Pahang, with a land area of 35,960 square kilometers is the largest state in Peninsula Malaysia. Nestled in the centre of the Peninsula, Pahang boasts around 210 kilometers of splendid South China Sea coastline on its eastern flank and a mountainous-forested inferior.
Ancient Tropicale Rain Forests estimated to be around 130 million years old dominate its hinterlands and the best place to discover its magic is none other than the Taman Negara or the National Park. Five of Malaysian’s major hill resorts are located in the state, namely Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands, Fraser’s Hill, Bukit Tinggi, and Janda Baik. So is the highest peak in Peninsula Malaysia, Gunung Tahan which stands at 2,187 meters above the sea level.
Pahang has a population of 1.5 million people. The majority are Malay, followed by Chinese, and Indians and the Indigenous Peoples. These diverse groups provide a colourful background to the cultural mix and harmony that could easily seen in their daily life.
Long before the founding of the peninsula’s powerful city of Melaka in 1400, the region was well-known for its abundant supplies of gold and tin along the Tembeling River. During its peak in the 8th and 9th centuries, the state of Pahang covered the entire southern half of the Malay peninsula under the rule of Srivijaya, a maritime empire based on trade. When this empire collapsed in 1000 AD, the Siamese were the first to move in and stake their claim, controlling Pahang until the rise of Melaka around the end of the 1400s.
The region’s history of colonisation continued with the arrival of the first Europeans in 1511, when Melaka was captured by the Portuguese. As the struggle for control over this part of Southeast Asia intensified during this era, Pahang suffered from continual invasion and occupation. The Portuguese, Dutch, Acheh and Johor powers all fought battles with each other for nearly 200 years until Portuguese and Achenese influence waned in the early 17th century. This opened the door for the great Johor-Riau empire, based in Johor, to exert its control over Pahang without interference from the outside world.
But like all empires, the Johor-Riau state eventually collapsed, allowing a man named Bendahara Wan Ahmed to proclaim himself the Sultan of Pahang in 1882. Soon after, the British showed up on the scene. At first they simply appointed a British resident to interact with the sultan in 1888. But the British presence quickly evolved into imperialism, which at that time dominated much of South Asia.
The British didn’t completely subvert the Malay peninsula during their colonial occupation. This allowed the culture to continue to develop on its own terms, resulting in the wonderful blend of cultures which still coexist today. Pahang state suffered a final indignation in the 1900s, when the Japanese occupied Malaysia during WWII. After the Japanese were defeated in 1945, Pahang joined the Federation of Malaya, which went on to gain full independence in 1957.
Since that momentous day, Pahang has enjoyed a steady and stabile economy. Although mainly fuelled by agriculture and manufacturing, tourism has become an increasingly strong source of income for the state. As Malaysia continues its growth and popularity as a travel destination, the state of Pahang looks set to reap the benefits as more visitors arrive to explore the untapped mountainous interior and beautiful coastline.
WHERE TO GO ?
The fun never stops at Genting, City of Entertainment, perched on the top of cool, breezy Genting Highlands. One big attraction in Genting is the cool weather. Because of the 2,000m altitude, In the evening, there is spectacular entertainment at the Genting International Showroom or Pavilion, be it a thrilling magic show or an ice-skating extravaganza. There are also opportunities to go shopping at First World Plaza, visit the indoor and outdoor theme parks and feast on a wide range of delicious food at the many restaurants. The First World Plaza indoor theme park / shopping complex features a series of fun rides and six theme areas named after famous cities and landmarks from around the world – France (Champs Elysees), England (London), Italy (Venice), America (Times Square and Universal Walk), Switzerland (Swiss Alps) and Malaysia (Genting Walk). The Snow World features a log cabin, an igloo, toboggan slides and a snowy play area. It’s cold in here, so remember to wear warm clothing. Children will surely love the Rainforest Splash Pool, although the air is chilly, the pool is filled with warm water.
Other attractions are Genting Sky Venture, the only free-fall skydiving simulator in Asia, and Genting X-pedition Wall, an international-standard rock-climbing wall stretching to 15 metres in height, with a 6-metre overhang. There is also bowling, a video arcade, a cineplex and many more fun rides.
One of the most popular attractions is the casino, the only one in Malaysia.
Taman Negara (National Park) is the first and the oldest official Protected Area in the country, originally named King George V National Park. Declared in 1938 by the Sultans of Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu (during King George’s Silver Jubilee), it was gazetted to preserve the land’s indigenous nature in perpetuity. The park was renamed Taman Negara after the nation gained independence in 1957.
The most popular activities at Taman Negara are river cruises and jungle trekking. The canopy walk is also a must-see, offering a fantastic close up view of activity in the rainforest canopy. Observation hides are another great way to observe wildlife. Simple huts built high above the ground allow guests to stay overnight to catch opportunities to observe animals in their natural habitat. Cave exploration is also available, either by boat or by foot.
Taman Negara is actually one of the oldest rainforests in the world, estimated at 130 million years old. The abundance and diversity of nature here is phenomenal, making it one of the world’s most complex and rich ecosystems.
About 56km off the coast of Pahang lies Tioman Island, an alluring holiday paradise in the South China Sea. Acclaimed as one of the best island getaways in the world, Tioman was the location of the Hollywood musical, ‘South Pacific’ in 1959.
According to legend, this island is the final resting place of a mythical dragon princess. The warm waters and good visibility make Tioman a paradise for divers. Discover astounding sights such as colourful Gorgonian sea fans, Staghorn corals, nudibranchs and beautifully sculptured sea sponges.
Snorkellers can delight in swimming alongside huge Napoleon Wrasse, Golden Striped Trevally, Bumphead Parrotfish and shoals of Fusiliers. This island is an idyllic spot for leisurely days under the sun. Swim in its emerald waters, enjoy a stroll by the beach or be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. There are several villages scattered around the coastline, the larger ones being Salang, Tekek, Genting, Paya and Juara.
There are many things to see and do in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia’s largest highland resort. Walks through lovely little villages, visits to the butterfly, strawberry, honey bee farms and sprawling tea plantations or meals at the delightful Tudor-styled country inns, are all pleasurable and relaxing activities to be experienced here. You can’t beat the weather up here. A few days out of the sweltering lowland heat will surely recharge your batteries.
One other popular activity in Cameron Highlands, actually more of a tradition, is to have tea and scones. This very English tradition dates back to the days when English colonial officers used this hilly location as a cool getaway from the heat of the lowlands. Bird-watching and trekking are also popular activities here.
Situated 1,500 metres above sea level, Cameron Highlands comprises a series of little townships that include Ringlet, Tanah Rata, Brinchang, Tringkap, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja. What’s more, it’s easy to get to. Cameron Highlands lies less than an hour off the main North-South Highway, and is a pleasant, easy 3.5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Sitting pretty amidst the Pahang rainforest is the little hamlet of Fraser’s Hill. At 1,524 metres above sea level, this highlands resort is a naturalist’s paradise that boasts innumerable plant, bird and animal species. This place is popular for those who are interested in nature-based pursuits such as trekking, bird watching, horse riding, fishing and camping. Access to Fraser’s Hill is only possible by road via The Gap at the base of the resort. Once through The Gap and into Fraser’s Hill, you will feel as though you have gone back in time. Fraser’s Hill is akin to a little Scottish village with granite coloured mock Tudor buildings dotting the landscape. The town is relatively small, with much of the activity centred on a market square dominated by a little clock tower. Most of the town’s amenities are housed in colonial styled buildings. Considered one of Malaysia’s premier locations for bird-watching, this hill resort hosts the annual Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race. This bird-watching competition requires watchers to race against time in spotting as many bird species as possible within the resort’s routes. You can indulge in many relaxing activities at Fraser’s Hill. Play a game of golf at the Fraser’s Hill Golf Club or go fishing (only for catch and release) and boating at Allans’ Water, stroll along the many beautiful flower gardens and parks or have an splash in the icy cold Jeriau Waterfalls.
Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary
Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary, Pahang is a rare and fantastic opportunity to get up close to endemic Malaysian elephants. This truly unique Elephant Orphanage of Kuala Gandah in Pahang will give you a very rare opportunity to learn about these displaced gentle giants. Get the chance to ride them through the jungle, with the help of an elephant guide, or mahout. For the brave and adventurous, there are opportunities to take the elephants down to the river and help give them a bath! There really is no better opportunity than this to get in touch with these grey giants.
It is estimated that there are only 1,200 wild Asian Elephants, also known as Elephus Maximus, left in Malaysia and this is the only conservation centre set up to relocate these displaced pachyderms. The elephants here have been rescued from all over Peninsula Malaysia, providing them a safe sanctuary in the wild.
Kenong Rimba Park
Covering an area of 121 sq kilometres in the Kenong Valley, Kenong Rimba Park lies in the south-west of Taman Negara. Within the park are some magnificent limestone caves. The sense of tranquility and quiet solitude are broken only by the chirping of birds and the cascading waterfalls. Each limestone cave is situated about half an hour’s trek from each other. The most striking is the Gua Batu Tinggi, which resembles a dug-out boat. The Sungai Kenong River passes though this cave. Local folklore has it that the cave was formed when a boat carrying the Kings messenger from Pekan was turned into stone. This cave is approximately 122 to 152 metres above sea level. Here you can find a variety of plant life that includes orchids, fig trees and epiphytes.
Bukit Gambang Resort
Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC) is an integrated resort city sprawling across 727 acres of secondary jungle. Strategically located in Gambang, Pahang, it is the gateway to the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the capital city of Pahang – Kuantan. BGRC is also nestled amongst the many natural and cultural attractions eagerly sought for by tourists locally or from abroad. Apart from being the home to the largest water theme park in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Bukit Gambang Resort City is the proud host of the “Best Water Park in Malaysia” awarded by Malaysian Association of Amusement Themepark and Family Attractions (MAATFA) and the “Largest Pillarless Ballroom” in the country certified by the Malaysia Book of Records.