Located in eastern Malaysia, Terengganu is a coastal state. Several outlaying islands, including Perhentian Island, Kapas Island and Redang Island, are also part of the state. Kuala Terengganu is the capital of Terengganu.
How to Get to Kuala Terengganu
Terengganu has its own airport, known as Sultan Mahmud Airport. AirAsia, Firefly, Malaysia Airlines and Malindo Air are the only airlines that fly to this airport. If you are coming from overseas, you will probably have to transfer flights. If you are coming from other parts of Malaysia or Singapore, you can also take a bus (book from BusOnlineTicket.com or EasyBook.com).
Kuala Terengganu and Pulau Kapas Weekend Getaway
I joined a weekend getaway to Kuala Terengganu and Kapas Ialand organized by One Plus One, a Singapore Development Network (SDN) accredited agency.
Although it’s supposed to be a 3-days-2 nights trip, it is really more like 2-days -1-night and an overnight bus ride. The bus ride takes around 10 hours with restroom breaks in between.
If this is your first time taking an overnight bus, here are some pointers to make the long hours less dreadful:
- Wear long pants and bring a blanket/jacket: overnight buses are always freezing cold due to inactivity, so make sure you wear something warm.
- Eye mask, neck pillow and ear plugs: these are essentials to having at least some sleep in the bus.
- Snacks and water: nothing is worse than you can’t sleep so you are hungry and not have anything to eat.
- Get off at every stop: It is highly recommended to get off at every rest and restroom stop. Visit the restroom even if you do not feel any urge. Stretch your legs and get some snacks for the journey ahead.
- Books, movies, videos: sometimes sleep refuses to come no matter how hard you try. Load your handphone of movies and videos to pass the time. A good book is a good choice too.
- Padlock your bags: there have been many cases of wallets and passports stolen while sleeping, so padlock your bags.
- Do not eat spicy food: spicy food are delicious but they may give you a stomachache which is not great when you have limited access to toilets.
Kuala Terengganu and Kapas Island Weekend Getaway – Day 1
There was a massive jam at the Tuas Checkpoint as the school holidays has just started. We were stuck in the jam for about 2 hours. We finally cleared the immigration at about 12 midnight.
Kuala Terengganu and Kapas Island Weekend Getaway – Day 2
We reached the first rest stop at about 1.30am. I was surprised to find many people eating noodles at this kind of time.
We continued our bus ride with a few more toilet breaks in between. We stopped for breakfast at a local coffee shop that sells surprisingly delicious noodles for breakfast.
We arrived at Marang jetty at about 9am. There are two to three shops that rents out life vests and snorkeling goggles and we got ours from MGH.
The ferry ride is about 15-20 minutes to Kapas Island beach. We were brought to Kapas Coral Beach Resort’s ground restaurant where we got ready for snorkeling.
A small boat brought us to the snorkeling site and we jumped into the water one by one. The sea water is very salty and stung my eyes because the snorkeling goggles are not working properly. There are lots of corals and schools of small fishes to see which was pretty cool. I got to hold a live sea cucumber, I panicked when it moved and dropped it back into the sea.
After an hour of snorkeling, a boat brought us back to the beach. We had our packed lunch of rice and chicken curry with a few miserable pieces of vegetables.
We have a few hours of free time after lunch. We have a choice of exploring other snorkeling sites, relaxing on the beach or climb Lion Hill. I wanted to challenge myself so I opted to climb Lion Hill. We were supposed to take a boat ride but the locals told us that the water is too shallow so there is no boat ride. After much deliberation, it was decided that our coordinator, Jerald, will bring me and another guy to hike Lion Hill while the rest of the group can enjoy water activities, snorkel or rest.
The hike was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. It was very tiring but the view from Lion Hill made it all worthwhile. I will describe the hike in detail in a separate post.
At about 5.30pm, we boarded the bus which took us to Masjid Kristal (Crystal Mosque). Situated on a man-made island called Wan Man, the mosque is made of steel, glass and crystals. As the interior was under renovation, we could only take a few photographs from the outside.
We checked-in to Hotel Seri Malaysia Kuala Terengganu at about 8.15pm. It’s an old hotel and it was pretty rundown.
After a quick shower, we walked to Chinatown which was just next to the hotel. Most of the shops were closed but we managed to grab some dinner at Town City Food Court. We had bak kut teh, fried kway teow and grilled stingray. We strolled down Chinatown after dinner, enjoying the cool breeze and nostalgic feel of the place.
Kuala Terengganu and Kapas Island Weekend Getaway – Day 3
My roommates and I work up at 6.45am because we wanted to watch the sunrise at 7am, but the sky was too cloudy. We went back to the hotel and had a little breakfast at the hotel cafe.
Unsatisfied with the limited breakfast options, we decided to have a second round of breakfast in Chinatown. We had handmade fishball noodles at Chay Kee Kopitiam, prawn noodles and Mei Fong Curry Noodles.
We checked out of the hotel at 9.30am and the bus brought us to a local market named Pasar Kedai Payang. This is the perfect place to buy snacks and souvenirs.
Our last stop was a shopping mall in Kuantan where we had lunch. We headed back to Singapore, stopping at the same rest stops and toilet breaks. There was a massive traffic jam at the checkpoint, so it was almost 11pm when we were dropped off.
All in all, it was a fun trip. Kuala Terengganu is a laidback little town and Kapas Island is good for water activities. I only have two complaints: the overnight bus and hotel. While overnight buses are very cheap, the deprivation of sleep makes me vow never to do it again. The hotel that we stayed in was very run-down, many of the amenities in the room are dirty and old. Even if I have to pay extra, I will make sure that I stay at a better hotel next time. ”