One of the great limestone outcrops close to Kuantan is home to Gua Charas, a cave temple which can be seen as a leisurely day-trip: if you charter a taxi from Kuantan (RM100 return including waiting) then you can also visit the nearby Sungai Pandan waterfall, where you can splash around in various pools. If you’re taking the bus then you start at Panching village, where a sign to the cave points down a track through plantations. It’s a long, hot walk, so take plenty of water with you; you may be able to hitch a lift for a few ringgit.
Once you’ve reached the outcrop and paid your donation, you’re faced with a steep climb to the Thai Buddhist cave temple itself. Halfway up, a rudimentary path strikes off to the right, leading to the entrance of the main cave. It isn’t for the faint-hearted, even though the damp mud path is dimly lit by fluorescent tubes. Inside the echoing cavern, illuminated shrines gleam from gloomy corners, guiding you to the main shrine deep in the cave. Here a 9m-long sleeping Buddha is almost dwarfed by its giant surroundings. Back through the cave, steps lead to another, lighter hollow where the rear wall opens out to give a great view of the surrounding countryside.