Kota Bharu



Several nights could be spent in Kota Bharu, which is 200 mi/320 km north of Kuala Lumpur near Thailand in the northeastern corner of peninsular Malaysia. The city is a great place to learn about traditional Malaysian and Muslim cultureā€”see exhibitions of top spinning, kite making, shadow plays, giant drums and silat (self-defense), a martial art. The activities seem to be everywhere, but visitors often see them at the Kelantan State Cultural Center, which is open on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Songket, a cloth interwoven with gold and silver threads, makes a nice souvenir (prices vary depending on the quality of the cloth and thread). Don't miss Kota Bharu Central Market, especially in the early morning when locals do their shopping under the skylight-dome ceiling (the light is superb for photographs). From the town, you can also head to the Perhentian Islands where you can relax on fabulous beaches or discover underwater life.

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