A majestic coastal city, Kuala Terengganu is the state capital of Terengganu, a state that prides itself as a bastion of Malay culture and traditions.
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Stretched out across both banks of the Terengganu River as it meets the sea, Kuala Terengganu merges harmoniously with the natural surroundings, creating a pictureque view that invokes comparisons to other maritime cities like Venice.
Kuala Terengganu has been the royal seat for the Terengganu Sultanate since its founding in the early 18th century and has grown ever since. Being on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the city was not coveted by any foreign power, and it prospered along with the rest of the state as a protectorate of Siam until the early 20th century, when Terengganu was handed over to the British.
The city is the main gateway to some of the state's important tourist destinations, the many beautiful pristine islands along its coast, including Redang Island and the Perhentian Islands. In recent times, efforts have been made to enhance the city itself as a top tourist destination by showcasing its strong cultural traditions. Several of Kuala Terengganu's landmarks, like the Floating Mosque and the Crystal Mosque within the grounds of the Islamic Civilization Park, underline the efforts to ensure that the city does not lose sight of its identity in its pursuit of modernity.
As a major city on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Kuala Terengganu is well connected by road and air. It is not connected via rail but there are proposals have been made for a railway line between the city and Kuala Lumpur.
The city's airport, Sultan Mahmud Airport handles all air traffic to and from the city. Currently, two domestic airlines offer Kuala Terengganu as a destination, firstly, AirAsia, with flights between the city and Kuala Lumpur; and Firefly Airlines, with two flights, between the city and Subang, and between the city and Singapore. The airport will feature more international flights after its ongoing upgrading exercise is completed.
Bus services to all major cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia are offered at the Kuala Terengganu Express Bus Terminal.
Kuala Terengganu is not a famous tourist destination of the state, which is blessed with several beautiful islands off its coast. Its unique appeal lies in the traditions and culture that has been passed down through the centuries, relatively untouched by modern developments. It is no wonder then that most of its main tourists attractions revolve around local culture and religion.
Terengganu State Museum
The Terengganu State Museum offers its visitors insight into local Malay culture and traditions. It boasts a wide collection of centuries-old artefacts, including the Inscribed Stone of Terengganu, which atests to the emergences of Islam in the region during the 14th century.
Pulau Duyung are technically two small islands at the centre of the Terengganu River estuary, right in the middle of the city. Renowned for its skills of its craftsmen, the island showcases traditional boat making and produces world famous customized boats and yachts to this day.
Pengkalan Budaya, located on Pulau Duyung, should be a definite stop for those who are interested in experiencing firsthand the unique local culture. Cultural performances, including Malay martial arts and traditional dances, and demonstrations of traditional games like top spinning and kite flying are but a few of the interesting features of this centre.
Islamic Civilization Park
A new attraction to the city, the Islamic Civilization Park was established to foster greater understanding of the religion to its visitors. Along with its centrepiece, the Crystal Mosque, this theme park contains 21 replicas of some of the world's most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture.
Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque
Seemingly floating on the surface of Teluk Ibai is the Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque. Showcasing traditional moorish designs, along with a single white spire rising into the sky, the mosque is a truly beautiful sight, especially during the evenings.