Welcome to Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia!
Lying on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Terengganu remains as one of the unpopular states there. While seemingly small in size, Terengganu holds several surprises that have its travelers squealing in delight. Home to the delicious keropok lekor (fried fish sausages), beautiful turquoise oceans, exquisite mosques and a long-standing culture bulwarking against modernization, this city’s charms are endless. Any time is the best time to visit Terengganu!
As this city is not well known, approaching it may be frightening at first. But here is a guide loaded with insider tips to help you make the most out of your visit to Kuala Terengganu’s and leave with a lifetime of memories.
The city is easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur via regular daily flights to the local Kuala Terengganu airport, Sultan Mahmud Airport. Four airline companies operate at this airport, giving you adequate options to choose from. Additionally, there are helicopter charter companies that run to and from this airport as well.
Worldwide Local Tip: There haven’t been reports of any unforeseen incidents at this airport, and it is a very safe airport to fly in and out of. However, as this area is within the tropical belt of the world, it experiences a lot of rain, which may cause disruption while traveling. Make sure to check the weather before you visit.
A Unique Way of Getting Around
One of the most peculiar sights you will see in Kuala Terengganu is the famous Cas Ligas Bus. This bus will take you on a heritage tour around the city, but the most fascinating thing about it is that it is modeled as a traditional house in Kuala Terengganu. You have to see this bus to believe it, and this is an excellent way to see the best parts of the city while also enjoying a unique experience.
Terengganu Culture: A Melting Pot
This city has a rich and varied culture, with many influences contributing to its current identity. The base, of course, is the Islamic Malay culture. However, it has also been influenced by China and India, as well as it's colonial past. Catch a glimpse of Terengganu’s very own Chinese ethnic enclave in Chinatown! Terengganu’s Chinatown is located along Jalan Bandar at the river mouth of the Terengganu River. With its colorful shophouses, hipster cafes and alleys, and local coffee shops, Chinatown’s quaint charm is simply irresistible. Make sure to explore the different hipster lanes at Turtle Alley, Heritage Lane, and Love Lane!
Worldwide Local Tip: These lanes provide the perfect backdrop for your social media, however, they get very crowded during the weekend. It is best if you visit very early in the morning to avoid hustling with a huge crowd.
On the Waterfront
Make sure to island-hop on Lake Kenyir, Southeast Asia’s largest man-made lake. Constructed in 1985, Lake Kenyir boasts of an abundance of freshwater fishes, exotic wildlife, and over 340 small islets with some containing breathtaking waterfalls, mysterious caves, and resorts. Tours are usually organized by the resorts near the lake, but you can opt to hop onto one carried out by one of the local fishermen on their boat at a lower (and negotiable) price. Note that if you do not meet the minimal number of people, the tour will not start, or you may end up paying for more.
Visit a Malaysian Market
For a look at the abundant local produce in Terengganu, head to the Central Market, which is filled with exotic food ingredients. There are several floors in the market, and the ground floor is dedicated to fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit. The upper level is made up of local products such as hand-woven textiles known as kain songket as well as batik pieces. This is the main local market and is known as Pasar Payang, and it is an excellent place to score some souvenirs cheaply.
Worldwide Local Tip: To enjoy a slice of traditional local life in Kuala Terengganu, head to Pantai Batu Buruk Night Market, which sets up around dusk next to the main beach in the city every Friday. Here, you will find a wide range of street food carts, selling delicious local snacks such as meat skewers, which are cooked over charcoal. You’ll also see how the locals hang out during the weekend at this spot, which might be the best place in Terengganu for shopping and people watching.
Enjoy Your Visit!
As you visit popular destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, or Penang, make sure to leave some time and explore the hidden gem that is Kuala Terengganu. Explore it like a worldwide local to experience the best nature, food, and cultural diversity that the city has to offer.