Kuantan can really be seen in a day. Although there are a few fun crafts shops, the place is not exactly a hotbed of culture. The main attraction in town is the huge Sultan Ahmad Shah State Mosque, on Jalan Mahkota, which is quite beautiful inside and out, with a distinct dome, minarets, and stained glass. Late afternoon is the best time to see it, when the light shines through the glass. Along Jalan Besar, sample local delicacies sold on the street and shop in the smaller craft and souvenir shops.
Attractions Outside Kuantan
Pahang is home to peninsular Malaysia's oldest rainforests, and the best way to experience them is through Taman Negara, Malaysia's biggest forest preserve on the peninsula. Trips to Taman Negara, in decent accommodations with experienced nature guides, can be organized very easily from KL. A few attractions outside Kuantan can make interesting half-day or day trips if you tire of the beach. For these trips, I suggest you book through your hotel or resort.
Gua Charah caves are about 25km (16 miles) outside of Kuantan. Also called Pancing caves (they're located in a town called Pancing), one of the caves in the network is a temple, home to a huge reclining Buddha. It is said that the monk caretaker, who has grown very old, is having difficulty finding another monk who will take over his duties at the caves.
Lake Chini, 12 freshwater lakes 60km (38 miles) southwest of Kuantan, claim local legends a la Loch Ness. They say that there once was an ancient Khmer city at the site of the lakes, but it is now buried deep under the water, protected by monsters. Some have tried to find both city and monsters but have come up with nothing (except litter -- it's a problem). Boats take you across the lake to an orang asli ("indigenous peoples") kampung to see their way of life.
Just south of Kuantan is Pekan, which for history and culture buffs is far more interesting than Kuantan. Called "the Royal City," it's where the Sultan of Pahang resides in a beautiful Malay-style istana, or palace. The State Museum on Jalan Sultan Ahmad has displays depicting the history of Pahang and its royal family, as well as sunken treasures from old Chinese junks.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.