It’s hard to think of Malaysia without picturing the gorgeous beaches of Penang and Langkawi.
But instead of rolling with the trend, Travel Weekly – in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia – is here to spotlight some of the country’s lesser-known haunts for international travellers (which happen to be pretty popular with the locals).
Top of mind for locals on the search for the nation’s best craftspeople and artisans, and a delicious localised cuisine filled with dishes like nasi dagang, Terengganu is one of Malaysia’s easternmost states and overlooks the South China Sea.
But along with drawing locals in for its culture and cuisine, Terengganu’s secluded islands and beaches are a paradise for sun seekers. The state is also no exception to Malaysia’s record of having high-quality dive sites, with Terengganu’s waters known for their excellent visibility.
According to locals, the coral-fringed Perhentian Islands, Pulau Redang, Pulau Lang Tengah, Pulau Tenggol, and Pulau Kapas are paradises for snorkelers and divers alike.
Each island further offers amazing views of sparkling white sands and clear, blue waters, as well as barefoot luxury found in accommodations, ranging from basic to luxury.
More suited for the experienced or advanced diver, Tenggol is a fantastic destination for deep-sea diving, and is also famous for being a transit point for whale sharks, which visit the waters off the coast of the island in certain months of the year.
Once travellers have had their fix of Terengganu’s island vibe, they can make the most of the state’s culture by visiting Malaysia’s leading craftspeople, who practise weaving of traditional fabrics songket and batik, brass work, wood carving, boat building, and traditional carpentry.
Terengganu’s songket weavers are particularly known for their intricate designs and innovativeness to fuse the old with the new, while the state’s boat builders are known to craft their works by hand – without the use of blueprints and nails.
Malaysians and tourists also seek out the traditional cuisines of Terengganu, with some of the state’s most popular dishes including nasi dagang, a meal consisting of steamed rice alongside tuna curry.
For another dose of local culture, travellers can visit one of Malaysia’s most popular attractions, the Crystal Mosque, which is found in Terengganu’s Islamic Heritage Park on Wan Man Island.
A sight to behold, the mosque is made from a mix of steel, glass and crystal, and hosts as many as 1,500 people at prayer at once. To appreciate the facility’s design, it is said to best view the Crystal Mosque at night.
To discover more about Malaysia and all it has to offer, click here.
Featured image: Coral Redang, Redang Island, Terengganu (source: Tourism Malaysia)