For a rejuvenating weekend getaway in Malaysia, experience the relaxed nature of the Cameron Highlands. Here’s our guide to the top things to do in the scenic Malaysian getaway spot, within an easy 2-day Cameron Highlands itinerary.
About Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Highlands is effortlessly picture-perfect, with rolling green hills and verdant valleys shrouded by veils of misty air. The region is an old British outpost surrounded by rainforests in the state of Pahang and was first discovered in 1885 by William Cameron, a surveyor of the colonial government.
At about 1500 metres above sea level and with views of the Titiwangsa mountain range, it’s a great place to escape the sweltering heat of Malaysia’s urban centres. Here are some ideas for when you’ve got a free weekend.
Cameron Highlands Itinerary: Day 1
1) Find Rare Rafflesias Deep in the Jungle
Rafflesia is far too pretty a name for a flower that purportedly smells like a corpse, which is due to the fact that it decomposes after blooming for only a few days, despite taking months to flower. This majestic plant is one of the world’s largest flowers and is named after Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, who discovered it on an expedition to Indonesia in 1818.
2) Visit Cameron Highlands Tea Plantations & Learn How Tea is Produced
Probably the most well known of Cameron Highlands attractions are its tea plantations. The Cameron Highlands produces its very own tea. The Boh tea company was founded by English businessman J.A. Russell in 1929 and remains under the tutelage of the same family. It’s the leading tea grower in Malaysia and operates three plantations in the region.
You can visit the Boh Tea Garden in the Ringlet district – the original and the largest – or the Sungei Palas Garden near the Gunung Brinchang mountain, which boasts a newly built tea centre with an exhibition hall. Both plantations are open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday and offer a look at how Boh teas are made with traditional processing methods that have been used for generations.
3) Indulge in High Tea with Scones and Jam
Smokehouse Hotel / Tourism Malaysia
After learning all about locally grown tea, a day in the Cameron Highlands would not be complete without indulging in some freshly baked scones with cream and jam.
For a lovely ambience, head to The Smokehouse Hotel in the Tanah Rata district, which is a colonial-era bungalow near the only golf course in town. The attached restaurant is open to the public, with a delightful garden and conservatory where you can enjoy well-loved Cameron Highlands tea. It also serves the likes of beef Wellington and steak and Guinness pie, in case you’d like to linger for dinner.
4) Take a Stroll Around the Brinchang Night Market
Make sure you save some space in your belly for the delicious street food that’s on offer in the region. The Brinchang Night Market is in full force on Friday and Saturday evenings, flanking the main road north of town, opposite the Star Regency Hotel and Apartments.
Abundant produce from the highlands is sold here, as well as a colourful variety of classic Malaysian pasar malams(night market) dishes. You won’t go to bed hungry.
Cameron Highlands Itinerary: Day 2
5) Hike One of the Cameron Highlands’ Many Trails
Gather your energy to kick start day two of your Cameron Highlands itinerary. The Cameron Highlands has several short trails to choose from, with walks ranging from one to three hours. Hike the Gunung Brinchang mountain, which is 2000 metres above sea level and walk through its otherworldly Mossy Forest, trek to Parit Falls, or visit the village of the Orang Asli (Malaysia’s indigenous people) at Pos Rantau.
If you’re looking for a little bit of mystery, however, you might want to check out Trail 4 and follow in the footsteps of Jim Thompson. He was a former World War II operative of the United States’ Office of Strategic Services turned businessman and is credited with revitalising the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s.
He mysteriously disappeared after leaving the Moonlight Bungalow guesthouse (today called the Jim Thompson Cottage) for a walk. You can retrace his path on that fateful day on the Jim Thompson Mystery Walk, which is offered by the Cameron Highlands Resort.
6) Pick your Own Strawberries at Kea Farm
Kea Farm is an agricultural district just north of Brinchang. Here you can visit Raaju’s Hill Strawberry Farm to indulge in homemade strawberry ice-cream after plucking a few of your own berries to take home.
If you have time, stop by EeFengGu honeybee farm, Cameron Highlands Butterfly Farm(just down the road from the Copthorne Hotel), Cactus Valley, which is both a farm and a nursery, or the fairly new Lavender Garden, where you can enjoy lavender-inspired cuisine in the garden’s cafe.
7) Learn About Cameron Highlands’ History
And last on the Cameron Highlands weekend itinerary, travel back in time and add a little context to your trip by browsing the historical photographs at the Time Tunnel museum, which have been curated from the personal collections of the locals who have lived here since pre-World War II days.
For retro enthusiasts, there’s also a collection of memorabilia on display, such as old soft-drink bottles, matchbox packaging and kopitiam-stylecoffee cups.
When to Go
Best time to visit Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Highlands is generally cool, albeit a little damp, year-round. The dry season runs from February to April. Festival highlights include the Highlands Harmonica Festival in July and the Flower Festival around August or September.
Weather in Cameron Highlands
The weather in Cameron Highlands is cool all year round. It is fairly common to have rainy days. Temperatures dip around December and remains at its coolest for about 2 months.
Average temperatures: 14-28 deg celcius.
Dry season: Feb – April
Monsoon season: Nov – Feb
Where to Stay
Where to Stay in Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Highlands encompasses the towns of Tanah Rata, Brinchang and Ringlet, among others. Tanah Rata has the greatest spread of hotels.
There are budget options, such as the Twin Pines guesthouse, or the Strawberry Park Resort is a good mid-range pick. For something more luxurious, try the Cameron Highlands Resort, which is set amidst a tea plantation and offers on-site spa services.
An alternative is the Tudor-style Lakehouse Cameron Highlands in Ringlet, which offers beautiful views over the lake and surrounding forests.
How to Get There
Getting to Cameron Highlands
From Kuala Lumpur, it’s a 3 hour drive to the Cameron Highlands. Alternatively, you can get a bus with Unititi Express or Kurnia Bestari.
Photo Credits: Thinkstock