The capital of the state of Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu has a few more exciting activities to offer a visitor than its southern neighbor, Kuantan, but suffers from the same lack of tourism investment and enthusiasm. Malaysia's east coast is best known as the country's cultural heartland. Compared to other parts of the country, the population here is overwhelmingly Malay, with conservative religious values influencing every aspect of local life. Visitors keen on exploring the culture with respect to these values will be welcomed with open arms. Those who are looking for a party will be disappointed.
Most come to Terengganu to visit the islands off its coast. Redang and Perhentian islands have excellent opportunities for divers and snorkelers to see an abundance of marine creatures. The mainland's pretty seaside also supports a couple of very atmospheric and serene resorts.
Every November into December, Terengganu's Pulau Duyong hosts the Monsoon Cup (www.monsooncup.com.my), the annual Malaysian leg of the Swedish Match Tour yacht race.
Kuala Terengganu is small and easy to navigate, clustered around a port at the mouth of the Terengganu River. Many livelihoods revolve around the sea, so most of the activity, even today, focuses on the areas closest to the jetties. The region is also home to many of Malaysia's crafts cottage industries, which makes shopping really fun. One note: In Terengganu and its northern neighbor, Kelantan, the weekend is from Friday into Saturday, with official businesses open from Sunday through Thursday. In some instances, you'll find business closings for half-days on Thursdays.