My housemates here in KL invited me to tag along to their trip to Cameron Highlands. Cameron Highlands has long been on my list because of its tea plantations. In fact, if I’d decided to come to Malaysia for leisure (as opposed to going here for work), I’d still include this in my schedule.
Cameron Highlands is a hill station in Pahang, Malaysia. Its land area is as big as Singapore. It’s a popular destination for backpackers who would love to go nature tripping and locals seeking retreat under a mild climate.
Cameron Highlands is what Baguio City is for us Filipinos
So you guys know that I’m not really into comparisons, but when you’re living abroad you grab everything that reminds you of home.
Cameron Highlands is what Baguio City is for us Filipinos… It’s where we escape momentarily from the city, where the weather is cool such that light jackets and socks are a necessity. It’s a place to get in touch with nature, visit farms and plantations and delve your teeth into fresh strawberries, cherry tomatoes and other fruits. It’s a place to discover cuisine that makes a regional location all the more unique.
In a way, Cameron Highlands also represents what Baguio’s potential if the local government had been able to preserve it.
Even though there are obvious money-spinners in Cameron Highlands (notably the lavender farms), most of the place is still allocated to nature. That’s one of the things I like about Malaysia, how the country is able to sustain preservation in the face of progress. On the other hand, in Baguio, local restaurants are being closed down to make way for established chains, pine trees are cut to clear lands for parking lots and mountains are being stripped off of its natural resources to build more residential houses.
Despite these contrasts, Cameron Highlands is a wonderful reminder of home, a place we’re all too familiar with.
Exploring Cameron Highlands
If Cameron Highlands has a color, it’s soft green; if movement, it’s gentle.
So, friends and I arrived here in the afternoon. We’d visited Cameron Valley (one of the two tea houses of the same name with a view of tea plantations) and Boh tea plantation (Boh is a brand for quality teas), where we climbed for 15 minutes on top of a hill with an overlooking view of the plantation and then later dropped by the cafe to enjoy teh tarik and green tea latte.
By this time, it had started raining and after we’d finished a late lunch, a thick fog consumed the rest of the surrounding.
The fog was unreal. We literally couldn’t see several feet from where we were standing. It was like in The Mist, but fascinating instead of scary.
We retreated back to our car and proceeded to our accommodation, a 2-story ancestral house booked via AirBnb. The house was big with plenty of rooms and canopy beds. The linoleum was cold to the feet that I wish I’d bought socks.
Later that day, the owner of the house brought us to the nearby vegetable plantation, where we were allowed to gather cherry tomatoes to take home. The cherry tomatoes are so sweet you can eat them fresh. I haven’t eaten a fresh tomato before, it was always store bought. Again, I’m reminded of Baguio from back when we visited my friend Zye’s house, and her mom served us fresh salad with cherry tomatoes plucked straight from the garden.
We had barbecues for dinner and then later, beer. It’s a good combo in the cold, if you ask me.
We resumed touring a little late on the next day. We were able to see a bee and strawberry farm, where you can pick strawberries yourself and buy honey with honeycomb included in the jar.
As it was starting to dim (sunset here seems earlier compared to Kuala Lumpur), we visited Cactus Point, which is by far a favorite. Here you can see different kinds of cactus, even colorful ones, and a whole lot of flowers — violet, red, pink and gold. We’d also dropped by the lavender farm and then a souvenir shop, where vendors sell fresh strawberries, sweet corn and other produce.
P.S. I’d like to thank friends who invited me to this weekend trip to Cameron Highlands. 🙂
Travel Guide to Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is ideal for nature lovers and hikers. It’s several hours away from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and hence can be visited as weekend trip. Occasionally, locals would also go here for a day tour if only to buy fresh strawberries and other food items.
How to get here
From Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands
Getting from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands will take an approximate 4-5 hour drive. Going back may take longer due to traffic, especially on weekends.
For commuters, take a bus located in TBS bus terminal (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) (RM40/ $10/ P485) en route to Cameron Highlands. You can line up in the terminal or book your ticket online.
If you have a car, you can easily get around Cameron Highlands and visit even those accessible only via steep mountain roads, such as the Boh tea plantation.
If you plan on exploring through commute, it’s best to station yourself in Tanah Rata, which is the main travelers’ hub. From here, there are buses that go to Boh and Brinchang for day trips, although many people report that the bus schedules are unreliable. Alternately, you can also take a taxi or rent a bike.
For a painless way of exploring Cameron Highlands, book a tour. A regular tour includes a tea plantation, strawberry farm, butterfly garden and the mossy forest. As of this writing, day tour rates are RM40 ($10/ P485) per person. If you want to see the best of Cameron Highlands, there are also full-day discovery tours, which include either the rainforest or farmlands. A full-day tour starts at RM80 ($20/ P975).
You can book online or ask the reception of your hostel/hotel for organized tours.
Must-see Cameron Highlands attractions
Here are the best Cameron Highland attractions based on our trip and what I’ve gathered from other backpackers as well.
Unlike in Baguio where the plantation is located in only one area, there are several strawberry farms in Cameron Highlands. There’s the Raju’s Hills, Kok Lim Strawberry Farm, Big Red Strawberry Farm (a tourist favorite), Kea Farm and EQ Strawberry Farm. We went to a place with a generic signage of bee and strawberry farm, which sells strawberries, honey and knickknacks like keychains.
If you haven’t tried harvesting your own strawberries yet, this may be your chance to have a hands-on experience. You’ll be given a basket and a pair of scissors. The harvested strawberries will then be weighed and usually cost RM30 for 1/2 kg.
Some strawberry farms also have cafes where you can buy strawberry desserts and milkshakes.
Boh tea plantation is a popular stop because it’s a known brand for quality teas. They also have a cafe where you order different tea drinks and a mini-store that sells honey-based products such as soaps.
Personally though, I find that the views are better in Cameron Valley tea houses (with 2 branches in Cameron Highlands), although more packed with tourists. From the teahouses, you can trek down to the tea fields.
Trivia: Do you know that green teas and black teas come from the same plant? Apparently, it’s not the plant type that determines the product, but the process of making the tea. Yes, I only learned about this, too.
Orchids and Rose Garden
Orchids and Rose Garden is a family-run farm, which not only features various flora but also has a complete jungle walk. It’s not as “popular” as other attractions in Cameron Highlands, but it has a dedicated following. Drop by this garden if you want to discover various plants species or get beautiful snapshots of flowers.
Cactus Point is like an all-in-one stop for seeing cactus, succulents and flowers. There are tons of interesting flora here including lavenders, sunflowers and a dozen others.
The mossy forest is one of the highlights of a trip to Cameron Highlands. It’s located at the highest part of the country and a protected ecological system. Here you can see ancient plants including rhododendrons, which are remnants of when Malaysia was still part of Pangea, and rafflesia, the world’s largest flower known for its smell.
There’s a designated boardwalk for tourists, although it’s no longer allowed to go all the way through it due to strain from the tourist flow in recent years.
Brinchang Night Market
Brinchang night market is a must-visit for foodies or tourists who have yet to experience the wide selections of Malaysian cuisine. Here you have stalls selling Malay food, but also strawberries, corn and other fruits. It is currently located at Golden Hills.
Sam Poh Temple
Sam Poh temple is the fourth largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It was constructed in 1972 and stands in a hill with an overlooking view of the town of Brinchang. It has a collection of statues, but other than that there’s nothing else to explore, unless you’re a devotee and came here to pray or simply want to stay somewhere calm and soothing.
Accommodations in Cameron Highlands
You can stay in Tanah Rata or Brinchang. Backpackers often go to Tanah Rata for budget accommodations and cheap eats, while Brinchang is catered to those looking for mid-range or high-end hotels.
- Map Travelodge – RM25 ($6/ P300), dormitory
- TJ Lodge – RM27 ($7/ P330), dormitory
- Orchid Haven Homestay – RM40 ($10/ P490), dormitory
- KRS Pines Guesthouse – starting at RM70+ ($17/ P850) for twin room
- Camlodge Budget Hotel – starting at RM80+ ($19/ P970) for double room
- Hotel Golden Wings – starting at RM80+ ($19/ P970) for double room
- Hotel Chua Gin – starting at RM80+ ($19/ P970) for double room
- Hotel Double Stars – starting at RM80+ ($19/ P970) for double room
- Do Chich B&B – starting at RM130+ ($30/ P1580) for a twin room
- Hotel Flora Plus – (boutique hotel) starting at RM130+ ($30/ P1580) for a double room
- Kea Garden – starting at RM130+ ($30/ P1580) for a double room
- Copthorne Cameron Highlands – starting at RM160+ ($38/ P1950) for a double/twin room
- Nova Highlands Resort and Residence – starting at RM180 ($43/ P2200) for a one-bedroom suite
Brinchang – apartments
- Natasya Resort – RM190 ($45/ P2320) for a one-bedroom apartment
- Cameron Golden Hills Apartment – starting at RM230+ ($55/ P2800) for a two-bedroom apartment
- My Sweethub Homestay – RM250+ ($60/ P3050) for a two-bedroom apartment
- DIY Homestay Apartment – RM280+ ($67/ P3400) for a two-bedroom apartment
If you’re looking for a high-end accommodation or one with unique features, I suggest Cameron Highlands Resort. They offer private picnic in a tea plantation and strawberry baths. How cool is that?
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For a weekend trip in Cameron Highlands with a day tour, a little over RM200 ($50/ P2400) is a safe budget per person.
Have a handy tip or something else to add to this travel guide to Cameron Highlands? Post them in the comments section below. 🙂
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