Photo: Kuantan's central mosque.


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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 pretty beach just a short bus ride away.

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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.

Just in case you forgot where you were. Photo taken in or around Kuantan, Malaysia by Stuart McDonald.

Just in case you forgot where you were. Photo: Stuart McDonald

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 Sultan Ahmad Shah, is a massive blue and white affair that looks over the padang. Everything radiates out from here, with the main bus station, Terminal Sentral Kuantan, to the northwest and the river to the southeast. The central areas surrounding Jalan Besar and Jalan Mahkota is the most convenient base camp should you decide to stick around in Kuantan for a couple of days. Here you’ll find a selection of affordable hotels, plenty of places to eat and the river within easy walking distance.

A quiet ride on Teluk Chempedek Photo taken in or around Kuantan, Malaysia by Stuart McDonald.

A quiet ride on Teluk Chempedek Photo: Stuart McDonald

On the river, sandwiched between the towering Mega View Hotel to the north and the tangerine coloured Jeti Shahbandar to the south, the river walk itself is pleasant for pedestrians. Sadly however, much of the basic charm of Kuantan’s waterfront is being squandered through a variety of area upgrades, including a massive waterfront construction site and a large abstract sculpture, across from the large Kuantan ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kuantan.
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