Kota Bharu and Cherating, Malaysia

After a relaxing stop at Jerantut sampling the local cuisine and some R&R, heading to Kota Bharu via Wakaf Bharu in Malaysia’s north-east, then south again via the coast to sleepy Cherating.

Getting there

The train journey from Jerantut to Wakaf Bharu takes around 8 hours and leaves at 14:30 hrs. Taking the train is the main reason for going to Kota Bharu. It’s great to get off the Malaysian roads for a while.

The journey travels through gorgeous lush jungle scenery, especially the closer we get to the stunning Taman Negara jungle.

map of Jerantut, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia

Don’t bother taking an overnight train – no point as you miss the wonderful vistas.

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

cakes, markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Rickshaw snooze

Kota Bharu

Relatively young as only founded in the 19th century, Kota Bharu is home to a multitude of mosques, a handful of museums, and some lovely architecture.

Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Market news catch-up

What to see

My favourite is the Central Markets, which is an interesting place to spend time for some people-watching and taking unusual photos.

Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Unnatural death

The melange of shapes and colours…

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Waiting for a sale…

…make for some fascinating photo opportunities.

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Fresh is best

Everything is on offer…

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Exotic fare…

Market sellers are patient for a sale…

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia

…or some just get tired of waiting.

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Asleep on the job

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

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Astute vendor

Locals are happy to sit and chat with nothing much more to do…

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia

…others are too busy working and trying to make a living.

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Amazing fresh produce

Today is a quiet day, so a great time for taking candid photos…

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Plethora of goodness

A different view…

Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Central Market

Where to sleep

The Menara One Hotel offers a clean budget double room, which includes Wifi and a private bathroom. The bathroom is quite small but with hot water. This accommodation does the job and it’s better than staying in hostel dorms.

What to eat


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.

cakes, markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Unique indulgence

Assam Laksa Kopitam

Discovered the Assam Laksa Kopitam restaurant, which is one of the only restaurants open during prayer time…a rare thing. Buy freshly squeezed iced juices and tasty local dishes 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 start to follow us everywhere. One cat followed us for about 500 metres, not leaving us – very bizarre behaviour, especially for a cat.

Kopitiam Kita

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

Much more is on offer and everything is inexpensive. This place is extremely busy and loud, and more like a massive noisy cafeteria.

cakes, markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Divine creations

Street stalls

Mobile street stalls dot Kota Bharu and are a great opportunity to rest with a refreshing iced drink to help you get through the sultry heat of the day.

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia
Beverage stop

Leaving Kota Bharu

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

markets, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, SE Asia

Getting to Cherating

Catch the Kota Bharu to Kuantan bus, on the Transnational service.

Instead of the scheduled five hours, this bus ended up taking seven hours. 

Make sure you let the bus driver know to drop you off at Cherating. Otherwise, he drives straight past this tiny town as think that not many people catch a bus to Cherating.

map of Kota Bharu, Cherating, Malaysia, SE Aisa

Travelled twice with this bus company and both times the bus was late. This last time the bus was late arriving in the morning by 1.5-hours, then another 2-hours late arriving at our destination. Not that we are in a hurry, but it does become a tad annoying waiting for buses when instead, you can be experiencing other sights.

Cherating, Malaysia, SE Asia
Football with a view


Locals and tourists mainly visit the resort town of Cherating for the wonderful clean beaches and just to relax.

Cherating, Malaysia, SE Asia
Relaxed Cherating beach

Cherating is very quiet and a place to indulge in a little respite and gather your thoughts.

Cherating, Malaysia, SE Asia
Idyllic serenity

Unfortunately, months later I discover that there is a turtle sanctuary in Cherating. The turtles lay their eggs in July and August, which would definitely be worth seeing. Next time. It pays to research an area before you arrive!

The cultural village is where you can pick up beautiful traditional handicrafts and textiles.

Where to sleep

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, cold water and home-cooked Malay pastries await – very tasty and a lovely kind gesture, especially after a long journey.

Choose to book a quaint wooden bungalow with a fan or a brick bungalow with a fan. Also, available is a brick bungalow with a private bathroom, fan, and air-conditioner. All rates include breakfast.

Cherating, Malaysia, SE Asia
Bungalows at Maznah Guest House – a perfect place to relax!

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

At dusk, make sure you walk along the town’s main road to see a bunch of heightened 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.

Where to eat

Stroll along the waterfront and you soon bump into several local restaurants. Then, it’s just a matter of trying a couple out. Most sell seafood at reasonable prices, but on the whole, I expected the seafood to be cheaper as we’re on the coast. The Chinese restaurant at the northern end of the beach serves an extensive menu, prices are OK, food is good, and offers a panoramic sea view.

Cherating, Malaysia, SE Asia
Picturesque beach huts

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 during cooking? Who knows. Unlucky and frustrating as the meal was delicious but also the most expensive yet for a meal in Malaysia.

Cherating, Malaysia, SE Asia
Rustic doorway

Leaving Cherating for Kulala Lumpur

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.

Expect the bus from Cherating to KL to take around 6hrs. Yahya Travel Planner is very efficient and also speaks English – his office is on the southern side of the waterfront.

In addition to your ticket, Yahya provides a highlighted map of KL showing you where the bus drops you off and how to get to your hotel’s destination. This is always handy, especially in a huge city such as KL.

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

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20 responses to “Kota Bharu and Cherating, Malaysia”

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, but a comment on my post would be great! 😉

      1. pranjal Narayan Avatar

        Your post is very beautiful

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you for your sweet comment! 🙂

  1. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    The colours of the market are spectacular!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      They are indeed! You’d like it there…

  2. wetanddustyroads Avatar

    Ahh, I just love your photo’s taken in the market … the ones with the vegetables and spices are especially great. But as always, it’s your pictures of the people that are absolutely stunning – so real and one can almost feel their emotions through your lens 😁.
    Lovely stay in the bungalows, but oh dear, that unwelcome food poisoning 🤢 … but hey, you’ve survived to tell the story!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for the lovely feedback! Candid photography is what I love and don’t do a lot of portrait photography. What’s your preference?
      Yeah, the food poisoning was really serious that night – my partner was concerned. But yes, I lived to tell the tale… 😉

      1. wetanddustyroads Avatar

        I like landscape & nature photo’s (not very good with people) … but when you have the feeling for such photo’s (like you do), it’s the best!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I’ve seen your lovely landscape and nature photos.
        Thank you for the kind feedback. 🙂

  3. Olympus Mountaineering Avatar

    Great post with plenty of really nice photos!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you!
      Enjoying your great blog with loads of mountaineering tips! 🙂

      1. Olympus Mountaineering Avatar

        Thank you!

  4. thegreyeye Avatar

    I like the photo ” asleep in job”… Unique subject and awesome perspective of life

    1. Nilla Palmer Avatar

      Thanks, glad you liked this photo! I like to take photos of life in reality not life in Photoshop 🙂

      1. thegreyeye Avatar

        Nice thought

      2. Nilla Palmer Avatar

        🙂 Check out more of my travel and street photos (film & digital) with minimal or no post-production at all: http://www.nillasphotography.com

      3. thegreyeye Avatar

        Sure, will do

  5. JaniceO Avatar

    Loved this trip into Malaysia. I’ve never been and you’ve provided such a lovely, personal glimpse with your beautiful images.

    1. Nilla Palmer Avatar

      Great to hear you enjoyed the travel to Malaysia today. More photos of Malaysia: http://www.nillasphotography.com/galleries/malaysia-2014, many more photos and blogs to load yet. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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