The name “Kelantan” is believed to originate from the Malay word ‘kelatan’, meaning “flatness” or “open field”, which describes the state’s topographical features. Another interpretation suggests it derives from ‘gelam hutan’, referring to the Melaleuca trees commonly found in the area.


Kelantan is located in the northeastern corner of Peninsular Malaysia. It shares international borders with Thailand to the north and domestic borders with Terengganu to the southeast and Pahang to the south. To its west lies the state of Perak. The South China Sea caresses its eastern shores, giving rise to serene beaches. The interior is characterized by lush forests and hills.


Kelantan boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture, with influences from prehistoric communities, early Malay sultanates, and Thai dominion. It played a vital role as a trading and cultural hub, with artifacts from China, Vietnam, and the surrounding region found here. Kelantan was under Siamese control until the late 19th century when it became a British protectorate. Despite its long history, Kelantan retains its unique cultural identity, having resisted assimilation more than most Malay states.

Highlights of Things to Do

  • Kota Bharu: The state capital, known for its vibrant markets such as Pasar Siti Khadijah, traditional crafts, and numerous museums.
  • Istana Jahar: A museum that offers insight into Kelantan’s royal heritage and traditional customs.
  • Pantai Cahaya Bulan: A popular beach destination known for its sandy shores and local food stalls.
  • Gunung Stong State Park: Home to the majestic Jelawang Waterfall, it offers trekking opportunities and stunning panoramic views.
  • Handicraft Village and Craft Museum: Discover Kelantan’s rich craft heritage, including batik, silverware, and traditional kites.
  • Wat Phothikyan Phutthantham: A magnificent Buddhist temple that showcases the state’s Thai influences.

How to Get In and Out

  • By Road: Road networks connect Kelantan to its neighboring states and the rest of Peninsular Malaysia, ensuring straightforward travel.
  • By Bus: Intercity buses run regularly from Kota Bharu’s main bus terminal to various cities in Peninsular Malaysia.
  • By Air: Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Kota Bharu serves as the primary entry and exit point for domestic flights.
  • By Train: The East Coast Rail Line (ECRL), when completed, will provide enhanced connectivity, linking Kelantan to the west coast of the peninsula.

Kelantan, often referred to as the ‘Cradle of Malay Culture’, presents a blend of age-old traditions, arts, and a laid-back lifestyle. The state invites visitors to experience a different side of Malaysia, one where time seems to slow down and life is savored in all its authenticity. Whether it’s the tantalizing flavors of nasi kerabu, the intricate beauty of traditional batik, or the rhythmic beats of the rebana ubi, Kelantan promises a journey that touches the soul.