The Misty Mountains of Cameron Highlands
Discovered in 1883 by William Cameron on a British mapping expedition, Cameron Highlands is now one of Malaysia’s top vacation spots that is noted for its cool weather, stunning BOH Tea Plantation, Mossy Forest, waterfalls and golf course. Located at a high altitude of 1500 metres above sea level, Cameron Highland boasts a collection of peaceful townships where multiple tourists attractions sprawled lazily across its lush, emerald valley.
More Than Meets the Eye
Rolling green hills as far as the eye can see
Cameron Highlands is more than just a cool retreat to withdraw from the hot tropical weather; it is a place for nature lovers, birdwatchers, shutterbugs and food connoisseurs. A haven for those bitten by the travelling bug, the Highland is a rich ecosystem—a microcosm of incredible flora and fauna; dazzling birds, elusive animals, rare species of plants and lush verdure. But perhaps the most notable feature of Cameron Highlands is the rolling hills swathed by tea plantations for as far as the eye can see. Boasting serene atmosphere coupled with a rich profusion of flora and an unmistakable scent of tea in the air, Cameron Highlands is ideal for one to sit back, relax and thoroughly detox from the drudges of life.
The Telegraph: Kuala Lumpur and Cameron Highlands: Where to Go and See has even featured Cameron Highlands in their Travel Destinations article!
Apparently, Cameron Highland is also one of the destinations of Le Tour de Langkawi held annually in Malaysia! The allure of the misty mountains and its challenging slopes have given it quite a reputation among professional mountain bikers. Read SBS’s Taking a Fling at the Cameron Highlands for an account of what it feels like tackling the climb at the jungle-clad, mountainous area.
How To Get To Cameron Highland
This beautiful nature haven will forever remain a mystery if you don’t know how to get there! Lucky for you, getting to Cameron Highlands is a simple endeavour. If you decide to travel via public transport from KL to Cameron Highland, get yourself to KL Sentral—easily accessible via buses or LRTs. From KL Sentral, take the bus bound for Cameron Highlands; one at 08:30 am and the other at 1 pm. It will cost approximately RM35 to RM45 depending on the season. Note that the journey would likely take 3 hours or more and is subjected to traffic conditions. To get to Cameron Highlands from Singapore, you can opt to take the many chartered buses available. You can also opt to take a flight from Singapore to KL and then proceed on public transport to Cameron Highlands. The best time to visit this green paradise is during the off peak season which means weekdays and non-public or school holidays. The best time to visit Cameron Highlands for the best travelling experience would be anytime between December and February.
Unsolved Mysteries: The Jim Thompson Case
Part of what made Cameron Highlands popular was the disappearance of Jim Thompson, the American millionaire whose name was synonymous with the Thai silk industry. His disappearance one afternoon spurred the largest manhunt Malaysia has ever seen, one that involved hundreds of people—soldiers, police officers, trackers and even a psychic investigator! Decades later, the case is still a mystery and as with most mysteries, it has been made into an attraction of sorts such as the regular “Murder Mystery in the Misty Mountains” event and numerous other things named after him, ranging from burger dish to structures and even a nature trail—which doesn’t sound half as bad.
Read more about Jim Thompson’s puzzling disappearance and other Cameronian attractions at CNN Travel: Cameron Highlands: Malaysia’s Enduring ‘Little England’.
South East Asia's Largest Tea Plantation
The view from the Boh Tea Plantation
If you have had a cup of Cameron BOH tea elsewhere in Malaysia and find yourself pondering its origins, all doubts would be banished once you are here. One of the most popular attraction in Cameron Highlands is the BOH tea plantation. BOH is a home-grown brand that many of us would have heard of, given the popularity of the tea-producing brand. A trip to Cameron Highland would not be complete without visiting the BOH Tea Plantation. The largest tea producer in Malaysia runs three large plantations across Ringlet and Brinchang.The Sg. Palas BOH Tea Centre, situated not far from the Ee Feng Gu Honey Bee Farm—on the way to Mount Brinchang—steals the show as the centre of all attention here in Cameron Highlands. Not only do you get to embark on an educational tour around the processing plant where you’ll learn all about tea processing, you will also get to enjoy the serene atmosphere, enjoying tea and scones on a patio overlooking the 8000 acres of tea plantation.
The road up to the plantation is not without its own excitement too. Navigating the narrow bends while honking to alert other drivers of your presence can sometimes be nerve-wracking. If you’re not too focused on the roads, the scenic rolling green hills is a sight for sore eyes! The sight of the green tea leaves blanketing the hilly slopes is what drives thousands of visitors here daily. The terrific view of the tea bushes is not an unfamiliar sight on social media as it has become a go-to place for the shutterbugs out there. The Insta-worthy view of the striking green leaves against the cloudy blue sky promises the best photo opportunity!
Sg. Palas Boh Tea Centre // Add: Jalan Gunung Brinchang, Brinchang, Cameron Highlands // Tues to Sun 0900 to 1630 (Tours provided every 30mins) // Tel: +60 5-496 2096 // Website: www.boh.com.my // Admission: Free
A Surreal Mossy Forest
A blanket of moss and dewy mist
Aside from the plantation, there is another natural attraction that further adds to the allure of Cameron Highlands; so captivating and serene that one would never forget to have stepped foot on its paths. The Mossy Forest was so named because of overhanging mossy growth and the profusion of moss that covers almost every surface except for the well-trodden paths. The tranquil atmosphere and almost surreal quietude, as well as the apparent “shifting” of the mist, will make you feel like you are in another world altogether. It is located in Mount Brinchang, where being on an elevation so high up in the heavens will leave you in awe of the beauty and majesty of nature. Known as the highest point in Malaysia that is accessible by the road, the Mount Brinchang is nestled at 2031m above the sea, making it the safest when explored with a four- wheel drive vehicle. If you are still brimming with energy, begin the trek to Mount Irau (the highest mountain in Cameron Highlands) on muddy paths. Be warned that your shoes would mostly be caked in mud after that!
As you may guess from the name—the Mossy Forest—it is blanketed with dew-covered moss that, creating a beautiful contrast between the damp, brownish dirt and brilliant green and yellow hues of lichens, ferns and other epiphytes including orchids. Take deep breaths as you tread on boarded walkways or be more adventurous and venture out onto muddy paths to glimpse more of the forest’s hidden treasures.
The 'World's Largest Flower', the Rafflesia in full bloom
Contrary to popular belief, the Rafflesia flower can be found not just on the island of Borneo but also in Cameron Highlands! Tourists have been flocking their way to the Cameron Highland to catch a glimpse of the gigantic Rafflesia. It takes an approximately 45 minutes' drive to the starting point and a further 2 hours trek through the lowland rainforest to see the flower. However, the Rafflesia is increasingly rare and you'd have to depend on the locals to find out if it's in full bloom. The infamous flower can weigh up to 10 kg and span 106 cm in diameter but has a relatively short lifespan—just 5 to 7 days. Named after Sir Stamford Raffles (the British adventurer and founder of the British colony in Singapore), the flower is said to have the stench of a "boiled cabbage" or "decaying corpse".
If you are looking to kick start your Mossy Forest adventure or discover the rare Rafflesia flower, check out Adventoro’s Cameron Highlands Rafflesia & Mossy Forest Adventure tour. Unconvinced? Read about the forest and other reasons to love Cameron Highlands at Vagabond Baker's 6 Reason Why I Love the Cameron Highlands!
Prickly Beauties - Cameron Highlands Cactus Valley
A beautiful cactus farm with an assortment of cacti
The Mossy Forest trekking could easily take an entire day, depending on how far you decide to trek. Assuming that you still have time to spare or have no other commitments, a trip to the Cactus Valley is in order. Boasting an assortment of potted plants and succulents, some as old as 60 years, the cacti here are well kept and impressive in its variety and numbers. Nestled on a hill slope that is close to the Brinchang town centre, you will spend an hour or two walking around the area and snapping photos of bizarre cacti and beautiful foliage for only a small amount of entrance fee.
Cactus Valley // Add: Pekan Lama, 39100 Brinchang, Cameron Highlands // Daily 0800 to 1800 // Tel: +60 5-491 5640 // Admission: RM5 Adult; RM 2 Child
Soak in the Scent of The Only Lavender Garden in Malaysia
Fragrant lavender fields with numerous photo opportunities
As Malaysia is located in the tropics, the only exposure the locals have to lavender is through processed materials—soap bars, teas, essential oils. This makes the Lavender Garden more remarkable. The flowery aroma is palpable as you walk through the entrance, greeted by the sight of a confined field of beautiful lavenders; dazzling in shades of purple and of different varieties—a soothing sight to behold. On the left, there is even a stall selling lavender flavoured ice cream, a little pricey, but paid little heed once you’ve tasted it; delightfully fragrant, flavourful and smooth to taste. If you’ve done enough research on the Lavender Farm; by now you should’ve stumble upon Instagram posts of the photogenic lavender-flavoured ice cream with the purple fields of lavender as the backdrop. Aside from enjoying the scent, you can also stroll along rows and rows of flowers such as sunflowers and hand pick them yourself!
Lavender Garden // Add: Tringkap, 39100 Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia // Daily 0900 to 1800 // Tel: +60 5-496 1208// Admission: RM8 Adult; RM5 Child // Website: http://cameronlavender.com/todo.htm
A Berry Berry Good Time
Sweet, juicy strawberries for you to pick and eat
When in Cameron Highlands, it is a must to visit the strawberry farms. Given the year-long tropical climate that we have in Malaysia, Cameron Highland is one of the few spots in this country that can grow strawberries. Strawberries are almost like a symbol for Cameron Highland, which answers your question on what to buy in Cameron Highland. A trip to Cameron Highland will not be complete without bringing back the freshly plucked local strawberries! Besides bringing back the fresh produce of Cameron Highlands such as fruits, vegetables and tea leaves, unique souvenirs that are crafted into multiple strawberries design are also popular with the tourists, such as a strawberry umbrella or strawberry keychain.
One of the more systematic and larger strawberry farm, Big Red Strawberry Farm is easily distinguishable by its giant strawberry statue at the entrance of the farm. The strawberries here cannot get any fresher, with a delicious deep red colour that promises a burst of sweetness with every bite! If you have tasted the scones or cakes in Cameron, you’d now know why the desserts taste so good—they farmed and harvested it right at their backyard. Experience plucking your own strawberries, fresh from the farm here too! Aside from strawberries, there is a tomato farm, a small flower and cactus nursery as well as a small cafe for you to kick back and relax.
Big Red Strawberry Farm // Add: Brinchang, 39100 Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia // Daily 0830 to 1800 // Tel: + 60 5-491 3327 // Admission: Free // Website: http://bigredstrawberryfarm.com/index.htm
Hiking Trails in Cameron Highland
Gorgeous hiking trails for you to experience nature and appreciate the scenery
Offering a little something for everyone, Cameron Highlands is also a network of interweaving trails throughout a mishmash of summits, barely visible dirt paths and natural obstacles which are boons for nature lovers, avid hikers and the adventurous traveller. Hiking and trekking in the forest trails are some of the most popular activities to do in Cameron Highlands. With around 14 trails to attempt, you will be spoiled for choice but it is advisable to do your research beforehand. Check out Cameron Highlands’ Jungle Trekking Trails Guide Page to determine which trail you would like to attempt, what you will see on the path and the starting point for these trails. Many recommend going for Trail no. 5,7,10 and 14 and to avoid Trail 9 and 9a as there have been reports of robberies. Trail 10 leads you to the summit of Gunung Jasar and it ranks from Moderate to Tough. However, if you’re looking for an easy-going and well-paved trail, Trail no.4 is the one for you. Since Cameron Highland is strategically located in the mountain range, hiking and trekking has naturally become one of the things to do in Cameron.
A Charming Sg. Palas BOH Tea Cafe With World-Class Scones
Delicious, buttery goodness coupled with a cup of Cameronian tea
While the Sg. Palas Boh Tea Centre stole the spotlight for scones and its wonderful scenery, it is The Lord’s Cafe at Tanah Rata that has stolen the hearts of its patron. It isn’t just the buttery scones that crumble deliciously in your mouth; or the warm, tingling sensation you get as you sip the hot cocoa on a cool day; or the tasty pie and savoury cakes threatening to draw a satisfied ‘oomph’ from you, but also the conviviality and helpfulness of the staff. Charming and cosy, it is an ideal place to rest your feet and spend the afternoon reading or just watch the people below in silent contemplation.
The Lord’s Cafe // No.4, 1st Floor (Above Marry Brown), Jalan Besar, 39000 Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands // Mon to Sat 1100 to 2200 (Closed on Sun) // Tel: +60 19-572 2883 // Budget: RM5-10 // Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lords-Cafe/137158096352703 // Recommended: Scones, Lemon Cheesecake, Fruit Lassi
In a Nutshell
It is no wonder tourists and travellers are invariably drawn to Cameron Highlands. Its cool climate and structures echoing colonial designs and architecture, as well as a diverse range of attractions to accommodate just about every kind of traveller make it the ideal Highland getaway in Malaysia. If you’re looking to get away from the stifling heat, make your escape to Cameron Highlands now and enjoy its cool, crisp air while sipping a cup of Cameronian tea.
If you’re planning a trip here soon, take a look at Lonely Planet: How to Plan a Trip to Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands on what to see, do and enjoy. If you have been infected by the travelling fever, take a look at Adventoro’s tour package for Cameron Highlands to get started immediately!