Things To Do in Kuantan
“What is this Kuantan?” “Did the writer mean Kelantan?” “Pahang??? Obviously it’s Penang.” “Is this place even in Malaysia?”
Well, when we think a long weekend holiday, the usual targets will be JB, Penang or Malacca.
But did you know 3 hours away from KL (driving), there’s a beach getaway waiting for you at a small coastal town in the East Coast of Malaysia?
Yep, it’s Kuantan!
Read on to find out what are the things to do in Kuantan.
1. Local Food
First & foremost everyone always talks about the beaches when it comes to Kuantan.
But before you dip your toes into the sand & sea, it’s best to fuel that body up first and what better way to do that than to try out the local delicacies of this small coastal town?
i. Alor Akar Seafood
Well-established among Kuantan Chinese folks as the place for dinner and families gathering, Alor Akar Seafood is one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in Kuantan.
So keep that in mind if you decide to go here for dinner one night. It gets especially busy on the weekends, around 7pm so if you’re going in a big group, do make reservations beforehand.
Walking into Alor Akar Seafood, its dingy interior might be a letdown but in fact, that should be more of an indicator of how delicious the food is going to be.
With no menus available, the pictures on the restaurant’s wall of their dishes are your guide to what’s good.
But let me include some of my personal favourite dishes to help you out.
Their specialty dish, Beggar’s Chicken is a must order when you’re at Alor Akar Seafood.
Double boiled in foil, the chicken meat is cooked until tender. But the best part of this dish is the herbal gravy which is so aromatic, you’ll definitely smell it from miles away as it makes it way to your table.
This is their Pork in Yam Basket dish, another speciality dish. With a soft yet crispy outer layer, the sweet & sour pork inside is the perfect complement.
What would a Chinese dinner be without something salted egg? Try their salted egg squid dish and be amazed by the balanced flavours of salty, spicy with just a hint of sweetness.
As Kuantan is a coastal town, fish should always be a dish you order when eating out. As someone who grew up there, I can assure you our fish supply is fresh & is caught on the daily.
Called the Nyonya Asam Steamed Tilapia, if you want something a little spicy, a little coconut milky and sweet, order this dish. You will not be disappointed!
Overall, Alor Akar Seafood Restaurant offers delicious food (that invokes nostalgic feelings of my mother’s cooking) at a very reasonable price.
Address: Lot 7695 & 7696, Jalan Kubang Buaya, Taman Mariana, 25300
Opening hours: Monday closed, Tuesday – Sunday: 5:30pm – 12am
Phone: 09-568 0720
ii. Food Market @ Pasar Besar Kuantan (Near UTC)
Truly a place that only a Kuantan local would go, allow me to let you in on this local secret.
Located in front of Pasar Besar Kuantan (a morning wet market) & nearby UTC Kuantan, every afternoon there opens up a mini-market of delicious local food.
From Malay kuih to authentic Southern Indian curry to Chinese Yoo Tiao (deep-fried dough) & one of the best Lok Lok I’ve ever tried.
Be one with the locals and try out all the food offered by the friendly vendors there.
The food market opens every day, from 1pm until about 5pm.
iii. Hoi Yin
Say this name to any Kuantan local & you’ll immediately be met with “curry mee”.
Over the years, this food joint near Teluk Cempedak has become a spot frequented by the older & younger generation alike to get their morning kopitiam fix (This will be THE place to end all generational gaps).
Despite its very Chinese name & exterior, this place is fully halal. I know many Malay friends who make it a point to eat at Hoi Yin every week. That’s how good it is!
Do note that the restaurant is always packed with customers even more so during lunch hour or on weekends so if you can, get up early. After that you can go to the beach which won’t be as crowded too! Win-win situation.
So obviously you already know what to get once you’re there:
Their curry mee dish! Although not as creamy as some of the ones I’ve tried in KL but it’s the spices & ingredients used that makes this dish so outstanding.
Not only do you get steamed chicken, beansprouts as toppings, Hoi Yin also adds fishcakes, fishballs and wait for it, cockles!
For less than RM10! So get yourself up and prepare for Kuantan’s best curry mee ever!
Address: No. 31, Jalan Telok Cempedak, 25050
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 7am – 2:30pm (or until it’s sold out)
Phone: 09-567 3871
iv. Ana Ikan Bakar Petai
Yes, keeping with our coastal town theme, there is a seafood dish every tourist MUST try while at Kuantan.
Ikan bakar. Trust me, in Kuantan you’ll find dozens of ikan bakar stalls but the best one is Ana Ikan Bakar Petai.
To get there, you have to cross over the Kuantan River first. Yay, an adventure in itself!
Then you’ll soon find yourself in a more “kampung” part of town. Hey, another indicator of all the good food to come!
As it is a very popular spot, it might be hard to get seats especially during dinner time so try heading over a little earlier or during a more irregular time.
Just as its name suggests, their signature Ikan Bakar is the Ikan Bakar Sambal Petai. The fish is grilled with thick sambal sauce, onion spices & of course, petai which makes for a well-seasoned & tasty dish.
Don’t worry if someone in your travel group or your partner doesn’t like fish, Ana has other scrumptious dishes to order that is NOT just fish.
Address: Jalan Tanjung Lumpur, Perkampungan Tanjung Lumpur, 26060
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 5pm – 12am
Phone: 019-987 8155
Now with a full belly, it’s time for the best part.
To the beach we go! The obvious suspect would be Teluk Cempedak, the most popular beach in Kuantan.
And with its beautiful sea, I’m not surprised why it’s a favourite among locals & tourists alike.
And did you know there’s a McDonalds, Starbucks, KFC and even Sushi King located there?
I know right! So you can have an impromptu fast food picnic by the beach.
But if you’re not in the mood for commercialization & noise, there’s always Balok Beach which is a 22 minute drive away from Teluk Cempedak.
A stark contrast from the previously mentioned beach, Balok Beach is truly the spot for families, friends or couples to go if they want somewhere quiet by the sea.
Also a place where windsurfers go to catch some waves, why not try your hand out at the sport while you’re at it?
3. Firefly Watching @ Hafiz’s Cherating Activities
About a 30-40 minute drive away from the town centre lies a beautiful & starry gem called Hafiz’s Cherating Activities.
From ATV rides to Mangrove cruises, Hafiz has got you covered for every possible activity you’d want.
But those are not on our focus today because Hafiz also offers a 60 minute Firefly Boat Tour.
Ever since watching Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies, I’ve always had a soft spot for those small luminescent creatures.
And so does Hafiz! Expect a very passionate & informative tour guide to lead you through the mangrove trees while fireflies surround you & your boat.
Starting at 7:30pm sharp, there’ll be a quick brief about what to expect and any rules to follow then it’s off to the jetty where 4 boats await to take you to this magical experience.
Address: 7/ 1156,Cherating Lama, 26080
Opening hours: Monday closed, Tuesday – Sunday: 9am – 10:30pm
Phone: 017-978 9256
Pricing: RM35 per adult/RM25 per child
MORE eating??? Come on, it’s Malaysia. Eating is a national past time.
So now instead of local cuisine, let’s satisfy our sweet tooth by checking out the best dessert spots of Kuantan!
i. Kula Cakes
Ah yes, trust me, on every “Things to Do in Kuantan” list, there WILL be a mention of a certain mango cheesecake at a certain cafe called Kula Cakes.
And we’re gonna join in on the fad & recommend you try Kula Cakes too!
Somewhat of a town honour, Kula Cakes really does serve up a mean slice of Mango Cheesecake. The mango is the right balance of sweet & tangy while the cheesecake bit just melts right in your mouth. A slice costs about RM7.50.
However, if a mango isn’t your thing, they also have different types of desserts on offer. Such as pavlova and a Toblerone cheesecake too.
Do note during weekends & public holidays the wait to get in the shop is crazy so either come right on the dot of the doors opening or just go on a weekday night.
There’s seating outside for you to chill at too.
Address: 96, Jalan Besar, 25000
Opening hours: Monday closed, Tuesday – Sunday: 11am – 6:30pm, Friday & Saturday: 11am – 7:30pm
Phone: 017 9711396
ii. Sweetime French Pastries
To go along with the hidden local favourites tone of this article, another dessert place in town deserves a spot on this list.
Opened up by a French Chinese couple in 2015, Sweetime French Pastries is probably (most definitely) the only place in Kuantan to get authentic French desserts (at a very reasonable price).
And we’re not complaining!
Despite its understated exterior (located in a shop lot), each pastry served by Sweetime is bursting with flavour & zest. When biting into their tarts, buns or cakes, you know it’s made with love & passion. So truly, looks don’t matter here.
Enough with all this talking, allow the pictures to salivate your senses.
Ugh, the temptation to go back home to Kuantan & stuff myself with all these treats is just too overwhelming…
Address: B26 Lorong Seri Kuantan 81
Opening hours: Sunday closed, Monday – Friday: 10:30am – 6pm, Saturday: 10:30am – 5pm
Sure at first glance, Kuantan looks like it has nothing to offer apart from beaches but once you’re there, you’ll realize this quaint town is bursting with personality that will surely invoke some sort of old school Malaysia nostalgia.