Charming islands, pristine beaches, flavourful delicacies, laidback kampong life. The East Coast of Malaysia (locally known as Pantai Timur) is bursting with the best things in the country, and the best way to explore and discover them is by hitting the road.
Day 1: Selangor – Kuantan (3 hours)
It might be funny to have breakfast at a Pantai Timur restaurant right before heading there, but there’s no better way to kickstart your road trip than with a little introduction to the local cuisine, especially if you’re not that familiar with it.
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Restoran Mak Uda Selera Timur (located in Shah Alam) is famous for serving authentic Terengganu dishes. Operating early in the morning until late at night, the restaurant serves an extensive breakfast menu that will definitely make your mouth water.
You can’t do wrong with their nasi dagang (rice steamed in coconut milk and served with fish curry and pickled vegetables) or nasi kerabu (blue-coloured rice served with dried fish or fried chicken, crackers, pickles and salad). Don’t forget to pack some pulut panggang (grilled glutinous rice with fish floss filling) to go!
Now that your stomach is full, time to begin your journey and head to Kuantan!
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The capital city of Pahang, Kuantan is not exactly a place that has been geared towards tourism, but it has plenty of attractions that worth more than just a daytrip. From great museums, beautiful mosques and excellent eateries, you might be surprised to find out what Kuantan has got to offer.
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Dip your toes in the refreshing cool waters at Teluk Chempedak, Kuantan’s most iconic beach just 5 km away from the city centre.
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Appease your hunger at Pak Lah Rojak & Nasi Ayam located in Taman Gelora. This renowned stall has been known for their flavourful rojak, chicken rice as well as shaved ice. The best part about this stall is that it’s situated right next to Pantai Gelora, so you can enjoy the sea breeze and a beach view while you dine!
Day 2: Kuantan – Kuala Terengganu (2.5 hours)
Time to get back behind the wheels to head to Terengganu!
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Kuala Terengganu is home to two magnificent mosques. Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah, or more commonly known as Masjid Terapung (Floating Mosque) is a beautiful white mosque that combines the traditional Malay architecture and Moorish architecture. It’s built on a platform surrounded by a man-made lake, which makes it appear like it’s floating on the waters, hence the nickname.
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Built in 2008, Crystal Mosque is a part of a theme park, Taman Tamadun Islam (or Islamic Civilisation Park) which also features miniature replicas of famous Islamic monuments from around the world. This grand mosque is made up of steel, glass and crystal, and sits overlooking Terengganu River.
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You can’t visit the East Coast without having fresh seafood at least once! Medan Ikan Bakar is one of the best places to go for dinner. You can’t do wrong with grilled fish covered with homemade sauce and deep fried battered squid.
Day 3 – Kuala Terengganu
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Start the day early with a hearty breakfast at Nasi Dagang Mak Ngah. Serving one of the best nasi dagang in town, this restaurant opens early in the morning and is a favourite breakfast spot for the locals before they head to work.
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Now that you’re full, head over to Pasar Payang, a humble traditional market where you find everything from fresh produce and local delicacies to exquisite songket and batik.
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Wander around Chinatown, just a 5-minute walk from the market. The row of pre-war buildings is an iconic part of Kuala Terengganu, along with the temple which is believed to protect the residents. Some parts of this neighbourhood have been converted into modern cafes and souvenir shops. Also, check out the street arts which are perfect for your OOTD!
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Make your way to Kampung Losong, the centre of Terengganu’s favourite snack, keropok lekor, which is made from fish and sago flour and often described as fish sausage. The entire main street is lined with stalls selling all assortments of keropok lekor, so just take your pick!
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With pine trees lining up the shore, gentle waves crashing against the shore and soothing breeze carrying the scent of the sea, Pantai Batu Buruk is one of the most popular attractions in Kuala Terengganu and it’s for a great reason. In the evening, you’ll see kites flying in the air and the chiming bells of ice-cream sellers.
Day 4: Kuala Terengganu – Kota Bharu (2.5 hours)
All set for Kota Bharu!
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There are a lot of museums in Kota Bharu, including the State Museum and Jahar Palace. Due to the close proximity with Thailand, you can also find many great temples in nearby towns like Wat Phothivihan, where the huge reclining Buddha lies.
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Alternatively, you can head to Pengkalan Kubor, a duty-free zone (similar to Langkawi!) half an hour away from Kota Bharu! Find imported chocolates, Thai snacks, kitchenwares and so much more.
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For lunch, have some hearty nasi air. It’s quite similar to rice porridge except that it comes with soup, which makes it watery and hence the name.
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Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah is an absolutely must-visit when you’re in Kota Bharu. It’s a local wet market named after Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h)’s wife who is known as a successful entrepreneur, as the stalls at this market are mostly run by women. From fresh produce, spices and local kuih to textiles and brassware, this 4-storey market is a one-stop shopping paradise. 🤗
Day 5 – Kota Bharu – Kemaman (4 hours)
Start your day at Kopitiam Kita, probably the most popular breakfast spot in Kota Bharu.
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Every morning, this old-school kopitiam is thronged by both locals and tourists. Kopitiam Kita opens at 7am and serves a breakfast menu that’s also perfect as brunch. Roti Titab, toast served with a soft boiled egg on top and kaya jam, is one of the most famous menu items🤤 If you’re looking for something more filling, go for nasi kerabu, nasi tumpang or good ol’ nasi lemak.
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Looking for souvenirs to bring home? Stop by at Kampung Kraftangan (or Handicraft Village), which is geared towards tourists and has a great range of handicrafts. Craft Museum is also located within the vicinity if you’re interested to learn the history, as well as a restaurant!
Day 5 continued: Kemaman – Kuala Lumpur (3.5 hours)
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On your way back, take a short break in Kemaman and have some delicious snacks! Warung Aziz Satar is incredibly famous among locals and tourists alike, and it’s for a good reason. Made of mashed deboned fish meat, chillies, grated coconut and mixed spices, satar is wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over charcoal fire.
And there you go, a comprehensive itinerary for your greatest road trip adventure to the East Coast! Remember to make sure your car is in good condition before starting a long journey and drive safely! And since the East Coast has tons of good food, don’t be surprised to come home with a lil’ extra weight 😋😝