I could never quite complete the stories I have to tell you about Kelantan. In fact, in my last article entitled "Kelantan In A Big Nutshell", I have exceeded (well, almost) the word limit as preset by the publisher. But here I am again, determined to complete the other half of the story with more insights into the local tourist spots and other places not quite well-known in the travel scene, but unique all the same.
If you have been to Kelantan but not to the fishing villages, then you haven't tasted the very essence of the place. These fishing villages are the soul of Malaysia's east coast with one of the best known villages located at Sabak Beach. Sabak Beach is about 14 km from Kota Bharu, the state's capital. If you are there in the late afternoons, you will get to experience an interesting moment when the local fisherman come in with the "catch of the day"! The idyllic afternoon is suddenly roused from its gentle slumber when the colorful boats laden with fishes come to shore. What ensues after that is a noisy session of haggling between fishermen and customers. All these take place right on the beach itself. You will also get to witness the villagers drying the fishes and mending their nets.
Speaking of beaches, there are various beautiful and breathtaking beaches along the Kelantan coastline. First, the famous Pantai Cahaya Bulan is a must-see. Located along the northeast stretch at about 9.6 km from Kota Bharu, this beach is well shaded with tall casuarinas trees and is the perfect place for relaxation and picnics. You may also opt to stay at the comfortable chalets available at the beach. Kelantan is also blessed by Pantai Irama (Beach of Melody). It is located south of Kota Bharu in the district of Bachok. To date, Pantai Irama has been crowned the most beautiful beach along the entire east coast. And then, we also have Pantai Bisikan Bayu, which is located near Semerak in the district of Pasir Putih. Pasir Putih is located 50 km from Kota Bharu. Just like Pantai Cahaya Bulan, this "Beach of Whispering Breeze" is also framed by tall casuarinas. Not forgetting too, the Pantai Seri Tujuh. It is another lovely beach that is located a mere 7 km from Kota Bharu. This is where the annual Malaysian International Kite Festival is held. This beach is the closest to the Thailand border. Expect to be enthralled by the beauty of the scenic coastline along the South China Sea as you make your way to the place.
Beaches aside, Kelantan is also endowed with some of the country's most beautiful waterfalls. Thanks to its lush forest and picturesque waterfall, many great picnic spots are found in Kelantan. Most of these falls are located in the district of Pasir Puteh - 35 km from Kota Bharu. The weary traveler must take a dip in the icy cool waters at Jeram Pasu. He/she will be instantly rejuvenated. Located at Kampong Padang Pak Amat, Jeram Pasu is easily accessible by car and is definitely the most popular waterfall in the state. However, if you are nearer to Jeram Lenang (about 65 km from Kota Bharu), then this is a good alternative spot to stop at for a round of jungle trekking, picnicking and camping. You will get a lovely treat if you stop at Lata Beringin, which is famous for its 120-meter high waterfall! To get to the waterfall, use the dirt track leading off from the Kuala Krai-Gua Musang Highway. You will find it at Sungei Pas Kesedar Scheme. The magnificent view and fresh surrounding is the perfect spot for camping.
And of course, with waterfalls you will also get exhilarating fun along the rivers and in the jungle. If you are into ecotourism, then you will definitely enjoy a cruise up the Kelantan River and into the untouched virgin rainforest of Kelantan. The ancient rainforest is grand. You will be able to catch a glimpse of the wildlife and the communities that stay along the river. To catch a river cruise, you can take it from Kuala Krai. At Kuala Krai, all you need to do is to take the boat from the riverside jetty and you are on your way to a 2-hour cruise. The cruise will end in Dabong. If you are into jungle trekking, then don't miss this opportunity when you alight at Dabong. From Dabong, go on to Jelawang for a jungle trekking experience. At Jelawang, you will get to see the awesome Jelawang Waterfalls, which promises to be worth the 1 ½ hours trek to reach there!
If you do not wish to explore the jungles, then catch the southbound train from Dabong to Gua Musang. The journey will take about 2 ½ hours but you will get to see the majestic Lata Beringin Waterfall at the end of the trip. Gua Musang is a famous cave that lies in the vicinity of Taman Negara, one of the world's oldest rainforest. At this place, you can either explore the limestone caves, waterfalls or go on a riverboat safari. There are many travel agents that can help you organize a trip to these places.
The highest mountain in Kelantan peaked at 1422 meters. Located at Gunung Stong is a cave called Gua Ikan (Fish Cave). The cave got its name from a solitary rock that resembles the shape of a fish. There is a rumor going around that have made many explorers set out in search for a pot of gold claimed to have been hidden there during the Japanese Occupation. You may want to try your luck! After having written so much about the state, I have yet to touch on the one aspect that thrills most women - shopping. Kelantan is a shopper's haven and very unique if you compare it to those in the big city like Kuala Lumpur. Watch out for my next article with tips on shopping in Kelantan. I will also relate to you about the interesting cottage industries that Kelantan is famous for. But that is another story...