Kuantan - Pahang Malaysia

sungai kuantan

Kuantan is the largest town and the administrative centre for the state of Pahang. It only became Pahang’s state capital in 1955, having been moved by the British Administration from Kuala Lipis.

Although a recently established state capital, Kuantan as a town itself has been around for centuries. Some 12th Century manuscripts listed Kuantan as Tan-Ma-Ling , a vassal of the large trading Kingdom of San Fots’I . Other historians noted that Kuantan was part of the Chih-Tu Empire in the first century. In the 11th century, this piece of land was conquered by another small empire called Pheng-Kheng before being taken over by the Siamese during 12th century. In the 15th century, the Malacca Empire usurped power over Kuantan.

old kuantan golf club

The strategic location at the mouth of Kuantan River and its potential as a trading port made Kuantan an important outpost for the many Kingdoms that came and went in the course of its history. Pahang is the largest state in Peninsula Malaysia and was rich in natural resources, from jungle produce to tin and gold mining, sea produce and it had potential for opening jungle land for farming and for plantations.

Through many years of intensive mining, logging and fishing causing depletion of non-renewable resources; such activities have now been replaced with plantations and industrialization. Like many Developing Nations or Third World Countries trying to compete with other nations for the attention of financially and economically well controlled countries such as China and Australia, the pressure to kowtow to them becomes a strain and possibly a long-term bane for short term gains. This is where the advertising coining of the term ‘World-Class’ gets lost in translation.

For those in need for something to do, there are several places to visit whilst staying in Kuantan, albeit most of these places require transport to get to.

Teluk Chempedak

This bay is the closest to get to , only 3 miles from the city centre. Despite being so close to the city, it is surprisingly beautiful. The sand is fine and white and the length and breadth of the beach is very clean, making it safe for kids to play sandcastles and the like, without hesitation. There are a selection of eateries there local, western as well as fast food outlets like McDs and KFC. The beach is popular with locals especially in the evenings when the ikan bakar (barbequed fish) restaurants open for business. The Hyatt Kuantan is located at the far end of the bay and is a favourite with expats living in KL looking for a quick weekend trip to the beach.

Sungei Lembing

It’s funny how, as one grows older and one would imagine, wiser, there is an inclination to return to the woods. To a place all too familiar and all too much like home. Not necessary the home that was but the home that becomes. Few places thrill me as much as Sungai Lembing. It’s a time warp… www.journeymalaysia.com/MC_sungeilembing.htm


Cherating is located about 45minutes drive from Kuantan. Once a popular beach with hippies and backpackers, Cherating's thunder has somewhat been taken by the islands that have opened up to tourism in recent years such as Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Redang and Pulau Lang Tengah. But when it comes to public holidays and festive seasons ~ all the resorts, hotels, motels and apartments along the famous Cherating stretch are booked up way in advance. www.journeymalaysia.com/MI_cherating.htm

Tasik Chini

Deep within the still, dark waters of Tasik (Lake) Chini lies an ancient kingdom that once ruled vast tracks of land around the lakes. It is believed that the Khmer regime pushed their way down as far as Malaya as they swept through the Indochine during their reign in the early 5th century. Legends told by ancestors of the local indigenoues tribes describe the deliberate flooding of an ancient city to avoid being invaded by enemies. To this day, the underwater kingdom has remained elusive to mankind. Perhaps this city of gold, hidden in the deepest, darkest waters of the lake is the legacy left behind by a great empire. www.journeymalaysia.com/ML_chini.htm

Despite the rapid need to develop the state, there are many pockets to be found in and around Kuantan that reflects its beauty and its true identity: the identity of a coastal trading town where salted fish is still fresh in any Malaysian visiting Kuantan as a must-buy item for loved ones at home; for preserved seafood products; for keropok (crackers) made from freshly caught fish, shrimps etc; for beautiful beaches; for the laidback lifestyle; for the old fishing villages and having a cup of local coffee in a local coffee shop with locals whiling the time away on idle chit chat. That’s Kuantan. Kuantan has the old and a lot of the new..but it’s sometimes best to keep to the old when most have not really caught up with the new as yet.

salted fish

So, for the kuantan government, please bring back some of the old so that there are things to cling on to like the Pekan museum, the mangrove cruise, the old fishing boats and old stately buildings to be restored rather than be replaced. Pahang has a history to be proud of, unfortunately that priceless treasure has not been realized and soon the only history on Pahang and its gems has, can only be found in books and in media archives…

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