Spend an afternoon at Akademi Nik Rashiddin (Nik Rashiddin Academy) for a thorough understanding of the Malay culture through its strong roots in traditional woodcarving. The founder, the late Nik Rashiddin Nik Hussein, was an accomplished woodcarver who was passionate about the history of the region’s woodcarving traditions, particularly the Malay’s. The gallery is a treasure trove of valuable artefacts such as the traditional wooden Malay house and its architecture, Malay kris (dagger), bird cages, bird traps, traditional cake moulds, bed frames and more, all of which reflect the sophistication of the Malay culture. You will leave the gallery awed and inspired by the brilliance of the Malay people whose deep affinity with nature was reflected in their highly astute sense of design and artistry.
For a predominantly Muslim state, there sure are plenty of Buddhist temples around, but that’s due to Kelantan’s proximity to Thailand. In Bachok, make time to visit the Photikyan Phutthaktham temple famous for its 108-foot gleaming white standing Buddha statue which can be seen from miles away. A pair of colourful dragons framing the entrance welcomes visitors to this temple. Other sights at the temple include the wishing three, where devotees throw colourful ribbons of wishes onto its branches, and the seated Buddha image behind a seven-headed dragon.
Bachok’s seaside attraction is Pantai Irama, or the Beach of Melody, so-named due to the lulling call of the wind and waves as it hits the shore. It’s a major gathering place for the locals over the weekends (the east coast states consider Fridays and Saturdays as the weekends) so it’s the perfect place to get into the local action. Expect to see lots of activities then, such as banana boat rides, kite flying, fishing and such. Pack a picnic, light a barbecue or get snacks from the nearby vendors, and just chill with your feet in the sea – highly therapeutic! It faces the South China Sea and gets some fierce waves during the monsoon season (usually from November to March), so swimming is not advisable then.
Kelantan food is quite different from what you get in the west coast cities. Here, rice is a big thing, especially eaten for breakfast. There’s even a local festival that celebrates the 101 types of rice dishes in Kelantan. In Bachok, it’s easy to find a variety of rice dishes including nasi dagang, nasi berlauk, nasi tumpang and nasi kerabu. Another thing freshly-grilled fish is a real delicacy here. And if possible, always go for the seafood; fishing is one of the main economic activities of those living on the east coast, and you are always guaranteed to get the freshest catch of the day!
Bachok was one of the first landing points of the Japanese army when it invaded then-Malaya in 1941. A visit here would be an insightful experience for history buffs of how the war was fought between the British Indian Army and the Empire of Japan on the east coast.
Kelantan is one of the main producers of singgora tiles – hand-produced thin clay tiles used on the roofs of many traditional wooden homes in the east coast. These tiles are favoured here due to the cooling qualities of clay and its ability to reduce indoor temperatures naturally.
From Thailand, you can drive through Sungai Kolok, Narathiwat by across the Golok River on the newly completed bridge at Bukit Bunga, Jeli to enter the city of Rantau Panjang, Kelantan. Driving in Malaysia is required to buy an insurance according to the policy of Malaysia, which is available from 1 month to 1 year with the price of 500 baht. Then you need to contact the Malaysian Agency (JPJ) to do an ICP or a temporary circle sign to be stucked to the windshield. This may be a little time consuming at immigration.
Most of the rental services are from Thailand, especially in the Sungai Kolok. Rental rates are about 2,500-3,000 baht per day or if you want to use a taxi from Malaysia, you need to walk from the outpost of Thailand through the Malaysian outpost to reach the car rental spot. The car is parked in front of the Rantau Panjang outpost. The car is in red with yellow strip. Service time is from 07:00 am – 8:00 pm