Kota Bharu – a city of contrast”; modern and classic, old and new, artistic and contemporary – these are jussome of the things that you can feel and explore in Kota Bharu. This unique town is the capital city of Kelantan, a state located on the north east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. kelantan covers 14,992 square kilometres and is flanked by Thailand in the north and Terengganu on the east. Kelantan is well connected to major towns and cities in Malaysia by road and rail. There are also flights to Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Kota Bharu is a city that visitors can explore over an extended weekend and be mesmerised by its culture, cuisine and architecture.
Located at Jalan Mahmud, the Cultural Centre is veritable showcase of the living heritage of Kelantan. This is where you will get a first hand experience of some popular folk arts and favourite past times of the Kelantanese. Enjoy the cultural performances and traditional games and pastimes handed down through generations.
Wayang Kulit show (shadow puppetry), Silat (Malay martial art of self defense) performances and Gasing (top spinning) demonstration are available here on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. In the evenings, visitors can see cultural performances featuring traditional Malay music and Wayang Kulit.
Explore The museums
Kota Bharu, the state capital is hometo a number of museums, 6 to be exact. State Museum, Islamic Museum, Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs, War Museum, royal Museum and Crafts Museum. Several Of the museums were built in a unique kind of elegant architecture that is well worth seeing. Strategically located, most of the museums are within walking distance to one another. A trip to all the museum will enable you to explore the indigenous history, customs and traditions of Kelantan.
The Museums are open from 08:30am to 4:45pm everyday, except for Fridays.
Taste The Food
Kelantan’s unique cuisine is famous due to its traditional recipe with specialties like Ayam Percik, Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Tumpang, and Nasi Dagang. Kelantan has a tantalizing variety of desserts and snacks in the likes of Jala Mas, Puteri Mandi, Taik Itik, Akok Berkedut, Butir Nangka, Keropok and Cholek. Be adventurous and try all the local fare. Restaurants, food stalls and hawkers selling snacks can be found almost anywhere. Along Jalan Kebun Sultan, you will find Kota Bharu’s Chinatown. Wantan Mee, Curry Mee, Fried Kuey Teow and much more are readily available here.
Among the best places to sample food are Jalan Padang Bus Station, Kampung Kraftangan, Siti Khadijah Market and Jalan Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB).
Shop Till You Drop
Kota Bharu is a shopping haven! Visitors can choose from a wide variety of exquisite craft items. take your pick from intricate hand crafted souvenirs, dazzling jewelleries and silverware to the unique and colourful giant kites. High quality Batik and Songket can be purchased here for a fraction of what you would pay in other states.
Explore the open-air night market in Wakaf Che Yeh, situated along Jalan Kuala Krai for some serious bargaining. This is the place to go if you want to shop for cheap T-Shirts, souvenirs, shoes, handbags, etc. The reasonable price make this outdoor “shopping mall” a popular shopping destination in Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Wau – the giant kites
Kelantan is the home of giant kites kwown as Wau that soar through the air without a care in the world. Kite Flying usually takes place after harvesting season. The Wau comes in all sizes, designs, colours, motives and fascination in kites can only be experienced when one sees the Kelantan kites swaying in teh blue skies. In Kelantan, there are more than 20 styles of Wau but the Wau Bulan, Wau Merak, Wau Kucing, and Wau Jala Budi are the most common.
The International Kite Festival is held yearly at Pantai Seri Tujuh in Tumpat.
Songket and Batik
Songket – “Malaysia’s Cloth of Gold”. Kain Songket is an extremely rich and lustrous ceremonial fabric. hand-woven in silk or cotton, it is intricately patterned in gold or sometimes silver threads. The making of the internationally renowned items remains as one of leading cottage industries in Kelantan. At Kampung Penambang, about 4km from Kota Bharu, there are several famous silk-weaving workshops manged by royal weavers.
Batik – art and craft for centuries in Malaysia and it is famous in the east coast of Malaysia, especially in Kelantan. Kelantan Batik is recognizable by its distinctive pattern and vivid coulours. All Kelantan Batik are hand-made right from sketching, waxing by canting, and colouring using dyes. In Kelantan state capital of Kota Bharu, numerous Batik factories and showrooms can be found along Jalan Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB).
Kelantan is renowned for her silver jewelleries and silverware especially the fine workmanship and intricate design. The silversmiths here produce a wide variety of items ranging from the functional to the purely ornamental such as fruit bowls, tea sets, ash trays, brooches, bracelets and local crafts like Keris, Gong, Rebana and Wau Bulan. You can visit silver-craft factory and showrooms along Jalan Sultanah Zainab in Kota Bharu and the outskirts at Badang, near Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB). Or better, travel about 10km across the Kelantan river to Kampung Marok in Wakaf Bharu, Tumpat and watch the experts working first hand at the workshop normally at their own houses and at the same time experience Kelantan village life. This village has been well known for decades for the locals’ expertise in churning out beautiful silverware.
The Flora Place Hotel, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia.