Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Kota Bharu.
Kota Bharu's Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Pengkalan Chepa has direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bahru and Singapore. The airport is about 20 minutes from the city centre and a 40 ringgit taxi into the Kota Bharu city centre area.
Airlines serving Kota Bharu include:
The nearest train station is about 5 km from the city centre in Wakaf Bharu. Bus #27 plies this route 7:00-20:00, otherwise a taxi will be needed for exceptionally early morning or late night departures (arrange one in advance).
The stretch of track cutting through the forested mountains of Kelantan and Terengganu states is known as the Jungle Railway and you can begin the scenic trip here. The Jungle line runs to Jerantut (for Taman Negara Park) and then continues south all the way to Singapore.
You can view schedules and buy e-tickets on the useful Malaysian Railways website: http://www.ktmb.com.my/
There is a bus service from Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah in the northwest, Penang/Butterworth mid peninsula, Kuala Lumpur in the south and plenty of other places throughout the country.
There are also numerous timetables and destination options to and from the Kota Bharu central station. The central bus station staff are quite helpful with information about local bus services as well as long distance trips and going to any bus company counter will get you pointed to the correct bus company that will get you to your desired destination.
For those who want to book online, Easibook is a user-friendly choice with minimal extra charge for the service. Travel agents can also help you book your tickets if you are booking in advance.
If you are arriving in Kota Bharu with the goal of immediately hitting the Perhentian islands, a taxi will take you to Kuala Besut for 40 ringgit (more if later in the evening) or for six ringgit the #639 bus heads to Kuala Besut from 08:00 until 16:00.
Kota Bharu taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced, but the public bus system is extensive and user friendly as well. Taxi prices will increase about five ringgit during "sleeping hours" (aka night time).
Trishaw operators are scattered around the city and catching a trishaw is an interesting way of getting from point A to B or simply sightseeing. Negotiate the price beforehand, but expect 50 ringgit for an hour or so of a driver's time.
City Liner buses are a consistent and reliable option. Handy routes include:
#639 departs daily from the Central terminal at 08:00, 09:30, 10:30, 13:30, 14:00 and 16:00 for the jetty in Kuala Besut
#10 will get you to PCB beach
#9 will get you to the airport
#27 heads to Tumpat and Wat Machimmaram
#29 will get you to the Malaysia/Thai border, from where you can catch a bus or train for onward travel
Do note that if taking a bus to a remote area, make certain when the last bus goes through the area or you may find yourself flagging a taxi down to get home because the bus service stopped.