kueh (fried raddish cake), Cantonese Chok (Congee), Simpang Jeram’s Loy Her Bee Hoon (haruan/snake head fish soup with vermicelli), Bak Kut Teh (herbal pork ribs soup with yam rice), Teochew Ter Chap Cheng Therng (Pig Organ Soup), Curry Laksa, Hakka Yong Tao Foo, Chee Cheong Fun, and Mi/Bang Chien Kueh (Kueh Apam Balik Cina), are must-try local Chinese delicacies for visitors. Foods centres can be found at Muar Bus Station (Malay), Tanjung Emas (Mixed), Jalan Bentayan’s Bentayan Hawker Centre (Chinese) and Jalan Haji Abu (Chinese) Hawkers Centre also known as “T’am Cjia Kueh” (贪呷街), literally “the glutton voracious eating street” by the Chinese befitting its reputation as the food haven of the town. There are also a few Chinese restaurants serving nice Pau and Dimsum (Chinese bun and dumpling) for breakfast.
There are also many Chinese restaurants and Malay food stalls offering variety of delicious foods on their menus. On different days of the week there are Pasar Malam or night markets and Pasar Tani selling many local foods at different locations of the town. For shopping of famous local Chinese festival delicacies like Thong Chiew Guek Peah-Mooncakes, Tao Sah Peah-Red Bean Paste Cakes are available at the Yong Sheng Confectioneries and Gift Shop and also Muar Yuen Chen Siang shop for their famous Bak Kua-Barbecued Pork.
We can also can find some good Indian continental cuisine like Banana Leaf Rice, Nasi Kandar, Mee Rojak, Rojak Mamak, Putumayam, variety of bread like Roti Canai, Roti Telur, Roti Sardin, Roti Prata, Roti Jala, Tosei, Roti Nan, Murtabak, Kebab with their superb Indian curry and dal gravy; great soups like Sup Kambing, Sup Tulang and Sup Ekor; and not forgeting refreshing cold dessert; Ice Shaved Cendol with thick coconut milk and coconut brown sugar and Teh Tarik at some Indian foods stalls and restaurants.
- Long Poh Seafood, TS 26, Jalan Junid. Thai and Chinese seafood restaurant. Gets crowded during the weekends and public holidays.
Muar is popular for its Sirap Bandung (Rose Syrup with milk and optional soda and cincau) beverage which is normally served during Malay wedding reception, but also easily available at most Malay food stalls and restaurant. Do try the Corn Milk Drink at the Tapak Pasar Tani Lama by the bus stations. Pear Juice sold at the fruit stalls at Jalan Yahya is very special and refreshing.
Coffee made of home-roasted coffee bean and powder of Muar is famous among the locals and tourists, try out a cup of this aromatic Muar coffee, roti bakar (bread toast) and half-boiled egg at Sai Kee 434 Kopitiam, located just opposite the bus station.
Where to stay in Muar
A few hotels and apartments are available in Muar, mostly ranging from cheap to medium.
- Galesi Hotel, Jalan Mohd.Said Tahir, Pusat Perniagaan Said Tahir (near Jalan Daud). With air-conditioning, built-in toilet, TV, free Wi-Fi. RM48-88.
- Muarar Hotel. Newly open at 3, Top Floors, Jalan Sungai Abong, Pusat Perniagaan Sungai Abong, Muar. (beside traffic light) with aircon, built-in toilet, TV, free Wi-Fi. RM48.
- Sabak Awor Resort, 9094, Jln Bakariah, Sabak Awor (near 2nd bridge/bypass). Has air-conditioning, a built-in toilet, TV, free Wi-Fi. RM60-120.
- Mann Chalet, 4096 Kg Seri Pantai, Jalan Junid (behind Long Poh Restaurant).
- My Budget Inn :46-2, Top Floors, Jalan Khalidi (opposite BP petrol station) (RM39-98) with air-conditioning, built-in toilet, TV, free Wi-Fi. +60 6-9549696, +60 17-6668199
- Hotel Bentayan :Top Floors, Jalan Bentayan (beside Chinese temple) (Single-RM42, Double-RM58) with aircon, built-in toilet, TV, free Wi-Fi. +60 6-9542779/9534901
- Tanjung Emas Inn :28, Top Floors, Jalan Parit Haji Baki (near stadium/Jalan Junid) (RM48) with aircon, built-in toilet, TV, free Wi-Fi. +60 6-9519488
- Hotel Astra Binajaya : Across the river, near Giant Hypermarket, Maharani Rivera Tanjung Agas (RM 60). +60 16-7558844
- Hong Leng Inn :Jalan Abdul Rahman (opposite 7-Eleven & Klinik Asia) (RM38-85). +60 6-952-9487
- Motel 26 :Jalan Khalidi, Muar. (near Taman Khalidi Baru Food Court)(RM40-80, furnished semi-detached house). +60 6-951-2836, +60 12-669-9577
- Hotel Sungai Abong: Top Floors, Jalan Sungai Abong (RM35-40) +60 6-9539336
- Palma Enterprise Hotel. Sg Abong (run by Hong Leng Inn). RM50-60.
- 56 Mansion: 56, Taman Selasih 2, Jalan Kg Tengah, Sungai Abong. (RM50-70) with aircon, built-in/shared toilet, TV, free Wi-Fi. +60 12-5768725, +60 12-6022992
- Warni Villa: Taman Junid Perdana, Muar. Furnished semi-detached house (RM50-100). +60 6-9539336
- Marina Lodging: Pantai Leka (next to Chinese temple), Parit Jawa. (RM35-40) with aircon, built-in toilet, TV. +60 6-9874571, +60 12-6219762
- Penginapan Nur: Tiang 1/31, Batu 15 1/2, Jalan Muar, Tangkak. +60 7-2237471/2242525/2237472/019-7772057
- Alami Homestay: No.9, PRD 15/E, Parit Raja Tengah, Jalan Temenggung Ahmad. (RM130) +60 13-6196804, +60 13-6936404
These are mostly old hotels providing budget and cheap rooms, normally around RM30. Room condition is not so clean, but located in the middle of the town.
- Hotel Leewa : 75, 1st Floor, Jalan Arab. +60 6 9515995
- Kingdom Hotel : 158, Jalan Meriam. +60 6-9521921
- Embassy Hotel : 171, Jalan Abdullah. +60 6-9521886
- Nam Yang Hotel : 41, Jalan Maharani. +60 6 922558.
- Wah Hin Chan Hotel : 120 Jln Meriam. +60 6 9512043
- Hotel Pelangi, 79, Jalan Sisi. Centrally located hotel has 80 guestrooms and suites. RM85-RM250.
- Muar Trader’s Hotel, 16, Jalan Petrie. content Alongside Muar River. Secret Recipes outlet is here. From RM95.
- Riverview Hotel, 29, Jalan Bentayan. RM60-RM90.
- Townview Hotel, 60, Jalan Sisi. RM60-RM90.
- Streetview Hotel, 11-13 Jalan Ali. Renovated from pre-war shop houses. RM80-RM90.
- D’99 Hotel. A new hotel in the town, 173 Jalan Abdullah, with Delifrance outlet. From RM112.70.
- Apartel Maharani. Rooms and apartment. B-1-5, Wisma 2020, Jalan Temenggong Ahmad, Muar. RM158-190.
- Hotel Classic. 4-star hotel at 69, Jalan Ali Muar beside Wetex Parade. From RM120.
- Gunung Ledang Resort, Batu 28 Jalan Segamat Sagil Tangkak. RM150-250.
- Taman Negara Gunung Ledang-Taman Hutan Lagenda :Batu 26 Jalan Segamat Sagil Tangkak. Tel :07-2237471/2242525/2237472/019-7772057/+60193371015
- Ladang Rempah Ratus Nasuha. Herbal spa sauna, restaurant and resort at KM 19, Jalan Muar-Pagoh.
- Dusun Damai. Scenic orchard homestead resort in Pagoh.
There are also some homestays providing interesting stay and holiday programme located at the outskirt villages of the town.
- Homestay Kg. Sarang Buaya, +60 12-754 0597, +60 6-988 1378, +60 19-747 3442, 07-416 2396.
- Homestay Kg. Melayu Bt. 28 Lenga, +60 6-952 3093, +60 6-971 1150, +60 13-680 2265.
- Homestay Kg. Parit Bugis , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telecommunications in Muar
- Internet :Internet cafes are easily available in the Town areas. Free internet broadband wi-fi connection are also widely available in many cafes and hotels.
- Mobile phone :The coverage of reception signal are extensive in all the Muar area for all the major mobile telecommunication service provider companies. All these companies provides and sells pre-paid mobile phone SIM cards including to foreigners which is more convenience and cheaper for temporary use in the country during a short stay compare to international roaming services.
- Telephone :Muar telecommunication area is using the prefix +06 Area Calling Code of Malacca instead of the +07 Area Calling Code of Johor beside the +60 Country Calling Code of Malaysia.
- Postal :Muar has a main post office at Jalan Othman and a few mini postal offices in the town providing postal, telegram, courier, money orders, transfer etc services. The postal area code for the main town of Muar is 84000 while the rest of the smaller area are using the post/zip code of 84+++.
Malacca – Just an hour away from Muar, Malacca is a good choice to continue the journey up north.
Kota Bharu | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Kota Bharu (also Kota Bahru or Kota Baru) is the state capital of Kelantan, on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Many travellers simply pass through on their way to the Perhentian Islands, but those who spend a few days in KB have the chance to go to some of the museums mentioned below, eat […]
Kota Bharu (also Kota Bahru or Kota Baru) is the state capital of Kelantan, on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Many travellers simply pass through on their way to the Perhentian Islands, but those who spend a few days in KB have the chance to go to some of the museums mentioned below, eat some delicious food, look at a unique style of traditional architecture and get a little bit of the feel of a city that has an interesting cultural identity all its own.
Kota Bharu is the vibrant capital of the state of Kelantan, whose unique culture and dialect are proudly promoted and sustained in all aspects that do not conflict with orthodox Islam. Visitors can experience local culture in the form of the Thai and Indian-influenced cuisine, dress (the state is probably the most famous for batik in Malaysia), handicrafts, some traditional architecture, museums showing the state’s cultural heritage, and the sound of the Kelantanese dialect. Speakers of standard Malay may not be able to understand the local dialect, although if you speak standard Malay, locals will understand you and reply in standard Malay. You can hear Bahasa Kelantan not only in the markets and on the streets but also on local radio stations.
Kota Bharu is a very socially conservative city in a state ruled by the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS). Visitors will hear the azan (call for prayer) from many mosques 5 times a day, and the khutbah (sermon) may also be broadcast from some mosques with loudspeakers. Visitors should be prepared for breaks to be taken in many places including the Pasar Malam (Night Market) during Islamic prayer times.
Sultan Ismail Petra Airport
Kota Bharu’s small but efficient Sultan Ismail Petra Airport (KBR) in Pengkalan Chepa receives flights from Kuala Lumpur provided by Malaysia Airlines and budget carrier AirAsia. Advance bookings especially for AirAsia can be very cheap (with best promotional fares you can end up flying cheaper than going by bus, if you have no check-in luggage).
Firefly, offers seven direct flights between Kota Bharu and Kuala Lumpur via Subang Airport and daily flight to Penang. It’s also the first airline to connect Kota Bharu to the southern city of Johor Bahru. Prior to this, most people would make the trip by car or a 10-hour bus journey.
Firefly flies from Kota Bharu directly into Singapore.
Getting to/away: The airport is 20 minutes from the city centre by taxi (fare was RM40 in January 2020). You can also catch a City-Liner bus No. 9 from the local bus station in the city centre (RM1.80, hourly, from 07:00 to 19:00, duration around 20 minutes).
The nearest railway station to Kota Bharu is at Wakaf Bharu, some 6.5 kilometers away from the city center. You can catch public bus No 19, 27 or 43 (Fare RM 1.50, operates from 07:00 to 19:00) from Kota Bharu Central Bus Terminal to get there or just ask your hotel/guesthouse to arrange a taxi for you (RM35 in May 2020). The official taxis at the station have a rate sheet.
Trains run on the Jungle Railway to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. One attraction is the Jungle Train with its shuttle train service that does stop at almost every station between Tumpat and Gemas, allowing you to enjoy close-up contact with local people as the train travels through the heart of Peninsular Malaysia. The name “Jungle Train” is really an obsolete name, nowadays: there is little if any jungle along the route. This is because the jungle has been replaced by palm trees – thousands of them. There are four day trains (Three shuttle trains and one express train) and two overnight trains (both express trains) making stops at Wakaf Bharu Station on their way southbound. For northbound direction, all the services terminate at Tumpat station, just a station beyond Wakaf Bharu. However, it is advisable to check the “KTM” (Malaysian Railways) timetable for any changes on this schedule.
From Wakaf Bharu station: Two shuttle trains No 81 and 85 depart from Wakaf Bharu Station at 04:00 and 14:17 respectively take you on board down south to their terminus at Kuala Lipis while another Shuttle train No 83 departs at 08.04 only terminate at Gua Musang. The Express train No 15 (Sinaran Timur) however, will take you further south to Johor Bahru and Singapore via Gua Musang, Kuala Lipis, Jerantut and Gemas. This train departs from Wakaf Bharu Station at 07.16 and reaches Woodlands CIQ Station in Singapore at 21:20. If you want to go to Taman Negara, you may board this train and get off at Jerantut.
To Wakaf Bharu station: The same train services with different train number may also get you into Kota Bharu through Wakaf Bharu station. Shuttle train No 82 and 86 that departs from Kuala Lipis, arrives at Wakaf Bharu station at 12.33 and 20:43 respectively. Another Shuttle train No 84 that departs from Gua Musang, arrives at Wakaf Bharu Station at 17:14. The Express train No 14 (Sinaran Timur) departs from Woodlands CIQ station in Singapore at 05.30, also arrives at Wakaf Bharu station at 18:52.
From Wakaf Bharu station: One Express train No 29 (Senandung Wau) will take you to the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. This train departs from Wakaf Bharu Station at 19:02 and reaches Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station at 07:55 the next day. Another Express train No 27 (Senandung Timuran) will take you down south to Johor Bahru and Singapore. This train departs from Wakaf Bharu Station at 20:47 and reaches Woodlands CIQ Station at 10:15 the next day.
To Wakaf Bharu station: The same train services with different train number may also get you into Kota Bharu through Wakaf Bharu station. The Express train No 28 (Senandung Wau) that departs from Kuala Lumpur Sentral station at 20:30, arrives at Wakaf Bharu station at 09.21 the next day. Another Express train No 26 (Senandung Timuran) that departs from Woodlands CIQ station in Singapore at 19:00, arrives at Wakaf Bharu station at 08.44 on the next day.
- Malayan Tiger: This service of “KTM” (Malaysian Railways) uses special coaches donated by the Japanese Government. In July 2012, this train operated thrice weekly between Kota Bharu and Johor Bahru. This train departs from Wakaf Bharu Station at 17:18 every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday and reaches Johor Bahru Sentral station at 07:20 the next day. On the opposite direction, this train departs from Johor Bahru Sentral station at 22:39 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and arrives at Wakaf Bharu station at 13:11 the next day.
- To Thailand: There are no train services directly into Thailand. You will have to catch bus No 29 from Kota Bharu Central Bus Terminal to Rantau Panjang and cross the border into Sungai Kolok and proceed from there. The morning train up to Bangkok departs Sungai Golok at 11:20.
The state-run SKMK and Transnasional is the largest bus company, and operate all the city and regional buses, and most of the long-distance buses. It operates from the central bus station (city and regional buses) and the Langgar bus station (long-distance buses). All the other long-distance bus companies operate from Jalan Hamzah external bus station. On arrival in Kota Bharu some of the buses will drop you at the central bus station, but they don’t depart from there. Transnasional is the easiest to deal with, as it has ticket offices at all the bus stations. Long-distance departures are from Langgar bus station but, just to make thing confusing, a few evening buses also go from central bus station. Ask which station your bus departs from when you buy your ticket, and book as far ahead as possible, especially for the Butterworth and Penang buses.
There are several buses to Butterworth (RM30, five or six hours) and buses to Penang (RM34.70, six hours and 15 minutes) with one long stop (60-75 minutes) at Gerik. Buses to Penang leave in the morning at 09:00 and in the evening. There are also regular buses to Kuala Terengganu (RM16, three hours) and Kuantan (RM33, six hours). Apart from that, there are also buses to Kuala Lumpur (RM40, nine hours), Johor Bahru (RM65, 12 hours), Singapore (13-14 hours), Malacca (RM55, 10-11 hours), Seremban (RM48, 10 hours) and Ipoh (RM35, seven hours). Other destinations are Alor Setar, Jerantut, Jitra, Gerik, Temerloh, Dungun, Kemaman, Kangar and Kerteh. The other bus companies cover many of the same routes and are worth trying.
From the Thai border town of Sungai Kolok, there is a red city liner bus 29 (departs from the central bus station) for RM5, which operates the 36 km stretch. Just wait along the Malaysian side of the border along the covered walkway and flag it.
Kota Bharu itself offers many museums near Independence Square (Padang Merdeka). Several of the museums and the nearby Istana Balai Besar (the downtown Royal Palace) were built in a unique kind of elegant architecture that is well worth seeing. Arguably the most amazing building is the central market (Pasar Besar). It is an octagonal building in the centre of town and houses a very colourful and active market every day. Nearby is a plain square which turns into the local food market in the evenings (Pasar Malam = Night Market).
Some visitors (particularly those interested in the history and cultural heritage of Kelantan) may also find the Muzium Negeri Kelantan (Kelantan State Museum) on Jalan Hospital 15000 of interest.
The following museums in Kota Bharu are all open from 08:30-16:45 every day except Fridays, when they are closed:
- Muzium Kraftangan (Handicrafts Museum, with attached gift shop selling handicrafts)
- Muzium Negeri (State Museum, see above)
- Memorial Peperangan Dunia Ke II (Bank Kerapu Second World War Memorial), Jalan Hospital, ✉ email@example.com. This is not just a memorial but a small museum, housed in a former bank building that was used by the Japanese as a secret police station when they occupied Malaya. It’s worth a quick visit for history buffs. (updated Apr 2015)
- Muzium Diraja (Royal Museum, which contains photos of the current and previous Sultans and such-like)
- Muzium Islam (Museum of Islam)
- Muzium Adat Istiadat Diraja Kelantan (Museum of Royal Kelantanese Traditions, which contains interesting artifacts and exhibits for those interested in cultural history)
Great temples to visit in the nearby towns to Kota Bharu Town: near Tumpat there is Wat Pothivihan (huge reclining Buddha), Wat Mai Suwan Khiri (dragon Boat & standing Buddha), Wat Chonprachumthat at Kg. Dalam, Wat Machimarran Varran (sitting Buddha), and Wat Serova Buddhist Temples (Goddess of Mercy – Kuan Yin). At Bachok, there is a 30 m high standing Buddha at Wat Phothikyan and a Kuan Yin temple facing the South China Sea nearby.
- Cultural Show at Culture Centre 3 times a week on Saturday 15:00-16:45 & 20:00-23:30, Monday 15:00-16:45, Wednesday 15:00-16:45 & 20:00-00:00.
- River cruise along Sungai Galas down to Dabong (2 hours).
- Explore the caves at Gua Ikan,Dabong.
- Stong Waterfall, reputed to be the highest in Southeast Asia at about 990 metres.
- Mount Stong State Park. One of the main attractions at the state park is Gunung Stong, Mt.Stong (1,422 metres), a dome-shaped granite complex more than 500 million years old.
- Nenggiri Rafting Adventure – The selected leg of the journey covers approximately about 50 km, departing from Kuala Betis / Gua Cha and ends up at Kampung Star.
- Go to the day and night markets. Have Nasi Kerabu for lunch at the day market and Ayam Percik at the night market.
- Walk around the downtown area.
- Bicycle around Pengkalan Chepa area (airport), see old WW2 British pillboxes near beach at Pantai Sabak. For history buffs only but no beach anymore due to erosion.
- Go to the beach, either PCB Beach or Irama Beach (Beach of Melody). PCB Beach has batik shops, one of which is Citra Batik about 500 m from the beach. Also eat fried seafood at PCB Beach or Irama Beach with coconut water.
- Beautiful beaches at Bachok – Pantai Perkasa, Pantai Sungai Dua, Pantai Kandis.
Wau bulan for sale
- Hand-printed batik clothes. Kota Bharu Trade Centre (KBTC), which offers a variety of choices, is located just beside Pasar Siti Khadijah. Other places to buy hand-printed batik include Citra Batik at PCB Beach or at the KB Mall in town which has higher prices but is more convenient.
- Silverware – at the touristy museum in Kota Bharu town.
- Crystals and gemstones – you can find them at the local wet market or morning market or specialist shops. Emerald (locals call them zamrud), ruby, sapphire, topaz, tiger’s eye, etc. can be found. But beware as there are many fakes sold.
- Kites – Miniature wau bulan are a local handicraft, but they are expensive and don’t fly, so don’t get them except for souvenirs. It is better to buy the plastic types for children because those kites can fly.
Malls & supermarkets
- Tesco Hypermarket, Lot 1828 seksyen 17. 08:30-23:00. UK owned supermarket. lower prices.
- Giant Hypermarket, Trade Centre Jalan Padang Garong. 09:30-22:00. (updated Mar 2017)
- Pacific Hypermarket, KB Mall Jalan Hamzan. 08:00-22:00. (updated Mar 2017)
- Mydin Department Store, Lot 69 Jalan Pintu Pong. 09:30-20:00. lower price. (updated Mar 2017)
- The Store, 127 JL Parit Dalam Bandar. 09:00-21:00. Supermarket & department store. (updated Mar 2017)
Kota Bharu is full of delicious Kelantanese food, a unique cuisine influenced by Thai and Indian styles, among others. Lots of goodies are to be found in the pasars and in coffee shops throughout the city. Chinese food is also available at various restaurants and food courts.
Among the local specialities are:
- Ayam Percik, chicken which is roasted over a wood fire and combined with coconut/peanut sauce and delicious local herbs and greens. Yati Ayam Percik (847, Jalan Long Yunus) has got to be the best around (take a bicycle from your guesthouse to arrive there, it’s about 2 km from the centre);
- Nasi Ulam (locally called Nasi Kerabu), rice with fragrant, fresh-picked leaves and shoots, traditionally dipped into budu (fish sauce), sambal belacan (shrimp paste with hot pepper, et al.) or/and tempoyak (fermented durian sauce); You can find it in the morning at the Central Market first floor foodcourt.
- Nasi Dagang Kelantan. The slightly glutinous-textured rice is cooked in coconut, and similar to Nasi Dagang Terengganu, except the Kelantanese rice grains have a tint of maroon. Served with either a fish or chicken gravy, it is a local favourite breakfast food.
- Murtabak, savory or sweet crêpes. Murtabak Raja (Royal Murtabak) is the famous one on Jalan Bayam. They sell takeaway Murtabak and sweets, the staff is really nice and friendly.
- If you visit around Hari Raya time, don’t miss the chance to try Tapai, which is sweet fermented cassava or rice, wrapped in tapioca leaves. If you like tea, wash everything down with Teh O (tea with sugar) or Teh Susu (tea with sweetened condensed milk).
- Keropok Lekor Losong (the local version is Keropok Gote), originally from Losong village and considered by Kelantanese to be the benchmark of all fish paste sausages. Comes fried or boiled. Kelantan Keropok Gote is not like Terengganu Kerepok Lekor Losong; it is thicker at about 4 cm.
- Durian puffs (locally called Lepok Durian or Gelembung Buaya, they are in 3 colours: red, yellow and green), at Kubang Pasu wet market in the mornings – for durian lovers with strong stomachs only. These delicious pastries are sold at the wet market surrounded by fish. Buy from the lady at the corner, not in the middle of wet market.
- Morning Satay, same lady, but not so delicious. Just for the experience. It also can be found in various restaurants in town. There are a few famous satay sellers like Satay Baung, Satay Suria, etc.
For Chinese food, go to:
- Jalan Kebun Sultan – restaurants opposite Public Bank, and food court
- Jalan Post Office Lama – restaurants.
For Thai food, try restaurants in Taman Cemerlang and in nearby Wakaf Bharu town.
- Coconut water from the fruit, then scrape and eat the flesh
- Beer – Chinese restaurants serve beer to non-Muslims.
There are a few watering holes in KB – one has a disco feel about it (called Restoran), a few have a few “Thai drinks promoters”.
- Soon Lee Agency. Selling wines, spirits and beers. Address: 5565-D Jalan Pengkalan Chepa (in city center, on the way to Thai Consulate). Operating: 10:30-18:30.
Where to stay in Kota Bharu
- Hotel Harmoni. Jalan Temenggong, beside Kota Bharu City Clock Tower. From RM65.
- Hotel Politan. Jalan Doktor, located at Kota Bharu City Centre. Near long distance bus station and taxi stand. Free WiFi & Astro TV inside rooms. Price from RM60.
- Ideal Travellers House, +60 9 744 2246, 3954F&G Jalan Kebun Sultan, access also from Jalan Pintu Pong, clean, friendly, garden tables, quiet despite being in town, tour info, public transport info in each room, wifi, internet PCs, Rooms from RM15-40, dorm RM10
- Pad.d. Guest House, 4340-Q2, Jalan Sri Cemerlang, nice and clean rooms with air-con. Friendly, English-speaking staff. Wi-Fi available. An Internet Cafe across the street. Free DVDs. Single & Double RM25, dorm RM 15
- Zeck’s Traveller’s Inn, Jalan Sri Cemerlang, phone 019-9466655. quiet, clean, tiled floors, parking, outdoor seating, reasonably close to town,10 minutes walk to Thai Consulate, tour info. dorm beds & Single & double RM12-15-25-45-70.
- Kota Timur, Jalan Dusun Raja, clean aircon doubles with own bathroom, furniture, clothes drying rack and TV, good value at RM30, balanced with looking drab and being a little further to walk into town
- Lee Guesthouse, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 263 Jalan KK1/9 (off Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra, old name Jalan Pasir Puteh),Bandar Baru Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu +60 9-747-9663, Clean, friendly and comfortable guesthouse. 5 minutes walking distance to the Hospital University. Free internet facilities and satellite television in the living room, cooking facilities available. The hotel provides airport to the Wakaf Bharu Train Staton and Central Bus Station pickup services to the guesthouse. From RM75 to RM180. Can also arrange trip or boat ticket & transfer to Perhentian Island, Cameron Highlands and Taman Negara.
- Minora Lodge is a 20 min walk from the night market. Clean, variety of rooms from dorm to doubles with air-con, RM20-60.
- Royal Guest House, Jalan Hilir Kota +60 9-7430008. Formerly Safar Inn. Rates from RM110.
- Hussin Palace Budget Inn and Guest House, ✉ email@example.com. Jln Bayam. Good place for large families. RM180 for 3 or 4 bedrooms house, no limit of occupancy. Additional bed and pillow provided with no additional charge
- Min Homestay & House-camp, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Jalan Kubang Kerian. Safe, peaceful and clean village environment for small group, up to family gathering. No limit of occupancy, free extra bed. RM70 for triple-room, RM120 for connected 2- triple room & RM170 for a big house.
- My Place Guest House, 2984-F, 1st Floor (above Muzdalifa Fried Chicken), Blok C, Jalan Parit Dalam, ✉ email@example.com. 14 clean, comfortable and affordable rooms, four of which has an en suite shower. All rooms have shared bathrooms. Fan rooms, free breakfast and friendly staff. RM10-45/night.
- Cerana Guesthouse, First Floor, 3952L, Jalan Padang Garong (Next to Denai Lodge, 1 minute from Muzdalifa Fried Chicken), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Small, quiet guesthouse in the centre of Kota Bharu. Cheap rooms and friendly staff. Some rooms have a small ensuite bathroom and air-con. The staff can arrange transfer to the Perhentian islands by minivan + boat. Some dodgy wiring and maintenance work, but a nice place overall. Has a fan dorm. RM12-30-40.
- De 999 Guest house., 3188-G taman seri bayan. fan rooms without side bathrooms. RM15.
- ParkView Hospitality, 3952-L T/1, Jalan Padang Garong. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Simple but clean guest house with narrow room, small living room and terrace, free Wi-Fi, filter water, central quite location, single room for RM30; double RM40, double AC RM50, dormitory with 2 bench RM30 all with outside shared bathroom. RM30-50. (updated Nov 2016)
- Denai Lodge, 3952-1 1st Floor Jalan Padang Garong.. Air conditioned 4-bed dorm, single and double rooms. Common room with cable TV. RM20/28/40. (updated Mar 2017)
- Timur Guest House, 375 TKT jln Tengku Maharani. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Fan 4-bed mixed dorm. Single/double rooms. Free wifi. RM24/30/42. (updated Mar 2017)
- KB Backpackers Lodge, 1872-D Jln Padang Garong. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Dorm beds and single/double rooms. RM15/35. (updated Mar 2017)
- Azam Hotel, ✉ email@example.com. Beside Azam Photo, Jalan Padang Garong, Rack rates from RM70 – RM100.
- Crystal Lodge, 124 Jalan Che Su, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. From RM100 with standard twin room RM129.
- Dynasty Inn, 2865-D&E, Jalan Sultanah Zainab, ✉ email@example.com. From RM100.
- Grand Riverview Hotel, Section 9, Jalan Post Office Lama, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. From RM150.
- Pasir Belanda, Kampung Banggol, Jalan PCB, ✉ email@example.com. From RM149.
- Suria Homestay Kubang Kerian. Near Universiti Sains Malaysia. Huge bungalows for RM250 per night.
- Hotel Perdana, Jahlan Mahmood, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. From RM220.
- Emaslink Pacific Hotel, Jalan Pengkalan Chepa.
- Renaissance Kota Bahru Hotel, Kota Sri Mutiara, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra. From RM380.
- Pelangi Riverview Kondominium, B-21-09, Pelangi Mall, Jalan Post Office Lama, ✉ email@example.com. 4 rooms condominium. From RM200.
Be respectful of the cultural and religious sensibilities of Kota Bharu’s primarily Muslim inhabitants. There is no need for non-Muslim women to wear a tudung (scarf over the hair), but both men and women should consider wearing clothing which covers their torso completely.
Perhentian Islands (via Kuala Besut)
From the airport, train station (in Wakaf Bharu), and city you can take a taxi (45-60 min; RM60-80) to Kuala Besut for regular boat connections to the Perhentian Islands. There is also a direct bus service to Kuala Besut Jetty – take bus 639 from the central station (6RM), the trip takes 1:30-2:00 hours and services by Cityliner Kelantan Bhd. leaves at 06:15, 07:30, 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:39, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:30, 18:30. The bus has no AC and is quite dirty and with doors open to get some fresh air gets very dusty. The same company also offers slightly discounted fast boat tickets at their Kota Bharu bus station ticket counter.
- Sungai Kolok
- Tak Bai (via Ban Taba)
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