Heading to Malaysia’s north-east: Kota Bharu and Cherating

April, 2014

After a relaxing stop at Jerantut sampling the local cuisine and some R&R, making our way to Malaysia’s north-east, Kota Bharu via Wakaf Bharu, then back south to Cherating.

Jerantut, Kota Bharu, MalaysiaTravel

The train from Jerantut to Wakaf Bharu (RM25) takes 8 hours and leaves at 14:30 Hrs.

The journey takes you through lush jungle scenery, so no point taking the overnight train.

Once in Wakaf Bharu, the taxi to Kota Bharu costs around RM30 and takes roughly 20 minutes to the Menara One Hotel hotel.


My favourite is the Central markets, which is a great place to spend time for some people-watching and taking unusual photos.

These markets are bustling with locals selling fresh produce, bartering, and just general noise…like most Asian markets.

Malaysia: Kota Bharu Central Markets
Asleep on the job – Central Markets
Malaysia: Kota Bharu Central Markets
Fresh produce – Central markets
Malaysia: Kota Bharu Central Markets
Time at colourful Central markets



The Menara One Hotel offers a clean budget double room for RM90, which includes Wifi and private bathroom. The bathroom is quite small but with hot water – it did the job and better than staying in Dorms!


Tip: Everything in Kota Bharu shuts between 19:00-20:00 Hrs for prayer time, so remember this when you are starving hungry for an evening meal.

Assam Laksa Kopitam

We did discover the Assam Laksa Kopitam restaurant, which is one of the only restaurants that is open during prayer time…a rare thing. Buy freshly squeezed iced juices (RM3.50) and tasty local dishes (around RM6) at this little restaurant, with friendly staff.

Not sure why or what happened, but on leaving this restaurant and walking down the road, four cats started following us everywhere. One cat followed us for about 500 metres and wouldn’t leave us – very bizarre behaviour, especially for a cat.

Kopitiam Kita

On Jala Tok Guru, this is very noisy restaurant come eating house offers cheap but really good food: RM9.70 buys a delicious breakfast for two of two Kopi O (black coffees), three curry puffs, one Nasi Lemak, and one Roti Goreng Telur.

Much more is on offer and everything is super cheap. This place is extremely busy and loud, more like a huge noisy cafeteria.

Kota Bharu to Cherating

Decided on Cherating as the next stop as making our way south once more, but also heard that the beaches are lovely but not too crowded in this part of Malaysia.

Cherating, MalaysiaTravel

Catch the Kota Bharu to Kuantan bus on the Transnational (RM34.60) service. Although, instead of the scheduled five hours, this bus took seven hours. Make sure you tell the bus driver to drop you off at Cherating, otherwise he will drive straight past this tiny town.

Travelled twice with this bus company and both times the bus was late.

This last time the bus was 1.5 hours late arriving in the morning, then another 2 hours’ late during the trip arriving to our destination. Not that we are in a hurry, but it does get a tad annoying waiting for buses when you can be experiencing other sights.


Locals and tourists mainly visit Cherating for its beaches and to relax – it’s very quiet in Cherating.

Unfortunately, I found out months’ later that there is a turtle sanctuary here and the turtles lay their eggs in July and August – this would definitely be worth seeing…next time. It pays to research an area before you arrive.

Malaysia: Cherating
Relaxed Cherating beach


The Maznah Guest House (KBC 6, Kampung Cherating Budaya) is an excellent place to relax and only a 5-minute walk to the beach and restaurants.

Maznah and Faizul’s hospitality is exceptional and on arrival, we were offered cold water and home-cooked Malay pastries – very tasty and a lovely kind gesture, especially after a long journey.

Costs are RM50 for a wooden bungalow with a fan; RM70 for a brick bungalow with a fan; RM120 for a brick bungalow with private bathroom, fan, and air-con. All rates include breakfast.

The communal area provides free tea and coffee throughout the day, a fridge, and sitting area with wifi.

Malaysia, Cherating, bungalows
Bungalows at Maznah Guest House – perfect place to relax!

At dusk, make sure you walk along the town’s main road to see a bunch of monkeys playing all over the road. If you’re quick, you may even get a photo or just stop and have some fun watching the playful games.


There are several local restaurants along the waterfront, it’s just a matter of trying a couple out; most sell seafood and are reasonably priced, but on the whole, I expected the seafood to be cheaper here as it’s on the coast. The Chinese restaurant at the northern end of the beach serves an extensive menu, prices were OK, food was good, and offers a great view of the sea.

A local said to try the Intan, which is the “best seafood restaurant in Cherating”. Not sure about that, but after eating the Chilli crab, I ended up violently ill with food poisoning the whole night.

I’m a seafood lover and having caught fresh seafood including crab when I used to live on my boat, I know when seafood is fresh. Perhaps it was the handling or how it was cooked? Who knows. Unlucky and frustrating as the meal was delicious but also the most expensive we’ve paid for a meal in Malaysia, so far.

Cherating to KL

Heading back to KL for the second time in almost two months of travelling through Malaysia.

The main reason for the return is on the first visit to KL, we donated a new camera tripod to a girl’s school and the Principal invited us back to attend a Woman’s Health Day.

The bus (RM39) from Cherating to KL takes about 6hrs. Yahya Travel Planner is very efficient and also speaks English; his office is on the southern side of the waterfront. Apart from your ticket, Yahya provides a highlighted map of KL showing you where the buss drops you off and how to get to your hotel’s destination. This is always handy, especially in a huge city such as KL.

Check out my Kuala Lumpur blog for things to do and places to eat whilst staying in KL.

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Malaysia Gallery for more images. More blogs on Malaysia at Image Earth Travel.

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