Lot's of museums
What we say:
Nothing is really a must-see, but Kota Bharu has numerous minor attractions worth seeking out as you explore the city. Everything is easily reachable on foot.
The grassy area along Jalan Sultan is Independence Square (Padang Merdeka) and the town's museums are nearby. All of Kota Bharu's museums are open 08:30–16:45 every day but Friday.
The War Museum (Bank Kerapu) houses photographs and items left behind after the Japanese occupation during World War II. The Japanese used the building as the headquarters for their secret police and the British later used it as a bank.
The Islamic Museum (Muzium Islam) will fill you in on the history of Islam in the region and has an eclectic collection of Islamic books, clothing, and art.
Displays at the Royal Ceremonies Museum (Istana Jahar) are focused on marriage, birth and death rituals as well as an arsenal of traditional Malay daggers and weapons.
Formerly the palace of the crown prince, the Royal Museum (Istana Batu) now displays wedding photos, clothing and other personal effects of Kelantan's royal family.
Opposite the Royal Museum is the Handicraft Museum (Kampung Kraftangan) which is better visited for its souvenir shop and cafe than the museum's small display of batik and wooden carvings.
Near the clock town about 1 km south of the other museums, Kelantan State Museum (Muzium Negeri Kelantan) has a more general focus with displays on local history, handicrafts and musical instruments, an art gallery, and artefacts from local archaeological sites. If you only have the time or interest to take in one of the town's museums, this is your best choice.
You can watch a free performance in the afternoon or evening at the Cultural Centre (Gelanggan Sen) that may include martial arts, drumming or shadow puppetry. There are demonstrations of handicrafts like batik or kite-making and you can try your hand at spinning the gasing and other traditional games. The schedule changes, but performances are usually in the afternoon and evening. Call the centre (744 3124) or the Tourist Information Centre (748 5534) for the current schedule.
One of the city's main attractions is the octagon-shaped Central Market (Pasar Besar), a photogenic mess of fresh fruit and veggies, exotic spices, dried fish and prawns, and butchers at work. You can get cheap authentic meals in the cooked food hall and the batik and jewellery sold on the upper levels make for a good souvenir.
Jump to a destination
- Hot spots
- Peninsular Malaysia
Sign up for Travelfish Burp!
Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.