Kuala Terengganu is the administrative and royal capital of the state of Terengganu. It used to be a port of call for barter traders from the neighbouring regions. This city is located at the estuary of the Terengganu River and is the gateway to the tourist attractions and islands of Terengganu. It was once a major fishing port, current industries include traditional textile making, tourism and craft making.
The ‘floating mosque’ also known as the Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah is situated on the man made Kuala Ibai Lagoon, 4km from the city centre. It is connected to the land on both sides by two pedestrian bridges. The pure white mosque has a combination of Moorish and Malay architecture with ceramics, marble, bomanite paving and mosaic tiles. A panorama view of the South China Sea and the surrounding areas can be seen from the highest point of the 125 feet –tall minaret. The most impressive views of the mosque is at sunset and especially at night when the mosque is brightly lighted up, enhancing the ‘floating ‘ effect. The reflection of the mosque can be seen clearly on the water.
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Chinatown, which is located along Jalan Kampung Cina is one of the most beautiful in the country . This was one of the early Chinese settlements in Southeast Asia and the houses built by the Chinese settlers mirrored their place of origin in China. The Chinatown here contains many ornate temples, stately ancestral homes and traditional shop houses. These shop houses have been listed as a heritage site by the UNESCO World Monument Watch Programme, with about 270 pre-war shop houses left now.
ISLAMIC CIVILISATION PARK
This park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kuala Terengganu and is located on Pulau Wan Man, near the estuary of the Terengganu River. It is spread out over 10 acres of land and is filled with replicas of 22 of the worlds’ most famous mouments. Here one can view the Dome of the Rock, Grand Mosque of Mecca and the Taj Mahal to name a few. The theme park was built at a cost of Rm 250 million and was opened in February 2008.
One of the most spectacular mosques in Malaysia is the Crystal Mosque which is situated next to this park. This stunning piece of architecture is coated with steel, glass and crystal and gives off a sparkling effect when the sun shines on the exterior.
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During the last few years, Chinatown has added colour to the surrounding areas by brightening the alleys that separate the rows of shops. The lanes have been transformed into works of art with the murals and installation pieces, each lane bearing a specific theme.
The turtle is the official mascot of the state of Terengganu, the ground and walls of this lane are covered with mosaic turtles. At the start of this lane is a mural showing an idyllic beach scene with a stone-carved leatherback turtle sitting on a sandy patch in front of it. There are various reminders on how to protect these turtles such as not collecting or purchasing their eggs and not throwing plastic bags into the sea where the turtles mistake them for jellyfish and choke on them. Leatherback turtle numbers have been declining due to harmful fishing methods,egg snatching and harassment by tourists.
PAYANG MEMORY LANE
A cluster of colourful umbrellas hang above this lane to symbolise unity in diversity. On the walls of the lane are bronze cast plaques, which bear the images of personalities from the local Chinese community who are recognised for their contributions to the state.
BUKIT PUTERI ( PRINCESS HILL )
This 208-metre high hill is located next to the Istana Maziah and was fomerly a fortress believed to have been built in the 1820’s. It was a strategic lookout point when facing enemies who came from the sea. From the top of the hill.one can have a panoramic view of the entire city of Kuala Terengganu, fishermen bustling with their catch and get a magnificient view of the South China Sea. One of the historical artifacts found here is a brass bell called a ‘ genta’ which was crafted in 1908. It was struck during emergencies as well as to mark special occasions like important festivals and royal events. Some cannons, a flagpole, lighthouse, cemetery and a fort can also be seen here.
TERENGGANU STATE MUSEUM
This museum is acclaimed as the largest museum in Malaysia and one of the largest museums in South East Asia. It is situated in Bukit Losong which is about 6km from Kuala Terengganu. The museum covers an area of 27 hectares and was officially opened on April 20th 1996. The architecture of this complex is based on the designs of the ancient Terengganu palace.and houses ancient artifacts and rich colourful artworks which are century old. The museum consists of 4 huge buildings with 5 traditional real houses in its’ compound behind the main museum. These traditional houses show the houses which were built in the olden days.
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LANG TENGAH ISLAND
Lang Tengah Island is located about 45km north east of Kuala Terengganu. The clear turquoise waters around the island has beautiful coral reefs, abundant fish life and occasional sharks and rays. This island is quieter with less development, compared with the other islands off the coast of Terengganu. From April to October, the island has nesting green turtles, sometimes hawksbill turtles come to nest and are seen in the sea. Boats and speedboats can be hired from Tanjung Merang, Redang Island or Perhentian Islands to Lang Tengah Island.