Kota Bharu is the riverside capital of Kelantan, a rural state in the northeast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is the land of museums and cultural experiences. Over 70% of the population is Muslim. The Kelantanese Malay is the predominant ethnic group, and speak a branch of Malay called Kelantan-Pattani Malay that is exclusive to the state. The Chinese, Indians, Thais and native Orang Asli make up the rest of the demographic. Isolated by mountains and rainforests separating the state from the rest of Malaysia, a car rental Kota Bharu can bring you into the enigmatic depths of this faraway Malaysian city along the east coast. Start your journey by picking up your car rental at the Kota Bharu Airport.

car rental kota bharu

Central Market Fresh Produce. Credit: trackingtreasure.net

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Car Rental Company in Kota Bharu

Before renting a car in Kota Bharu, it’s essential to choose a reliable car rental company that offers affordable rates and excellent service. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a car rental company in Kota Bharu:


Check the reputation of the car rental company by reading online reviews and customer testimonials. Look for a company that has a high rating and positive feedback from customers.

Rental Rates

Compare the rental rates of different car rental companies in Kota Bharu. Some companies offer lower rates but have hidden fees and charges, so make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before booking.

Vehicle Selection

Choose a car rental company that offers a wide range of vehicles to choose from. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may opt for a compact car, SUV, or luxury sedan.

Insurance Coverage

Make sure that the car rental company provides insurance coverage for the vehicle. In case of an accident or damage to the car, you don’t have to worry about the cost of repairs.

Customer Service

Choose a car rental company that has excellent customer service. They should be available to answer your queries and provide assistance when needed.

Tips for Finding the Best Car Rental Deals in Kota Bharu

Finding the best car rental deals in Kota Bharu requires some research and planning. Here are some tips to help you find the best car rental deals in Kota Bharu:

Book in Advance

Book your rental car in advance to get the best rates and availability. Most car rental companies offer discounts for early bookings, so make sure to book your car at least a week before your travel date.

Check for Promotions and Discounts

Check for promotions and discounts offered by car rental companies in Kota Bharu. You can find these deals on their websites or social media pages. Some companies offer discounts for first-time customers or loyalty programs for frequent renters.

Negotiate Prices

Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with car rental companies. If you’re renting for an extended period, you can ask for a lower rate or additional discounts.

Avoid Peak Season

Avoid renting a car during peak seasons, such as school holidays and festive seasons. Rental rates are usually higher during these periods, and availability may be limited.

Use Comparison Websites

Use comparison websites, such as Rentalcars.com and Kayak.com, to compare the rental rates of different car rental companies in Kota Bharu. These websites provide a comprehensive list of rental cars, prices, and customer reviews.

Where to Visit in Kota Bharu

Alternatively, if you are driving to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur, take the Karak Highway, exit Bentong town and drive along the Kuala Lumpur-Kota Bharu Highway. Enjoy the drive into the depths of the Malaysian rainforest. It should take you 6 hours.

If you are departing from Penang and examine the map, you will notice that it is counterproductive to drive all the way back south to Kuala Lumpur and then only to head east by taking the Karak Highway. Rather, take the East-West Highway (also widely known as Gerik-Jeli Highway, Kulim-Baling Highway and Titi Karangan-Gerik Highway), a wide, well-maintained and scenic route that promises to be a great drive. The drive is slightly longer at about 10 hours, but many attractions await along the way.

Car Rental Kota Bharu Heading to Kuala Besut to Perhentian Islands

Green Sea Turtle in Perhentian Islands. Credit: trackingtreasure.net

Green Sea Turtle in Perhentian Islands. Credit: trackingtreasure.net

The state of Terengganu is situated next to Kelantan, along the east coast of Malaysia. Kuala Besut is the gateway to the Perhentian Islands and is located 50km south of Kota Bharu. Rural Malaysia does not offer much of a choice when it comes to public transportation, making getting a car rental Kota Bharu an absolute must.

Attractions Accessible by Car Rental Kota Bharu


The Craft Village in Kota Bharu. Credit: trackingtreasure.net

Kota Bharu is home to many popular museums, some of the notable ones are:

  1. Muzium Kraftangan, Handicrafts Museum
  2. Muzium Negeri, the State Museum
  3. Memorial Peperangan Dunia Ke II, World War II Memorial
  4. Muzium D’Raja, the Royal Museum
  5. Muzium Islam, the Museum of Islam
  6. Muzium Adat Istiadat DiRaja Kelantan, Museum of Royal Kelantanese Traditions
  7. Muzium Negeri Kelantan, Kelantan State Museum

Most of the museums are open everyday except Fridays from 8.30am to 4.45pm.

If neither of the museums above pique your fancy, how about visiting the Pasar Siti Khadijah, the Central Market of Kota Bharu crowned with a glass dome? It is one of the most colourful markets in Malaysia that is brimming with life. The Central Market building is an octagonal building that is usually busy in the early hours of the morning. The ground floor is home to vendors selling fresh produce, while the top floors are home to people selling spices, brassware, batik and other goods. The first floor houses an array of food stalls that is a popular haunt for locals looking for breakfast or lunch. Be sure to act like the locals do and visit the market early to catch the action live! Most of the stalls would have packed up by early afternoon.

If you arrive Kota Bharu later in the day, worry not as there is a Pasar Malam (Night Market) that opens in the evenings at the square near the Central Market. Plenty of local foods such as Nasi Kerabu and Ayam Percik awaits.

For nature buffs, the Stong Waterfall boasts one of the longest drops in Southeast Asia, with a height of 990 metres. The proximity of city to the coastline also means beaches are within reach with a car rental Kota Bharu. Some of the notable ones are located at Bachok, namely Pantai Perkasa, Pantai Sungai Dua and Pantai Kandis.

Here are some pointers for you when visiting Kota Bharu

  1. Both men and women should dress appropriately especially when visiting places of worship
  2. Non-Muslim women are not required to wear a head scarf
  3. The ‘weekend’ starts from Friday and ends on Saturday
  4. The official work days are Sundays to Thursdays
  5. Be prepared for breaks to be taken in many places, including the Pasar Malam (Night Market) during Islamic prayer times

Be prepared to explore another facet of Malaysia with a car rental Kota Bharu!