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Get To Know Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia’s Underrated City That’s Not Overcrowded With Tourists

The state of Terengganu on the Eastern Coast of Peninsular Malaysia is a gateway to many islands with crystal clear waters.

Its royal capital, Kuala Terengganu, is home to one of Southeast Asia’s earliest Chinese settlements and has plenty of inland activities to explore.

Eat + Drink

Try the nasi kerabu, a popular regional dish served with fried chicken or fish on a bed of rice cooked with butterfly pea. For a hot cuppa, Star Anise is touted by travellers and locals as having the best coffee in the capital. (82 Jl. Kampung Cina, 20100)

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Drop by Teck Soon Heritage House, painted in three shades of blue, for a look into Chinese Peranakan culture. Make sure to check out Kuala Terengganu’s exquisite Crystal Mosque – during the day, its steel and glass domes reflect the surrounding waters, and is illuminated with coloured light at night. (73 Jl. Kampung Cina, 20100; Pulau Wan Man, 21000)


Head to Noor Arfa Craft Complex to purchase batik (wax-resist dyed fabric), handicrafts and kain songket, a traditional handwoven fabric. You can even try your hand at making your own batik prints! Or, step into local market Pasar Payang for insights into daily life there plus cheap produce.
Tip: Visit during the seasonal months to get fresh fruits. (NACC Batik Pavilion Lot 4153, Kawasan Perindustrian Chendering, 21080; 77 Jl. Kampung Cina, 20100)

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Though there aren’t any fancy resorts here, boutique hotels like The Serai Cottage (from $32 a night) and Suite 18 Boutique Hotel (from $27 a night) have simply furnished yet charming rooms that’re perfect for a short stay.

Getting There + Around

Multiple carriers fly to Terengganu’s Sultan Mahmud Airport via Kuala Lumpur. Traverse the city by cab or use a ride-hailing app like Grab. Kuala Terengganu also has heritage buses – designed to look like traditional houses and vintage trams – that stop by popular tourist spots.

By Melodi Ghui, The Finder Issue 301, December 2019 

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