One of the must visit place near Kota Bahru is the border town of Rantau Panjang. Rantau Panjang is located near the Thailand-Malaysia border just across Sungai Golok. Our initial plan was to visit the town of Kolok, Thailand but after asking around, we were informed that there is nothing much in Kolok except good Thai food, girls and illegal smuggling. So on to Rantau Panjang we went...
Using Google map from my ipad and the road signs, we took about 45mins to reach the fenced up area known as the duty free town of Rantau Panjang. For first comers, Rantau Panjang seem like a dusty little town with a mismatch mix up of buildings hastily constructed. There are rows of shop-lots surrounding corrugated stalls, Walking around, we spotted lots of shops selling wares, clothes, shoes, food stuff, all kinds of goodies.
My aunties initial wanted to buy some pots, but after considering the space that we have in our van already crammed with luggage and bodies of 6 people, they decided otherwise. But I did like the pink pots so very much and might just consider going back for it when I become a housewife :)
Cheap fruits for sale...Yes, those are duty free as well :)
Besides shopping, there are other interesting sights to see. There are Malays, Chinese and even Thai hawking their wares. There was a quaint little cafe that my dad and younger siblings waited out from the heat while we women went shopping :)
One other thing I like about Rantau Panjang is their range of Monobos.... For those who don't know, Monobos are from Thailand. The sad thing I discovered on my last visit there was the prices have gone up :( But they have expanded their range of products and designs and even gone into slippers. I was kinda tempted to get the neon peep toes and the silver shoes...
If you decided to visit, please bear in mind the heat and dust. Just think of a cowboy town - dusty, ruin-down, hot, humid, sweaty - but in Malaysia. Quality of items are questionable, so please check carefully before purchasing. Haggling is a must. Drink lots of water.. but please discard your litters properly. Oh, and don't be frightened by the increase in security towards the the entrance and exit of the town.
We bought so much stuff that we were afraid we will get tax for it. So right before the security check, we stop the car and started repacking out shopping. It was a funny sight to see. However, it was all in via cos the policeman just wave us thru. Phew!!! I left a Rantau Panajang a happy shopper 'cos I got some stuff settled for my wedding..
p.s. Don't forget to spot the Chinese mosque just a short distance from Rantau Panjang. A unique sight as its architecture is a combination of a Chinese temple and a mosque.
*All pictures were taken with my Sony SteadyShot DDSC-W310 & Samsung Galaxy W