This was built during the premier tenure of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the 5th Malaysian Prime Minister, affectionately remembered as the most Islamic-concerned prime minister up to that point in time. Malaysia was also the Chairman of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) while under his governance and hence, this park just had to happen.
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Medina, Saudi Arabia
Masjid al-Haram, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, Palestine
Qolsharif Mosque, Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia
Masjid Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Masjid Menara Kudus, Kudus, Indonesia
Great Mosque of Xi’an, Xi’an, China
Great Mosque of Samarra, Samarra, Iraq
Pattani Mosque, Pattani Province, Thailand
Al-Hambra Mosque, Granada, Spain
Aleppo Citadel, Aleppo, Syria
Sultan Mosque, Singapore
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan
Silang the great garden of China
Kalyan Minaret, Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran
Once you get the passport, just hop on the mini train and they are frequent. Only 3-4 minutes tops for each one to come pick you up wherever you happen to be at. Everything was as how they should be up to the floating rock at the mini Dome of the Rock. You will be amazed.
The only thing that saddened me was that the paint on some of the monuments had started to fade. They should seriously tend to this before it gets worse. I am screaming as I say this.
Also, the video shows in the mini auditoriums were all in Malay but with English subtitles of course. With some careful revamping efforts, I’m sure they can come up with some multi language audios on free earphones. At least they should have one in Arabic because it is after all an Islamic attraction.
You get RM2 food voucher and another one for souvenirs. The chicken rice was quite expensive but I guess they’re not targeting the locals with that. Worth a try if you don’t mind trying a staple Malaysian delicacy right by the river, or rather, estuary and along with all the view. The ice kacang was delicious with ice-cream toppings.
I didn’t go to the crystal mosque however but I’m planning on going there the next time I’m in Terengganu. You don’t need to pay any entrance fee over there as it’s outside the park.
The place itself needs more upkeep. When we visited, there were not much people going around, just a handful of locals.
You can go in the mini-structures and learn about that particular exhibit. There are also some informative videos.
They have bikes for rent, but it would be best to just walk around the park since it is not that a big park, as we thought it was. We rented a bike and ended up going off the bike every few paddles because everything is so near each other.
It can get quite scorching hot there.
They will give you discount coupons for souvenirs and food/drinks.
The food was average at the cafeteria was just average.
Taman Tamadun Islam, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
It’s a small world after all. Especially when you shrink some of the planet’s greatest landmarks into miniature models that you can fit into a theme park.
Although… it’s not landmarks from the whole world. These ones are only from the Muslim world – mosques and minarets. Because the Taman Tamadun Islam theme park in the city of Kuala Terengganu in Malaysia is dedicated to Islam.
There’s the tiny model of Mecca – thankfully without the crowds of people you would find at the real one during the Haj.
There’s a replica of the Great Mosque of Samarra from Iraq and the Great Mosque of Xian from China.
There’s even the Taj Mahal (again, thankfully without the crowds) – which is obviously not a mosque but is one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture.
They are all far too small to go into – just models that you can walk around and look at.
The only exhibit at Taman Tamadun Islam that is large enough to enter is a replica of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Inside, the details of the interior decorations have been replicated and it feels solemn… am I really at an amusement park?
I’ve previously visited a theme park dedicated to Christianity in Argentina and a theme park dedicated to Buddhism in Vietnam. It’s only fair that I now add Islam to my list of religious fun fairs.
Not that Taman Tamadun Islam is particularly ‘fun’. There are no rides or amusements other than the models. Beneath some of the small buildings are halls with museum-style exhibits and information placards.
The children I see here seem to be enjoying themselves but that may be more about the outing itself, than the destination.
Perhaps I have misunderstood the promotional materials and the descriptions I have read about the theme park.
It is presented as somewhere fun for the family (and it is mainly families who are here). But it seems much more like a school excursion than a crazy day out. Education more than entertainment.
Taman Tamadun Islam is one of the main attractions of the east coast city of Kuala Terengganu.
There might not seem like many reasons for a tourist to stop here – perhaps only as a transit on the way to the Perhentian Islands. But, despite the scarcity of famous sights, it’s actually a very pleasant city with a relaxed atmosphere and good food.
The Crystal Mosque
The most famous attraction in Kuala Terengganu sits right next to the theme park. Glittering and glowing, it is the Crystal Mosque.
The mosque got its name because of what it is built from – steel, glass and crystal. In the harsh Malaysian sun, it catches the light and seems to radiate.
You can see it from a long way off – from the bridge as you come into town from the north, for instance. Up close it is intense.
I go inside and find the decoration of the interior to be quite staid in comparison. Only the large chandelier in the centre has a hint of all the glass that creates the external effect.
With smooth white walls and lots of shade, the main space is actually quite cool and calming. That may be intentional, as a contrast to the exterior.
That’s not to say the interior doesn’t have its own kind of beauty. Particularly with the light coming in from the opaque doors on the bottom level and the gold writing on the ceiling, it is relaxing but enjoyable at the same time.
Islam in Malaysia
In general, Islam in Malaysia is also quite cool and calming, I find. It is the majority religion in the country and you can see its influence everywhere – whether it’s the mosques in every town, the restaurants without alcohol, the women wearing hijabs.
Yet it doesn’t seem to dominate the culture.
Malaysia is comfortably secular for the most part – probably because there is little alternative when you have so many people with different backgrounds living together in the same country.
But when you visit somewhere like Taman Tamadun Islam or the Crystal Mosque and you see all the families, it’s a reminder of how important this faith is to a large part of the population.
Seeing all of these model buildings reminds me of two other things. Firstly, that Islamic art and architecture is stunning, with its intricate details and colours and flowing lively shapes. And secondly, that I have not seem enough of it in person.
For no particular reason, I have visited only a few majority Muslim countries in my six years of travel. I think it’s because it’s pretty difficult to see every country and I tend to have focused on a few main regions.
The regions where Islam is dominant have not been those ones… and the reality is that, outside of Asia, these countries are generally not in the easiest places to travel.
I think I will have to change this in the future. Perhaps it’s time to start putting together a plan to focus a bit more on the Muslim world and see some of the sites at Taman Tamadun Islam for myself – at their original scale.
Where is Taman Tamadun Islam?
Taman Tamadun Islam is on an island in the river, just southwest of the centre of Kuala Terengganu. The official address is Pulau Wan Man, Losong Panglima Perang, 21000 Kuala Terengganu. You can see it on a map here.
How do you get to Taman Tamadun Islam?
The easiest way to get to the park from the city centre is by the tourist bus that does a loop of the important spots in Kuala Terengganu – and it only costs RM1! You can find the timetable here.
When is Taman Tamadun Islam open?
From Monday to Thursday, the park is open from 1000 – 1900 (10am – 7pm).
From Friday to Sunday, it is open from 0900 – 1900 (9am – 7pm).
How much does it cost to visit Taman Tamadun Islam?
For an adult, the entrance is RM21.20 (US$4.90) and for a child or senior citizen it is RM15.90 (US$3.65).
This Islamic Edutainment Park provide whole other experience. The Islamic monuments from the whole world are brought into a park. Best if you pay for tram ticket so you get to listen to the information while on it, or you could just read! Prepare for a quite high ticket price. (Tips: buy ticket in a group of 20, reduces the price!) The ticket price should include the free tram and the place should be repair and maintain. The poor-maintaned facilities are mostly seen at the interactive monuments. You could rent bicycle, buggy or pay for tram to go around the park. It’s also children and elderly-friendly. It’s a place for the whole family. It’s like you went to 23 country in a visit. What a catch right!