The Past Capital of Pahang

Kuala Lipis is located at the confluence of the Lipis and Jelai rivers. It is about 171 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur and about 235 km from Kuantan. The district has a population of about 84,000.

Due to its strategic location, in the old days of the British era, it was an influential trading and business center. Minerals such as tin and gold, and products from the surrounding forests were actively traded.

Kuala Lipis was the administrative capital of Pahang for 57 years from 1898 until 27th August 1955, when Kuantan was picked as the new capital.

Here, as the state capital during the times of the British colonial era, it was the main residential location for British administrators and other British trade and business men in Pahang.

Did you Know...

That, based on old history books, the center of Peninsular Malaysia is in the district of Kuala Lipis?

P.S. - Some town folks say the center is located in the middle of town. Well, I took a walk in the center of the town and found a milestone lettered with a "0" on it. This is actually the center of the town but whether it is the actual center of Peninsula Malaysia, I have yet to ascertain.


The center of Peninsular Malaysia is actually in the district of Temerloh.

This was verified after extensive calculations and modern GPS readings done by the government's Survey Department.

The "0" milestone near the post office in Kuala Lipis is actually a distance marker used by the old, pre-independence British administration for sending letters and telegrams to other districts and locations in Malaya.

Ahh, a mystery solved..


If we wander around the town, we will find a number of legacies left by the British during their time of colonization of the country. We will notice the architecture of the past in some of the old buildings there.

For instance, the Pahang Club House was the first concrete building built in the town by the British in 1867. This place, located on a hill, was in fact once the official residence for the British envoys who had been sent to administer the State. The famous British state administrator, Sir Hugh Clifford, who was the second British Resident of Pahang, once stayed there.

Today, this building now functions as the Kuala Lipis Rest House. At the "Sudut Budaya" (cultural corner) of this Rest House, you can see displays of weapons of the past, such as the Malay spears, daggers and keris.

Another building that has historical significance is the Clifford School, formerly known as the Anglo-Chinese School. This school, which was built during the British administration period in 1913, is the alma mater to many state royalties and past leaders not only of Pahang but also of the country.

Now, of course, as part of the development of education in the country, we find a branch of the Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (or MARA Science College) located in Kuala Lipis. This is a residential school for excellent students from all over Malaysia.


Kuala Lipis was at one time also famous for the "rumah rakit" or raft houses on the river. It is peculiar to people living on the river bank, and the house consist of a bedroom, a living room and kitchen.

These raft houses were said to increase during the big flood of 1926, but nowadays, we can’t find any, due perhaps to hygiene and health concerns.


It is amazing that Kuala Lipis, despite its quaint setting, has many pleasurable activities for the visitor to do.

Here, we can relax our body amidst the clean and soothing comfort of a recreational lake, Empang Jaleh, not too far from town. A popular picnic locality for the town-folks, Empang Jaleh will see some crowd and picnickers during the week-ends.

Sungai Relau, near Merapoh, is an alternative entry point (there are about 4 entry points) into Taman Negara – Malaysia’s Premier National park- and one of the three embarkation points to Gunung Tahan, the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia standing at 2,187 meters above sea level.

Here, at Sungai Relau is where you can enjoy thrilling and adventurous activities, like kayaking and also cave exploring.

You can take a four-day trek along a mountainous jungle trail from Sungai Relau, Merapoh to Gunung Tahan. The trail here to the summit is in fact shorter than the main route from Kuala Tahan, which can take about 9 days for a return trip.

Another popular location in the district is Terenggun Recreational Park. Here, you will find that there are four forest reserves, ideal sites for the avid adventurer to trek and learn about the flora of the forest.

And for bird-watching enthusiasts, you will find the place awe-inspiring. Especially when you take the short ascent to Bukit Taching, where you will get to not only observe the variety of birds, but to savor and enjoy nature as it truly is.

To those keen spelunkers out there, if you have time for a challenging cave exploration, just head to Bama Cave at Kampung Relong for an awesome and enriching experience. If you know the local stories and tales of Bama Cave, perhaps you might take a pass.

And for anyone who prefers fast paced action, perhaps Tasik Burung Mandi Park, just outside town, is the place to head to. This is where the thrills and spills of dirt bike competitions are usually held. Seasoned dirt bikers will definitely enjoy the thrills of bike racing on the sometimes rather muddy trails of raw earth.


Ahh... my tummy’s growling already... even when I’m just thinking of Nasi Kebuli – the truly special dish of the Kuala Lipis folks.

More on Nasi Kebuli in this web page.


As is well known in the whole of Malaysia, the current most famous personality there is none other than the Malaysian diva and songstress, Siti Nurhaliza. (Actually Datuk Siti Nurhaliza was born in Kampung Awah, Temerloh, but through the years her family has made Kuala Lipis their permanent residence, as her mother's family originated from there and they have many relatives living there.)

The past warriors and nationalists of Pahang, Tok Gajah, Mat Kilau and Mat Lela, were also famous sons of Kuala Lipis. 

If you are going to this historical town, check on the hotels and accommodations available here.


Kuala Lipis is a fascinating town -- quaint but rather exciting for the traveler. And for the avid adventurer, it is something else, in fact a place full of challenging activities to try –- caving, trekking, kayaking, river-rafting, bird-watching, dirt biking, and the list goes on.

Well, after doing those challenging activities, perhaps we all should take a break and visit the popular beaches and delightful beaches of Pahang or observe the traditional weddings, costumes and customs of the locals.

As always, from me ...


› Kuala Lipis

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