Cherating is the only real backpacker hub at the east coast of the peninsula on the mainland. Offering plenty of affordable chalets and a relaxed atmosphere, it is good place to stop for a night or two on the way up or down the east coast. The beach itself is not that spectacular and misses the palm directly at the beach. But it has a good vibe and few things you can do like taking a tour or renting a kayak up the river into the mangroves. There is also an active surfer scene when the waves are right. Cherating is located about 30km or 1h by local bus north of Kuantan.
Kuala Terengganu, KT in short, is located at the east coast of the Peninsula Malaysia and at the mouth of the Sungai Terengganu (or Terengganu River) that empties here into the South China Sea. It is the capital of the state of Terengganu, which forms, together with Kedah and Kelatan, the heartland of Malay culture. KT is a good stop for one or 2 days before moving on along the east coast or towards the National Park / Tasik Kenyir.