The best place to appreciate Kelantanese culture and crafts is the capital city, Kota Bharu.
A bustling town famed for its ornately decorated trishaws, Kota Bharu offers numerous attractions for the visitor.
Located on Jalan Mahmud close to the Perdana Hotel, the cultural centre is a veritable showcase of the living heritage of Kelantan. Demonstrations of popular folk arts and pastimes are held daily. Wayang Kulit (shadow puppetry) shows, Silat (the Malay art of self defence) performances, Gasing (top spinning) displays, Wau (kite flying) and Rebana (giant drum) playing can all be seen at the centre. Evenings see cultural performances featuring traditional Malay music and Wayang Kulit.
The cultural centre is open three times a week from March to October each year. Performance times are 3.30pm to 5.50pm on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and 9.00pm to midnight on Wednesday and Saturday.World War Two Memorial/Bank Kerapu
Originally constructed in 1911, Bank Kerapu is now a repository for documents, pictures and military paraphernalia of the Japanese Occupation from 1941 to 1945. During the war, the building served as the headquarters of the Japanese Kempetai, the feared secret police.
Construction of this mosque was completed during the reign of Sultan Ismail IV after almost a decade of work. Also known as the Al-Muhammadi Mosque or the ‘Brick Mosque’, it is the centre for Islamic missionary activities in the state.
Built in 1887 by Sultan Mohamad II for his grandson, Long Kundur, the Istana Jahar has been transformed into a museum featuring Kelantan's cultural heritage. Photographs and a great variety of artefacts bear testimony to the rich Kelantanese cultural legacy. The building itself is laced with intricate wood carvings, serving as an example of the fine craftsmanship of local artisans.
The State Museum located along Jalan Hospital incorporates the State Art Gallery. The building itself was utilised as the land office from colonial times until 1990 when major renovations were carried out to convert it into a museum. The museum documents the arts, crafts and musical traditions of Kelantan. Ceramic displays testify to the early trade with China and artefacts from local archaeological sites provide evidence of the existence of the pre-historic age in Kelantan.
| Historical Zone|
The main cultural and historical zone of Kota Bharu is situated along Jalan Hilir Kota and Jalan Sultan where many museums and heritage buildings are located. Some museums charge a nominal fee for admission.
Royal Museum/Istana Batu
The Istana Batu (Brick/ Stone Palace) was constructed in 1939 during the reign of Sultan Ismail. It houses the Royal Museum and was previously used as the venue for royal weddings and as a guest house for visiting royalty.
The Royal Museum now serves as a repository for the history of the Kelantan royal family and displays regalia, pictures, furniture, silverware and palace items of former Sultans. Opening times 8.30am to 4.45pm daily - except Fridays.Handicraft Village and Craft Museum
While the Craft Museum houses many fine examples of Kelantanese craftsmanship, the adjacent Handicraft Village provides visitors the chance to see just how these crafts are made. Demonstrations of traditional embroidery, songket weaving, batik printing, silver work and wood carving are carried out by skilled artisans. Their products are also on sale at the centre.
Istana Balai Besar
Built by Sultan Muhammad II in 1840, the Istana Balai Besar was formerly the residence of past Sultans. However, it is now used solely as a venue for official state functions. The palace boasts a large audience hall, a throne room and a fine collection of royal regalia.
The Islamic Museum traces the history of Islam in Kelantan. Exhibits include Islamic Arts and Crafts and photographs of some of the personal belongings of Prophet Muhammad and Islamic historical sites. The museum reflects not only the importance of Islam in Kelantan but also the position of the state as a centre of Islamic learning.
Merdeka SquareKuala Krai Museum and Mini Zoo
Other interesting sites in Kota Bharu include Merdeka (Independence) Square, State Government offices and raft houses along the river banks.
Located in Kuala Krai about 64 km from Kota Bharu, the mini zoo is home to a variety of animals such as bears, deer, monkeys and birds. The mini museum houses a collection of preserved animals as well as photographs and documents relating to the founding of Kuala Krai. Opening hours: 9.00am - 6.00pm daily (except Fridays).