Terengganu is a state located along the North eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia bordered by the South China Sea. Kuala Terengganu is the administrative and royal capital. Islam is the official religion with a dominant Malay ethnicity of greater than 90%. The most widely spoken language is Coastal Terengganuan Malay.
Terengganu has been on trade routes for centuries and had trade relationships with the Chinese, Majapahit Empire and the Khmer Empire. Being easily accessible, it was the first Malay state to receive Islam. Historically important dates include, 1724 – became a self-governing sultanate, 19th century – became a vassal to Siam which lasted until 1909 when Great Britain took over and it remained as an Unfederated Malay State under British Malaya until 1946 when it became a part of the Malayan Union, 1948 – formed the Federation of Malaya, 1957 – was granted independence and finally in 1963 – became a part of Malaysia.
Formerly the poorest state in Malaysia, things changed for the better when petroleum and gas were discovered close to its coast and is now the primary industry. Its 225km long coastline has established a stable tourism and fishing industry. Agriculture of fruits such as banana, rambutan, durian and watermelon also brings an income.
Terengganuans are mostly conservative, orthodox Muslims with rich Malay traditions such as top-spinning (gasing) contests and kite-flying contests with giant elaborately patterned kites called wau still very much in practice today. Traditional crafts include wau making, batik printing, songket weaving (silk or cotton handwoven fabric patterned with interwoven silver or gold threads), brassware, woodcarving and weaving of mengkuang and pandanus leaves into products such as baskets, food covers and mats. Cultural heritage also includes dances, Ulek mayang and Rodat, and Gamelan (a performance with an ensemble of traditional instruments).
Popular tourist attractions include Pasir Payang Market – sells traditional crafts, Islamic Heritage Park – has the stunning Crystal Mosque and replicas of famous mosques around the world, Kenyir Lake – man-made lake popular for fishing, jungle trekking and water sports such as canoeing and rafting, Setiu Wetlands – attracts nature lovers due to its rich biodiversity, Rantau Abang – Leatherback Sea Turtle nesting area and Perhentian Islands & Redang Island – popular for sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, corals and activities such as camping, jungle-trekking, snorkeling, scuba-diving and banana boat riding.
The amalgam of flavors in local food will leave you wanting more. Local cuisine include Keropok lekor – fried fish sausage made from fish paste and sago flour, dipped in a sauce of tamarind, chili, sugar and vinegar, Budu – fermented anchovy sauce, Laksam – thick, flat rice flour noodles in rich white gravy of coconut milk and fish flesh and Sata – fish cake containing grated coconut wrapped in banana leaves and grilled.