Kuantan is a mid-sized city on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the capital of Pahang, the largest state on the peninsula. While many treat it primarily as a transit point, there is enough to maintain interest for a night or two, with a good hostel, pleasant riverside scenery and a good beach a short bus ride away.
While Kuantan's history dates back to the 11th century when it was a fishing village, it wasn't till the growth of nearby tin mines in the late 1800s (which attracted Chinese labourers) that the town developed into what you largely see today. The riverfront area best demonstrates this influence with traditional trading houses and a Chinese presence -- the further back you go from the river, the less this is evident and the more typically "Malaysian" the city becomes.
Most of the traveller-orientated accommodation is near or on the river as are some of the best eateries and the (only) bars. You can do a boat trip along the river, with both daytime and evening options available, with the latter specifically for viewing fireflies.
The central mosque, Masjid Negari, is a massive blue and white affair that looks over the padang. Everything radiates out from here, with the main bus station to the northwest and the river to the southeast, but the city is small enough that pretty much everything is within walking distance.
Aside from the mosque and the mangrove-lined river, the main attraction here is the nearby Telok Chempedek, a double bay with a really quite pretty beach. The bay has a couple of accommodation options and plenty of places to eat. When conditions are right, apparently windsurfing is popular here, though it was dead calm on the day we visited.
Long distance buses stop near the stadium, a 15-minute walk from the riverfront area. Local buses and taxis stop by the mosque on Jalan Haji Abdul Aziz, though their proper "station" is by the river. There are ATMs dotted across town. The tourist office is on Jalan Mahkota but appears to keep informal hours as it was closed every time we visited despite their hours suggesting they would be open.
Text and/or map last updated on 24th November, 2012.
Get orientated with a map of Kuantan, Malaysia
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