Kota Bharu

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Often overlooked as a stopover on the way to the Perhentians or East coast islands, Kota Bharu is a cultural melting pot with strong Islamic and Muslim influences. A small town with an incredibly friendly vibe, you can enjoy some delicious local cuisine, vibrant local markets and day trips to local villages, taking you truly off the beaten path. Gain an insight into local life and days gone by with a visit to the cluster of museums around the Padang Merdeka area – Istana Jahar is our top choice, not only for the displays but it is also housed in a beautiful building from the 19th-Century. Visits to local villages allow access to traditional Malay arts and crafts but you can also enjoy cultural events at the Gelanggang Seni including kite making, drumming and silat (martial arts), which are all enjoyable for both adults and children. Cooking classes and batik painting are also possible in Kota Bharu. The Batik Factory is also worth a visit to learn more about this indigenous craft. Staying locally the accommodation is relatively simple but it is certainly comfortable. One thing we must point out is that the hotels here are generally dry, so a tipple may not be an option. Eating out is however very easy and you can enjoy the local night market for some traditional Malay dishes or you prefer Chinese the restaurants in town are a good bet.

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