Kota Bharu epitomises the very best of Kelantanese culture - a resplendent culture of diverse influences and ancient traditions.
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The heart of Kelantan is undeniably Kota Bharu, its state capital and royal seat of the Kelantan Sultanate. It is the only major urban area in this largely undeveloped state and represents the cultural heart of its people.
The city is different from other Malaysian cities as it is governed by Islamic principles and practises, such as gender separation in public places. Muslim prayer calls can be heard everywhere in the city, during which all activities within the city are stopped as a mark of respect. This is hardly surprising as Kelantan has a history of setting itself from other Malaysian states, having developed its own distinct and unique culture as a result of its remote location.
The distinctive Kelantanese culture so evidently displayed in every aspect of Kota Bharu is its main attraction. The Kelantanese Malay dialect, spoken by every local, is distinct from the standard Malay language used in other Malaysian states, having its own unique grammar and pronunciation, and traditional arts and games are still widely practised among its inhabitants. The city actively preserves and promotes Kelantanese culture, and the numerous museums within Kota Bharu showcase different aspects of this intriguing way of life.
Historically, Kota Bharu was considered to be one of the most distant destinations in Malaysia. Today, the city is well connected to the rest of Malaysia through roads and rail, as well as by air.
Kota Bharu is accessible via rail through train services that pass Wakaf Bharu Train Station on the outskirts of the city. Train services offered are between the city to Kuala Lumpur.
Bus services to most major destinations in Malaysia are available at Kota Bharu's main bus terminal, Jalan Hamzah Express Bus Terminal, located near the train station on the outskirts of the city.
Kota Bharu's airport, Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, located to the north east of the city centre, offers flights from three domestic carriers. AirAsia and Malaysian Airlines offer flights between the city and Kuala Lumpur, while Firefly Airlines offers flights between the city and Subang.
While Kota Bharu may seem a little bit lacking in terms of modern Western-style entertainment, it makes it up through its various cultural displays and performances, as well as the many exhibits that showcase its rich traditions and heritage.
This cultural centre is a marvelous place to enjoy various cultural performances, including shadow puppetry, known as wayang kulit, martial arts displays, and traditional dances. Top spinning and kite flying demonstrations are also major features of this centre.
This handicraft village and adjoining craft museum offers its visitors a chance to admire Kelantan's beautiful arts and craftwork. Visitors are encouraged to delve into its history and watch the process of making these marvelous products.
Siti Khadijah Market
A mainstay of the city, this central market is a bustling hive of activity. A plethora of local produce, covering a wide range of vegetables, spices and fruits are on sale daily, catering to the needs of the city's populance.
The museum housed within this palace is dedicated to the Kelantan royal family. The exhibits include the royal regalia, various palace decorations, and the royal family's personal collections and gifts.
This palace is the location of the Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs, showcasing the uniqueness of Malay culture. Exhibits revolve around the cultural norms associated to important royal events, including weddings, births and other ceremonies.