Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown, or more commonly known as Kampung Cina among the locals, is situated close to the heart of Kuala Terengganu’s city centre. Founded by Chinese traders, Kampung Cina sits along Jalan Bandar (known by its old name Jalan Kampung Cina), which is located on the river mouth of Sungai Terengganu. Both sides of the road in Kampung Cina are lined by a row of colourful prewar buildings with a traditional flair. They are said to be the homes of Chinese who came here to Malaya from China 200 years ago. A number of these structures still retain features such as a large wooden front door and wooden carvings on windows. However, some of them have been renovated to become modern concrete buildings and now serve as kopitiams (local coffee shops), sundry shops, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Kampung Cina is a favorite spot for photographers because of its colourful long roof. The roof offers a panoramic view for photography, and the view is particularly stunning during sunset.
The centuries-old buildings in Kampung Cina have been gazetted as a heritage site and are placed on the United Nations’ UNESCO World Monument Watch Programme. Financial grants are awarded each year so the site can be continually preserved in a good condition.
Attractions in Chinatown
1) Low Tiey’s Well
A famous attraction in Kampung Cina is the Low Tiey’s Well. It was dug by the Lim clan, who had travelled south from China to settle here in Peninsular Malaysia about 300 years ago. Eventually, they chose to settle in the area now known as Kuala Terengganu. The Lim clan started to cultivate the land here and they dug up this well so they will be able to get water for domestic purposes.
Most of the wells in the town were dried up during a drought in 1875. This well is the only well which still had a sufficient supply of water. The Lim clan continued to share the well’s water with the rest of the townsfolk so the well was named after the Lim family’s head “Low Tiey” as a remembrance for his family’s kindness during that period of time.
2) Pasar Besar Payang
The Central Market, also known as Pasar Besar Payang, is a must-visit for visitors to Kuala Terengganu. Situated just along the Terengganu River and next to Kampung Cina, this market is also an ideal place for you to do some shopping before heading to or coming back from Redang, due to its close proximity to Shahbandar jetty. The market is housed in a two-storey modern building and comprises a wet market along with a trading centre. Visitors to the market will have an enjoyable time shopping at the market as all the wares there are fairly cheap. Visitors can purchase a wide variety of goods here: from fresh produce such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fishes, meats to local handicraft like batik, songket, brassware, silk and brocade, as well as local delicacies like ‘keropok lekor’ and ‘serunding’. It is also a great spot to experience the local culture as locals go about doing their shopping.
3) Turtle Alley
Visitors should also pay a visit to Turtle Alley. This narrow passage aims to increase the general public’s awareness regarding a number of endangered species of turtles which breed on Kuala Terengganu’s beaches. Launched by Chan Eng Heng, a turtle conservationist and retired professor from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, this alley is beautifully adorned with mosaic paintings of turtles and metallic plates. These tell a tale of ‘Little Turtle Messenger’, a story with a strong message of turtle conservation. Visitors can also see several quotes and a few pieces of trivia regarding the conservation of turtles.
Popular Restaurants in Chinatown
1) Madam Bee’s Kitchen
This restaurant claims to be the lone restaurant serving traditional Peranakan-style dishes within the state of Terengganu. Owned by Madam Tan Choo Bee (which is how the restaurant’s name come about), it is one of Kuala Terengganu’s most famous restaurants. Madam Bee’s Kitchen is ranked by tripadvisor.com.my as the #2 restaurant among 19 Kuala Terengganu restaurants and its owner has also won a few awards and was even featured in a local newspaper.
The interior of the restaurant invokes a sense of nostalgia as it is decorated with vintage furniture and photos, like those found in kopitiams (local coffee shops) of the olden days.
Among the signature dishes here are their Nasi Lemak, Curry Laksa, Nasi Kerabu and Mee Jawa.
Address: Madam Bee’s Kitchen, 177, Jalan Kampung Cina, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.
2) Golden Dragon Restaurant
Golden Dragon is the perfect place to go to if you are hungry for some good ol’ Chinese food! It is probably the busiest Chinese restaurant in Kuala Terengganu as many tourists and locals like to dine there. So, you should get there early because the restaurant will be occupied fairly quickly during dinnertime. Several set dinners consisting of different dishes and which are priced from RM32 to RM60 are offered by the restaurant. Try their Teochew-styled steamed grouper, sweet and sour prawns, belacan kangkung and fried oyster.
Address: Golden Dragon Restaurant, 198 Jln Kampung Cina, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.
3) Ah Hung Kopitiam
Situated close to the bridge at Chinatown, this shop is renowned for its coffee, toast and kaya, and two different types of noodles. ‘Hokkien’ noodles are cooked by frying thick yellow noodles, egg, slices of pork and pieces of round cabbage and sauced with dark soy sauce. Cantonese noodles, on the other hand, are prepared by pouring a ladleful of gravy containing egg, leaves of Chinese broccoli and pork shreds onto a plate of crispy, deep-fried mee xin (dried skinny rice noodles). Be sure to try these out if you visit this shop.
Address: Ah Hung Kopitiam, 136 Jalan Kampung Cina, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.
4) Town City Food Court
If you are looking for delectable hawker fare, you should definitely visit the Town City Food Court. Many vendors are found here and they offer a large variety of dishes from bak kut teh to pan mee to grilled fish. The stir-fried squid in black pepper is absolutely amazing – make sure to order one when you are here! Beer fans also have a reason to visit this place as they have the cheapest beer in town.
Address: Town City Food Court, Jalan Kampung Cina, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.
5) Restoran CT
Formerly known as CT Steamboat, this restaurant is one of the few Chinese restaurants in Chinatown which offer delicious food at reasonable prices. The restaurant has a nice ambience and the workers here are quite attentive and helpful. It also has a wide selection of dishes prepared only using the freshest ingredients. Do try their shark fish fillet and sweet and sour chicken.
Address: Restoran CT, 200-202 Jalan Kampung Cina, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.
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