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.