The dominant state in Peninsular Malaysia by area captures and captivates many a tourist. From the royal capital of Pekan to hill resorts like the Cameron Highlands, exquisite national parks to the white sand dunes of the South China Sea, Pahang is a hefty parcel of the country to unwrap. State capital Kuantan is a good place to start.
The city of over 600,000 people is discreetly urban and includes a desirable swath of coast that garners the lion’s share of attention. As a result, Kuantan coaxes hordes of domestic visitors in particular but, increasingly over the last decade, a steady trickle of international travellers on the make for inexpensive, harmless fun under the tropical sun.
Happily, Kuantan offers more than parasols in the sand and has begun to develop and muscle up a bit in recent times. As the commercial and political heart of Pahang, the city plays host to vital points of interest like Sultan Ahmad Shah State Mosque, Pahang Buddhist Association Temple, Gelora Park and is the gateway to the likes of Berkelah Falls and Forest Reserve, Charas Caves, Pulau Ular and Bukit Gambang Resort City.
Kuantan’s Top 10
10. Pekan is the lovely royal capital of Pahang.
5. Charas Cave is a beautiful temple cave not far from Sungai Lembing.
9. Gelora Park is a sublime oasis in the city and popular congregation spot.
4. Batu Hitam is a black stone, white sand beach 10 km from Kuantan.
8. Beserah is a beach village not far up the coast from Kuantan.
3. Balok is a beach with idyllic waves for water sports.
7. Sungai Lembing, some 30 km from Kuantan, is home to the world’s foremost underground tin mine.
2. Sultan Ahmad Shah State Mosque is the primary mosque of Pahang. The landmark is by far the most impressive in the city.
6. Berkelah Falls is a first-rate cascade 50 km from the state capital.
1. Teluk Cempedak (Jackfruit Bay) is the most popular beach area in Kuantan and a wonderful place to observe local life and people-watch on a sunny day.
- State Museum – Shows the history of the royal family, as well as displays of Chinese treasure from sunken junks.
- Kuil Sri Mariamman Kuantan – The oldest temple in the area and was built in 1833.
- Sultan Ahmad Shah Mosque – A beautiful white and blue mosque that looks stunning at night.
- State Mosque – This huge mosque located in the center of town contains stained glass, minarets and a distinctive dome.
- Pekan – South of Kuantan, this royal city is where the sultan of Pahang resides in a gorgeous palace.
Kuantan Arts & Culture
- Putra Square – This city square of Kuantan is located opposite the prime minister’s complex and used for festivals and ceremonies.
- Hero’s Museum – Near the state mosque, the museum contains several different galleries.
- Orang Asli – Aborigine settlement that displays the native hunting and other activities in native life.
- Wan Fo Tien Temple – This Buddhist temple built in 1967 has a 5.5m Buddha statue.
- Beserah – A fishing village at the edge of the city where local fisherman use water buffalo to pull in the boats and their catches.
- Berjaya Megamall – Contains many stalls and shops in Kuantan.
- East Coast Mall – This is the largest mall along the east coast of Malaysia and contains a Parkson and Carrefour.
- Hasil Laut Kiah Kee – The place to buy fish you can find salted fish, cuttlefish, dried shrimp and more.
- Teruntum Complex – One of the first shopping malls in the area that contains a cinema and the KTV.
- Sunday Market – The fresh farmers' market takes place every Sunday morning, offering excellent fruit and local produce.
Gay & Lesbian Kuantan
- Teluk Cempedak Beach – Mix and mingle in the evenings at this beach in Kuantan.
- Pink Borneo – A gay-owned travel agency that customizes holidays specifically for GLBT travelers.
- Parkcity Hotel Pub – Mixed pub, gay and straight, that offers live music each evening.
- Pure Bar – What was once a gay-friendly guesthouse has morphed into a funky nightclub that still welcomes GLBT customers.
- Massa Sutra – Gay-friendly massage academy and spa that offers massage treatments and courses.
- Sungai Lembing – The largest underground tin mine in the world contains a museum and interesting hanging bridge.
- Pandan Waterfalls – These popular waterfalls located about 40 minutes away are a lovely sight and spot for a picnic.
- Bukit Gambang City Water Resort – This 24-hectare water park has an enormous wave pool, slides and raft rides.
- Esplanade Park – Walk along the esplanade enjoying the views of the Kuantan River.
- Berkelah Falls – Near the Royal Malaysian Air Force in Kuantan, this is also known as the Ninth Mile Waterfall.
- Play a round of golf at the royal Kuantan golf course.
- Join in a game of rugby or just watch at the Kuantan rugby pitch in the middle of town.
- Catch a Pahang FA football match at the Darulmakmur Stadium.
- Rent a kayak and explore the coastline near Taman Gelora in Kuantan.
- Pick up a surfboard and catch a wave at Balok Beach.
Water sports of every stripe provide top flight recreation in Kuantan.
Fish markets on the coast serve up the catch of the day, fresh as fresh can be.
Horse races at Indrah Makota Indo Stadium draw rambunctious crowds.
When To Go
Kuantan has a tropical rainforest climate and in typical Malaysia fashion, a wet season and dry (a bit of a misnomer), hot season. The former occurs between October and March and features temperatures from 72°F (22°C) to 88°F (31°C) and a colossal 66 in (1,670 mm) of rain.
The dry season still generates 6.3 in (160 mm) of rain per month at minimum and sees a similar temperature range. The difference is that the mercury often wavers as high as 104°F (40°C) in the middle of the day.
One persistent nuisance in Kuantan and, indeed, throughout other parts of Southeast Asia, is thick haze and air pollution from Sumatra, the result of forest and peatland fires.
Wee Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport is about 15 km southwest of Kuantan proper. The micro-hub serves several daily flights from Kuala Lumpur-KLIA and Penang and four times a week from Singapore.
Long distance bus to Terminal Makmur is a popular and very affordable mode of transport. The total trip time may not come close to a plane (3.5 hours versus 40 minutes) but factor in the hassles of air travel and it may prove worthwhile.
Within the state capital, the public transport system is inconsistent and shoddy. Most tourists rely on taxis or simply rent a car.
Kuantan General Information
As the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah are bigger but reside on the island of Borneo), Pahang draws the gaze of many a tourist. From the royal seat of Pekan to the Cameron Highlands, Taman Negara National Park to Pulau Tioman, Pahang is a formidable parcel of the country to explore. One must-see destination in the state is the lively capital of Kuantan.
The city of over 600,000 people encompasses not only a vibrant urban area but a fortuitous necklace of South China Sea coast. As a result, Kuantan entices scores of domestic and international arrivals alike, all driven by the same sun, sand and surf urge. The city however, is much more than a one-dimensional leisure tourism hub. Kuantan is the capital of Pahang after all and fulfills that role gamely, certainly as the de facto commercial, economic and social nexus of the state. Important points of interest in the city include Sultan Ahmad Shah State Mosque and Pahang Buddhist Association Temple. Kuantan is also a platform for travellers on their way to beach destinations up and down the east coast, in addition to attractions like Berkelah Falls and Forest Reserve, Charah Caves, Pulau Ular and Bukit Gambang Resort City.
Attractions & Activities
- Sultan Ahmad Shah State Mosque
- Pahang Buddhist Association Temple
- Berkelah Falls
- Bukit Gambang Resort City
- Balok Beach
- Kuantan River Cruise
- Charah Caves
- Pulau Ular
- Teluk Chempedak
Restaurant & Nightlife
- Mustafa Cendol
- Sri Patani Restaurant
- Restoran Hai Tian
- Tong Juan
- Tree Under
While some restaurants in Kuantan serve alcohol, the city is bereft of traditional nightlife outside of hotel and resort bars.
Kuantan has a tropical monsoon climate, with a heavy wet season from August to January and temperatures between 22°C and 32°C for the year.
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