View Map

Overview

Priding itself as a place in which to experience Malay culture and crafts, Kota Bharu is the capital of Kelantan. Located in the state’s northeast corner, not far from the Thai border, the compact city is a good base for exploring other parts of Kelantan as well as arranging trips on the so-called Jungle Railway through the interior to Jerantut (gateway to Taman Negara National Park) and to the Perhentian Islands. Kota Bharu’s "padang" (central square) is surrounded by a couple of royal palaces and museums including the ones dedicated to WWII and Islam. Check with the tourist office about the free cultural shows and displays of arts and ...

Priding itself as a place in which to experience Malay culture and crafts, Kota Bharu is the capital of Kelantan. Located in the state’s northeast corner, not far from the Thai border, the compact city is a good base for exploring other parts of Kelantan as well as arranging trips on the so-called Jungle Railway through the interior to Jerantut (gateway to Taman Negara National Park) and to the Perhentian Islands. Kota Bharu’s "padang" (central square) is surrounded by a couple of royal palaces and museums including the ones dedicated to WWII and Islam. Check with the tourist office about the free cultural shows and displays of arts and crafts that are held regularly at the cultural center Gelanggang Seni. The office can also inform you about local cooking and batik printing courses. If you want to shop for Malay crafts such as batik, "kain songket" (a damask style of fabric) and silverware, the road leading out to the best local beach, Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB), is the place to head. There’s a packed calendar of annual events including a spectacular kite festival in June and a bird singing contest in August. All through the year, though, you can share in one of Kota Bharu’s best attractions – its delicious local food best sampled at the lively night market off Jalan Pintu Pong.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

view full overview

Simon Richmond for Triporati

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Kota Bharu is situated in the northeastern part of Peninsular Malaysia, and lies near the mouth of the Kelantan River, near the Thai border.
  • Language: Bahasa Malaysia (official), English and Chinese
  • Currency: Malaysian Ringgit
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    March to October