The last stopover we had was at Gua Charas to see the Sleeping Buddha. Gua Charas is located nearby Sungai Pandan Waterfall, on the way to Sungai Lembing from Kuantan.
There are some stairs climbing before you reach to the cave entrance. There's entrance fee of RM 2 for adult and RM 1 for child. Along the way inside the cave, there are many statues of Buddha and also Indian Gods.
It's very smoky inside the cave due to heavy incense burning. For kids who have asthma or difficult in breathing, it's best recommended to just view from the outside. However, there's a distance of walk from the entrance of the cave to reach to the Sleeping Buddha, hence you won't be able to see the Sleeping Buddha from the the entrance.
Parking fee is RM 3 per car.
You may anticipate about 45 min - 1 hour for this visit, including all the steps climbing and picture taking.
Suitable Kids Age: 5 and above
If you are around Kuantan area, Teluk Cempedak is a place that you should not miss. It's a long stretch of sandy beach where kids can play with water and sand. The beach is actually quite clean compared to other beaches like Port Dickson or Morib side of Peninsular Malaysia. There are also other water sports such as banana boats, jet ski, etc however due to year end monsoon, the water sports activities were mostly closed. Waves were high, wind was strong. Some were playing kites there as well. There is also a huge space where kids can play their remote control cars, roller blades, cycle, water bubbles, etc. There were people who barbecue along the beach but you can also find many food stalls selling all kinds of food, especially seafood along the beach. There is also fast food like McDonald's and coffee hang out place like Starbucks.
Along the beach, you will find many wild monkeys. However, I did not manage to take any photos of the monkeys as my eyes were on the kids who were busy feeding the monkeys food where some of the monkeys would snatch the food from them.
While playing water and sand at the beach, you may also find some live seashells, crabs and corals washed to the shore by the wave. Kids are excited to find them alive on the beach. We managed to catch some in our buckets for educational purposes (just to show the kids what they look like when they are alive as usually you would only find dead / crashed seashells).
Parking is RM 2.10 per car. However, beware of where you park as the monkeys will jump and play on your car!
Things to bring:
1. Dry clothing to change
2. Sun block
3. Mosquito repellent
5. Sand play tools
Suitable Kids Age: 3 and above
There is public toilet for changing and showering at 30 sen per person. However it's not very clean for real showering. Changing of clothes is still acceptable.
After playing at the beach, we headed for some nice grilled seafood for dinner at Tanjung Lumpur which is nearby Teluk Cempedak. The famous one with many branches along Tanjung Lumpur is Ana Ikan Bakar. There are also other choices of grilled seafood along the way, if you prefer a less crowded place. They are equally fresh and nice.
Sungai Pandan Waterfall is just about 25km away from Kuantan. I think this is a great waterfall for kids as there are a few spots that are quite shallow and safe. The water is so clear that you can see small fishes swimming around. If you stand still, the fishes will come nibble on your toes and feet as if you are doing a fish spa!
We did not have much time to spend there but if we have a chance to go again, I would plan for a picnic where we can spend the whole day there bathing and eating with the cool breeze and sound of the waterfall. It can be a very much relaxing trip away from the city with family and children spending quality time together.
Entrance fee is RM 2 per adult and RM 5 per car.
Apart from the nice beach and waterfall, Kuantan is also a place where you could get nice seafood dinner at reasonable prices. There are a few choices which are nearby each other, namely Alor Akar Chinese Seafood Restaurant, Ah Wah Chinese Thai Restaurant, Restaurant Hai Tian and Restaurant Mei Hiong. It's good to have a list of restaurants and their addresses handy especially travelling with kids because some of them might be too full for the wait or even closed for off day. If you opt for Malay Ikan Bakar and other grilled seafood, you can drive to Teluk Cempedak or Tanjung Lumpur which is also nearby Kuantan.
Things to bring:
1. Towel and dry clothing for changing. Public toilet is available for changing free of charge. However, the toilet is quite run down where most of the door locks were broken.
2. Sun block
3. Mosquito repellent
4. Food (if you plan to spend whole day there as there's no stalls selling food) Saw one stall but closed when we were there.
5. Small bucket if you would like to play fish catching. However it's recommended to release back the fishes to the water.
Suitable Kids Age: 5 and above
The other famous place to visit in Sungai Lembing is the hanging bridge that connects to the other side of the town.
The other side of the town has a few shops that sell famous tau foo fa "soft bean curd dessert", some local produces such as coconut biscuits, flower rolls and Sungai Lembing noodles.
Kids get to witness the process of making noodles from scratch!
The next place to visit in Sungai Lembing is the Sungai Lembing Mines. Entrance fee for adult is RM 15.90 and kid is RM 7.90. The fee includes a very short (probably only 1 minute) ride of the train into the Mines Tunnel where we were dropped off to walk into the tunnel on our own. Along inside of the tunnel, there were some educational information about how the mining activities were done in the olden days where there were also some experimental stuff for the kids to explore. Inside the tunnel, up to 400 meter depth under sea level, there was also a demo "Kiew", which refers to a lift / elevator that the miners used to travel between different levels within the tunnel. There was a documentary show in the Kiew where at the end of the show we experienced the vibration as if the Kiew was moving like a real one. The kids were excited thinking they would end up in another storey / level of the tunnel!
When I first search for places to go during this year end Christmas long weekend holiday, I was looking at some beaches along the East Coast. However due to year end monsoon where most beaches are closed for public, I then searched for what were the things to do in Kuantan as I was actually looking along Club Med which was popular for its kids friendly family holiday. However, due to our limited budget for the holiday, the searches somehow led me to Sungai Lembing.
Though it's called Sungai Lembing "river", however, what was popular there was actually a hill called Panorama Hill or Bukit Panorama. I was mesmerized with the images posted on TripAdvisor and Google pages on the beautiful views captured from the Panorama Hill.
It was after the visit to Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, about another 2 hours' drive without traffic (182km), we moved on to Sungai Lembing.
If you don't want to wake up too early for the journey to the Panorama Hill, I would recommend staying near the hill. We stayed at a local friendly resort called Pollock Hill Resort, located just a few streets right next to the Panorama Hill. We started our journey at 5:30am the next morning in hope to catch the sunrise from the top. There were many others who started around the same time or earlier. There were steps of staircases, probably around 1000+ of them, however, were some resting huts and benches for those who needed to catch their breaths. It took us roughly 60 - 75 minutes to reach the top, including resting time along the way. It was about 10 minutes to sunrise (sun was expected to rise at 7:09am that day) when we finally reached to the hilltop.
The view from the hilltop was simply spectacular. By the last few steps before reaching the hilltop, we could hear people cheering with joy as if they made it to the heaven!! It was indeed a great once-in-a-lifetime experience that you would want to try at least once before you die : )
If you are planning for a short weekend family getaway with kids, I would recommend a 3D2N family trip to East Peninsular Malaysia with a few stopovers along the way (Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Sungai Lembing, finally Kuantan and Teluk Cempedak).
We started our journey early in the morning on Christmas Eve to an Elephant Sanctuary in Kuala Gandah, located in Termeloh in the state of Pahang. It's about 133km from Shah Alam (approximately 1 hour 46 min drive without traffic).
It's best recommended to reach the place before 12pm if you do not want to miss out the fun activities that starts around 2pm till 3:30pm. Entrance fee is free for just touring around the place, feeding the elephants and watching the elephant shows. Donation is encouraged but not compulsory, to support and maintain the sanctuary. All visitors are required to register at the registration counter to obtain a pass sticker to enter the place. For those who are interested to purchase tour package, there are different types of packages available at different prices. The most popular package is Bathing the Baby Elephant, which costs RM 50 as a fee for tour guide (pay only once per group) plus additional RM 10 for an adult and / or RM 5 for a child.
Other activities available for free are educational video clip on elephant preservation, feeding elephants and elephants shows.
After the elephant show, you will be guided to enter the river with the baby elephants to give them a cold river shower (if you have paid for the package mentioned above). It was a wonderful experience, however, due to the crowd and queue, the last few groups' showers had to be cut short as it was going to rain.
There's a small cafeteria in the premise that serves local Malay food such as fried rice, fried noodles and some kuih-muih. There's also a stall that sells Malay food about few meters prior to reaching the Elephant Sanctuary. If Malay food is not your choice of food, it's best that you pack your lunch or have early lunch prior to your journey to the Elephant Sanctuary as there's literally no shops or restaurants nearby.
There are also many resting huts available, hence bringing your own food to picnic there might be another option as well.
Overall, the kids enjoyed the trip, especially the elephant feeding session. Peanuts, bananas and sugar canes are available for sale as elephant's food.
Things to bring:
1. Dry clothing for changing (if you opt for the baby elephant shower)
3. Portable fan (it's very hot and humid at the elephant show theater while waiting for the show to start)
4. Sun glasses
6. Umbrella / raincoat
7. Mosquito repellent
There are some shower areas on the way out and also at the entrance. There are also plenty of water pipes for hand washing after feeding the elephants.
Suitable Kids Age: Children as young as 1.5 - 2 years old would appreciate this nature trip seeing and feeding elephants just like visiting the zoo.