Kuala Terengganu is the capital of Terengganu state in Peninsular Malaysia. Although it’s not as famous for a weekend destination as Penang or Langkawi, it has its own charm. From incredible mosques to some of the country’s best underwater paradise, there are lots of things to do in Kuala Terengganu that are ideal for a short break.
Feat img: Sunset at one of Kuala Terengganu’s beaches (Source: CC BY 2.0 – Amrufm)
How to get there?
To maximise my weekend, I left for Kuala Terengganu by taking an overnight bus. The journey to Kuala Terengganu from KL took almost seven hours, so I decided to spend it catching some sleep on the bus. Make sure that you alight at the correct terminal — Kuala Terengganu — instead of other parts of Terengganu.
If you don’t like the idea of wasting so many hours on the road, take a flight to Kuala Terengganu instead. Kuala Terengganu’s Sultan Mahmud Airport serves many daily flights to and from Kuala Lumpur. From the airport, you can get a cab to the city centre, located 13 km away.
Day 1 / 9:00
Take a ferry to Redang Island
After the long night ride and some breakfast, I was ready to explore Kuala Terengganu! The major pull factor for me to visit Kuala Terengganu is Redang Island, the haven for divers to explore the underwater. I took a ferry from Shahbandar Jetty, right smack at the centre of Kuala Terengganu, to Berjaya Jetty located on the southern coast of Redang Island. The journey usually takes around 1 hour 15 minutes and is only available during March-October season. So check the dates first before going to Redang Island.
CC BY 2.0 – Michael Camilleri
There is an alternative way to get to Redang Island by boat that is taking a ferry from Merang Jetty, 30km north of Kuala Terengganu. The ferries here will bring you to Pasir Panjang Jetty on the northern coast of Redang.
Day 1 / 10:30
Check-in to the Resort
I had booked my accommodation beforehand, and I advise you the same. There are quite a number of resorts located on the island, although they are scattered on the north, south and east sides of the island. Take note of the location of the resorts that you are planning to book! If you are going to take the ferry from Syahbandar, you should get a place at southern Redang. My personal recommendation is Redang Island Resort as it is conveniently located close to the jetty and beach with decent amenities.
I always request for an early check-in whenever possible because I can’t wait to hit the beach once I reach Redang Island. If your resort doesn’t entertain such request, you can always ask the resort to take care of your luggage while you continue your adventure outside. Time to get your lunch!
Day 1 / 12.00
While you are on the island, make sure to try out snorkelling. Redang is possibly one of the best underwater worlds in Malaysia. Most resorts offer snorkelling package at the nearby islands, promising you some sightings of turtles or blacktip reef sharks!
If you are more adventurous, step up your underwater game from snorkelling to scuba diving. This is precisely what I’m here for — to get into the deep blue sea to discover beautiful, diverse marine life among colourful coral reef. It is a beauty and peace that you can never get elsewhere to swim among tons of aquatic creatures.
Day 1 / 18:00
Sunset and a sky full of stars
After a few dives, I needed to get a break from the water. I spent my time strolling along the beach before getting my dinner. Enjoy the cooling breeze and listen to the crashing wave while looking at the sky. It quickly turned orange with slightly pink hues, a lovely way to end my day. I waited for another hour to see the sky fully transformed into a dark blanket full of diamonds. I always treasure this view that I can hardly get in the cities.
Day 2 / 06:30
Sunrise and adventure (again)
Wake up early to watch a gorgeous sunrise on the horizon across the water! After that, grab some breakfast before deciding to spend the morning either lazing around the resort, scuba diving, or kayaking around the island. My choice is clearly to go for another dive. I can’t leave the island without getting the last view of the underwater!
CC BY 2.0 – Closari
Day 2 / 13:00
Ferry back to Terengganu
Once done, I checked out from the hotel and ordered a quick lunch while waiting for the ferry to arrive.
Day 2 / 14:30
Istana Maziah (Maziah Palace)
The next spot on my list is Istana Maziah that is nowadays used for royal ceremonies. The palace was once the seat of the Sultanate. Drawing reference from French architecture, the Istana is located very strategically close to the river, Syahbandar square and Bukit Puteri. Rumours say that the palace is going to be converted into a public museum!
CC BY 2.0 – Abie Sudiono
Day 2 / 15:30
Taman Tamadun Islam (Islamic Civilization/Heritage Park)
As an Islamic-theme recreational park, this site showcases 22 mosques miniatures from all over the world especially Asia, Europe and Africa. There is also a river cruise, villas, a restaurant, as well as a light and sound night show. You can also visit the famous Crystal Mosque within the compound. It is famous for the shiny dome reflecting the water surrounding it — such a grand architecture that brings pride to Kuala Terengganu.
CC BY 2.0 – Amrufm
Day 2 / 18:00
Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque (Floating Mosque)
This floating white mosque boasts a mixture of Modern and Moorish architecture. You will see lots of ceramic, marble and mosaic in the interior of the mosque. The pure white facade is brightly lit at night, creating a beautiful floating effect for the mosque. With its tall minaret overseeing the South China Sea, this beautiful mosque is definitely worth the visit when you are in Kuala Terengganu.
CC BY 2.0 – Sham Hardy
Day 2 / 20:00
Time to leave
My short escapade to Kuala Terengganu had to, and it’s time to catch an overnight bus to return home. It has been a super packed weekend, but I had lots of fun exploring both the land and the underwater life. Looking forward to another trip but for now, it’s time to get back to reality!