The city of Kota Bharu has amazing architecture, which is thanks to the mosques and unique construction of the old palaces. The palace is still in use today by the Sultan and his wife, which means that they are off-limits to any visitors. Luckily you can walk around the buildings from the outside and admire their beauty, or head to the Royal Museum in the centre of town for an intimate view of royal life. You can explore the building that was once the crown prince's palace, and see many pictures of the royal family, their trinkets and heirlooms which are displayed in fully furnished rooms that look almost lived-in.
The central market, Pasar Besar is in an octagonal building just nearby. This colourful market is open every day, and has an impressive amount of stalls. Wander across the street to explore another public square that transforms into a vibrant food market in the evening. To get a feel for the history of Kota Bharu the Kelantan State Museum is spectacular, which has exhibits showing many items of national significance. Learn how traditional crafts are made in the Handicrafts Museum, or get your fill of war history at the World War II Memorial.
For a unique experience, head to Gelanggang Seni, which is also called the Cultural Centre. Here you can see bird singing competitions, kite flying demonstrations, spin spinning tops, listen to drum playing, or watch shadow puppetry and fantastic displays of martial arts. Try a cooking workshop in a traditional Malaysian home and learn the secrets of this cuisine, or do a course in batik printing and make a one-of-a-kind sarong.
Visit the tallest falls in Southeast Asia at Stong Waterfall, and watch the water cascade an impressive 990 metres to the pools at the bottom. The Mount Stong State Park is wonderful for hiking, and don't miss the massive granite outcropping of Gunung Stong, which is over 500 million years old and perfect for a photo. If you're feeling adventurous, try the Nenggiri Rafting Adventure or perhaps take it at a more relaxed pace and visit one of the nearby temples. The huge reclining Buddha at Wat Pothivihan is impressive, and so is the tallest seated Buddha in Southeast Asia at Wat Phothikyan.
You can't visit Kota Bharu without a swim at the beaches, where the wonderful calm and clear water surrounded by crisp white sand is a perfect setting for tranquillity. The most popular is Pantai Cahaya Bulan, which translates as "the moonlight beach". Stretch out on the sand and enjoy the distinct lack of tourists, or rent a kayak and paddle out and around in the bay.
Kota Bharu offers everything you need for a perfect holiday in Malaysia. With fantastic beaches, a town full of delightful history and the chance to really experience the culture of the region - a stay here will be perfect on your next vacation. Find a flight to Malaysia and check out our deals on Kota Bharu accommodation, and all you'll need to worry about is packing!
Hotels in Kota Bharu start at AU$19 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.