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Kota Bharu

Kota Baru redirects here. It was also briefly the name of Jayapura.

Kota Bharu
كوت بهارو
Sultan Ismail Petra Arch, Kota Bharu
Sultan Ismail Petra Arch, Kota Bharu
Flag of Kota Bharu
Nickname(s): Bandaraya Islam
The Islamic City
Kota Bharu is located in Malaysia
Kota Bharu
Kota Bharu
Country  Malaysia
State  Kelantan
First settled 1844
 • Total 394 km2 (152 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 491,237 [1]
 • Density 1,247/km2 (3,230/sq mi)
Time zone MST (UTC+8)
 • Summer (DST) Not observed (UTC)
Postcode 15xxx
Area code(s) 09

Kota Bharu (Jawi: كوت بهارو; occasionally referred to as Kota Baharu) is a city in Malaysia that serves as the state capital and royal seat of Kelantan. It is also the name of the territory (jajahan) in which Kota Bharu City is situated. The name means 'new city' or 'new castle/fort' in Malay. Kota Bharu is situated in the northeastern part of Peninsular Malaysia, and lies near the mouth of the Kelantan River at . The northeastern Malaysian city is close to the Thai border.

Kota Bharu is home to many mosques, various museums, the unique architecture of the old royal palaces (still occupied by the sultan and sultanah and off-limits to visitors but viewable from outside) and former royal buildings (which can be visited) in the centre of town.

The City is served by Keretapi Tanah Melayu's East Coast Line at the nearby Wakaf Bharu Terminal Station, in the town of Wakaf Bharu across the Kelantan River and Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, located in Pengkalan Chepa.


  • History 1
  • Demographics 2
    • Religion 2.1
  • Culture 3
    • Food 3.1
  • Climate 4
  • Governance 5
    • Federal Parliament and State Assembly Seats 5.1
  • Economy 6
    • Transportation 6.1
    • Shopping 6.2
    • Tourism 6.3
      • Beaches 6.3.1
      • Wreck diving 6.3.2
  • Notable people from Kota Bharu 7
  • Sister cities 8
  • Gallery 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Kota Bharu was established by Sultan Muhammad II of Kelantan in 1844 as Kelantan's capital.[2] Prior to this, Kota Bharu was known as Kuala Kelantan. Before Kota Bharu assumed the role, the Kelantanese capital was Kota Kubang Labu.

Pantai Sabak, about 10 km from Kota Bharu, was the initial landing point of the Japanese invasion forces on 8 December 1941 in their Malayan campaign, when they successfully engaged the British in jungle warfare[3] and ultimately captured Singapore.


The vast majority of Kota Bharu's population is ethnically Malay. Chinese minority groups are concentrated in urban Kota Bharu and are comparatively less prevalent in the rest of the state of Kelantan. Total population as at 2010 is 491,237.[1]

Ranking Population Kota Bharu District (Jajahan)

Rank Sub-districts (Daerah) Population 2000
1 Panji 59,291
2 Kubang Kerian 48,714
3 Kota Bharu 47,790
4 Ketereh 34,430
5 Kemumin 32,484
6 Badang 30,237
7 Kota (Kota Bharu) 21,824
8 Peringat 20,721
9 Sering 19,098
10 Banggu 17,739
11 Kadok 17,064
12 Pendek 15,570
13 Limbat 14,778
14 Salor 9,790
15 Dewan Beta 9,305


Kota Bharu's population is 70% Muslim with the remainder consisting mainly of Buddhists and Christians. The indigenous peoples that reside in the city's outskirts are generally practising Christians. The predominantly urban local Chinese community mainly practises Buddhism. The local state government is helmed by the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party and thus has pursued a stricter form of Islam in the city and state; Kota Bharu was declared an Islamic City vis-à-vis Kota Bharu Bandaraya Islam. Morality police are common and apprehend people who engaged in acts perceived as immoral. The Jawi script is used in street names and restaurants.

Social activities that do not contradict Islamic norms are allowed. Government offices and many stores are closed on Fridays and Saturdays, but the vibrant markets remain open except for Islamic prayer times. The conservative Kelantanese state government under PAS has implemented some Islamic laws. These include switching on lights in cinemas during screening time until cinemas were closed down, separate check-out counters in supermarkets for males and females, and khalwat, the Islamic rule on proximity between males and females. However, these regulations apply only to Muslims.

The Kota Bharu Municipal Council, the local government authority, discourages the use of "indecent attire" by female employees in retail outlets and restaurants.[4] Those who are caught for "dressing indecently" may be fined up to RM 500. The definition of "indecent dressing" includes "body hugging outfits which show off the body, blouses which show the navel, see through blouses, mini-skirts and tight pants."[4]


The Kelantanese culture is highly influenced by Thai culture because of its geographical proximity to Thailand. The Chinese are much more assimilated to local culture than those in other parts of Malaysia. Much of the food is spicy, with rice as the primary staple. Traditional dances like Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit were once widely practised, but are actively suppressed by local authorities because of perceived Hindu influences thought to contradict Islam.


Nasi berlauk, nasi dagang and nasi kerabu are popular elements of the local cuisine. Sweet cakes, or kuih, are also popular amongst the Kelantanese. Other popular foods include nasi tumpang, etok, apom, akok, lompat tikam, netbak, pisang goreng, and curry puffs.


Kota Bharu features a tropical monsoon climate bordering on a tropical rainforest climate. Kota Bharu does not have a true dry season although the city experiences noticeably heavier rainfall from August through January. Also, Kota Bharu experiences slightly cooler temperatures between December and February than during the rest of the year, making it one of the most "seasonal" cities in Malaysia. The city sees on average about 2,600 millimetres (100 in) of precipitation annually.

Climate data for Kota Bharu (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 25.6
Average low °C (°F) 22.5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 126.6
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 8 5 6 5 9 9 11 12 14 14.6 20 17 130.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 212.4 227.4 259.2 266.2 240.8 210.5 223.1 214.1 201.4 184.9 141.9 148.3 2,530.2
Source: NOAA[5]


Main articles: Politics of Kota Bharu

Kota Bharu is represented in the Parliament of Malaysia. For electoral purposes, the city is divided into four constituencies in the Kota Bharu electoral region. Each constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first-past-the-post system of election.

Federal Parliament and State Assembly Seats

List of Kota Bharu district representatives in the Federal Parliament (Dewan Rakyat)

List of Kota Bharu district representatives in the State Legislative Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri)



Travel in Kota Bharu is predominantly by bus. The state-run bus company SKMK (748 3807) operates city and regional buses (and some long-distance buses) from the central bus station (off Jln Padang Garong), and most long-distance buses from Langgar bus station (Jln Pasir Puteh) in the south of the city. All other long-distance bus companies run from the Jln Hamzah external bus station.

Kota Bharu is serviced by Sultan Ismail Petra Airport (IATA: KBR).

The Lebuhraya Rakyat, or People's Expressway, is a planned expressway that is to connect Kota Bharu to the Kelantanese city of Kuala Krai.


The most famous shopping destination in Kota Bharu is Pasar Siti Khadijah (Kota Bharu Central Market). Most of its sellers are women. Next to Central Market is the nearly completed construction of Kota Bharu Trade Centre (KBTC), which is considered to be one of the largest malls in Kota Bharu. The KBTC opened in August 2009, with Parkson as the anchor tenant for the mall. The Pasar Siti Khadijah and KBTC are connected by an overpass on the second floor.

Other shopping centres in Kota Bharu are the KB Mall, Pelangi Mall, Kota Seri Mutiara, Pantai Timur, The Store and the new Nirwana Maju (at Bandar Baru Kubang Kerian). A new Tesco hypermarket opened in 2008. At present, most of Kota Bharu's downtown shopping area is undergoing a major reconstruction in which several multi-story shopping centres are in their early construction phases. In March 2010, the Mydin Mall at Bandar Baru Kubang Kerian opened.



Strong surf threatens all major beaches in the vicinity of Kota Bharu with substantial erosion. The community has been implementing wave breakers by piling up massive amounts of boulders in an effort to protect the coastline. Regular beach activity has become impossible as visitors frequent beaches further south. In terms of tourism, the most famous beach in Kota Bharu is Pantai Cahaya Bulan.

Wreck diving

Diving in Kota Bharu is a relatively new activity. At present, only one dive shop operates in the area. Trips out to the wreck of the IJN Awazisan Maru (known locally as the "Japanese Invasion Wreck") are among the sites offered. This Japanese transport ship was the very first vessel to sink in the Pacific War. The wreck is a 30-minute boat journey from a jetty which is 10 minutes outside of Kota Bharu.

Notable people from Kota Bharu

Sister cities

Kota Bharu is twinned with:



  1. ^ a b,010/Taburan_Penduduk_dan_Ciri-ciri_Asas_Demografi.pdf
  2. ^
  3. ^ Malaysian Armed Forces Official Website
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

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