Less than 2 hours a drive from Ipoh, or 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands (in Malaysia), since featured by Lonely Planet in recent years, is fast turning into a not-so-secret paradise. High up in the mountains above 1300m and more, the weather is always cooling and nice in Cameron Highlands, especially in the morning and night, dipping to 10+ degrees.
Have you been to Cameron Highlands yet?
I first went when I was 12, as a school trip all the way from Singapore. Two weekends ago, I went back Cameron Highlands for the 3rd time in my life. That Friday also happened to be a long weekend in Malaysia. I’ve never remembered Cameron Highlands to be crowded, so it caught me by surprise when we were constantly caught in traffic jams! Eh, I thought not many people actually go to Cameron Highlands? Turned out I was wrong. There were plenty of locals – Malaysians visiting from other states.
Why should you visit Cameron Highlands?
Firstly, the weather at Cameron Highlands is awesome, in terms of temperature.
The tea plantations, rolling hills & valleys will take your breath away
Known for these beautiful tea valleys, Cameron Highlands has 3-4 main tea plantations. We drove to Cameron Valley tea plantation. It was so lovely there! The weather forecast hadn’t been too optimistic with thunderstorms predicted, so I was super glad when the weather held up – no rain!
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These are two of Boh’s plantations. We came here as part of a 4-hour Mossy Forest tour!
Strawberry, cactus, butterfly & bee farms
There are farms with strawberries which you can pick and fill up. For novelty’s sake! Just don’t imagine the farms will provide plenty of big, fat strawberries, because those have already picked away and sold at the markets, lol.
Other than that, there’re also cactus farms with all sorts of weird cactuses you can admire or buy (check ahead if you can bring them back into your own country). There’s also a butterfly farm (I went as a kid so I don’t remember) and also a bee farm, if you’re into insects!
Also a lavender garden
Who can resist the idea of a lavender garden?!? Since I haven’t been able to get to Hokkaido yet, a lavender farm at Cameron Highlands will suffice for now. My eyes lit up in excitement when our Ipoh friends suggested Cameron Lavender to us.
After visiting though, if you ask me, the existence of this attraction is totally tourist-driven. The lavender section is in fact, a very small section near the entrance. The other areas feature different flowers, which serves as a pretty backdrop for photos. Visiting it once is enough.
This road is right in front of Lavender Garden — filled with cars and tour buses!
Entrance fees for Lavender Garden: RM10/adult and RM7/child (5-12 years).
Enjoy tea & scones in cooling weather
Other than tea, another thing that Cameron Highlands is known for would be scones. You can choose to have tea and scones at one of the tea plantations’ teahouses, or enjoy them at charming, old-world restaurants like Ye Olde Smokehouse.
Ye Olde Smokehouse is both a restaurant and a hotel. We headed over for lunch and ended the meal with tea and scones. Because the prices weren’t considered cheap for Malaysian standards, the restaurant wasn’t crowded when we were there.
At the main entrance, they have a guard who only allows entry into the premises for patrons only. At the hotel lobby, the receptionist once again intercepted us when we wanted to go explore the garden (which is again only open to hotel guests or restaurant diners). At first, I thought this was rather snooty of the establishment. However, my friend reminded me that if they don’t reinforce this policy, it would take even a lot more effort to maintain their beautiful, sprawling garden. That, I have to agree!
Wonder how it’ll be like to stay a night at this gorgeous, colonial building. If you have stayed before or are planning to, please share your experience with me!
Eat hot charcoal steamboat for dinner
Nothing like having hot steamboat in Cameron Highlands’ cool weather!
For the pasar malam to grab snacks & supper
Remember to save stomach space after dinner! Happening every Friday and Saturday nights, this is a night market where you can buy plenty of food (local Malay food and more), snacks (grilled corn or steamed corn), fresh strawberries, souvenirs, fruits & veggies and more.
I highly recommend checking out the Malay food (the fried chicken omg I miss it everyday) and also steamed corn served in cups!
Catch the sunrise
I went for this in 2012. It was amazing. However, whether you get to catch a sunrise or not will depend on the weather. Good luck!
Ps: It gets very cold in the mornings before dawn. Be prepared and bring a good jacket!
Hike in the Mossy Forest
This time, our tour took us on a boardwalk trail at the forest, instead of hiking the real forest (which I did in 2012). It was much easier this time and most importantly, your shoes will not get dirtied by mud =x The boardwalk reaches a height of 2000m above sea level, which explains the misty scenes below.
There are steps to climb up and down though. It’s not friendly for wheelchairs, strollers and toddlers, do take note.
Is Cameron Highlands good for a family/company/friends’ trip?
Yes! The weather was wonderful – chilly at below 20 degrees when we were there. In the daytime, when the sun is out, the temperature can go up significantly, so all you need is a Tshirt or tank top. Keep a sweater with you.
Tips & setting expectations for Cameron Highlands
- Staying 1 or 2 nights is good enough. Choose a Friday or Saturday, because that’s when the night market (pasar malam) is open.
- There’re serviced apartments, plenty of AirBNB options and a few hotels. I would recommend staying at a hotel OR an AirBNB with really excellent reviews. Our AirBNB apartment at Golden Hills, just steps away from the pasar malam, had no bad reviews, but the stay was less than desirable. The apartment was pretty but cleanliness was very questionable. The next time I go, I’ll be very interested to stay at Cameron Highlands Resort! –> Meanwhile, you can check Booking.com for hotels! |
- In the daytime, a T-shirt might suffice if the sun is out. Bring a sweater/jacket with you though so you can put it on when it gets chilly.
- Bring/wear track shoes so you can go further down the tea plantations, away from the crowds, for photos 😉 Be careful as the slopes can get steep and slippery.
- If you’re interested to visit Mossy Forest, book tours instead of driving on your own. The road that leads to Mossy Forest is not well-maintained, and also very narrow. It takes great driving skills to arrive safely. We went with Eco Cameron Highland Tours and were happy with our decision. Besides, the prices were reasonable too.If you’re considering hiking on your own, do enough research. One thing to note is the possibility of armed robbers lurking (can you imagine?!?) in this forest, cases which were reported to have happened a few years ago.
- To make the most of your trip, book those day-long tours so you can get a taste of everything, and not worry about transport at Cameron Highlands! The roads at Cameron Highlands can be very congested.
How to get to Cameron Highlands
Option 1. Take a coach from Singapore to Cameron Highlands.
In 2012, a big group of us (company trip) booked coach tickets that will take us from Singapore (Beach Road) to Cameron Highlands. Our coach set off at 10+pm. After crossing the borders between Singapore and Malaysia, it’s a long drive. By the next early morning, we’d reached Cameron Highlands.
Point of caution though: these coach rides take place late at night. There’s a certain degree of danger compared to making the journey by day whether it be the North-South Highway (known for many accidents), or the road that leads to Cameron Highlands (roads may not be lit).
Option 2. Drive from Singapore to Cameron Highlands
Unless you really love driving, it’s a long way to drive to reach Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, taking between 7 to 9 hours.
There’s a newer route, by the way. Using the North-South Highway in Malaysia, drive past the Tapah exit (Tapah exit brings you to the old route which is longer and more winding). Instead, take the Simpang Pulai exit, then follow the signboards to drive up to Cameron Highlands.
When you use the newer route, you’ll get to Brinchang (the highest town in Cameron Highlands) first, instead of having to wind past the lower towns (Ringlet and Tanah Rata). This post here has more details.
Option 3. Fly to Ipoh (Malaysia), and then drive to Cameron Highlands.
If you manage to get a car, you can drive up yourself. From Ipoh to Cameron Highlands, it’s about a 1.5 hour drive. Refer to Option 2 for the driving advice.
Option 4. Get there from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).
KL is a 3-hour drive from Cameron Highlands. You can research on bus companies or possibly booking a taxi to send you there.
Here’s my itinerary for this trip!
• 9am: Drive up to Cameron Highlands
• 10.30am: Reach Lavender Garden at Cameron Highlands
• 12pm: Locals’ market to buy snacks & fresh veggies
• 12.30pm: Lunch at Ye Olde Smokehouse
• 2.30pm: Check in at AirBNB apartment
• 4pm: Arrive at Cameron Valley
• 6pm: Steamboat dinner at Brinchang
• 7.30pm: Pasar malam night market shopping and buying snacks
• 8.30pm: Back to apartment to rest
• 9am: Check out of AirBNB. Eco Cameron tours pick us up for half-day tour.
• 9.40am: Arrive at BOH tea plantation (Sungei Palas Estate)
• 10am: Drive off & arrive at BOH cafe
• 11.10am: Drive off to Mossy Forest
• 11.30am: Arrive at Mossy Forest
• 12.45pm: Leave Mossy Forest
• 1+pm: Arrive back at apartment. Eat lunch & last walk at pasar malam for snacks
• 3pm: Drive off from Cameron Highlands
• 6pm: Arrive in Ipoh (due to traffic jams at Cameron Highlands)
Hope you like this feature on Cameron Highlands! Will you be heading there soon?
Visited: Sep 2017
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