Things to do in Cameron Highlands
Location of Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is a very famous range of mountains located in one of the states of Malaysia, in Pahang. It’s highest peak is Gunung Brinchang with 6,666 feet. Cameron Highlands offer its visitors unbelievable holidays with ever green scenery, picturesque little towns, valleys and hills. Cameron Highlands is the Malaysia largest highlands very popular for backpackers, and even for families who are eager for some adventure and fresh fruit and vegetable.
How to Get to Cameron Highlands
Once in Malaysia, the best way is by bus. There are buses running from Kuala Lumpur, Taman Negara National Park, Penang, Ipoh, Perhentian islands and Langkawi. Basically, from most of the towns around you can get a bus or a minivan in almost any travel agency. Entering Cameron Highlands it will be all up and down the hills and one curve after another. So if you were planning to sleep on the bus on the way there, forget about it, impossible. But the scenery of farms and tea plantations everywhere is something you will never see anywhere else so it would be a shame if you slept it through. Enjoy the view!
Where to Stay in Cameron Highlands
There are more towns in Cameron Highlands, but if you are a backpacker, the best place for you to stay is in Tanah Rata town where you can choose from many budget accommodations. I stayed in Daniel’s Lodge which was very nice, great prices, lovely staff and good wifi connection. The Main Road of Tanah Rata has a lot of restaurants, souvenir shops, grocery shops, banks, hotels and tea shops. The bus station is situated on the Main Road as well and it is very easy to walk from there to any hostel/hotel in Tanah Rata as most of them are just a couple of minutes walking from the main road to one of the little side streets.
Brinchang, other town just 5 km from Tanah Rata, has not many budget hostels and guesthouses. Ringlet town almost none.
But both Tanah Rata and Brinchang are pretty full of hotels if you are not on a budget. Anyway, more is happening in Tanah Rata when it comes to food and life. Brinchang is more quiet. So when coming to Cameron Highlands by bus, just say to the driver if you want to get off in Brinchang or Tanah Rata so he knows where to leave you.
Things to do in Cameron Highlands
Depends on your peace, but usually a couple of days are enough to visit Cameron Highlands. Their beauty will get stuck in your heart for long time after you leave anyway, even if you just spent a couple of hours in there, or just observed it from a bus. I stayed there for 2 days and saw a lot, but would prefer to stay longer if only I had more time.
Jim Thomson’s trail – in 1967 there was this Jim Thomson, a WW II militay officer who dissapeared while trekking in Cameron Highlands. You can follow his path around Cameron Highlands, just don’t get lost, please 🙂
Cactus Valley – you can get here walking from Brinchang town which takes from 5 to 10 minutes. For 4 RM (around 1 Euro) you can see thousands of cactus plants (some of them are 60 years old), apple trees, strawberries, tomatoes, roses, gerbera, impatiens, birds of paradise, anthuriums, lilies, and even dried flowers.
Strawberry Farm – there are more of them close to Brinchang, but I visited the one just after the Cactus Valley called Big Red Strawberry. The entrance is free as you can only see growing strawberries everywhere around you. But there is a restaurant and a souvenir shop on the top of the farm where you can get hundreds of things made of strawberries, such as shakes, muffins, pancakes, coffee, cookies, marmalade, strawberry tea, and too many strawberry shaped things like key rings, and a lot more. And obviously you can buy strawberries here or go to pick them up yourself (for a horrible price of 20 RM for a half kg I think, which is around 5 Euro.) This is the way the farm earns money from the visitors, not from the entrance. So you actually do all the job and even have to pay for it – oh yeah, 21st century 🙂 But at least you will eat fresh strawberries.
Rose Valley – a garden where you can get lost in all the beauty of different roses.
Butterfly Garden – there are two next to each other. The entrance fee is 5 RM for each (just a bit more than 1 Euro). You can see everything there in about 30 minutes. Apart from the big colourful butterflies living there, you will get the chance to see bugs, chameleons, lizards, frogs, leaf sticks, grasshoppers, snakes and other weird animals living in the rainforest. They are huge and most of them almost invisible.
Gunung Brinchang – get hiking to the highest point of Cameron Highlands to get a great view.
Mossy Forest trekking
Sam Poh temple – pay a visit to the beautiful oldest Chinese temple
Multicrop Centre – a big market selling many things from this area.
BOH Tea Estate – there are two in Cameron Highlands, one is hard to get to between Tanah Rata and Ringlet, the other, more famous one, is close to Brinchang. A road leads there opposite the Market Square where walking will take you around 1 hour. It is a bit hilly and curvy, but not very difficult to walk (I walked it in flip-flops). Maybe if you are lucky, a car will stop and get you there. Yeah, just like this when they see you, or you can hitchhike. But even if not, the green scenery full of tea trees is something you will never forget. To say it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life would be an understatement.
After all the stunning hills you will pass a little village of blue and green houses and an Indian temple where the farmers leave. Then on top of the road there is finally your destination. There is a restaurant with the best view ever offering different kinds of tea from the plantation, and some snacks, then a shop where you can buy tea packs and other souvenirs; photos and videos explaining you the history of BOH Tea Estate. And finally then you will get to know the process of making tea in the tea factory which consists of withering, rolling, fermentation, drying, sorting, tea tasting and packaging of tea. Both BOH Tea Estate factories in Cameron Highlands still use the same old equipment as in the 30’s when they were opened as it is the best. BOH Tea Estate has its own packaging factory and every year exports 4 million kg of tea (both domestic and international market.) BOH Tea Plantation is a must see in Cameron Highlands.
Pos Rantau – an Orang Asli Village – is a village where the aborigines live. Very interesting to observe their life.
Vegetable Market, Wild Orchid Farm, Honey Bee Farm, Watercrest Farm
Trekking to Rafflesia Site – there is a place full of Rafflesias – the world’s biggest flower (travel agencies include this place in many tours during the Rafflesia season.)
Night Jungle Experience – take a trip with a travel agency to go to the forest at night hours to observe some of the animals living there you would never see during the day (and after visiting Butterfly Gardens I’m not even sure you would like to see them in person).
Highlands Bird Watching – early morning trekking to observe both common and rare birds living in the Cameron Highlands.
Water Rafting and cave tour – done only by travel agencies, not on your own.
Trekking through the forest – there are 14 trails in Cameron Highlands, just check out the map or ask in the tourist information. I did the trail from Tanah Rata to Robinson Waterfall and then trail number 9A. All the walking sometimes very harsh and slippery, was so worth it thanks to the absolutely amazing scenery of Cameron Highlands.
- There are some buses running between Tanah Rata and Brinchang, and Tanah Rata and Ringlet, but do not count on them. Better go hitchhiking which is very common in here and to stop a car can take you maximum up to 10 minutes. It always took me 2 or 3 minutes only to stop a car which took me where I was heading to. Even though the guidebooks state WE NEVER RECOMMEND HITCHHIKING, it is absolutely safe in here and the people are so lovely! Cameron Highlands are the place where hitchhiking is the most common out of all Malaysia so it is the best way to get around without having to pay a lot to travel agencies as you can do most of the stuff on your own.
- Trekking can be done by yourself or you can hire a tourist guide, but if you get a map and ask on the way, you can easily do the trekking on your own and safe a lot of money. Logically, it is better to go in a group, in case something happens.
- It rains very often in the afternoons, so to go trekking it’s much better for you to go early morning. Take a raincoat with you just in case anyway as after the lunch time the clouds come.
- The only map you can get in the tourist information is the map of the activities, I mean all the farms to know where they are located, if close to Tanah Rata or Brinchang. The map of the trails have to be purchased for at least 4 RM (1 Euro) in weird places, such as restaurants, banks or souvenir shops, but not in the tourist information centre.
- The restaurants on the Main Road of Tanah Rata vary a lot in prices, sometimes there is a very expensive restaurant and next to it a very cheap one, so check out first for what you are looking for. The restaurants with cheap Malay food are on the other side of the Main Road, before the bus station.
- If you order a cup of tea in Cameron Highlands, you would get it with sugar and milk like they drink it in the Great Britain. So just tell them before if you want a cup of plain black tea instead.