Gunung Senyum Caves

Useful Information

Location: Gunung Senyum, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia. 40 km northeast of Temerloh. Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan road (route 2), several turn offs signposted to Hutan Lipur (Recreational Forest) Gunung Senyum.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: none
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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14-JUL-1989 opened as a recreation area.


In the Hutan Lipur Gunung Senyum (Gunung Senyum Recreational Forest) there are 18 caves, eleven of them are open to the public, but actually only eight are frequently visited. But they are not developed as show caves, they are in a sem wild state without light, there are some stairs and railing at more dangerous spots, but mostly there are just dirt tracks on the level floor. Visitors must bring good shoes, appropriate clothes and electric torches. We strongly recommend helmet with headlamp, so you have your hands to take pictures or hold yourself at slippery spots. There are signboards, trails to the caves and in the caves. But visitors will get wet and dirty.

All caves are located inside three limestone hills, Gunung Senyum, Gunung Jebak Puyoh and Bukit Terus. Gunung Senyum (1,549 m asl) is the most easily accessible one, and thus the most visited hill, and the park is named after it. This is the reason why the caves are sometimes called Gunung Senyum Caves. The hills are karst towers which consist of limestone and are heavily karstified, and as the surrounding plain is only 60 m asl, they have quite some height and can easily be seen from far away.

Sultan Ahmad who ruled Pahang from 1863 to 1892, was on his way to Kuala Krau, when he saw a mountain on the right bank of the Pahang River. He asked his entourage for the name of the mountain. They just looked at each other smiling. The Sultan did not want to embarrass the dignitaries by asking again, so he ordered to name the mountain Gunung Senyum (Mountain of Smiles). It is unknown what made them smile.

Some caves which are accessible by trails and are signposted, are the Gua Kolam Tujuh (Seven Pool Cave) and the spectacular cave ruin Gua Taman (Garden Cave). The ruin allows a lot of light in, and so the floor is full of plants, hence the name.

Tok Long, a gentleman with a noble heart, married an Elf Princess who lived on the mountain. But before marrying Tok Long, Puteri Buian had to fulfill three conditions. The first condition, the Elf Princess has to bathe in the Gua Kolam Tujuh (Seven Pools Cave). It is a series of cave lakes with a size of 15 m by 30 m. There are seven interesting levels of ponds (cata) in this cave, and each cata has its own characteristics. Every monsoon season, the water in this pool will overflow through each level of the pool, but the source of the water has not yet been found. At some point the pools become dry. The second condition was that the Elf Princess had to dry her body in the Gua Angin (Wind Cave). In this cave the wind is always gently blowing making it cool and comfortable. The last condition was, Puteri Buian had to bathe in the moonlight in the Moonlit Cave. After all three conditions were finally met, Puteri Buian was finally allowed to marry Tok Long. His life was good, and he was venerated when he was able to treat several diseases among the elf community. But after some time he felt very homesick for his family. He asked his wife for permission to return to the world for a while. Puteri Buian made one condition: Tok Long had to return to the elven kingdom within a month. But when Tok Long met his family, he was so happy, he forgot his promise to his wife, and so he returned some days too late. But the realm of the Elves and his wife were gone. Tok Long faithfully waited at the cave for his wife to return to him, until he died, then was buried in the cave which was named Gua Makam Tok Long (Tok Long's Tomb).

Another mysterious place is Gua Taman Satu (Garden Cave One), which always has a clean floor, not a single dry leaf or tree branch scattered in the area. However, there is nobody cleaning the cave, it is a natural effect, but as far as we know it has not been studied so far. The most obvious and simplest explanation is a regular wind which blows away all leaves. Or it is cleaned by the elves, as the Elf Princess plays and wanders here. Gua Taman Dua (Garden Cave Two) has interesting fossils in the limestone wall, including corals, shells of brachiopods, and sea snails.

The park is actually quite popular with the locals, so you might want to avoid the weekends.