Malaysia is no doubt one of the top holiday destinations among tourists from around the region with Singapore contributing to the highest number of arrivals into the country and Brunei sitting in fifth place.
For most people, Kuala Lumpur is a must-stop place for shopping, sight-seeing and food hunting especially for those who are on a brief weekend getaway.
Tourism Malaysia has always been active with its Visit Malaysia campaigns annually and with Visit Malaysia 2020, it hopes to welcome a total of 30 million tourists.
In realising the figure, which campaign’s objectives focus on the sustainability of tourism, arts and culture, the tourism board encourages travels beyond its big city Kuala Lumpur; to the less explored Malaysian states.
Although Bruneians are familiar with Malaysia, not many are aware of the beautiful beaches, islands and other sceneries it has to offer particularly in the east coast region of the peninsula.
After the launch of ASEANMeet in Melaka recently, the Bruneian delegates had a post-tour programme to Terengganu, the east coast state with the longest coastline stretching over 200km.
East Coast Terengganu
If you need to wind down and get away from the hustle-bustle of the city, consider taking a trip to this hidden gem of Malaysia that boasts picturesque and clean beaches and of course, islands.
Kuala Terengganu is just less than an hour away via flight and about four-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Any mode of transportation to this riverine city merely depends on the traveler but for those with a tight schedule, taking the plane is the best option.
Upon touch down at Sultan Mahmud Airport, one can feel the freshness of Terengganu air and the clean environment unlike in the bigger busy cities.
Terengganu has its own charming character. Despite the changes in development over time, it still has a quaint feel in its surroundings – a familiar environment for travelers originating from a humble, green abode.
Other than its sandy beaches and tranquil blue waters, Terengganu is also well-known for its delicate batik, boat making, beautiful mosques and delicious keropok lekor, among others.
Batik making at Noor Arfa
It is said that a visit to Terengganu is not complete without dropping by Noor Arfa Craft Complex to see how batik is made or drawn.
Batik is a technique used on whole fabric or cloth by applying wax or simply means “drawing out with wax”.
Noor Arfa is a pioneer in the batik industry in Malaysia that has been operating in Kuala Terengganu for more than 30 years – a family run business that was founded by Wan Mohd Ariffin and his wife, Noor Hijerah Hanafiah.
At the complex that is located in Chendering Industrial Area in Kuala Terengganu, visitors will have the chance to observe demonstrations of making batik where you will also get to try painting a small piece of fabric.
After batik drawing, then head over to Noor Arfa’s showroom for some shopping.
You will be spoiled for choices as there is a wide range of products such as traditional clothing, batik fabric, hijabs and kain sarong, among others.
If you are looking for higher quality fabric and apparel, you may find something that suits your interest at its premium showroom.
This central market is popular among tourists to get quality affordable fabric, dried goods and souvenirs as well as for some good eats of local delicacies.
The one-floor market has many kiosks that are located next to one another along a passageway that is packed with customers. So do not let the crowd stop your shopping activity.
It is impossible to not leave the place with a shopping bag – there is definitely something for everyone.
If you cannot find any fabric or apparel that you like, perhaps you can make your way to the dried food section and spend some of your ringgits on keropok lekor kering or keropok lekor goreng which can be stored up to 48 hours before frying.
Islamic Civilisation Monument Park
Another interesting place for your sight-seeing itinerary is Terengganu’s latest attraction, the Islamic Civilsation Park.
You may feel like you have traveled around the globe when you see over 20 miniature replicas of mosques of the world located in this park.
Visitors can opt to walk around the park while enjoying every step of their journey or take the tramp, buggy or bicycle.
Upon entry, each visitor will be given a passport containing the information of each miniature while at the same time will be given an educational guided tour via the buggy or tramp rides.
All visits will start from Malaysia’s National Mosque before passing by a very familiar figure at the fifth stop, our very own Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque.
The Bruneian delegates were ecstatic to see the miniature and had some photo opportunities near the structure – despite the small size, it still looks majestic.
It takes about an hour to complete the whole tour of the Edutainment Park as you not only walk around and see from the outside.
Some replicas such as the Taj Mahal and Dome of the Rock have a brief video presentation and can be entered, giving a glimpse of what’s inside the real structure.
Terengganu State Museum
Some people enjoy visiting museums as they get to learn about other people’s culture and history while also admiring the museum’s architecture.
The Terengganu State Museum is one that already catches your attention from afar.
The huge museum is built on concrete stilts, raised above ponds and landscaped gardens, with white walls that are not repainted, giving it an old yet original look.
It is the largest museum in Malaysia which architecture is based on ancient Terengganu palace designs and home to nine galleries showcasing textiles, historical artifacts, royal regalia, Islamic arts and seafaring trade, among others.
Around the museum, which you can go by foot, there are also old traditional houses of Malay aristocrats that were relocated from around Terengganu and Malaysia.
There are not many Bruneians visiting Terengganu and the Terengganu Tourism Board is hopeful that Bruneians consider the East Coast state as their next holiday destination.
Its latest Kuala Terengganu Drawbridge is the first in Southeast Asia which design is inspired by London’s Tower Bridge.
Visitors can go up the tower at just RM15 and see the magnificent view of the Terengganu estuary or you can enjoy the colourful illuminations projected unto the structure. If you are lucky, you will get to see the hydraulic bascule bridge opens, allowing ships to pass through under it.
Moreover, by February or March next year, gear up for some fun at the beach and water adventures as it is the start of the best season for some island hopping.
Terengganu has the best islands and many to choose from such as Redang, Perhentian, Tenggol, Kapas & Gemia, Lang Tengah and Batu Buruk, among others.
Everything that you need for the perfect holiday is available in Terengganu. What is there not to like about this hidden gem of Malaysia?
The Bruneian | TERENGGANU