Kuala Terengganu offers more than just beautiful islands

The Crystal Mosque is one of the most unique mosques in the world. — JESSIE LIM/The Star

The coastal state of Terengganu is a beautiful enclave that is surrounded by nature. However, most people usually only think of the islands when it comes to the state.

This isn’t surprising though, as the islands of Terengganu are incredibly popular with both local and foreign tourists. But there is more to the state, especially near its capital, Kuala Terengganu, than meets the eye. Here are some of the places that you can visit when you are there.

Stroll through the ancient Kampung Cina

In the heart of Kuala Terengganu lies a 200-year-old town called Kampung Cina, a popular haunt among locals and tourists. Even though some records show that the place has been around for two centuries, its exact date of establishment remains a mystery to this day.

The striking features of this historic town includes the stretch of old shophouses lining both sides of the road. Located along Jalan Bandar, this is a bustling quarter where most out-of-town tourists head to. Some of the walls here have been decorated with colourful murals, too.

As you wander through the streets in Kampung Cina, you will find shops and stalls selling all kinds of trinkets, as well as local delicacies like keropok lekor.

Visit the oldest temple

The Ho Ann Kiong temple is said to be a few centuries old and features ancient Chinese architectural heritage that has been carefully preserved.

Ho Ann Kiong is located within Kampung Cina and has lived through its fair share of events. For instance, 13 years ago it was ravaged by fire, severely damaging a large part of the temple.

It went through major repairs and restoration works, finally brought back to its former self after two years.

Today, many come from far and wide to visit this temple. The place is not hard to find, especially if you are walking along the street, as the scent of incense permeates the air from afar.

There are distinct Chinese sculptures adorning the walls of the temple.

The Terengganu State Museum stands on concrete stilts.The Terengganu State Museum stands on concrete stilts.

The Terengganu State Museum

Located in Kampung Losong, the Terengganu State Museum is a beautiful place designed to resemble the old palaces of Terengganu. It is one of the country’s largest museums to date.

There are four main buildings within the vicinity of this museum, featuring various galleries showcasing Terengganu’s unique culture and heritage. Some of the gallery exhibitions features textile, royal, natural history, craft, petroleum and Islamic art.

The complexes are supported by concrete stilts, akin to the style of a traditional Malay kampung house.

Due to the skilled craftsmanship of the builders and architects, the buildings look like they are constructed out of wood; they are actually made from concrete.

Check out Low Tiey's well if you visit Kampung Cina.Check out Low Tiey's well if you visit Kampung Cina.

Low Tiey’s Well

Low Tiey’s Well is, again, located in Kampung Cina, next to a morning market. While many may have seen this well, perhaps only a few know of its glorious past. Back in the day, the well played an important role of providing the community with fresh, clean water daily.

There are two water shafts here which are separated by walls, creating two separate bathing spaces for men and women.

Many years ago during a drought, almost all the wells in the state started to dry up, except for Low Tiey’s Well, which quickly became the only water supply source around. Eventually it became the state’s main water source.

Go on a mosque tour

There are quite a number of mosques in Kuala Terengganu, but two of the most popular ones are the Crystal Mosque and Floating Mosque.

The Crystal Mosque officially opened its doors to worshippers in 2008. Located in Taman Tamadun Islam and built on a man-made lake, this architectural marvel was constructed with the use of steel, glass and crystal. Another unique feature is that the mosque has four beautiful minarets standing in each corner. According to the caretaker of the mosque, the main prayer hall can hold up to 1,500 worshippers.

Meanwhile, the Tengku Tengah Zaharah Floating Mosque is a gleaming white mosque at has been around in 1995. Since its opening, it has become an iconic landmark of the state. Influenced by modern and Moorish architecture, the Tengku Tengah Zaharah Floating Mosque can accommodate over 2,000 people at a time.

Visit the Islamic Heritage Park

The Islamic Heritage Park, or Islamic Civilisation Park, features 22 miniature models of mosques from around the world. The park, which opened 15 years ago, aims to create a better understanding of Islam and Islamic culture.

Among the beautiful monuments on display are the Taj Mahal from India and Suleymaniye Mosque from Turkiye.

A miniature version of Terengganu’s own Crystal Mosque can also be found here.

Nearby is the Terengganu State Museum, which holds many historical artefacts and interesting exhibitions.

In Pantai Teluk Bidara, you can explore this mysterious cave. — Photos: GISELE SOO/The StarIn Pantai Teluk Bidara, you can explore this mysterious cave. — Photos: GISELE SOO/The Star

Go beach hopping

During the monsoon seasons, it is not possible to make your way to the islands as it can be dangerous. But along the coast of Kuala Terengganu are many beaches that the locals and tourists enjoy visiting.

Some beaches are under two hours’ drive from the city centre, like Pantai Batu Pelanduk in Dungun, Pantai Teluk Bidara and Rantau Abang, which is famous for its turtle sanctuary.

Meanwhile, Kampung Jambu Bongkok in Marang is also worth checking out. Make sure to grab some delicious deep-fried snacks when your’re at the beach.

The Terengganu Drawbridge is an iconic landmark not just in the state but in Malaysia too.The Terengganu Drawbridge is an iconic landmark not just in the state but in Malaysia too.

Terengganu Drawbridge

The Terengganu Drawbridge is perhaps the state’s most prominent tourist attraction today. This amazing structure is unique and quite a delight to explore.

There are four 16-storey towers in the middle of the bridge, with two skybridges connecting the two sides. Visitors can make their way to the towers and walk on the skybridges for a great view of Kuala Terengganu.

The four-year-old bascule bridge comes alive at night as it is lit up in colourful lights at night.

'Celup tepung', or deep-fried battered seafood, is a favourite with locals.'Celup tepung', or deep-fried battered seafood, is a favourite with locals.

Enjoy the local eats

To try the local delicacies, you need to head to the streets. In this heartland of traditional Malay fare, you will be treated to a colourful assortment of sweet treats and grilled seafood.

From keropok lekor and satar to akok and roti paung, there are so many options that are also easily available in Kuala Terengganu. Of course, the state itself is known for its tradition of eating nasi dagang in the morning, so do try that as well.

If you are in Pantai Batu Buruk, you will find plenty of stalls selling keropok lekor, which come in both fried and steamed versions. The steamed lekor is quite popular here.

At night, look for stalls or restaurants selling celup tepung, which are basically fresh seafood dipped in batter and deep fried.

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