The state capital of Pahang since 1955, KUANTAN is an undistinguished agglomeration of concrete buildings around an older core of shophouses close to Sungai Kuantan. While there’s very little by way of historical or cultural interest in the city itself, Kuantan can be a breath of fresh air after a sojourn in Kelantan or Terengganu – it’s closer in feel to the west-coast cities than to Kuala Terengganu or Kota Bharu. If you’re arriving from elsewhere in the country, however, Kuantan can seem mundane. With the creation of the East Coast Highway to Pelabuhan Kuantan, the port 40km north of the city, it’s easy to bypass Kuantan altogether if you’re travelling between KL and the east coast.
If Kuantan has a focus of sorts, it’s the padang. The city’s oldest streets, between there and the river, hold quite a few hotels and restaurants. The best reason to hang around for a night or two, though, is to take a day-trip to the cave temple of Gua Charas or the royal town of Pekan.Read More
The town’s one real sight, the Masjid Negeri, was built in 1991, with a pastel exterior – green for Islam, blue for peace and white for purity. It’s distinctly Turkish in appearance, thanks to the pencil minarets at all four corners of the sturdy square prayer hall, topped with a looming central dome. Non-Muslims can visit other than during Friday prayers: men should wear long trousers, while women will be given gowns.
Around the corner from a wooded headland, on an east-facing stretch of coast, Teluk Chempedak has long been a popular evening and weekend hangout for families and young people. The sands of the bay are encouragingly white, although undertows can render the sea off-limits (watch out for red flags). There is an appealing liveliness about the place, quite at variance from the languorous mood on the otherwise better sands of rural Terengganu. Bars and restaurants line the main road as you arrive, before you reach the Hyatt, and there are more places to eat on the promenade.