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Kota Bharu

Kota Bharu
Type of Location
About Location


Places to Visit
How to Reach

By plane

Kota Bharu's small but new and efficient Sultan Ismail Petra Airport (KBR) in Pengkalan Chepa currently receives flights from Kuala Lumpur provided by Malaysia Airlines and budget carrier AirAsia. Advance bookings especially for AirAsia can be very cheap (with best promotional fares you can end up flying cheaper than going by bus, if you have no check-in luggage). Firefly, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, flies 5 times a day between Kota Bharu and Kuala Lumpur Subang Airport. Flights take just under an hour and can cost from as low as RM45.95 before tax and surcharges.

Firefly has also announced an international flight to Singapore, commencing in October 2009.

Getting to/away: The airport is 15 minutes from the city centre by taxi. You can also catch a Transnasional bus from the local bus station in the city centre.

    * Malaysia Airlines: Mezzanine Floor, Kompleks Yakin, Jalan Gajah Mati, 15050 Kota Bharu. Tel: +60-9-7483477 (ticketing), +60-9-7448066 (general)

By train

The nearest railway station to Kota Bharu is at Wakaf Bharu, some 6.5 kilometers away from the city center. You can catch a public bus there or ask your hotel/guesthouse to arrange a taxi for you (RM15-20, @ Feb 2010). The official taxis at the station have a rate sheet.

Trains run on the Jungle Railway to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. One attraction is the Jungle Train which stops at almost every station between Tumpat and Gemas, allowing you to enjoy close-up contact with local people as the train travels through the heart of Peninsular Malaysia. The name "jungle train" is a misnomer: there is little if any jungle along the route. Officially the Mail Train 91, it leaves at 05:21 from Wakaf Bharu station and reaches Gemas at 20:00, travelling via Jerantut (for Taman Negara National Park). Gemas is located on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore trunk line and you can catch connecting trains there.

Other trains are:

    * To Kuala Lumpur: The Ekspres Wau departs at 18:40 daily.

    * To Singapore: The new Ekspres Lambaian Timur departs at 06:20 daily (not running anymore - 13/08/2009). This train allows you to see the jungles of Kelantan and Pahang as it covers that stretch during the day. The Express Timuran departs at 20:30 daily (around RM70 for an air-con 2nd-class sleeper).

    * To Thailand: There are no train services directly into Thailand. You will have to catch a bus to Rantau Panjang and cross the border into Sungai Kolok and proceed from there.

By bus

The state-run SKMK and Transnasional is the largest bus company, and runs all the city and regional buses, as well as most of the long-distance buses. It operates from the central bus station (city and regional buses) and the Langgar bus station (long-distance buses). All the other long-distance bus companies operate from Jalan Hamzah external bus station. On arrival in Kota Bharu some of the buses will drop you at the central bus station , but they don't depart from there. Transnasional is the easiest to deal with, as it has ticket offices at all the bus stations. Long-distance departures are from Langgar bus station but, just to make thing confusing, a few evening buses also go from central bus station. Ask which station your bus departs from when you buy your ticket, and book as far ahead as possible, especially for the Butterworth and Penang buses. There are several buses to Butterworth (RM30 , five or six hours), the buses to Penang (RM34.70 , six hours and 15 minutes) with one long stop (60-75 minutes) at Gerik. Buses to Penang leave in the morning at 9 am and in the evening. There are also regular buses to Kuala Terengganu (RM16 , three hours) and Kuantan (RM33 , six hours). Apart from that, there are also buses to Kuala Lumpur (RM40 , nine hours), Johor Bahru (RM65 , 12 hours), Singapore (13-14 hours), Melaka (RM55 , 10-11 hours), Seremban (RM48 , 10 hours) and Ipoh (RM35 , seven hours). Other destinations are Alor Setar, Jerantut, Jitra, Gerik, Temerloh, Dungun, Kemaman, Kangar and Kerteh. The other bus companies cover many of the same routes and are worth trying.

From the Thai Border town of Sungai Kolok, there is a red city liner bus 29 for RM5.10, which runs the 36km stretch. Just wait along the Malaysian side of the border along the covered walkway and flag it.

Key places to visit
Muzium Kraftangan, Muzium Negeri , Muzium Islam, Muzium D'Raja, Wat Pothivihan


Places to Visit

Kota Bharu itself offers many museums near Independence Square (Padang Merdeka). Several of the museums and the nearby Istana Balai Besar (the downtown Royal Palace) were built in a unique kind of elegant architecture that is well worth seeing. Arguably the most amazing building, however, is the central market (Pasar Besar). It is an octagonal building in the centre of town and houses a very colourful and active market every day. Nearby is a plain square which turns into the local food market in the evenings (Pasar Malam = Night Market).

Some visitors (particularly those interested in the history and cultural heritage of Kelantan) may also find the Muzium Negeri Kelantan (Kelantan State Museum) on Jalan Hospital 15000 of interest.

The following museums in Kota Bharu are all open from 8:30am-4:45pm every day except Fridays (when they are closed):

    * Muzium Kraftangan (Handicrafts Museum [with attached gift shop selling handicrafts])
    * Muzium Negeri (State Museum [see above])
    * Memorial Peperangan Dunia Ke II (World War II Memorial [very small but worth a quick visit for history buffs])
    * Muzium D'Raja (Royal Museum [which contains photos of the current and previous Sultans and such-like])
    * Muzium Islam (Museum of Islam)
    * Muzium Adat Istiadat DiRaja Kelantan (Museum of Royal Kelantanese Traditions [which contains interesting artifacts and exhibits for those interested in cultural history])

Great temples to visit in the nearby towns to Kota Bharu Town: near Tumpat there is Wat Pothivihan (huge reclining Buddha), Wat Mai Suwan Khiri (dragon Boat & standing Buddha), Wat Chonprachumthat at Kg. Dalam, Wat Machimarran Varran (sitting Buddha), and Wat Serova Buddhist Temples (Goddess of Mercy - Kuan Yin). At Bachok, there is a 100 foot high standing Buddha at Wat Phothikyan (just opened to public in June 2009) and a Kuan Yin temple facing the South China Sea nearby.

    * Cultural Show at Culture Centre 3 times a week at Saturday 3.00pm-4.45pm & 8.00pm-11.30pm,  at Monday 3.00pm-4.45pm, at Wednesday 3.00pm-4.45pm & 8.80-12.00pm.

    * River cruise along Sungai Galas down to Dabong (2hours).

    * Explore the caves at Gua Ikan,Dabong.

    * Stong Waterfall, reputed to be the highest in Southeast Asia, drops from a height of about 990 metres.

    * Mount Stong State Park. One of the main attractions at the state park is Gunung Stong at Mt.Stong (1,422 meters), a dome-shaped granite complex more than 500 million years old.

    * Nenggiri Rafting Adventure - The selected leg of the journey covers approximatedly about 50 km, departing from Kuala Betis / Gua Cha and ends up at Kampung Star.

Right Time to Visit

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