Things to do in Terengganu
When Malaysians travel to Terengganu, we’d usually head straight to the acclaimed Redang Island and Perhentian Islands. It’s rare for most to stop by other parts of Terengganu for a vacay.
But little may we know that we’ve been missing out on other unbelievably gorgeous natural wonders that Terengganu has to offer. From an emerald-green river, to a bright blue lake, and an enchanting firefly park, here is a list of lesser-known attractions to hit up the next time you’re in Terengganu.
– Outdoor activities –
1. Kenyir Lake – take a dip with fish, island-hop, and see nature up close
Image credit: @firdaussinuzula
Kenyir Lake (Tasik Kenyir) is synonymous with Terengganu as it’s a major attraction in the state for both locals and tourists. Located in Hulu Terengganu, it’s an artificial lake covering a vast 38,000 hectares. The lake is surrounded by luscious rainforests and is home to a myriad of fishes.
There is an abundance of things to do on the lake and its many islands – a haven for outdoor and nature lovers alike. Avoid the north-east monsoon season around October to March every year when the lake is closed.
You can explore the Bewah Cave (Gua Bewah) and marvel at its incredible formations and limestone hills, while keeping a look out for common cave inhabitants such as bats, spiders, and frogs.
Or head over to Kelah Fish Sanctuary where visitors will be able to dip in the river together with kelah fishes. The fishes are aplenty, and they will swarm you if you feed them so you’ll get to feel their scales and gentle bites which have been described as “massaging.”
Kelah Fish Sanctuary
Image credit: @awie.entertainment_official
For a more relaxing activity, take a stroll through the Herbs Garden (Taman Herba) and Orchid Garden (Taman Orkid) on Sah Kecil Island. You’ll get to enjoy a leisurely walk while learning about the many herbs and spices native to Malaysia.
The Herb Garden
Image credit: Iswardi Ismail
Meanwhile, the Orchid Garden is a conservatory for a huge variety of orchids, both rare and common ones, in a multitude of shapes, sizes, and colours. The park with over 11,000 orchid plants can be found on Pulau Hilir Selimbar.
The Orchid Garden
Image credit: papa Red
As a result of high rainfall and undisturbed catchment areas surrounding Kenyir Lake, you’ll find 14 waterfalls within the vicinity – each with different hiking trails.
One of the most accessible and popular ones is the Lasir Waterfall. You can have a relaxing picnic by the stream, swim in it, or try out waterfall abseiling if you’re into more adventurous activities.
Image credit: @kenyirecoresort
How to get there:
Board a boat to get to Kenyir Lake from Pengkalan Gawi jetty. You can also island-hop for a day via speedboat from here from RM60.
Alternatively, Pengkalan Gawi jetty is an approximate 4 and a half hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur and an hour away from Kuala Terengganu, the capital city of Terengganu.
2. Bukit Singa – hike to a clifftop view
Image credit: @kapasvacay.agent
Bukit Singa is located in Pulau Kapas, a small but beautiful island off the coast of Terengganu. Pulau Kapas has breathtaking beaches and crystal clear waters, but 95% of the island is actually covered in hills and forests, so it’s ideal for not just beachgoers, but hikers too.
Bukit Singa is one of the more popular hiking trails here as the view from the top is second to none. The elevation isn’t very high and the journey will only take around an hour, but the cliff trails are rocky and slippery, so it’s highly recommended to trek with proper hiking shoes.
How to get to Pulau Kapas:
Hop on a 20-minute boat ride from Marang Jetty for around RM30.
Alternatively, Marang Jetty is 30 minutes away by car from Kuala Terengganu.
3. Sungai Bangan – a popular pit stop on a challenging hiking trail
Image credit: Amira Fahana
Sungai Bangan is a pit stop for hikers who are conquering the Chemerong-Berembun-Langsir trail. This three-day hike starts from Hutan Lipur Chemerong in Hulu Dungun, around 2 hours from Kuala Terengganu.
It’s not an easy feat as it’ll require you to camp two nights, but the rewarding views of 370m-high Chemerong Waterfall, from the peak of 2,077m-high Mount Berembun, and of 801m-high Lansir Waterfall are worth it.
Image credit: @skydeunan
Sungai Bangan’s waters are emerald in colour and unbelievably clear – a true natural wonder that hasn’t been discovered by many because of the challenging hike. The water runs deep – around 2.5m – so do practice caution when swimming.
Avoid monsoon season by visiting between March and October when the ground is dry for easier hiking.
4. Bukit Keluang – sunrise and sunset views
Image credit: @syazani_z
Bukit Keluang offers some of the best coastline scenery in Terengganu. In fact, you can catch both the sunrise and sunset from the peak.
Image credit: Khalid Rukon
It’s an easy hike perfect for beginners, as it will only take 20 to 30 minutes at most. Plus, the trail consists of mostly steps, so no special hiking boots are necessary.
Bukit Keluang is around 2 hours away from Kuala Terengganu.
5. Lata Kolam Air Deru Ecopark – riverside BBQ spot
Image credit: Lala Kolam Air Deru Ecopark
Lata Kolam Air Deru Ecopark is a humble homestay near a river that offers a bunch of add-on outdoor activities from archery, ATV riding, white water rafting, and more.
The place is ideal for groups of friends as they have capsules and cabins that can fit up to 6 guests (from RM80 per night). Bathrooms are shared and bedrooms are homestyle rather than fancy, so treat this as more of a campsite than hotel.
They also have barbecue pits free for guests to use, so you should bring your own ingredients to have a fun time roasting and feasting with your friends at night.
The river offers plenty of room to spread out as you take a dip
Image credit: @latakolam_airderu_ecopark
Lata Kolam Air Deru Ecopark is around 2 and a half hours from Kuala Terengganu.
Address: Jalan Kolam Air Panas La, Kampung La, 22010 Jerteh, Terengganu
Telephone: 019-693 1662
6. Tasik Puteri – park with a waterfall
Image credit: @sharifahbasirah
Tasik Puteri Park (Taman Rekreasi Tasik Puteri) is a public recreational park featuring the man-made Bukit Besi waterfall with enchanting blue waters. Tucked away from public view, the waterfall is an easy 10-minute trek from the entrance of the park.
Image credit: Beautiful Terengganu
Daredevils can also sign up for ATV riding operated by CEA ATV Outdoor. With rides priced at around RM180 per person, they’ll bring you through rough roads, streams, and bridges without railings, so it’s definitely not for the easily scared.
For newbies to the water, the tamer banana boat rides at RM10 per rider are recommended on a clear day.
Tasik Puteri is an hour and a half away from Kuala Terengganu.
Address: 23200 Bukit Besi, Terengganu
7. Kemaman Blue Lake – views of a former gold mine
Image credit: @faris_rmcf
The Kemaman Blue Lake is also known as Pepsi Blue Lake, because as its name suggests, the colour of the lake resembles the blue hues of a Pepsi can.
These are a result of chemicals in the water linked to the lake’s past as a gold mine.
Of course, this means you should not swim in it, but the lake’s picturesque landscape and bright blue waters make it a highly Instagrammable place. So just keep a safe distance when you’re posing for the ‘gram.
Address: Jalan Medan Jaya, Kampung Rusila, 21080 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
8. Boardwalk Setiu – see swamp wildlife up close
Image credit: @dnarsama
Boardwalk Setiu is a part of Setiu’s wetlands – a freshwater swamp conservatory that’s rich in flora and fauna, and that serves as a mangrove replanting site too.
Unlike most swamps that require you to hop on a boat to tour around, you can just go on a leisurely stroll in Boardwalk Setiu. The platform will bring you on a 500m-long journey through various greens with informative signs for you to learn more about the freshwater ecosystem.
Those with sharp eyes can also try to spot crustaceans, lizards, butterflies, and birds in the vicinity.
Boardwalk Setiu is an hour and a half away from Kuala Terengganu.
Address: Jalan Pengkalan Gelap, 22120 Permaisuri, Terengganu
Opening hours: 9AM-5PM, Daily
Admission fee: RM5/adult, free for children under 6
9. Sungai Yak Yah Firefly Sanctuary – pitch blackness with magical night lights
Image credit: Taufik Akashah
Sungai Yak Yah is said to have the most fireflies in their sanctuary as compared to other firefly parks in Malaysia due to the lack of pollution in the area.
You can expect to embark on a beguiling 30 to 45-minute boat ride in total darkness as you float silently through the river in search of fireflies. Then, watch them light up the shrubs and trees surrounding you as they flicker and fly around in hundreds.
The firefly-spotting boat on Sungai Yak Yah
Image credit: Zoo Kemaman
The best season to catch the highest amount of fireflies is from May to July. And do go between 7.30PM-9PM as that is when they are most active.
Sungai Yak Yah Firefly Sanctuary is 2 hours away from Kuala Terengganu.
Fare: RM25 for adults, RM15 for children
Address: Kampung Ibok, 24000 Chukai, Terengganu
Opening hours: 8PM-12AM, Daily
Telephone: 019-917 4012
– Landmarks –
10. Crystal Mosque – unique glittering mosque
Image credit: @rafiqzuhairr
Dubbed as one of the most unique mosques in the country, the Crystal Mosque (Masjid Kristal) is an iconic mosque in Kuala Terengganu that’s made entirely of steel, glass, and crystal on the outside.
Located in the Islamic Civilisation Park introduced below, its sleek and modern architecture distinguishes the Crystal Mosque from typical mosques’ designs. Before its renovations are estimated to be completed in April 2022, you can view it from the outside and tour its grounds.
Address: Pulau Wan Man, Losong Panglima P’erang, 21000 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Opening hours: 6AM-11PM, Daily
Telephone: 09-627 8888
11. Ulul Albab Mosque – made of wood, in traditional architectural style
Image credit: annour 78
Also another unique-looking mosque, the Ulul Albab Mosque (Masjid Ulul Albab Seberang Jerteh) has sharp pyramid roofs as opposed to the conventional dome-shaped roofs that can be seen on most mosques.
Image credit: Hisham Said
Inspired by the traditional designs of Nusantara mosques, it also happens to be the largest mosque in Malaysia built from timber, and is a popular landmark in Kampung Seberang Jerteh. All are welcome to pray within or visit.
Ulul Albab Mosque is 2 hours away from Kuala Terengganu.
Address: Kampung Seberang Jertih, 22000 Jerteh, Terengganu
Ulul Albab Mosque’s website
12. Lapan Kubah Mosque – Russian-style mosque
Image credit: @prettydusty
Terengganu seems to be the home of unusual mosques as they have another one on their list – the Lapan Kubah Mosque (Masjid Lapan Kubah).
Unofficially known as the Russian Mosque and for good reason, the Lapan Kubah Mosque looks like St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow with its eye-catching, colourful domes.
Located in Kampung Lapan Kotak, the mosque has drawn locals and tourists alike to score a photo with the mosque and its surrounding picturesque rice paddies. For yet more photo angles, go up to the roof platform.
It will take you around an hour and a half to get to the mosque from Kuala Terengganu.
Address: 1315, Jalan Masjid, Kg, Jalan Lapan Kotak, 22000 Jerteh, Terengganu
13. Floating Mosque – a visual treat at high tide
Image credit: Adib Wahab
Also known as Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque (Masjid Terapung Kuala Ibai), Terengganu’s floating mosque is built in Kuala Ibai Lagoon near the sea with architecture inspired by both Malay and Moorish design.
During high tide, the water level will rise and completely cover the stilts which gives the illusion that the mosque is floating on water. Visit when high tide coincides with either sunrise or sunset for the best shots. The all-white facade complete with its idyllic surroundings makes the Floating Mosque a postcard-worthy place indeed.
Address: Jalan Kuala Ibai, 20400 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
14. Istana Maziah – home to royalty
Image credit: Irfan Arif
Istana Maziah is located at the foot of Bukit Puteri so it’s easy to stop by for a photo op after coming down.
As it’s the official residence of the Sultan of Terengganu, you’re obviously not allowed to enter, but the French-influenced architecture makes the place one of Kuala Terengganu’s landmarks. You can get as close as the front gates to take a photo though.
Image credit: Alam Travel & Tours, Kuala Terengganu
An interesting fact of the palace built in 1897 is that it has a mixture of salt, egg white, and honey applied on the exterior to protect the walls from pollutants.
Address: Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin, Kampung Panglima, 20000 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
– Attractions –
15. Islamic Civilisation Park – see mini-versions of religious architectural wonders
A model of Delhi’s Jama Masjid
Image credit: NAZRI RAHMAT
Islamic Civilisation Park (Taman Tamadun Islam) is a miniature park showcasing various replicas of famous mosques, monuments, tombs, and other Islamic arts and architecture from around the world.
Image credit: zul kamaruddin
Visitors will also get to learn a detailed history of Islam and how the Islamic civilisation was spread around the world. Plan half a day to explore the place’s 28 replicas and other activity areas.
A replica of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Image credit: Zarith Fatihah
Other attractions and activities in the park include a working water wheel, a 3D cinema screening a virtual haj reel, and a lake with paddle boats.
Entrance fee: RM25 for adults, RM15 for children
Address: Pulau Wan Man, Losong Panglima Perang, 21000 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Opening hours: Mon–Thu 10AM-7PM | Mon–Thu 9AM-7PM (Closed on Tuesdays)
Telephone: 09-627 8888
Islamic Civilisation Park’s website | Facebook
16. Chinatown (Kampung Cina) – heritage food and shophouses
Image credit: @yaofangdemingzifangbuliao
Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown (Kampung Cina) is a small, but rustic and quaint street lined with colourful shophouses. You will find a couple of old-school grocery stores, kopitiams, butcher shops, and restaurants here. Heritage murals offer plenty of snapshot opps too.
If you’re looking for a place to stay the night, affordable, modest guesthouses and hostels dot the area.
Town City Food Court is recommended if you’re stopping by for a meal as there is a wide array of food kiosks serving seafood, noodles, snacks, and more.
Address: Jalan Kampung Cina, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
17. Pasar Payang Central Market – shop with the locals
Pasar Payang Central Market is one of the most popular tourist hubs in Kuala Terengganu. Located by the Terengganu River, right next to Chinatown, it offers a myriad of traditional handicrafts, fresh produce, souvenirs, cooking wares and utensils, clothes, and local delicacies there.
Head there from 6AM-9AM when the market will be abuzz with activity. You’ll get to watch the locals do their marketing, traders deliver goods, and the sellers and buyers interact among one another.
Address: Jalan Bandar, Terengganu, 20100 Kuala Terengganu
Opening hours: Sun–Fri 6AM-6PM
Telephone: 09-622 1433
18. Terengganu State Museum – affordable entry to view treasured artefacts
Image credit: Muhd Azran Malek
View century-old artefacts, royal regalia, contemporary artworks, and the like at Terengganu State Museum (Muzium Negeri Terengganu), the largest museum in Malaysia.
Image credit: Hemy D. KindEmperor
There are 9 galleries for you to explore at your own pace to learn more about the royal family of Terengganu, the history of Islam in the Malay Peninsula, pre-historic evolution, the making of traditional weapons such as the ceremonial keris, and many more.
It also has a novel element as the buildings are designed after Terengganu’s ancient palaces with their concrete stilts and pointed roofs.
Entrance fee: RM5 for adults, RM2 for children
Address: 20566 Bukit Losong, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Opening hours: Sat–Thu 9AM-5PM (Closed on Fridays)
Telephone: 09-632 1200
Terengganu State Museum’s Facebook page
19. Pantai Batu Buruk – a laid-back family-friendly beach
Pantai Batu Buruk is a 3km-long public beach where the locals regularly flock to with their friends and family to relax and enjoy the sea breeze.
It’s usually quite packed in the evening as you’ll come across a crowd of people picnicking by the shores and a bunch of peddlers selling food and toys.
You can buy a kite from the peddlers and try your hand at kite-flying, or go for horse riding and carriage rides for a romantic beachside saunter if you’re with your bae.
There’s also a pasar malam that operates every Friday from 3PM-7PM, so do drop by for some snacks, knick-knacks, and souvenirs.
Address: 20400, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
20. Teck Soon Heritage House – connected to a colonial-era kongsi
Image credit: @celestching
Teck Soon Heritage House is a museum showcasing the history of the Chinese Peranakan culture in Terengganu, and despite its recent RM500,000 state-funded renovation, has yet to become a major tourist haunt.
Located in Chinatown, the exterior is painted in shades of blue and the design resembles a pre-war shophouse with its shutter windows and arches.
The museum is not big as it’s only made up of 2 double-storey shophouses combined together, but entry is free and you’ll get to pick up some interesting info about the local Chinese Peranakan community, view heritage items such as original fittings, traditional kebaya, and handwoven items.
A 1907 Teck Soon token, also called a tin jokoh, with both Chinese and Jawi script engraved on it.
Image adopted from: halosquare
Fun fact: the house is linked to the Teck Soon Kongsi, a Chinese community organization, that once issued its own token. Such tokens issued by kongsis of the colonial era were legal tender in the areas under their control. These are now prized auction items.
Address: Jalan Kampung Cina, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
21. Ho Ann Kiong Buddhist Temple – an annual must-visit for devotees
Ho Ann Kiong Buddhist Temple is believed to have been built in the year 1801, which makes it the oldest Chinese temple in Terengganu.
Dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of the sea and worshipped by many early Chinese immigrants to Southeast Asia, this used to be the main place of worship for the Hokkien community. Today, it has pivoted into a tourist attraction as well, but devotees still do come yearly to give their thanks.
The temple is not overly grand, but it maintains its ancient structure and design, which makes it an authentic sight. Pop by the waterfront Tien Hou Kong temple circa 1896 nearby too while in the area.
Address: 183, Jalan Kampung Cina, Kampung Banggul, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Telephone: 011-3677 6208
22. Noor Arfa Craft Complex – buy handmade batik
Image credit: Beautiful Terengganu Malaysia
With almost 40 years of history, Noor Arfa Craft Complex is the largest batik producer in the country.
Apart from viewing manufacturing activities in their complex, visitors can check out their batik painting demonstration, visit the craft school to learn about traditional crafts, and then head on over to the largest batik showroom in Malaysia to admire the delicate artwork of batik art on a wide range of products.
Image adapted from Noor Arfa Craft Complex
There will be staff and guides stationed around the complex to help you navigate and explain the process to you.
Address: NACC Batik Pavilion Lot 4153, Kawasan Perindustrian Chendering, 21080 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Opening hours: Mon–Thu 8.30AM – 6PM | Fri 8.30AM-1PM & 2PM-5.30PM | Sat & Sun 8.30AM-6.30PM
Telephone: 09-617 9700
Noor Arfa Craft Complex’s website
23. Kota Lama Duyung – tiny, well-kept heritage museum
Image credit: Beautiful Terengganu Malaysia
Also known as the Kota Lama Fort, the Kota Lama Duyung house was built by Dato’ Biji Sura’ in the 1920s to pay homage to traditional Malay and Islamic architecture. Today, it has since been restored.
It currently functions as a small heritage museum displaying local artefacts. Entrance is free, so do stop by if you have some time to kill to check out miniature boat models, batik artwork, and more.
Image adapted from Yeowzer and EL GAMILLO BIN HABIBUN TAN Moe
Address: Pulau Duyung Kecil, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Opening hours: Sat–Thu 9AM – 5PM (Closed on Fridays)
24. Pusat Sains & Kreativiti Terengganu – fun science education for kids
Image credit: Pusat Sains & Kreativiti Terengganu
Families with children should definitely include the Pusat Sains & Kreativiti Terengganu into their itineraries as it’s a wholesome edutainment centre where kids can pick up some knowledge and score a fun playtime together.
This science centre comprises 9 galleries covering areas of technology, maths, engineering, biology, physics and more.
Kids will also get to learn about the concept of recycling and make their own artwork out of recycled materials.
Don’t forget to check out the Funovation Gallery – an inviting space filled with musical instruments, games, and art materials for the young ones to get creative and do as they wish.
Entrance fee: RM24 for adults, RM20 for students aged 5-17, RM6 for kids aged 3-4
Address: Kampung Laut Chendering, 21080 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Opening hours: Wed–Sat 9AM-5PM | Thu 9AM-4PM (Closed on Fridays)
Telephone: 09-617 4004
Pusat Sains & Kreativiti Terengganu website
25. Kampung Losong – famous for keropok lekor fish crackers
Image credit: didiz rushdi/Wikimedia Commons
You can’t say you’ve been to Terengganu if you haven’t tried their famous keropok lekor.
Keropok lekor needs no introduction in Malaysia. A traditional Malay fish cracker, it’s a nationwide snack loved by all. Keropok lekor originated from Terengganu which is why you absolutely have to give it a try there.
A famous spot to check out to get your fix would be at Kampung Losong. Located near the Islamic Civilisation Park, Kampung Losong has a number of stalls dedicated to making and selling keropok lekor only.
In fact, the place is officially recognised as the Keropok Lekor Business Centre by the state government!
Address: Jalan Kuala Hiliran, Kampung Losong Haji Su, 21000 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Opening hours: 8AM – 8PM, Daily
26. Kuala Terengganu Waterfront – for evening walks
More commonly known as the KT Waterfront, the Kuala Terengganu Waterfront is a community space where locals gather to take a calming walk, fish, or watch the sun go down by the Terengganu River. There are some days where buskers will perform, which definitely adds to the chill mood.
There are also several eateries dotted along the area, so it’s easy to grab a bite before or after your stroll.
Address: Jalan Balik Bukit, 20300 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
27. Bukit Puteri – colonial installations and a sea view
Image credit: @aiman_saipullah
The peak of Bukit Puteri gives you an aerial view of the city of Kuala Terengganu, the Terengganu River, and the South China Sea.
Built in the 16th century, Bukit Puteri used to be a historical defence fort. A lot of its olden-day equipment and structures still stand today.
You will find a large brass bell that was only struck to announce an emergency or important festivals and royal events back in colonial days, a number of cannons, a lighthouse, and a cemetery nearby.
Address: Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin, Kampung Panglima, 20000 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Opening hours: Fri–Wed 9AM – 8PM (Closed on Thursdays)
Places to visit in Terengganu
The pandemic may have halted a lot of our international travel plans, but the bright side is, it gave us plenty of opportunities to rediscover the beauty of our homeland.
In fact, travelling domestically will help boost our economy and support the local communities who depend on the tourism industry, so if you’ve been meaning to take a breather, go ahead and book your Malaysian vacay!
For more places to visit in Malaysia, check these guides out:
- Things to do in Kudat, Sabah
- Best spots to catch sunset views in Penang
- Things to do at Jeram, Kuala Selangor
Updated by Xin Tian Koh in March 2022.
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