Bentong, Pahang

Bentong's Loke Yew Street and the Post Office

I have had a friend from overseas visiting KL for the past few days. He wanted to go to a typical small Malaysian town to soak up the atmosphere and perhaps have a quick Tiger in a kedai kopi.

We decided on Bentong as neither of us had been there before and with low expectations we set off. It’s only 80km from KL and it is a quick and scenic journey, mostly on the six lane Karak Highway which takes us over the Titiwangsa mountain range.

Although it has a small town feel, Bentong is actually the 2nd largest town in Pahang after Kuantan, the state capital. I would imagine its population, including the surrounding district, is in the region of 150,000.


The town centre is the usual few blocks of old shophouses, many of which have been modernised or replaced by newer concrete structures.

We managed to recognise the old Mercantile Bank branch which is now a mobile phone shop.


Bentong enjoyed rapid growth as a tin mining town in the early 20th century and also as a rubber growing area. Today it earns its living from agriculture and light industry.


We took a look at the Chinese temple which was filled with thick smoke from burning incense.


An old man in the temple tried to explain, in Chinese and Bahasa, the significance of the elaborate, smoke-blackened wooden carving in the photo below. We gathered it is very old and came from China but unfortunately could not understand anything else.


Feeling peckish we popped into a busy restaurant. Oddly they had no chicken, no seafood and no vegetables! Whether this was due to the public holiday the day before or we had arrived too late I don’t know but I ended up eating just tofu and rice and my friend had pork and rice. And despite the antique Guinness advert on the wall they had no beer either – hence the iced coffee. Still, everything tasted better than it looked.


One thing that foodies rave about in Bentong is the local ice cream. Unfortunately the recommended ice cream shop, Kow Po, was closed but we found an alternative where I enjoyed a very pleasant coconut flavour single scoop for just 80 sen, a mere fraction of the Baskin Robbins’ price.


If the truth be told I am not sure that Bentong warrants a special trip by itself but we extended our journey to the nearby Chamang Waterfall (see next post) which together with Bentong made the journey worthwhile.

10 thoughts on “Bentong, Pahang”

  1. I hope some day you’ll bring together all your wonderful posts on Malaysia and produce a coffee table book. The Malaysia Tourism authority should fund this as you’re doing a great service for your adopted country.

  2. temerloh is the second biggest town in Pahang. temerloh population grown in number tremendously in the past 20 years.

  3. Bentong used to be popular together with Ketari, which was enroute the old karak trunk road from pahang to KL. once the new highway opened sometime in the early 80s, Ketari was dead (and the once popular Mimaland theme park beside the old trunk new gombak, the first in malaysia) also decrease in popularity. but mimaland was closed for other reason… bentong also lost its importance as all traffic does not need to pass thru it anymore. It is only important because for kelantanese, it is the main route inland via the gua musang town. Bentong is also known for the Semantan River that pass thru it and cause flood almost every year.

  4. Delighted to see a photo of the old Mercantile Bank branch in 1960’s Bentong. I was manager of this branch for 18 months in 1967-8 . It’s 45 years ago but I have many happy memories of the town and the surrounding area and all the good friends I had there.

    1. Thanks for commenting Peter and I’m glad the photo stirred up some old memories. If you worked at any other Mercantile or HSBC branches in Malaysia I’ll be happy to track down some more old photos if I can.

  5. Lived in Bentong for much of five years – 1955 to 1957 and 1959 to 1961. In many ways we think of them as the best years of our lives; we made a nostalgic return in 2002, and although much had changed many things were still recognizable. In our day the Rest House was an unprepossessing wooden building and we were impressed with the current one which looks more like an istana. The old Malay gentleman who used to serve the petrol at the Shell petrol station was mentioned in the book by Spencer-Chapman (The Jungle Is Neutral) and described as one of the bravest men he had come across. There were no banks in my day and the only way to obtain cash was from the Treasury in the District Office. My wife and I are eternally grateful to the hospital in Bentong which saved the life of my younger son in 1959.

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