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About Region - East Coast, Malaysia

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East Coast Region Image Gallery
The East Coast region of peninsula Malaysia offers the visitor a slower pace, set against the beauty of the region's beaches and the richness of its forests. Historically resistant to many of the major changes in the rest of Malaysia, the region has been able to maintain its authentic Malay culture and Islamic traditions. There are three states, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. These areas offer a variety of a vast expanse of tropical rainforest, idyllic islands and the highest mountain on the peninsula. The rugged interior has some fascinating flora and fauna in its nature reserves, and is a wonderful region for adventure and eco-tourism.
Kelantan - Cradle of Malay Culture
Splendid white sandy beaches stretch north from the state capital (Kota Bharu) to the borders of Thailand. Buddhist temples close to the capital hark back to the time when Kelantan was under the influence of the Siamese kings. Kelantan's isolation, and its embrace of Islam in the 17th century, kept British colonialism and economic change at bay, and enabled the Malay culture to remain intact. To the south, where towns dot the main highway, are points of access to the many beaches and fishing villages, which are at the heart of the region's economy and culture.
Best Beaches of Kelantan
Pantai Cahaya Bulan - Kelantan's most famous beach, about 10km north of Kota Bharu is the Moonlight Beach, which has sparkling, shimmering sand. Once called the Beach of Passionate Love, or Pantai Cinta Berahi, it is fringed by swaying casuarinas and coconut palms. There is ample accommodation in this lovely location of hotels, motels, cottages and a resort hotel with swimming pool, tennis courts, restaurants and a golf course.

Pantai Seri Tujuh - The Beach of Seven Lagoons is another popular beach just 7km from Kota Bharu at the border with Thailand. It is the site of the international Kite Festival when top kite or wau flyers meet in competition.

Pantai Bisikan Bayu - About 58km from Kota Bharu at Dalam Rhu, is the Beach of the Whispering Winds, named after the casuarinas that grow close to the waterline. Here will be found clear waters ideal for snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming and fishing.

Pantai Irama - The Beach of Melody is situated about 25km south of Kota Bharu in the district of Bachok. Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Peninsular Malaysia, it is popular with campers and picnickers. Pantai Irama has stretches of clean, white sand, swaying palms and casuarinas.

Kuala Besar and Sabak Beach - These fishing villages are about 15km from Kota Bharu and are the soul of Malaysia's East Coast. At 2.30pm each day the colourful fishing perahus (boats) return with the day's catch and there is plenty of activity as wholesalers and fishermen begin the bargaining process while others get busy mending nets and curing fish. There are facilities for camping and scuba diving.
Central Market, Kelantan
Kota Bharu is Kelantan's busy capital, set on the banks of the Kelantan river. One of the key attractions of the town is the colourful Central Market (Pasar Besar) on Jalan Pintu Pong. Women who show a great entrepreneurial spirit conduct the majority of the businesses here, selling the items they produce, including ornate handicrafts and woodcarvings, Kelatan silver, baskets and gold embroidered cloth, which are some of the best in the peninsular. Rows of food and farm produce resemble works of art with vegetables, fruit and meat on the ground floor, and kitchenware, baskets and other goods set out on the floors above.
Gelanggang Seni or Cultural Centre, Kelantan
The Cultural Centre on Jalan Sultan Mahmud showcases the state's cultural heritage. At various times visitors are treated to the sight of top spinning, wayang kulit (shadow puppetry) cultural dances or kite flying competitions. Performances of wayang kulit and cultural dances such as the Main Puteri take place in the evening. Kelatan is noted for its large drums known as Rebana Ubi and shows, which feature these unique instruments, are frequently staged. There are also gasing (giant top) competitions and displays of the colourful wau or giant kites in flight on the beach.

Cultural Zone - Jalan Sultan and Jalan Hilir Kota (known locally as the Cultural Zone) are interesting streets located on the Padang Merdeka, or Independence Square, which is surrounded by many of the town's museums.

Royal Museum - This was built in 1939 as a palace and used for royal weddings. The regalia of the various Sultans are kept here, and there is also silverware and furniture from the royal household.

The Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs - Also known as the Jahar Palace, this used to be a wooden palace, built in 1887. The wooden building with a wrought iron staircase is noted for the intricate woodcarvings that are examples of the superb craftsmanship of the Kelantanese.

Islamic Museum - The history of Islam in the state can be traced here. It was Kelantan's first school of Islamic studies and exhibits inside include Islamic fine arts and craft, and photographs of the belongings of Prophet Muhammad and of Islamic historical sites.

State Museum - This building was used as the premises of the land office from the colonial days until 1990 when major renovations were carried out to convert it into the State Museum. Exhibits of special interest here include the paraphernalia associated with Kelantan's traditional art. It also served as the main office for the Kelantan State Museum Corporation.

War Museum - The oldest brick building in Kelantan built in 1912 was actually once a bank of the Mercantile Bank group and is now the War Museum. It contains several records and memorabilia of World War II and the Japanese Occupation, including some Japanese long swords.
Tumpat
The district of Tumpat is on the border with Thailand and can be reached via the Sultan Yahya Bridge. There are scenic views of the countryside with traditional wooden houses built on stilts to beat the monsoon floods. Tumpat is the place to shop for goods which are mostly brought in across the border.
Wat Photivihan Temple, Tumpat
The most famous of the Buddhist temples (wats) around Tumpat, this building houses one of the longest reclining Buddhas in Southeast Asia. It is located at Kampung Jambu, about 12km north of Kota Bharu. Many pilgrims have visited the temple since it opened in 1980.
Terengganu - Beachland Paradise
This land of beautiful long sandy beaches has a coastline of 240km facing the South China Sea and is an attraction to beachcombers, fishermen and leatherback turtles alike. The water is a clear blue and the beautiful Perhentian Islands lay offshore. The people lead a moderate, peaceful life in picturesque villages where religion, tradition and culture are still dominant. They are noted for their arts and crafts and for boat building. There is a strong Malay culture and traditional pursuits such as kite flying, top spinning and batik printing are some of the activities it shares in common with Kelantan.

For the visitor to the area it is also a paradise for bargain hunters and souvenir collectors. Bustling weekend markets may be found in practically every town. There are ample opportunities to buy local handicraft, batik cloth, intricate filigree silverware, brassware and an enormous variety of dried and fresh food, including fresh seafood.
The lively state capital of Kuala Terengganu, bordered by the Terengganu River and the South China Sea, is the largest town in the state and has progressed from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling, colourful centre. Most sites of interest are along the town's waterfront, including Chinatown. A walk along Jalan Bandar with old terraced buildings on both sides of the road creates an attractive sense of timelessness, with the betting shops doing a lively afternoon trade. The Central Market is a multi-level complex attached to a car park with a fruit, vegetable and fish market, with textiles and handicrafts.
Best Beaches of Terengganu
Rantau Abang is located 60km south of Kuala Terengganu and is one of six places in the world where the leatherback turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, from May to September. These giant turtles, up to 2.5m in length and weighing some 375g are quite captivating and the best time to observe them is on full-moon days and when the tide is highest.

Bukit Keluang - Approximately 140km north of Kuala Terengganu is a wonderful place for swimming, snorkelling and wind surfing. It has a long stretch of white, sandy beach, and offers one of the most breathtaking views of the South China Sea. There are several cliff-side caves which can be reached by walkways and which make interesting exploration.

Penarik - The beaches here are noted for gently sloping sands and shallow sparkling waters. A great place for swimmers and sunbathers.
Marang, Terengganu
This peaceful fishing village offers the perfect image of an idyllic getaway. It has wooden houses, and a beach fringed with gently swaying coconut trees with a beautiful lagoon. The rural community work their farms and the village children indulge in happy pastimes.
Sekayu Recreational Forest, Terengganu
This Forest is located at Kuala Berang, 60km southwest of Kuala Terengganu. Its main attraction is the Sekayu Waterfall, tumbling over seven cascades. There is a fruit orchard, a bird park, a mini zoo and a rest house at the base. There are public facilities for bathing and changing and gazebos have been provided for family picnics.
The Pelagat Forest Reserve, Terengganu
This is located in Besut and is noted for the Lata Tembakah Waterfalls area. There are facilities for jungle trekking, swimming and camping. Nearby is a hot spring called LA Hot Spring.
Sungai Ceralak Waterfalls, Terengganu
There are two waterfalls here, the first known as Jeram Solo is about 12m high, while the second at 24m is called Jeram Padang. The area has attractive trees and various species of wild flowers. The surrounding hills provide a scenic backdrop for photographers. Getting there is an adventure in itself, requiring a boat ride from Kuala Jengai to Kuala Sungai Ceralak, and then a jungle hike and river crossing to get to the waterfalls. Another route uses logging trails and jungle tracks.
Tasik Kenyir (Lake Kenyir), Terengganu
Asia's largest man-made lake lays 55km from Kuala Terengganu and covers an area of 269sq km. It is also the site of Malaysia's largest hydroelectric dam.

When the area was flooded with water, most of the hills were above the water level, resembling some 340 man-made islands. Surrounded by lush tropical jungle, the Kenyir Lake is a popular retreat for nature lovers, anglers, photo enthusiasts and fun seekers. There are facilities for fishing, swimming, canoeing, boating and jungle trekking. The lake has a wide variety of freshwater fish such as Baung, Toman, Kelisa and Lampam. Accommodation is available in houseboats, floating chalets and lakeside resorts.
Manjung Mentong, Terengganu
This National Park can be accessed from Terengganu by taking a boat ride across Kenyir Lake to the Tanjung Mentong Ranger Station.
Pulau Redang Island, Terengganu
This is considered one of the prettiest islands in Malaysia, and is some 50km off the coast of Kuala Terengganu. It can be accessed by boat from Merang. The island has clear waters with white sandy shores fringing a heavily forested landmass. Good visibility makes it a great diving site. There are vast areas of coral reefs where the table coral formations in mature coral gardens are a breathtaking sight. There is interesting and colourful marine life and certain areas are noted for the large numbers of sea cucumbers on the ocean floor. Many activities can be enjoyed here, including swimming, snorkelling, canoeing, and jungle trekking. Cross-island transport is not well developed and boats are the only means to get from one point to another. Accommodation ranges from very basic camping facilities to luxury resorts. Designated a marine reserve, the collection of coral and aquatic life is prohibited and no fishing is allowed within a 3.2km radius of the island.
Pulau Perhentian Islands, Terengganu
Situated 21km off the coast of Terengganu, the Pulau Perhentian Marine Park consists of two islands: the larger Pulau Perhentian Besar and the smaller Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Both islands are surrounded by virgin jungle and palm trees on white sandy beaches. The warm blue waters contain colourful coral gardens. The islands are ideal for relaxation, and for the more active there are facilities for swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, deep-sea fishing, wind surfing, sailing and canoeing. The journey to this spectacular region takes about one hour by boat from Kuala Besut.
Pulau Kapas, Terengganu
Noted for its pure emerald waters and white sand beaches fringed by swaying palm trees, this is another place with dazzling marine life and coral formation. Long kept a secret by lovers of the underwater world, this island offers many secluded areas, which are unspoiled and great for divers. There are facilities for snorkelling, wind surfing, kayaking and boating. Pulau Kapas is 6km or a 30-minute boat ride from Marang.
Pahang
This is the largest state in peninsula Malaysia with a coastline of 208km on the east coast. The port of Kuantan is the capital, and Pekan is the Royal Town. The state lays claim to the longest river, the Sungai Pahang, and its highest peak, the 2,187-metre high Ganung Tahan. Two-thirds of this huge state is covered in forest and the population depends mainly on agriculture and natural resources. There is extensive oil palm cocoa and rubber cultivation. Its long coastline, where fishing and tourism- related activities are prominent, features many excellent beach areas with ample opportunity for swimming, snorkelling, and water sport enthusiasts.
Kuantan, Pahang
Located near the midway point of the picturesque east coast, Kuantan is a bustling town and a major stopover for travellers heading north, south or across the peninsula. The town is a charming combination of old and new. Shop-houses, souvenir shops, antiques and handcrafts can be found on Jalan Besar. At the centre of town is a field fronting a colonial-style courthouse and magnificent state mosque. The Kuantan riverbank offers atmospheric sights and there is plenty of activity there. A ferry crosses the wide Kuantan river to the small fishing village of Kampung Tanjung Lumpur for souvenirs and handicrafts.
Telok Chempedak Beach, Pahang
Kuantan's most famous beach is located at 4km out of town. Marked by a rocky headland on each end, the beach is fronted by a promenade where there is the Balai Karyaneka with a number of shops, souvenir stalls, restaurants and food stalls. The beach area is a popular meeting place for evening relaxation. A park on a promontory nearby has some walking and recreational areas. From the beach there is a short trail through the Tuluk Chempedak Forest Reserve to the more private Pelindung beach. There are luxury hotels, nightclubs and a plaza with handicraft shops and food stalls located here.
Gua Charah, Pahang
Outside of Kuantan in the town of Panching is the Gua Charah (Charah Cave), which contains a statue of the Sleeping Buddha, carved out of the rocks. When the sun is at a certain angle in July, light penetrates the cave and the reclining Buddha's head is lit up. There is a steep climb up an external stairway to the cave entrance.
Berkelah Waterfall, Pahang
These spectacular falls in a series of 8 cascades is located in the Berkelah Forest Reserve area, which is some 50km out of Kuantan. From the main road there is a jungle trek of some 8km through the forest to reach the falls, where the highest peak of cascading water is about 100m.
Sungai Pandan Waterfalls, Pahang
Also located in the Berkelah Forest Reserve these falls drop some 150m over a massive rock face into a large pool. There are public resting and recreational facilities at the base.
Gunung Senyum Caves, Pahang
These caves in the Temerloh district are believed to be more than 300 million years old. There are some 30 caves in the complex of caves, several of which have sinkholes in the roof. Particularly impressive is the Seven Wells Cave with rock formations resembling seven petrified waterfalls. Monkeys and mountain goats can be found in fair numbers at Gunung Senyum.
Tekam Plantation Resort, Pahang
30km south of Jerantut, this agricultural station in a Felda plantation of oil palm, cocoa, coffee, rubber, coconut and fruits, serves the educational and recreational needs of students and visitors. There are field trips, cave adventures, jungle trekking and team building programmes. Visitors can try their hand at tapping rubber trees or harvesting oil palm, go abseiling or river rafting. Other activities like mountain climbing and fishing are available and visitors can explore the nearby, million-year old Kota Gelanggi Caves, or the Gunung Senyum Caves. There is an 18-room resort, and chalets and a swimming pool at the plantation.
Pekan
The royal town of Pekan is a quiet, laid-back place where the most prominent buildings are the Royal Palace and the State Museum, which has a rich collection of historical items. Some of the artefacts were salvaged from an ancient Chinese junk, which sunk off the coast nearby. There are exhibits on the Pahang royal family with details of its early history; and displays on tin mining, Chinese ceramics and glassware. At the nearby Pulau Keladi village, is the Pahang Silk Weaving Centre, where the special art of traditional silk weaving is showcased. Pahang silk is noted for its intricate design and quality and the art has been passed down from generation to generation.
Beserah, Pahang
The fishing village of Beserah is about 10km north of Kuantan, and is noted for some of the best-salted fish in the region. An unusual sight is the Beserah fishermen utilising water buffaloes on the beach to transport baskets of fish from the boats to processing centres. These water buffaloes are also used in the padi fields. Beserah has several batik factories and cottage industries which produce handicraft from seashells and pandanus leaves.
Balok, Pahang
About 15km north Kuantan is the village of Balok, which contains a lovely stretch of scenic beach. It is a popular playground for swimmers, snorkellers and water sport enthusiasts.
Cherating Beach, Pahang
About 47km north of Kuantan is Cherating beach, which is a popular and lively tourist spot with plenty of activities. These include cultural performances, and all types of water sports. The sea has generally good surf for boardsailing and the beach is excellent.
Chendor Beach, Pahang
The beach here is famous for turtles coming to lay eggs between the months of July to September. Occasionally there are leatherback turtle sightings. The beach also offers several fine bathing spots in a peaceful and secluded setting.
Lanjut Beach, Pahang
Lanjut Beach is Pahang's sea and sun playground at its southern border near the town of Kuala Rompin. There are two major hotels here, one of which has a golf course. Lanjut is noted for freshwater and saltwater fishing, and there are several areas off its coast that are popular with divers.
Tasik Chini, Pahang
(Lake Chini) is located some 100km from Kuantan and comprises a string of several connected lakes. Legend has it that a sea serpent inhabits one of the lakes called Laut Gumun. Tasik Chini is also believed to be the site of a sunken Khmer city and many archaeologists have mounted expeditions to locate it. Fishing, camping, jungle trekking, boating and visiting Orang Asli villages are the main activities here. Between July and January is the best time to visit the lake, when large areas are covered with a carpet of pink and white lotus flowers.
Tasik Bera, Pahang
Lake Bera is located in southwest Pahang and is a wetland sanctuary and the largest freshwater swamp in Peninsular Malaysia, which has been declared a protected area. Covering 24,000 hectares, it is the home of the Semelai aborigines with an abundance of flora and fauna. The extended wetland area support tiger, tapirs and elephants and there have been sightings of the clouded leopard, flying squirrels and lemur, and the rare Malayan False Gharial crocodile. The flora includes rare orchids, a variety of ferns and epiphytes. The lake's tranquil surroundings are ideal for boating and kayaking and a place much favoured for fishing.
Taman Negara National Park
The Park encompasses 4,300sq km and has been a sanctuary to countless birds, butterflies, insects, fish, plants and animals, for more than 130 million years. This relatively unspoilt park has ancient trees with mammoth buttresses, unique flora and fauna and spectacular caves, waterfalls and mountain peaks. Many trails through jungle canopy walkways lead to observation hides, allowing visitors to catch a glimpse of the wildlife, particularly at dusk. Other activities here include fishing, bathing in crystal pools, or shooting the raging rapids.
Endau Rompin National Park
This Park is the newest nature reserve in the country and therefore the most pristine. It straddles the Pahang-Johor borders and covers 870sq km. The Park has been primarily a study tour for biologists and scientists, and there are some unique attractions in this little-explored park, which is the home of the nearly extinct Sumatran rhinoceros, some rare tigers, elephants, and tapirs. The lowland rainforest is among the last remaining on the peninsula and contains some unique flora and fauna.
Gunung Tapis Park
Located some 16 km from Sungai Lembing, the Gunung Tapis Park is noted for its hot springs and as a place to observe wildlife. It also contains some great rivers for shooting rapids and for fishing.
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