Sungei Lembing is a small idyllic town located 42km northwest of Kuantan in West Malaysia. In Malay, Sungei means ‘river’ and Lembing means ‘spear’. Legend has it that the local ruler saw a vision of a spear in the river that flowed through the settlement, and named the town accordingly.
Sungei Lembing was a major producer of underground tin from the 1880s until 1986 when tin mining operations were closed due to high operational costs and the collapse of world tin prices. Today, this small town is largely a tourist spot known for its friendly locals, laid back village feel, numerous waterfalls and of course one of the most picturesque sunrises in West Malaysia – best seen from the aptly named Bukit Panorama.
We arrived on a weekday which is always recommended to avoid the large number of local tourists that flock here for the sunrise and waterfalls. The first impression when we entered Sungei Lembing was that we had been transported 60 years back in time, with the old shophouses and wooden kampongs that line the streets.
The highlight of Sungei Lembing is the sunrise view atop Bukit Panorama, a small hill about 267m high, located right in the middle of town. The hike up takes about an hour; past steep stone-cut steps lined with metal railings. Most of these are in a state of disrepair. Take note that the weather here is highly unpredictable and more often than not, most photographers come down with a sense of disappointment. It is advisable to visit during the non-rainy season from May to September – but that does not guarantee you a good sunrise either.
After sunrise, hikers often gather in the nearby market coffee shop – the best place to wind down from the hike. Enjoy a cup of locally brewed coffee and soak up the laid back atmosphere. Market vendors sell an array of noodles, kuehs, and street foods and are usually open only during the weekends – or from Thursday.
The suspension bridge in the middle of town also offers some nice photographic opportunities. Explore the row of shophouses after you cross the bridge and you’ll discover them still selling old fashioned snacks such as the deep fried twisted dough, noodles, biscuits and more.
Another notable nearby attraction is the Sungei Pandan (or Panching ) Waterfalls. Located outside Kampong Panching, which is near the halfway point between Sungei Lembing and Kuantan town, Panching Waterfalls is a popular retreat for locals and tourists alike. Recently, efforts have been made to improve the landscaping of the park, with the introduction benches, small swimming pools and walkways.
Singapore to Kuantan and Sungei Lembing
You can get to Sungei Lembing via several routes. Most tourists arrive by coach, from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, which takes approximately 3 or 6 hours respectively. You can also fly into Kuantan via its small international airport with Malaysia Airlines or Fireflyz from Singapore. From the airport, a taxi will take about 45 minutes (RM60) to get you to Sungei Lembing.
Get Covered Before You Go
As with all locations where outdoor activities take place, some minor risks are inherent with any trip to Sungei Lembing. A good travel insurance policy, however, will give you the peace of mind to fully enjoy your visit to this beautiful part of Malaysia.