Wakaf Che Yeh in Kelantan is the largest market in the state which also serves as the main wholesale market in the North East. Having visited Kelantan again after five years showed me how much improvement and development they have gone though. This time around, I wanted to visit the famous night market located about 7 kilometers out of Kota Bharu to see what it was all about.
The night market or pasar malam as it is locally known is open seven days a week and comes alive at night. Situated about 15-20 minutes drive from Kota Bharu town area, the market is quite close to the Thai border and has been around for 10 years now. Here you will find an assortment of local products ranging from fabrics to food. In the day, the place serves as a wet market and also wholesale market for a range of products which include mostly clothes for men, women and children. Ladies apparel especially for the Muslim women are seen sold all over the area. Bundles of fabrics are also sold in large quantities in many shops who deal with local wholesalers.
Wakaf Che Yeh entrance in Kota Bharu
When night falls, a myriad of colours take over the main night market area where you see traders selling all sorts of items. The stalls run along the main streets covering a vast area. Items sold are by areas therefore making it easy for customers to go for what they want. As I walked in from the main parking lots, I appeared in the fruit and produce section where it was mango season. Speaking to one of the local sellers, they had told me about a glut in the season resulting in prices being slashed. To make things more interesting, mangoes from Thailand were brought in making the prices cheaper. She kept asking me to buy some but I politely declined as our group just had a heavy dinner. Moving to the next stall, the strong whiff of durians made me stop to ask where they were from. Again, I got the some of local and some from Thailand.
Watches, belts and bags for sale
Walking towards the next section, I started to notice a number of stalls selling all sorts of fabrics. It was here that you would find t-shirts, jeans, dresses and mostly plain local fabrics being sold by bulk or piece. The colours were simply dazzling as each stall I passed, it simply got brighter and brighter. Women with children were seen haggling with the vendors while men hurriedly walked pass not to block the passage way. The lanes were narrow as most stalls were placed quite close together. Makeshift canopies covered some of the stalls in case of rain. As I got out of the fabric area, there was a choice of lanes to follow and looking on my left, an entire lane of stalls selling shoes got my attention.
Narrow walkways with all sorts of fabrics and clothes
Shoes and more shoes are seen everywhere
At the shoe lane, you could find possible all kinds of Nike, Adidas, Puma and New Balance shoes here. It's authenticity was a mystery but I found it pretty interesting that many of the younger generation were seen around here trying out the sports shoes. After passing all 20 stalls, it lead me back to another fabric lane with more clothes. Occasionally while browsing, I came across an odd one out. One of them was a elderly Malay man (or he could have possibly been a Thai) selling some men-enhancing products. Some of the item looked like they were from China while a number of them carried some strange and catchy name. I politely asked him if there was anything for women and his stunned face turned to me with a simply shake.
Interesting 'products' for the men
Local and Thai mangoes
Flattened and Grilled Squid (sotong) at the market
Among the popular items sold at Wakaf Che Yeh, perfumes seemed to be popular here. From international brands to Muslim products, they were selling like hot cakes as I must have seen ten stalls back to back selling them. Another interesting stall seen was one selling an assortment of knives and parangs. Mostly used in the farms and jungles. Food stalls selling all sorts of local dishes was common and located in a dedicated area. Some of the best pasar malam food can be found here including local cakes. One stall selling grilled squid (sotong bakar) was eye catching. I had to try a piece of this as it has been a long time since I had one.
A local seen buying mangoes at the night market
Even knifes of all sorts are seen sold here
The best time to visit this market is probably at night as it will be much cooler to walk around. You can spend a good 2-3 hours here. It is safe for you to bring your kids along. Pick pocketing was not highlighted so it is pretty safe here. Speaking to the locals, you may encounter difficulty as many here speak Kelantanese where it is a different dialect and hard for the city people to understand. Even I had trouble understanding the local lingo but fear not as if they know you are not local, they will speak in simply Bahasa Malaysia. Many of the traders speak basic English so communication is easy here. The market closes at about midnight but the wholesale market does on the entire day.
Traders sell fabrics at the pasar malam
Items that you can find here are mostly fabrics, t-shirts (local and Thai), jeans, dresses, perfumes, fruit, shoes (sports and working), tudungs (Muslim lady headscarves), accessories for ladies, hand phone accessories, toys and many more local items. If you are seeking souvenirs, this is not the place to find them. You are better off getting them in town area. The night market here gets very busy on weekends and especially during the fasting month before Hari Raya (Muslim New Year).
McDonalds in Kota Bharu, outside Wakaf Che Yeh
If you are visiting this North East state for a holiday, you will most probably make your way here to this night market. But please be warned that the items here are mostly for locals but a great place to walk around. You never know that you may find something you like. For local Malaysians, they come here to buy cheap fabrics and also try the local foods. For those not up to tasting the local cuisine, there is a McDonald's just opposite the night market.
My trip to Kelantan was made possible with the support of Tune Hotels as they have a newly opened hotel in the center of Kota Bharu Town. You can also read about my article Visiting Kota Bharu in Kelantan. For those wondering what else is there to do here, there are many interesting things to do around here apart from visiting the most busiest and famous night market Wakaf Che Yeh in Kelantan.