Visiting Chinatown (Kampung Cina) @ Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia


Hey guys! So I was recently on a media trip to Redang island, off the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Took an overnight bus from KL, and stopped at Chinatown in Kuala Terengganu for breakfast. Dubbed Kampung Cina (literally Chinese Village), it is one of the oldest Chinese settlements in Southeast Asia, dating back to the 1700s. Although not as old as the one in Binondo, Manila, it’s still pretty old! 🙂

KT Chinatown sits at the mouth of the Terengganu River, where the place was once an important trading hub. In its heyday, it had over 1,000 homes! All that remains now are several dozen shophouses, most of which have been designated as protected buildings under the UNESCO World Monument Programme. The style is similar to many Malaysian-Chinese shophouses found in Ipoh, Penang, Malacca and Kuala Lumpur – usually double storey, with a five foot walkway (covered corridor) at the shopfront.

Entrance arch with the usual Chinese motifs – lanterns, sloping roofs, dragons on clouds.

Breakfast at one of the restaurants – trying out a local specialty called ‘Roti Paung’. It’s like a cross between buns and bread, with a flat bottom but lumpy top somewhat similar to a sixpack lol. The bread was firm but fluffy, and came with a slab of butter and kaya (coconut jam) as spread. To complete the meal, some soft boiled eggs seasoned with pepper and soy sauce, and a glass of cold sweet Milo. 

Exploring the town! The designs aren’t uniform; each building has its own character, which makes them more charming.

Many of the Chinese who live here may be descended from early settlers, with the homes handed down from generation to generation. While it is not clear when exactly the city was founded as no archaeological digs can be conducted in order to preserve the heritage buildings, records by Admiral Cheng Ho (one of China’s most famous admirals) date back to the 15th century, where he supposedly landed in Terengganu with a fleet.

A fire in the 1800s gutted most of the town, so the buildings we see today have been reconstructed. Most are made from brick, plaster and timber.

Small town saloon – nothing fancy. I love how idyllic things are here. Do you spot the shopkeeper peeking from behind the door? xD


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