During a week-long road trip to the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, we have come across a few interesting places on our way. Topping the list is Gua Charas, a cave located just outside of Kuantan which houses several Hindu and Buddhist temples and a giant Sleeping Buddha.

Read also: Gua Kelam of Perlis, Malaysia: Everything You Need to Know

    Exploring Gua Charas Temple Cave at Panching, Kuantan, Pahang

    Where is Gua Charas

    Gua Charas lies approximately 25 kilometers northwest of Kuantan in the sleepy town of Panching. Estimated to be 400 million year-old, the limestone massif is 355 meters tall.

    The cave was formed millions of years ago and today holds great religious importance for Hindus and Buddhists across Malaysia. Within the caves lies a gigantic 30-foot long reclining Buddha statue, along with many other small statues and religious objects scattered across the walls and floors. You can also find a Jala Lingam - a symbol which represents the Hindu God Lord Shiva. The unique natural formation of the cave paired with the religious elements have truly made Gua Charas a must-visit attraction not just in Pahang, but also in Malaysia.

    Gua Charas Temple Cave
    Gua Charas is a temple cave built in a limestone hill about 25km north west of Kuantan, Pahang


    After entering the carpark, begin your journey by climbing the 20-foot stairs leading to the entrance of the Gua Charas. Once you have arrived at the lower section of the cave, you will see a gigantic status of a sleeping Buddha and impressive rock formations of the limestone cave.

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    Entrance fee is collected here before you are allowed to venture further
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    A 20-foot climb up the metal stairs leading to the gate of Gua Charas
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    Spot the dinosaurs at the gate!
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    Beautiful and brightly painted temples of Gua Charas, Panching
    Gua Charas Temple Cave
    Gua Charas is a holy site for both Hindus and Buddhists
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    Hindus and Buddhists often visit Gua Charas to pray
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    Within Gua Charas is a 30-foot long statue of the Sleeping Buddha


    As you walk along a passageway that resembles the inside of a large rib cage, you will notice many small religious altars being placed randomly at recesses along the walls and scattered across the ground. The cave is lit using lamps, enabling you to marvel at the cave’s awe-inspiring natural features and landscape that is unlike any other.

    The rock formations in Gua Charas are both plenty and breathtaking. It is claimed that there are formations that resemble the Goddess of Mercy, a royal tombstone, an elephant, a princess and a fish. As your progress further into the cave, you will come across several Hindu priests washing a black pillar. Known as the Jala Lingam, the pillar is symbol of Lord Shiva - a beloved Hindu deity.


    History of Gua Charas, Panching

    It is said that in 1959, a Thai Buddhist monk found his way into Gua Charas where he meditated and prayed. He discovered a huge hole in the ceiling where a shaft of sunlight shined through the roof of the cave and onto the ground, and placed a Sleeping Buddha state at this exact location. More deities and altars were brought in by devotees over the years.

    Many claimed that several white snakes are the guardians of the rock of Guan Yin in the cave. Those who catch a glimpse of the snake are said to be blessed with luck, as these creatures are rarely sighted!

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    A Thai Buddhist monk arrived at Gua Charas about 50 years ago to meditate in the cave
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    Gua Charas is a hidden gem in Pahang, Malaysia
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    You will see many Buddhist and Hindu god statues scattered all over the ground
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    Small altars placed at random places within the caves
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    The altars, along with vandalism, makes the journey into the cave incredibly unique and exciting
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    This 47-year-old graffiti wall has now been considered to be a heritage due to how long it has been there
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    The cavern is pretty lengthy and you will get to see statues of many different gods along the way. It's unique how they have mingled the elements of two religions together.
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    The Sleeping Buddha is located right at the very end of the lower cave


    Hidden Trail to the Top

    We discovered another path leading upwards on the left of the temple cave entrance. You should definitely take the climb to enjoy the more scenic part of the cave!

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    The interior of the cave is covered with moss
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    The hidden attraction of Gua Charas, Panching
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    ollow the hidden entrance and find your way to this beautiful hideout
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    Impressive natural features of Gua Charas
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    Vandalism or heritage?
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    Gua Charas provides the perfect backdrop for photos


    How to Get to Gua Charas, Kuantan

    Getting to Gua Charas can be a challenge. The road leading to the cave is rough and rocky. You are required to drive through a private estate using a pothole-laden, one-lane road to get there. Gua Charas is not accessible by public transport.

    From Kuantan, get onto the Kuantan-Sungai Lembing road (C4) and you will notice a brown signboard stating 'Gua Charas'. Turn right and get onto Jalan Gua Charas on a Y-intersection. From here, drive for about one kilometer through the oil palm plantation. Gua Charas will be on your right. It takes approximately 45 minutes to arrive by car from Kuantan.

    gua charas Panching, Kuantan
    Gua Charas is one of the top attractions in Kuantan, Pahang
    gua charas Panching, Kuantan
    The cave is located along Jalan Gua Charas, Panching


    Gua Charas Hiking Duration

    Follow the hidden entrance and find your way to this beautiful hideoutThe total recommended time for exploring Gua Charas is 2 hours, with ample time for sight-seeing and climbing.


    Parking & Ticket Price

    There is a parking fee of RM3. Entrance fee is very reasonably priced at RM2 per person per entry to the cave.

    Gua Charas is definitely the place to go to if you are looking for some adventures as it is off the beaten track. Unlike Batu Caves, Gua Charas is free from surges of worshipers and curious tourists. This gives you plenty of time and space for some exploration!


    Contact Information

    Address: Jalan Gua Charas, 26090 Kuantan, Pahang
    Opening hours: 9am–5pm daily