Hotels in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
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Between Land and Sea in Kuala Terengganu
Overlooking the South China Sea, the city of Kuala Terengganu is a kaleidoscope of regional influences. Known to the ancient Chinese, the town – today the capital of Malaysia's Terengganu state – has long been influenced by outsiders. Neighbouring Indonesian sultanates, the Kingdom of Siam and even the Portuguese have all made their mark on this modern Malaysian city. But those willing to look beyond Kuala Terengganu's concrete high-rises will find the city's past and present within easy reach. From an attractive Chinatown to floating mosques and fishermen's villages, Kuala Terengganu offers both seaside charm and sights galore.
Orientation and Layout
Set at the mouth of the Terengganu River, the districts of Kuala Terengganu – as well as many of its main tourist sights – are spread around the coastline and estuarine islands that comprise the city's greater metropolitan area. While the city does have a few elevated points, visitors will observe that the town itself is mostly flat, with outlying areas quickly giving way to tropical marshland. In terms of eating and accommodation, the bulk of restaurants and hotels in Kuala Terengganu are concentrated on the coastal hub of land on the southern bank of the Terengganu River. For those coming by car or bus, Federal Route 174 loops through this central district of Kuala Terengganu. Looking across the river from this main waterfront area, newcomers will see the island of Pulau Duyong and across into the neighbouring district of Kuala Nerus. These two areas are connected across this waterway by the Sultan Mahmud Bridge.
If you want to explore the heart and soul of Kuala Terengganu, take a stroll through its bustling waterfront area. Follow the curve of Jalan Bandar through the city's historic Chinatown district, taking in its striking array of homes, temples, shops and buildings, many of which date from the late 19th Century. While the city's ethnic Chinese community is small, it is well-established; indeed, the trade links between this part of Malaysia and China date back hundreds of years. If you're hungry, this is the place to look for food, so grab a bite from any of the Chinese, Indian or Malay vendors dominating this street and keep walking until you hit Bukit Puteri, one of the highest points in Kuala Terengganu. This spot offers visitors outstanding views out over the city's estuary and is conveniently located for the Pasar Peyang, the area's main shopping outlet. Here, visitors will find a wide selection of vendors selling local handicrafts and foodstuffs.
On the River
Once you've had your fill of Kuala Terengganu's main waterfront area, it's time for an island excursion. But rather than make your way out of town towards the ever-popular Kapas Island, keep to the city and take a quick ferry ride to Pulau Duyong to see its fishing villages and traditional Malay architecture. If you want a deeper insight into the area's culture, head slightly upriver to Terengganu's state museum. This striking building houses a wealth of exhibitions, galleries and artefacts. While you're in the area, it's worth visiting the city's Crystal Mosque. Composed of steel, glass and of course crystal, come for a visit at sunset when the low light sets the building a-shimmer. This structure is located on the island of Wan Man in the Taman Tamadun Islam, a religious heritage park featuring miniature replicas of some of the world's most famous mosques.
Out of Town Excursions and Sleeping Options
The outskirts of Kuala Terengganu offer a fair range attractions. Perhaps first and foremost among these is the famous Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque. This building, situated south east of the city, floats serenely on the waters of a lagoon and is a popular local attraction. If you're keen to stay by the sea, there are a couple of area beaches worth considering. Batu Buruk is close to the city centre, but this particular beach can get crowded, so those seeking peace and quiet can head north to Teluk Kalong. In terms of accommodation, while there are a couple of seaside lodges in this area, for a wider selection of hotel options, travellers are best keeping to central Kuala Terengganu. In addition to a decent range of hotels and B&Bs, those staying in central Kuala Terengganu will also find some homestay and apartment options. There are also a handful of resorts here, which offer an interesting alternative to Kuala Terengganu's hotels.