Cheap Flights To Kota Bharu
Capital of northeastern Malaysia's Kelantan province, Kota Bharu offers both laid-back charm and easy access to some superb natural scenery including lovely unspoilt beaches.
For many, Kota Bharu is just a watering hole on the way to the Perhentian Islands off Malaysia's east coast. But this relaxed town is a fascinating repository of Kelantan's unique culture, cuisine and crafts.
It's also a short hop from some dreamy beaches on the South China Sea. Who could resist a trip to the Beach of Whispering Breeze, the Beach of Melody or the Beach of Moonlight?
Another natural wonder in the area is Mount Stong State Park, home to Stong Waterfall, Southeast Asia's highest cataract, and Mount Stong, an ancient 1422 metre-high granite complex. Active travellers can also partake in high-octane pursuits such as Nenggiri Rafting Adventure which wends its way over 50 kilometres, and diving at the Japanese Invasion Wreck.
Kota Bharu also observes many holidays and festivals. Muslim events such as Hari Raya are very dignified, while Chinese fiestas tend to include loud and colourful processions.
Things To Do
Kota Bharu's bustling town centre is well worth a few day's exploration with its markets, museums and stately mosques. And of course, the beaches beckon.
Start your expedition at the city's imposing central market, Pasar Besar. This bustling bazaar is a great place to pick up some batik and other local handicrafts and is surrounded by a collection of museums including the Handicrafts and Royal Kelantanese Traditions museums.
The nearby town of Tumpat is home to 25 temples including the Thai-style Wat Photivihan, one of the country's most popular Buddhist sanctuaries. It houses a 40-metre reclining Buddha statue, along with a Tibetan style hall and Chinese pavilion.
Kelantan's beaches are lovely and so secluded you may have them all to yourself. On the way to the Beach of Moonlight, you can stop off and watch batik and songket textiles being woven. The Beach of Seven Lagoons is near the giant kite makers, while the Beach of the Whispering Breeze offers excellent surfing.
Calendar Of Events
Malaysia is a multicultural society and observes Indian and Chinese festivals as well as Malay. This makes for a packed calendar with something festive happening every month.
Wesak: The most sacred holiday in the Buddhist calendar, Wesak commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing (parinirvana) of the Buddha. Wat Photivihan in nearby Tumpat is the destination for many local Buddhists of Thai and Chinese lineage.
Hari Raya Haji: Kota Bharu is a devoutly Muslim community and this important festival is held during the 9th month of the lunar calendar to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting period. It's a great time to sample the local treat known as Tapai, sweet fermented cassava or rice in tapioca leaves.
Nine Emperor Gods: Celebrated by the local Chinese population, this lively festival starts on the eve of 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The highlight is a parade of paper dragon boats down to the river bank, where they are ceremoniously burnt in an effort to discharge bad joss.