Sungai Lembing, a somewhat "sleepy" town in Pahang, located about 42km from Kuantan, was, in the early 20th century, once known as the El-Dorado of the East. 

It was THE place in the East where financial riches were made. It had then the richest deposits of tin ore in the world, second only to Bolivia.

The tin ores in those days were mined underground via various levels of tunnels. And as the years went by eventually Sungai Lembing had the largest, longest and deepest subterranean mine in the world.

typical malay houses in Sungai Lembing, PahangTypical traditional Malay houses can be seen along the town's main road
Sungai Lembing (Lembing riverThe Sungei Lembing or river which gives the town its name, flows gently during the drier season
hanging bridge at Sungai LembingOne of the few hanging bridges across the river at Sungai Lembing.

History Of Sungai Lembing 

Sungai (or Sungei) in Malay means "River", and Lembing is a "spear".

It is said that the name came about when a group of men went hunting and successfully speared a deer. However with the spear still sticking to its body, the deer escaped into the river and disappeared.

It was only later when tin miners gravelling for tin in the river found the missing spear, and after this incident residents named the river and place as Sungai Lembing.

Another legend has it that a village chief saw images of spears in the river and he decided to name the river as Sungai Lembing.

Book and stay at this Lembing Riverview Resort when you want to visit the museum, explore the tunnels or go trekking, camping or picnicking at Sungei Lembing.

Remains Of Its Heydays

The original tunnels to the underground tin mines can still be found there, although they are dangerous for visitors as the wooden beams have rotted. And through the years, at most places the tunnels have caved in. 

sungai lembing tunnel ride locationEntrance To The Tunnel Ride

There is now a tunnel ride for the public, with a coach train to take visitors in and experience the inside of tunnels.

So, buy the tickets and take a ride, and feel the cool and dense atmosphere of the interior. You can see the insides of an underground tin mine, and of course stalagmites and stalactites associated with caves.

Outside at the main road, the skeletal remains of the offices and other work-places of the tin-mining company can still be seen, having been ravaged, not by elements of nature, but by some irresponsible, greedy creatures called man.

the old town cinemaThe old cinema building of Sungai Lembing can still be seen along the road
remains of mine buildingsJust skeletal remains of the huge mine buildings, as viewed from the high ground
old workers quarters at Sungai LembingThe old workers quarters where the miners stayed during the mining boom years

What To Do There

Besides visiting the old tunnel entrances and observing the quaint traditional Malay houses and the old town center buildings, and buying its famous durians when in season, there are other activities you can do, like :- 


Visit the Sungai Lembing Museum, where the rich history of the place is chronicled. 

The Sungai Lembing Museum

The Museum itself is housed in a former British mine manager's residence, hence a historical place itself.

The special bedroom in the residence where the then Sultan of Pahang, Sultan Abu Bakar, stayed during his trips to the town is also depicted with furnishings restored to its old days.

We can find various equipment and machines used by the tin miners exhibited and explained, and diorama of the activities once found there.

Located on top of a hill, just by looking out through the Museum's windows will provide us nice panoramic views of the surrounding areas. And perhaps we can guess what it looked like during the heydays of the town.

Perkelahan Pasir Kubur

"Pasir" is Malay for "sand" and "kubur" means "grave" while "perkelahan" means picnic area.

This popular picnic and camping area by the river is sandy and we can find many stones of all sizes smoothened by the river waters. These river-stones are probably used by the locals for the village cemetery that is just nearby, hence the place name.

Accessible by car, Perkelahan Pasir Kubur is located just about 1 kilometer from the main road at Kuala Kenau. 

Wading in the river at Pasir KuburWading in the middle of the stream at Perkelahan Pasir Kubur
the bridge crossing to Pasir Kubur recreational areaThe bridge at Kenau to go to Perkelahan Pasir Kubur and the Orang Asli settlement
enjoying the cool waters of Perkelahan Pasir KuburEnjoying the cool and clear waters of the river

The turn at the main Kenau road involves crossing the river on a wooden bridge, and taking a right turn at a crossroad near the Malay cemetery. When water levels are low, cars can even be parked on the sandy stones by the river.

The water on normal days is crystal clear, and the sandy and stony river makes for a nice cool dip on a hot day.

However, during the wet monsoon season at the end of the year, the river is usually swollen and the surrounding areas flooded, and as such is not a place to go to.

Gua Charas (Charas Cave)

Charas Cave is located about km26 on the way from Kuantan to Sungai Lembing near the vilage of Kampung Machang Panching. We need to go through a palm oil estate before reaching the cave entrance.

Gua Charas is formed not only from limestone but also granite, as can be seen from the outside of its entrance. It actually lies at the bottom of Panching Hill (or Bukit Panching) which is about 1000 meters high, and can be seen a few miles away on the right side of the main road heading towards Sungai Lembing town. 

steps up to the Gua Charas caveThe steps up to the entrance of the Gua Charas Cave
signboard at the cave entranceThe signboard at the Cave entrance
the sides of the hill and caveGranite and limestone forming the sides of the hills and caves at Gua Charas

There are other interesting caves nearby, like the Gua Buddha (Buddha Cave), where a magnificent statue of a reclining Buddha is located. Other caves are the Gua Gajah (Elephant Cave), Gua Pecah (Broken Cave), Gua Puteri Bersikat (Combing Princess Cave), Gua Tiga Beradik (Three Brothers Cave), Gua Batu Nisan Raja (Royal Tombstone Cave) Gua Lubang Dalam (Deep Hole Cave) and Gua Lubang Hidung (Nostril Cave).

No doubt this place in Panching, Pahang is a spelunkers delight.

Other Interesting Spots

* Air Terjun Pelangi (Rainbow Waterfalls)

Where you can see the colors of the rainbow above the waterfalls when the sun is at a certain angle.

bukit panorama at sungai lembingAt The Summit Of Bukit Panorama

* Bukit Panorama ( Panorama Hills)

Here campers and nature lovers on the hills will be amazed to watch the beautiful sunrise.

Sungai Pandan Waterfalls

Also known as Panching Waterfalls, this is a great place to unwind and relax, and for bird-watchers to observe varieties of birds.

With its rich historical past, it is not surprising that Sungai Lembing town has been declared by the authorities as a heritage spot.

The Pahang state tourism council is undertaking various beautification projects and upgrading works to restore and develop the place into a popular tourist attraction.

So, don't forget to visit this historic town and the various interesting nearby spots when you come to visit Kuantan.

As always, from me ...


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