Pasar Payang or the Central Market is no less than an interesting place to visit. This double storey market houses all kind of goods that you can find, ranging from poultry to sea products, utensils to bed sheet….almost like ‘you name it, you get it’.
The lower level of this double storey building is a wet market. You can find fresh seafood or preserved sea products such as ikan bilis in all sizes, salted fish and dried cuttlefish etc. Consult the stall owner if you do not know how to choose between a salted fish for stir frying and a salted fish for steaming purposes.
Vegetables are sold in the middle. Don’t be surprise if you see chilies in milky green colour, fern leaves like vege, banana trunk, etc… these are the ulam, some wild vegetation eaten by the local here..
Keropok or crackers made from fish or prawn, asam, local made candies and snacks are sold in stalls beside the entrance too. Look for one special cracker, Keropok Belinjau that is made from a kind of gnetum called Belinjau (gnetum gnenom).
Or Princess hill, is located just a few steps opposite of Central Market. This 173 year-old 200m hill only came to known when the Sultan Baginda Omar turned it into a defensive fortress in 1831 during his reign period. To perform the function of a protective fortress, a few units of cannon and a bell was placed. The bell served as an ‘alarm’ whenever there are enemies were detected. It was also the residence for the Sultan during the early days of his ruling.
Today stairs are properly built for people to climb to the top. Most of the cannon had taken back by the Siam during the period when they ruled Terengganu in 1843-1845. Remaining there are a flagpole, a few left over cannons, a bell and a lighthouse. The bell, however, is still performing its function but no more to alert the existence of enemies instead a breaking fast reminder during the fasting month.
Best time to visit the fort in the morning or evening time when temperature is not too extreme. From the platform at the top, you can see fishing boat coming back home after a hard day. To the other side, you have a panoramic view of Kuala Terengganu.
China Town is actually a row of prewar old building at Jalan Kg Cina. These buildings are believed to be the residence for the Chinese from China mainland who arrived in Peninsular Malaysia in the 19th century. Most of the houses are 2 stories, with brick or concrete structure and wooden flooring in the second storey. Some still keep its wood carving on the windows and huge heavy wooden front door whereas some were turned into the renewed modern concrete building.
The colourful long roof has created a unique and beautiful photographing spot for photo taking especially in evening before the sun disappears from the sky.
These century old building are now sundry shops, local coffee shops, offices for several tour operators, batik and souvenir shops, restaurants etc. Recently there are people who buy over the house from the original owners and turn it a ‘swiftlet house’ for their bird nest business.
There is also a Chinese Temple painted in red colour standing at the corner. The local believe that ‘Goddess’ of the temple has given them very accurate guidance and ‘protection’ during the hard time, therefore there is always worshipers redeem their vow to the God.
Seberang Takir is a small fishing village on a tiny peninsular with Terengganu River and South China Sea as its waters. This tiny peninsular can be accessed by crossing the river on a 5 minutes boat trip from the waterfront besides the Central Market. A boat ride costs RM0.70.
Seberang Takir has lots of interesting thing to be discovered. Most of the villagers in Kampung Hujung Tanjung earn their living from cottage industry in producing the famous Terengganu Keropok Lekor (a kind of fish cracker), batik printing, and drying salted fish under the sun, all by manual. The activities normally involve the whole family and sometime the neighbours as well. Villagers are friendly, you can greet them and walk in to pay a visit to these factories, (in fact is a hut extended from the house) have a little chat, or perhaps, buy a piece of two fresh Keropok Lekor to chew.
To the end of the village is shallow sandy beach which will be flooded by sea water during monsoon season. A walk to this little peninsular village is interesting and worth. Different types of smell floating in the air as you walk in the village and there are lot of good photo taking points.
Of course this is not a place that you can walk in and take a photo. It is a palace for the Terengganu’s Sultan. The palace is standing right beside Bukit Puteri. It was constructed in late 19th century. Besides the very French like design, this palace is believed to have constructed with mixture of limestone, clay, coarse salt, egg yolk and honey as its construction material. The Terengganu Sultan rarely stay here, instead this is a palace for reception and some royal ceremonies.
Tengku Tengah Zahara Mosque
Or more commonly called Floating Mosque. This is due to its unique design which is built on a floating platform, giving a floating feel from far away. The mosque is built on the estuary of Terengganu River by one of the prince in Terengganu state. Combining both modern and Moorish architecture design, the mosque symbolizes the innovation and modernisation in the state. Adjacent to the mosque is a park with beautiful pine trees. The ideal time to visit this mosque is in the evening, when the evening sun shines on the mosque, turning the building into golden colour while the cooling breeze blow from the South China sea.
Pulau Duyung or the Mermaid Island is a venue for The Moonson Cup (Swedish Match Tour). Both road and sea transport is available, but the best way to jump into a boat at jetty located at the back of Seri Malaysia Hotel and pay RM 0.70 for a 5 minutes boat ride.
Pulau Duyung is famous among the local and foreign with its traditional boat making industry. What made the boat making industry very special and well known to the sailing world is that, here in Pulau Duyung, they produce wooden sailing boat which is getting less when wood is eventually replaced by fibre glass. Among the boat builders, Pakcik Haji Abdullah is the soul in this industry. His workshop is located in the heart of the village in a traditional Malay house. Here he and his skilled craftsmen have built hundreds of wooden sailing boat for local as well as foreign sailing enthusiasts. If you have time, a chat with Pakcik Haji Abdullah in his workshop (well, if you are lucky you might meet him in is workshop, supervising the boat making progress) will not only gain you handful of boat making knowledge, but also prove to you that this old man is not an ordinary old man as in your neighbourhood.
The village itself is a typical Malay kampung. Houses randomly distributed among the coconut trees, kampung kids chasing with each other in the bicycle, older villagers have their chat time in the pondok kopi (huts selling coffee), women hanging their washing while taking this golden opportunity to update with each other……to the end of the village, it is sandy beach. Do not expect the sand to be as fine as Redang Island, but standing on the beach, looking back to the house and coconut trees, it is a very pictorial view of the kampung.
It is worth to spend a pleasant afternoon in this little village. When the boat is arriving at the small jetty, you can have a very different glimpse of China Town from the back.
Another place worth to visit in Kuala Terengganu is the State Museum located in Bukit Losong. Bukit Losong is about 6 km from Kuala Terengganu. The museum sprawls over 27 ha and is said to be the largest in Southeast Asia. This huge museum is gardened by the Terengganu River, therefore it is accessible by road or water and can be seen from the rooftop of some tall buildings in Kuala Terengganu city.
The museum consists of 4 multi storey blocks and houses 10 galleries both indoor and outdoor ranging from some interesting nineteenth century Chinese wares with Islamic ideology, prehistoric tools from the Stone Age, ancient Islamic manuscripts carved on stone (batu bersurat) to herbs gardens in the outdoor exhibition area. If you are particularly interested with traditional boats, the outdoor fisheries museum is a good idea to open your eyes with all kind of boats in different shapes, carving and function. There are also several ancient palaces which have been moved from its original site to the museum compound. Or even the building itself is a traditional palatial Terangganu architecture.
An entrance fee of Rm5.00 for adult and RM2.00 for children will be charged. The museum closes on Fridays. Losong itself is a rural area outside Kuala Terengganu city center. Losong in the Terengganu Malay language means secret path. According to some elderly locals, during the olden days, they are the secret paths that were used by warriors and traders. Today there are about 17 ‘secret path’, i.e. Losong in this area, therefore as you are on your way to the museum, you will see many signboards begin with ‘Losong, such as Losong Panglima Perang, Losong Atap Zinc, etc. Do not get confused with them.
Other than the museum, another thing which makes Losong famous among the local is the prawn and fish cracker, Keropok Lekor. You can just stop by and grasp a packet or two while on the way to the museum.
Pantai Batu Buruk
On the eastern side of Kuala Terengganu is Pantai Batu Buruk. There are pine trees lining up behind the shore, like a loyal friend to the waves. During windy days, playing kite on the beach is a good idea. Apart from being the venue for the annual Beach Festival and food stall, though sand is not as fine as on the islands, Pantai Buruk is also a popular place for strolling and swimming and good place to visit especially in the evening. This beautiful beach is just 1 km from the city center and can be reached by walking. Perhaps this is the cleanest and widest beach inside Kuala Terengganu city.