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What To See And Do In Malaysia’s Historic Kota Bharu


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Marie Whitener



Welcome to Kota Bharu, the vibrant cultural and historical hub of Malaysia. Located in the state of Kelantan, Kota Bharu offers visitors a unique blend of traditional Malay charm and rich heritage. With its historical sites, natural wonders, delicious cuisine, and bustling markets, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this captivating city.


As one of the oldest settlements in Malaysia, Kota Bharu is steeped in history and has preserved its cultural heritage with great pride. From ancient palaces to grand mosques, the city is a treasure trove of architectural marvels. But Kota Bharu is not just about its landmarks; it is also a gateway to the stunning natural beauty that surrounds it. With pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and scenic river cruises, nature enthusiasts will find themselves in paradise.


One of the must-visit cultural sites in Kota Bharu is Istana Jahar, a magnificent wooden palace that serves as the Kota Bharu Royal Museum. This architectural masterpiece offers a glimpse into the royal history and customs of the Kelantanese people. Another iconic landmark is the Masjid Muhammadi, an impressive mosque with stunning minarets and intricate designs that reflect the exquisite craftsmanship of the region.


For history buffs, a visit to the Royal Museum, also known as Istana Batu, is a must. This former royal palace showcases a vast collection of artifacts and personal belongings of the Kelantanese royalty. The museum provides fascinating insights into the traditional customs and lifestyles of the royal family.


To experience the traditional arts and crafts of Kelantan, head to the Handicraft Village and Craft Museum. Here, you can witness skilled artisans weaving songket fabric, crafting intricate wood carvings and traditional Malay silverware. You can even try your hand at batik painting or weaving using traditional techniques.


Cultural and Historical Sites

Kota Bharu is a city rich in cultural and historical sites that provide a glimpse into the region’s illustrious past. Immerse yourself in the local heritage and explore these fascinating landmarks.


Istana Jahar


One of the most renowned landmarks in Kota Bharu is Istana Jahar, a magnificent wooden palace that dates back to the 1800s. Converted into the Kota Bharu Royal Museum, this architectural gem allows visitors to step back in time and witness the grandeur of the Kelantanese royalty. Inside, you’ll find exhibits showcasing royal regalia, traditional costumes, and an impressive collection of artifacts.


Masjid Muhammadi


Make a visit to Masjid Muhammadi, also known as the Grand Mosque of Kota Bharu. This majestic mosque is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, with its towering minarets, intricate domes, and elaborate geometric patterns. Take a moment to appreciate the serenity of the mosque’s interior, adorned with beautiful calligraphy and stunning stained glass windows.


Royal Museum (Istana Batu)


The Royal Museum, or Istana Batu, is another notable historical site that offers a glimpse into the lives of the Kelantanese royalty. Once a royal palace, it has been transformed into a museum displaying a vast collection of artifacts, royal regalia, and personal belongings of the royal family. Learn about the customs, traditions, and lifestyles of the Kelantanese monarchy as you explore the museum’s exhibits.


Handicraft Village and Craft Museum


For those interested in the traditional arts and crafts of Kelantan, a visit to the Handicraft Village and Craft Museum is a must. Set amidst lush gardens, this cultural complex showcases the craftsmanship of local artisans. Watch as skilled weavers create intricate songket fabric, observe the art of wood carving, or try your hand at batik painting. You can also browse through the museum’s collection of traditional Malay silverware and learn about the heritage of these crafts.


Istana Jahar

Istana Jahar is a historical treasure nestled in the heart of Kota Bharu. This remarkable wooden palace, built in 1887, stands as a testament to Kelantan’s rich cultural heritage. Once the residence of Kelantanese royalty, Istana Jahar has been converted into a captivating museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the regal past of the state.


As you enter Istana Jahar, you will be greeted by its striking architecture and intricate carvings, showcasing the unique craftsmanship of the region. The palace is made entirely of traditional Malay timber, showcasing the skilled construction techniques used by the craftsmen of that era. From the moment you step inside, you will feel transported to a bygone era of royalty and elegance.


Inside the museum, you will find a diverse collection of artifacts that provide insights into Kelantan’s royal history and culture. The exhibits include royal regalia, traditional costumes, intricately designed weaponry, and a range of invaluable heirlooms. Each item tells a story and offers a glimpse into the lifestyles and customs of the Kelantanese royals.


One of the highlights of Istana Jahar is its beautifully recreated royal chambers. These chambers offer a glimpse into the opulence and grandeur that once graced the palace. Marvel at the intricate carvings adorning the walls and ceilings, and imagine what life was like for the royal inhabitants of this majestic palace.


As you explore the museum, you will also come across displays of traditional Malay arts and crafts. Admire the intricate songket fabrics, which are meticulously woven with gold and silver threads. Learn about the delicate art of batik making, where intricate patterns are drawn or stamped on fabric using wax before being dyed.


Istana Jahar serves as a cultural hub, hosting various events and exhibitions throughout the year. From traditional dances and musical performances to art displays and craft workshops, there is always something happening at this lively venue.


A visit to Istana Jahar is not only a journey through time but also an opportunity to appreciate the rich culture and heritage of Malaysia. Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply curious about the royal traditions of Kelantan, Istana Jahar is a must-visit destination that will leave a lasting impression.


Masjid Muhammadi

Masjid Muhammadi, also known as the Grand Mosque of Kota Bharu, stands tall as a magnificent symbol of Islamic architecture in Kelantan. This stunning mosque, located in the heart of the city, is not only a place of worship but also a cultural landmark that showcases the region’s deep-rooted religious heritage.


As you approach Masjid Muhammadi, its grandeur and elegance will captivate you. The mosque’s intricate design features towering minarets, graceful domes, and intricately carved facades. The harmony of architectural elements and the meticulous attention to detail reflect the rich Islamic heritage of the region.


Step inside Masjid Muhammadi, and you’ll be greeted by a serene and welcoming atmosphere. The spacious prayer hall can accommodate a large congregation and is adorned with stunning calligraphy, beautiful chandeliers, and stained glass windows that cast a mesmerizing spectrum of colors when sunlight shines through.


Take a moment to admire the intricate geometric patterns that adorn the walls and ceilings, a testament to the skilled craftsmanship that went into creating this architectural masterpiece. The use of vibrant colors and exquisite tilework adds to the visual splendor of the mosque.


One of the unique features of Masjid Muhammadi is its large courtyard, surrounded by arcades and lush gardens. This tranquil space provides visitors with a peaceful retreat and a chance to reflect amidst the serene ambiance of the mosque.


While Masjid Muhammadi is primarily a place of worship, it also serves as a venue for religious and cultural events. The mosque regularly hosts Quranic recitation competitions, religious lectures, and spiritual gatherings, attracting both locals and visitors alike.


Visiting Masjid Muhammadi is not only a religious experience but also an opportunity to appreciate the architectural beauty and cultural significance of this magnificent structure. Whether you are seeking spiritual solace or simply want to immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Kelantan, Masjid Muhammadi is a must-visit destination that will leave a lasting impression.


It is important to note that visitors should dress modestly and respectfully when entering the mosque, covering their shoulders and wearing appropriate attire. Additionally, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering the prayer hall as a sign of respect.


Royal Museum (Istana Batu)

The Royal Museum, locally known as Istana Batu, is a fascinating historical site located in Kota Bharu. Formerly the official residence of the Kelantanese royal family, this majestic palace has been transformed into a captivating museum, offering visitors a glimpse into the regal past of the state.


As you approach Istana Batu, you can’t help but be awed by its impressive architecture. The palace’s exterior is made of granite, giving it a distinctive appearance that stands out from the surrounding buildings. Its strategic location, near the banks of the Kelantan River, adds to the grandeur and aura of the palace.


Step inside the Royal Museum, and you’ll find yourself transported to a bygone era. Each room in the museum is meticulously curated, immersing visitors in the opulence and extravagance of the royal lifestyle. The museum showcases a vast collection of artifacts, personal belongings, and regalia that belonged to the Kelantanese royalty.


Exploring the museum, you’ll come across various exhibits that highlight the cultural and historical significance of the royal family. Admire the intricate jewelry, ornate ceremonial costumes, and weapons adorned with precious stones. The museum also houses an impressive collection of gifts from visiting dignitaries and heads of state, providing further insight into the diplomatic relations of the Kelantanese monarchy.


One of the highlights of the Royal Museum is the recreated living quarters that offer a glimpse into the daily lives of the royal family. Step into the elegant bedrooms, stately dining halls, and beautifully decorated reception rooms, and imagine what it was like to be a part of the royal household.


As you wander through the museum, you’ll also discover exhibits that shed light on the traditional customs and ceremonies of Kelantanese royalty. Learn about the significance of the royal heritage, the coronation rituals, and the importance of traditional attire and regalia.


Visiting the Royal Museum is not just an opportunity to admire the grandeur of a bygone era; it also allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the history and cultural heritage of Kelantan. The museum offers a unique perspective on the lives of the royal family and their contributions to the state.


Whether you are a history enthusiast, an admirer of architecture, or simply intrigued by the royal lifestyle, a visit to the Royal Museum in Kota Bharu is sure to be a captivating experience.


Handicraft Village and Craft Museum

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Kelantan by visiting the Handicraft Village and Craft Museum in Kota Bharu. This enchanting complex is an ode to traditional arts and crafts, providing visitors with an immersive experience into the craftsmanship and cultural traditions of the region.


The Handicraft Village and Craft Museum is a sprawling complex that showcases the talents of local artisans. As you wander through the village, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations. It’s a haven for those seeking unique handmade products and a deeper understanding of the arts and crafts of Malaysia.


One of the highlights of the Handicraft Village is the weaving of songket fabric, a delicate and intricate art form. Skilled weavers work their magic, meticulously intertwining gold and silver threads to create stunning patterns and motifs. You can witness the weaving process up close and learn about the significance and history of songket in Malay culture.


Another craft that takes center stage in the village is wood carving. Step into the workshops and observe skilled craftsmen transform blocks of wood into exquisite sculptures and intricate carvings. From traditional motifs to contemporary designs, these craftsmen exhibit their mastery of this ancient art form.


The Handicraft Village also offers visitors the opportunity to try their hand at various crafts. You can participate in hands-on workshops where you can learn the art of batik painting or try weaving using traditional techniques. Under the guidance of skilled artisans, you can create your own masterpiece to take home as a cherished memento.


The Craft Museum, nestled within the village, is a treasure trove of traditional Malay crafts. Here, you’ll find a vast collection of intricately designed jewelry, silverware, pottery, and textiles. The museum provides valuable insights into the historical significance of these crafts and their role in Malay culture.


Make sure to explore the museum’s exhibits, which showcase the exquisite craftsmanship and artistry of the region. Admire the detailed silverware, intricately designed keris (Malay daggers), and beautifully crafted traditional costumes. The museum also offers informative displays on the symbolism and significance behind these crafts.


Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply interested in gaining a deeper appreciation for traditional Malaysian crafts, a visit to the Handicraft Village and Craft Museum is a must. Immerse yourself in the vibrant creative community and witness firsthand the dedication, skill, and passion that go into preserving Malaysia’s rich artistic heritage.


Central Market (Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah)

No visit to Kota Bharu would be complete without exploring the vibrant and bustling Central Market, locally known as Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah. This iconic market is not only a hub for locals to purchase fresh produce and daily essentials but also a cultural hotspot that offers visitors a unique shopping and culinary experience.


Central Market is a vibrant maze of stalls and shops that sprawls over multiple levels. From the moment you step foot inside, you’ll be greeted by a cacophony of sights, sounds, and smells. The market comes alive each day with traders showcasing a mesmerizing array of goods, from fresh fruits and vegetables to exotic spices, textiles, handicrafts, and traditional snacks.


The market is named after a legendary female Muslim trader, Siti Khadijah, who was known for her entrepreneurial spirit. It is a fitting tribute to her legacy as you navigate through the market’s diverse offerings, reflecting the rich cultural diversity of Kelantan.


Exploring Central Market is a feast for the senses. Marvel at the colorful displays of vibrant produce, breathe in the aroma of freshly ground spices, and listen to the animated conversations of buyers and sellers. It’s a lively and energetic atmosphere that truly immerses you in the local culture.


Make sure to sample some of the local delicacies that can be found in the market. Nasi Kerabu, a traditional Malay dish of blue-tinted rice served with an assortment of herbs, vegetables, and meat, is a must-try. Indulge in flavorful local snacks like keropok lekor (fish crackers) and sweet treats such as dodol (sticky rice cakes) and kuih (Malay desserts).


Central Market is not just a place to shop for fresh produce and delectable treats. It also showcases the talents of local artisans and handicraft makers. Browse through the stalls to discover beautifully woven songket fabrics, intricately designed batik pieces, handcrafted silver jewelry, and unique traditional Malay crafts.


Central Market is more than just a shopping destination; it’s an immersive cultural experience. Take the time to interact with the friendly traders, who will often share stories and insights into their products. Bargaining is a common practice, so don’t be afraid to negotiate for a good price.


Visiting Central Market provides a glimpse into the daily life and vibrant culture of the Kelantanese people. Whether you’re in search of fresh ingredients, unique souvenirs, or simply want to soak up the lively atmosphere, wandering through Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah is an enchanting experience that should not be missed.


Natural Attractions

Beyond its rich cultural and historical sites, Kota Bharu is also blessed with breathtaking natural attractions. From picturesque beaches to lush rainforests, nature enthusiasts will find plenty to explore and appreciate in this serene corner of Malaysia.


Pantai Cahaya Bulan (Moonlight Beach)


Pantai Cahaya Bulan, also known as Moonlight Beach, is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. This stunning beach stretches for kilometers, with its soft golden sands gently caressed by the calm waters of the South China Sea. Whether you’re looking to relax on the shore, take a leisurely stroll, or engage in water sports, Pantai Cahaya Bulan offers a serene and idyllic setting.


Gunung Stong State Park


Escape into the wilderness of Gunung Stong State Park and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. This protected area is home to Mount Stong, which stands majestically at 1,433 meters above sea level. Embark on a challenging trek to the summit and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest and cascading waterfalls. The park is also home to an array of flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers.


Kelantan River Cruise


Embark on a leisurely cruise along the Kelantan River and discover the tranquil beauty that surrounds Kota Bharu. As you glide along the river, you’ll witness lush greenery, traditional stilt houses, and local fishermen going about their daily activities. The cruise offers a unique perspective of the region, allowing you to unwind and reconnect with nature.


Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a deeper connection with nature, Kota Bharu has something to offer. From pristine beaches that invite you to soak up the sun to verdant rainforests begging to be explored, the natural attractions in and around Kota Bharu are sure to leave a lasting impression.


It’s important to note that when visiting these natural attractions, it’s essential to respect the environment and follow any guidelines or regulations in place to preserve their beauty for future generations.


Pantai Cahaya Bulan (Moonlight Beach)

Pantai Cahaya Bulan, also known as Moonlight Beach, is a captivating natural gem located in Kota Bharu. This pristine beach is a paradise for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts, offering a serene and enchanting escape from the bustling city.


Stretching across several kilometers of golden sands, Pantai Cahaya Bulan is a breathtaking sight. The name “Moonlight Beach” is derived from the magical ambiance that surrounds the area at night when the moon casts a shimmering reflection on the tranquil waters of the South China Sea.


During the day, visitors can bask in the sun and enjoy the warm embrace of the gentle sea breeze. The soft sands invite you to relax, whether you’re lounging under a shaded umbrella, building sandcastles, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the beach.


Pantai Cahaya Bulan is not only a place for relaxation but also an ideal spot for water sports enthusiasts. The calm waters provide excellent conditions for activities such as swimming, kayaking, and jet skiing. Adventure seekers can also try their hand at windsurfing or embark on an exciting banana boat ride.


For those seeking a tranquil retreat, the beach offers secluded spots where you can find serenity amidst nature’s beauty. Find a quiet spot to sit and unwind, listen to the sound of the waves lapping against the shore, and watch colorful fishing boats bobbing gently on the horizon.


When hunger strikes, there are numerous food stalls and cafes lining the beach, offering a variety of local delicacies and refreshing beverages. Savor traditional Malay dishes, such as grilled seafood, satay, and spicy coconut-based curries, as you indulge in the flavors of the region.


In the evening, Pantai Cahaya Bulan takes on a different charm. As the sun sets, the beach becomes a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike. Enjoy a leisurely evening stroll along the shoreline and witness the stunning colors painting the sky as the sun dips below the horizon.


Whether you’re seeking a day of relaxation, adventure, or a romantic sunset experience, Pantai Cahaya Bulan is an idyllic destination that promises a memorable and rejuvenating experience. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility of this picturesque beach, and let it captivate your senses, leaving you with lasting memories of your time in Kota Bharu.


Gunung Stong State Park

Tucked away in the lush landscapes surrounding Kota Bharu, Gunung Stong State Park offers a breathtaking retreat into nature’s embrace. Located in the Jelawang jungle, this pristine park is a haven for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers seeking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Kelantan’s rainforests.


At the heart of Gunung Stong State Park stands Mount Stong, an impressive peak soaring to a height of 1,433 meters above sea level. This majestic mountain creates a stunning backdrop for the park and leaves visitors in awe of its grandeur. Embark on a challenging trek to the summit, and be rewarded with panoramic views that stretch beyond the towering trees, revealing the true splendor of the surrounding rainforest.


As you explore the park, you’ll be captivated by the array of natural wonders. Discover a series of magnificent waterfalls, including the seven-tiered Jelawang Waterfall, which cascades down from the mountaintop. The thundering roar of the falls and the cool mist that envelops the area create a sensory experience like no other.


Gunung Stong State Park is not only a feast for your eyes but also a haven for adventure seekers. The park offers a range of activities for adrenaline junkies, including rock climbing, abseiling, and canopy walks. Experience the thrill of scaling the rock faces, descending down towering cliffs, and navigating the treetop suspension bridges as you soak in the breathtaking scenery.


For nature enthusiasts, the park is a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for various species of birds, butterflies, and monkeys that call the rainforest home. The intricate ecosystem provides a fascinating display of biodiversity that highlights the importance of preserving these natural habitats.


To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Gunung Stong State Park, spend a night camping under the stars. Set up camp amidst the lush greenery, fall asleep to the gentle sounds of nature, and wake up to the symphony of birdsong. It’s an experience that will leave you feeling connected to the natural world around you.


Visiting Gunung Stong State Park is a journey of discovery and a chance to reconnect with nature in its purest form. Whether you’re seeking exhilarating adventures, serene tranquility, or a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the rainforest, this pristine park is a must-visit destination that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.


Kelantan River Cruise

Embark on a serene and enchanting voyage along the Kelantan River and discover the hidden beauty that surrounds Kota Bharu. A Kelantan River Cruise offers a unique perspective of the region, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature while cruising along the meandering river.


As you board the boat, the gentle current of the river carries you through the lush green landscapes of Kelantan. The calming ambiance and the soothing sounds of nature create a tranquil atmosphere that instantly transports you away from the bustling city.


As you glide along the Kelantan River, take in the picturesque scenery that unfolds before your eyes. The riverbanks are lined with verdant vegetation, punctuated by traditional wooden stilt houses that offer a glimpse into the local way of life. Capture the beautiful reflections that dance on the surface of the river, bringing the scenery to life.


Keep an eye out for the variety of bird species that call the area home. The river is a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts, providing opportunities to spot kingfishers, egrets, herons, and other captivating winged creatures as they swoop and glide above the water.


The river cruise allows you to truly appreciate the beauty of Kota Bharu’s natural surroundings. The simplicity and tranquility of the experience provide a meditative and reflective journey, allowing you to connect with the serenity of nature.


During your cruise, you may have the chance to stop at traditional riverside settlements. These settlements offer an insight into the daily lives of the local communities. Observe traditional fishing techniques, witness locals going about their daily chores, and engage in conversations that provide a deeper understanding of the local culture.


As the cruise comes to an end, take a moment to appreciate the serenity of the river and reflect on the beauty that surrounds you. The Kelantan River Cruise offers a unique opportunity to unwind, escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and reconnect with the tranquility and simplicity of nature.


Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat, a unique cultural experience, or simply a different perspective of Kota Bharu, a Kelantan River Cruise is a must. Let the gentle rhythm of the river carry you away as you immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of this scenic waterway.


Eating and Shopping

Kota Bharu is not only a city rich in culture and natural beauty, but it is also a vibrant hub for food lovers and avid shoppers. Indulge in delectable local cuisine and explore the lively markets and shops that offer a diverse array of goods.

Kota Bharu Night Market


No visit to Kota Bharu is complete without experiencing the vibrant Kota Bharu Night Market. Locally known as “Pasar Malam,” this bustling market comes to life as the sun sets, offering a sensory feast of sights, sounds, and mouthwatering aromas. Meander through the maze of stalls and indulge in a variety of local delicacies, from grilled satay to savory crepes and traditional desserts. Enjoy the lively ambiance as you immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the night market.


Nasi Kerabu and Other Local Delicacies


When it comes to Malaysian cuisine, Kota Bharu is renowned for its flavorful specialties. Be sure to try Nasi Kerabu, a local rice dish flavored with herbs and served with an array of fresh vegetables, fried fish, and a spicy sambal sauce. The combination of vibrant colors and bold flavors make this dish a true feast for the senses. Other must-try dishes include the renowned Kelantanese breakfast staple, Nasi Dagang, and the flavorful Gulai Kawah, a rich and fragrant curry. The local food scene in Kota Bharu showcases the unique flavors and culinary traditions of the region.


Shopping at Wakaf Che Yeh Market


If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, head over to the vibrant Wakaf Che Yeh Market. This sprawling market is a shopaholic’s paradise, offering a wide range of goods, from traditional handicrafts to trendy clothing and accessories. Bargain hunters will delight in the opportunity to negotiate for a good deal, as the market is known for its friendly haggling culture. Explore the colorful stalls and discover unique souvenirs, textiles, and local products that reflect the cultural heritage of Kota Bharu.


When it comes to eating and shopping in Kota Bharu, you’ll never run out of options. The city’s dynamic culinary scene and lively markets provide a delightful glimpse into the local culture and traditions. Immerse yourself in the flavors and colors of Kota Bharu as you sample the delicious cuisine and browse the vibrant markets.


Kota Bharu Night Market

A visit to Kota Bharu is incomplete without experiencing the vibrant Kota Bharu Night Market, locally known as “Pasar Malam.” This lively market comes alive as the sun sets, transforming the city into a bustling hub of activity. With its array of stalls, delectable food, and lively atmosphere, the night market offers a sensory feast for visitors.


As you stroll through the bustling market, you’ll be greeted by the enticing aromas wafting through the air. The fragrant spices, sizzling meats, and aromatic herbs will tempt your taste buds and awaken your senses. From the savory grilled satay to the mouthwatering roti canai and the fragrant Nasi Kerabu, the night market presents a wide array of traditional delicacies that highlight the flavors and culinary traditions of Kota Bharu.


The market is not just a food lover’s paradise—it’s also a place to explore and discover unique treasures. From traditional handicrafts to clothing, accessories, and household items, the night market offers a diverse range of products. Browse through the stalls and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, as locals and visitors haggle for the best prices while hunting for bargains.


As you make your way through the market, take the opportunity to engage with the friendly vendors who are eager to share stories and recommendations. Learn about the cultural significance of the items on display and gain insight into the local way of life. The night market offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of Kota Bharu.


Immerse yourself in the lively ambiance of the night market as you soak up the vibrant atmosphere. Enjoy live performances of traditional music and dance, adding to the festive spirit of the market. Take a moment to savor your favorite street food while sitting at one of the communal tables, joining locals and fellow visitors in the communal dining experience.


Whether you’re seeking a culinary adventure, looking for unique souvenirs, or simply crave an immersive cultural experience, the Kota Bharu Night Market is a must-visit destination. Indulge in the vibrant flavors, embrace the lively atmosphere, and create lasting memories of your time in Kota Bharu.


Nasi Kerabu and Other Local Delicacies

When it comes to experiencing the vibrant culinary scene of Kota Bharu, one dish that stands out is Nasi Kerabu. This traditional Malay rice dish is not only a local favorite but also a must-try delicacy for visitors. Prepared with a fragrant blue-tinted rice, Nasi Kerabu is accompanied by an array of fresh herbs, vegetables, and a variety of flavorful condiments that create an explosion of tastes and textures.


The vibrant blue color of the rice comes from the petals of the butterfly pea flower, locally known as “bunga telang.” This natural dye not only gives Nasi Kerabu its distinct appearance but also adds a subtle floral aroma to the rice. Served with an assortment of fresh vegetables like cucumber, bean sprouts, and long beans, the dish is made complete with a choice of crispy fried chicken, grilled fish, or savory beef rendang.


Alongside Nasi Kerabu, Kota Bharu offers a wide array of other local delicacies that will tantalize your taste buds. Indulge in Nasi Dagang, a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and served with a side of spicy fish curry. Perfect for breakfast, this beloved Kelantanese specialty is often enjoyed with a cup of aromatic local coffee.


Another notable dish is Gulai Kawah, a rich and flavorful curry typically made with beef or goat meat. The curry is slow-cooked with a myriad of spices, resulting in a thick and hearty stew that is best enjoyed with steamed rice or bread. The aromatic blend of spices and the tenderness of the meat create a gastronomic experience that showcases the culinary richness of the region.


Don’t miss the opportunity to sample an array of traditional Malay snacks and desserts as well. Treat your taste buds to the crispy and savory Keropok Lekor, a fish cracker delicacy often enjoyed with spicy chili sauce. Satisfy your sweet tooth with local delights such as Dodol, a sticky and sweet Malay confection made from coconut milk and palm sugar, or Kuih, a colorful assortment of traditional Malay cakes and pastries.


When dining in Kota Bharu, you’ll often find yourself surrounded by a vibrant tapestry of flavors and aromas that reflect the diversity and culinary heritage of the region. The local food scene embraces the rich traditions and influences of Malay, Thai, and Indonesian cuisines, creating a unique fusion of tastes that promises to delight every palate.


Exploring the local delicacies of Kota Bharu allows you to savor the authentic flavors of Kelantan. From the aromatic Nasi Kerabu to the rich and fragrant Gulai Kawah, each dish tells a story and offers a glimpse into the cultural heritage of the region. So, indulge in these local delicacies, embrace the culinary adventure, and let your taste buds guide you on a culinary journey through the vibrant streets of Kota Bharu.


Shopping at Wakaf Che Yeh Market

For a truly unique shopping experience in Kota Bharu, head to the lively and vibrant Wakaf Che Yeh Market. This bustling market is a shopaholic’s paradise, offering a diverse range of goods and a bustling atmosphere that is sure to captivate your senses.


Wakaf Che Yeh Market is renowned for its vibrant and colorful stalls, where vendors proudly display an array of products. From traditional clothes and accessories to handicrafts, souvenirs, and everyday items, the market is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.


As you wander through the market, you’ll find an abundance of traditional clothing items such as batik sarongs, baju kurung (traditional Malay attire), and songket fabrics. These beautifully crafted pieces showcase the artistic heritage and cultural diversity of the region.


In addition to clothing, the market offers an impressive selection of handicrafts. Admire the skill and craftsmanship of local artisans as they create intricate wood carvings, traditional silversmith items, and woven crafts. These unique handicrafts make for wonderful souvenirs, allowing you to bring a piece of Kelantanese culture back home with you.


Wakaf Che Yeh Market is also a paradise for bargain hunters. The friendly and lively atmosphere creates the perfect setting for haggling and negotiating prices. Practice your bargaining skills as you interact with the vendors, and you might just snag a great deal on your purchases.


Exploring the market can work up an appetite, and luckily, Wakaf Che Yeh is not only a shopping destination but also a food lover’s paradise. Alongside the stalls, you’ll find a range of eateries and food vendors offering delectable local dishes. Savor traditional snacks, such as keropok lekor (fish crackers) and spicy grilled seafood, or satisfy your sweet tooth with Malay desserts and fresh tropical fruits.


When shopping at Wakaf Che Yeh Market, it’s not just about the goods you buy; it’s about the experience. The vibrant atmosphere, lively conversations, and the array of colors and scents create a delightful sensory journey. Embrace the cultural diversity and heritage on display and let the market whisk you away on an adventure of shopping, discovery, and cultural appreciation.


Remember to bring along your bargaining skills, an open mind, and a sense of adventure, and get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant shopping experience that Wakaf Che Yeh Market in Kota Bharu has to offer.



Kota Bharu, with its cultural charm, natural beauty, and vibrant markets, is a destination that offers something for every traveler. From exploring historical landmarks to indulging in local delicacies and immersing yourself in the bustling markets, this city in Kelantan has much to offer.


Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Kota Bharu by visiting landmarks such as Istana Jahar and Masjid Muhammadi, where you can learn about the region’s royal history and witness the intricate architecture. Explore the Handicraft Village and Craft Museum to witness traditional arts and crafts being created by local artisans, showcasing the unique talents of the region.


Escape into nature by visiting Pantai Cahaya Bulan, where pristine beaches and calm seas invite you to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy water sports. Discover the wonders of Gunung Stong State Park, with its majestic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, and lush rainforests that offer endless opportunities for adventure.


Eating and shopping in Kota Bharu are experiences not to be missed. Venture into the vibrant Kota Bharu Night Market, where you can indulge in an array of local delicacies and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere. Sample the flavors of Nasi Kerabu and other traditional dishes that showcase the rich culinary traditions of Kota Bharu.


Fulfill your shopping cravings at Wakaf Che Yeh Market, where you can browse through a kaleidoscope of colorful stalls, haggle for the best prices, and discover unique handicrafts, traditional garments, and countless other goods.


In conclusion, Kota Bharu is a city that seamlessly blends history, culture, nature, and gastronomy. It is a place where you can witness the richness of Malay heritage, explore breathtaking natural landscapes, and immerse yourself in vibrant market scenes. Experience the warmth and hospitality of this fascinating city, and create memories that will last a lifetime in Kota Bharu, the cultural gem of Malaysia’s Kelantan state.