Great Drives: Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Besut

Great Drives: Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Besut

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I spent most of the last two weeks out of town, I was on the East Coast partaking in the controlled chaos that was the Kuala Terengganu by-election.


As you can imagine, covering an election is about as much fun as attending a conference of the obvious, the speakers on both sides repeated themselves like broken records and each day the reporters are expected to come up with something new and witty and interesting to write. I don’t think tney succeeded, but they tried.

Anyway, to while away some of the boredom, I decided to go on an adventure to find interesting roads around Kuala Terennganu and I can tell you that there are many ribbons of tarmac there that would make you smile.

I am working on a book of great driving roads so I will just give you a teaser of some of the nice drives you can enjoy if you find yourself in KT.

Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Besut ( via the coastal road)

If you want to go hardcore coastal on this drive, then you head towards the KT airport and take the last right just before the airport perimeter, that would take you to a beach and around the end of the newly extended runway.


The view here is not particularly fantastic, it is a typical east coast beach view lots of pine trees and hawkers. If you start out early, this is as good a place as any for a quick seaside breakfast, jsut go to one of the stall right by the airport perimeter and enjoy the sea breeze while you feed your still-groggy cells.

After rounding the airport, just keep following the signboard that says Kuala Besut and turn right at every opportunity if you find yourself out of sight of the sea.


Every right turn will inevitably take you into a narrow road that cuts through some small fishing village. As soon as you see the ocean again, turn left and head north. This drive is not about speed or testing your car’s handling prowess, it is all about allowing your worries and stress to be washed away by the sound of crashing waves.

Invariably, you will drive at a very leisurely pace, at times you will move at no more than walking pace and there will be moments when you dread seeign a car in your rear view mirror, egging you to go faster.


With the sea always beckoning, you can always stop whenever the scenery becomes too beautiful to let pass without a snap.


Leave your shoes in the car and enjoy barefoot walk on these less well known beaches and spend time at local village coffee shops and talk to the people there and share their stories.

It took me nearly three hours to get from Kuala Terengganu to Setiu in this fashion but along the way I was completely lost in my own little world.


Of course when I was there the monsoon was raging and sea spray was constantly coating the car so the view was not serene but no less beautiful.

The heavy anvils set themselves inches from horizon while sun does it’s best to gild the dark clouds.

The winds blew loud tubulence around every obstacle and howled low and long.

Whipped by the wind, the sea boiled with anger and slammed itself mercilessly onto the beach, threatening anyone who dares to get close.

Lovers walking along the beach shielded each other from the lashing of the monsoon, grabbing scarves and wrapping sarong to protect their modesty while striking a pose for the ever jealous digital camera.

Out in the storm, a fishing boat bobbed with every crest and trough, yo-yo ing the hopes of the families whose men and boys are risking their lives for an honest catch.

I cursed the middlemen who make extravagant profit from the dangers risked by others, may they never sleep well.

Everytime I stepped out of the car, the wind tries to push me back in but I insist. There is nothign quite like watching the spectacle of the monsoon from up close, on a deserted beach where a large wave could come crashing at anytime, sweeping me away without anyone ever knowing.

The journey ended at Kuala Besut at dusk. I pulled up to a seafront food court and rushed to catch the last light.


Out in the distance, the breakwater was doing its best to keep out the bigger waves but quite a few made it past and slammed itself on the concrete embankment. A couple of anglers were trying their luck and seemed to enjoy the wind more than the fishing.

As night fell, a fsihing boat rounded the breakwater, its diesel slowly sputtering protests as the propeller churned up forward thrust towards the landing.


I sat by the beach until darkness reclaimed the view and left me with just the sound of wind and water. The hot coffee lost its heat quickly in this storm so I drank without wastign time and got back to the car.

The drive back to Kuala Terengganu took me on the inland road through Jerteh. I was hoping to see a long forgotten address but the night conspired to veil its familiar features so I drove on. 

I had less than a quarter tank of fuel so I better drive slowly.  Thankfully rain began pelting and I had no choice but to conserve fuel. It was a great drive and I had an hour to let the memory sink in to the beat of raindrops and the crass comedy of George Lopez on the CD.


  1. I’ve done that few months ago, somewhere in august 08. It was during my working trip to KB, KT and Kuantan, ALONE. After KB work, I drive along costal road from KB to Bachok to KT, all using costal road. It tooks me more than 8 hours coz I keep on stopping and snapping great photos of endless beaches and keropok lekor stops. Imagine arriving in KT with full stomach and totally relaxed. The next day, from KT to Kuantan, same method again, using costal road all the way and takes me 8+ hours. Simply take my breath away. The best driving pleasure of my life. I recommend it to anybody that have high stress level and those on honeymoon trip. Simply fantabulous (fantastic and fabulous). I will be doing this again this year, together with wife and children.

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