Suri Island is not an ordinary island. It is part of sediment deposition as Kelantan River meets the South China Sea and thus forming a delta. What makes it unique is not because of its name (which was named after a midwife who believed to be the first settler of the island), but people flock to this place just because of the floating market. Pantai Suri Floating Market to be exact – the first floating market in Malaysia.

Inspired by Klong-Hae Floating Market in Hat Yai, Thailand, the concept of Pantai Suri Floating Market is modified as reminiscent of the lives of the Malay traders who once traded in waterways. Located at Tumpat (about 30-minute drive from Kota Bharu), Pantai Suri Floating Market offers an authentic and different experience as visitors need to take a boat from the nearest jetty with a small fee. There are several nearest jetties to reach Suri Island namely Kuala Besar Jetty in Kota Bharu and Kok Majid Jetty in Tumpat with provided safety jackets.

My trip to Kelantan recently enabled me to savour the atmosphere and taste the real local scene of this charming floating market. It has been officially opened since September 2016 for every Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Honey Iced Tea by Pak Mat

But, before we took a boat ride and heading to Pantai Suri Floating Market from Medan Ikan Bakar Jetty in Kota Bharu, we stopped by at Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang to try the so-called best honey iced tea in town – Pak Mat’s Teh Beng Madu.

This signature drink, which is a speciality of the house, is prepared with several types of tea (some of them are self-processed Cameron Highlands tea leaves) with three different kinds of local honey and milk. It may look so sweet but not really.

The uniqueness of Pak Mat’s Teh Beng Madu lies on the maintained structure of its bubble-look-alike honey foam on the top of the drink. I was told by the owner, Nik Mohamad Mohd Nor, 55, (better known as Pak Mat) that he took 15 years to get its perfect shape as he claimed it was his first recipe for honey iced tea in Malaysia.

“I was approached and convinced that my menus have big potentials to attract tourists. Tourism Malaysia even helped me to get a business site here, and now I have 38 workers,” said Pak Mat.

Pak Mat’s Teh Beng Madu is very popular, especially on weekends reaching 1,000 glasses. Therefore, he has to prepare 180 kilograms of the drink, just for his customers every Friday and Saturday.

Interestingly, although Pak Mat’s business has grown, he still cooks the menus with his wife without the services of a cook. Among the customers’ favourites are fish head soup, fish fillet soup and meat soup. There are also fried meat, ayam perchik, fried chicken and chicken curry.

“I continue doing business of my late mother’s recipes especially the soups because she used to work at Kelantan’s palace,” said Pak Mat.

Address: Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang, Medan Ikan Bakar Kedai Buluh, 15350 Kota Bharu, Malaysia.
Facebook: Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang
Operation hours: 7.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
Phone: +6013-9198131 / +6016-5556569

This special fish head soup with meat at Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang costs about RM70 – RM100. Photo courtesy of Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang Facebook.

Pantai Suri Floating Market

Boat ride to Suri Island

Suri Island Jetty

As the boat sailed along the river, picturesque countryside came into sight. With lofty coconut trees waving to and fro in the wind, the slow pace of life of the fishing village surrounded the atmosphere as the place was buzzing with local activities since the floating market also brought community-based tourism into life.

We were greeted warmly upon arrival on the Suri Island jetty. A group of performers were sitting on the floor, clapping their hands with the lead singer performing Malay songs known as dikir barat. Some people were seen enjoying a leisurely picnic on the ground with their families while others eating on the bench with a few tables provided.

Visitors enjoyed a leisurely picnic at Pantai Suri Floating Market

From nasi kerabu, nasi berlauk, akok (traditional delicacy mainly made of flour & egg) to the deep-fried seafood in crispy batter called colek, the choice is abundant. You can also get a variety taste of lokan (freshwater clams) either being roasted with cheese or slathered in spicy chilli, garlic and ginger sauce mixed with coconut milk.

But the most unique local dish that you probably should try once you are in Suri Island is kerabu nipah (palm salad). It is a mixture of shredded and boiled mackerel with lime juice, onions, black pepper, budu (fermented anchovies) sauce, cucumber, coconut milk and other condiments including palm flower.

Local people selling their wares on the boats at Pantai Suri Floating Market

Others include ketupat sotong (squid filled with glutinous rice), which might be a little bit sweety, besides smoked etok (small freshwater shellfish). About 20 local people were on their boats selling their wares but there were also small stalls on the banks selling local handicrafts too. But the best part is the entrance fee to this Pantai Suri Floating Market is only cost you RM1!

Variety of foods to gorge on at Pantai Suri Floating Market

Rooster crowing contest at Pantai Suri Floating Market

We encountered new experience watching the rooster crowing contest. The crowing of this hybrid red jungle fowl is said to be more high-pitched and ends more abruptly and therefore the highest number of crowing within the specified time is considered as the winner. I was told that it takes time to train this animal to crow, but the price of the champion rooster can be sold up to RM25,000!

For food lovers who are looking forward to coming to Pantai Suri Floating Market, plan your journey as the best time to reach this place might be around 10 -11 a.m. It is also a good idea to put on sunscreen unless you love to bask in the sun during boat ride in the afternoon.

Address: Pantai Suri Floating Market, Pulau Suri, Tumpat, Kelantan, Malaysia.
Facebook: Pantai Suri Floating Market
Phone: +6010-8230978 / +6017-9746119