Kota Bahru


Kota Bahru, often shortened to KB, translates to “New City” in Malay. This name reflects its historical development and significance as a key city in the state of Kelantan, Malaysia.


Kota Bahru is the state capital of Kelantan, situated in the northeastern part of Peninsular Malaysia. It’s located near the mouth of the Kelantan River and serves as the gateway to Thailand with the border situated to its north. The South China Sea lies to its east, providing the city with scenic coastal views.


Kota Bahru holds a unique position in Malaysian history. Being in proximity to Thailand, it has been a melting pot of Malay, Thai, and other Southeast Asian cultures. During World War II, Kota Bahru was the first landing point for the Japanese invasion, marking a significant turn in the region’s history. Post-war, the city became a focal point for Malay culture and Islamic teachings, leading to its reputation as the “Islamic City”.

Highlights of Things to Do

  • Istana Jahar: A museum that showcases the rich heritage and traditions of Kelantan. It offers insights into the royal customs and ceremonies of the state.
  • Siti Khadijah Market: Named after the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, this market is a bustling hub of activity from dawn to dusk. Here, you can find a variety of local produce, crafts, and delicious Kelantanese snacks.
  • Handicraft Village and Craft Museum: For those interested in traditional crafts like batik painting and songket weaving, this is a must-visit.
  • Pantai Cahaya Bulan: Known as the “Moonlight Beach”, this is a popular spot for relaxation and picnics, offering beautiful sea views.
  • Wat Photivihan Buddha Temple: A testament to Kota Bahru’s diverse culture, this Thai Buddhist temple boasts one of the longest reclining Buddha statues in Southeast Asia.

How to Get In and Out

  • By Air: Sultan Ismail Petra Airport is the main airport serving Kota Bahru, with connections to major Malaysian cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Johor Bahru.
  • By Road: The city is well-connected with a network of highways and roads. Buses from major cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang regularly ply to and from Kota Bahru.
  • By Train: While Kota Bahru doesn’t have a direct train station, the nearby town of Wakaf Bharu has a railway station that connects the region to the rest of Peninsular Malaysia.

Kota Bahru is a blend of cultural richness and historical significance, making it a unique destination for travelers keen on exploring a different facet of Malaysia.