The sleepy seaside city of Kuantan makes a laid-back contrast to live-wire Kuala Lumpur. Spend days discovering palm-dotted beaches, hidden waterfalls and temples. Then as night falls, venture out from your boutique hotel in search of traditional pasar malam (night markets) for a taste of local living and exceptional seafood.
Experience pared-back Malaysian living, from the glittering coast to hilltop jungles
Things to do
Rivers snake through Kuantan to meet the China Sea, making for some spectacular spots of nature along the way. Keen hikers should pack water shoes and take a trip to the Rainbow Waterfalls. If you go between 9 and 10am, you might be lucky enough to see a rainbow at the base of the falls. For a glimpse of nature at its most ethereal, pack a torch and head up to Bukit Panorama for sunrise. You may be rewarded for your early start with views of the fog flowing between the mountains ahead.
Set along Malaysia’s east coast, Kuantan is home to clusters of almost impossibly white beaches. Teluk Cempedak, also known as Palm Beach, is one of the city’s most scenic. This beach can get crowded, so edge up to out-of-the-way idyll Teluk Tongkang to sun worship in near-solitude.
Its coastal setting makes Kuantan home to some of Malaysia’s best seafood. Don’t miss the Sunday pasar tani (farmer’s market) to sample some traditional Malaysian cooking. Breakfast on local-favourite yong tau fu – a traditional Hakka dish of meat-and-fish-stuffed parcels prepared in a soup, stir fry or curry. After a day exploring, head to one of the night markets to delve into more culinary delights, like tangy sambal fish or local delicacy ikan patin (silver catfish).
Malaysia is famed for its stellar savoury dishes - but Kuantan also has a thriving café culture that’s produced some delicious desserts.
Top tip from SLH
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