The attractions in Cameron Highlands have not changed a great deal since the time when impeccably dressed British civil servants escaped there to grow roses, go on long country walks among green rolling hills and snuggle up in front of their fireplaces in charming Tudor-style bungalows. Looking for a cool escape in steamy Malaysia, here are the best things to do in Cameron Highlands.
Only a three and a half-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s bustling capital, Cameron Highlands is perched 1,467 meters above sea level. This cool picturesque ex-British hill station seems oddly out of place in the steamy tropical Malaysian climate.
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- Cameron Highlands
- 15 Things to do in Cameron Highlands
- 1- Admire Tudor architecture
- 2- Tour the Boh tea plantation in Cameron Highlands
- 3- Enjoy tea and scones at Bharat Tea Plantation
- 4- Visit Brinchang Cactus Valley
- 5- Pick strawberries at a strawberry farm
- 6- Buy fresh vegetables from market stalls
- 7- Photograph the cool climate flowers
- 8- Go on a jungle trek
- 9- Solve the mystery of Jim Thompson
- 10- Taste local food in Tanah Rata
- 11- Visit the Cameron Highlands Butterfly Farm
- 12- Tour an Orang Asli Village
- 13- Have lunch at The Smokehouse
- 14- Smoke cigars at the Lakehouse Cameron Highlands
- 15- Relax at the Cameron Highlands Resort Spa Village
- How to get to Cameron Highlands
- Hotels in Cameron Highlands
- Weather in Cameron Highlands
- When to go to Cameron Highlands?
- 15 Things to do in Cameron Highlands
15 Things to do in Cameron Highlands
The best places to visit in Cameron Highlands are often discovered by accident. Meandering along the winding road through the main towns of Ringlet, Tanah Rata and Brinchang, stopping at waterfalls, nurseries, butterfly gardens and strawberry farms are some of the attractions in Cameron Highlands.
1- Admire Tudor architecture
Built on the backs of Indian labour who hacked a path through the thick tropical jungle, Cameron Highlands was discovered by William Cameron, a British government surveyor who stumbled upon the area by chance in 1885.
Years later in 1925, the Chief Secretary of the Federation of Malay States, Sir George Maxwell, recognised the hill station’s potential for agriculture and spearheaded its development.
Word spread like wildfire and British colonials, with wealthy Chinese businessmen hot on their heels, flocked to the hills to build their holiday bungalows.
Today, many of these Tudor-style homes have been converted into guest houses and hotels.
2- Tour the Boh tea plantation in Cameron Highlands
British planters were also quick to spot the potential of Cameron Highlands’ fertile mountain slopes for growing tea.
Tea growing was an instant success and hundreds of tea pickers from India flooded the area.
One of Malaysia’s largest tea companies, the Boh Tea Company, was established in 1929 by British colonist John Archibald Russell and AB Milne, an old tea planter from Ceylon.
Today you can visit Boh Tea’s Sungai Palas Tea Centre, where tea planting is a science.
Assam Manipuri and Rajghur tea plants are cultivated in shaded nurseries for up to 12 months before the young plants are transplanted to the field and carefully pruned.
One of the most popular pastimes for visitors is to amble between the rows of tea bushes to admire picturesque scenes of rolling hills and hard-working tea-pickers.
Many of these tea-pickers are able to pick up to 200 kilograms of tea leaves a day.
3- Enjoy tea and scones at Bharat Tea Plantation
Stop at the Bharat Tea Plantation for a cup of Cameron Valley tea and a scone or two and enjoy the beautiful view.
The al-fresco terrace has peaceful views of the valley below, while the plantation’s tea shop sells a range of tea and delicate teapots at reasonable prices.
4- Visit Brinchang Cactus Valley
One of my favourite places to visit in Cameron Highlands is the Cactus Valley.
At Brinchang’s Cactus Valley you’ll find a large variety of old and rare cactus plants, which are grown in gardens on the hillside.
The varieties of cacti are colourful and a delight to see, even if you aren’t planning on buying any.
5- Pick strawberries at a strawberry farm
As the weather is cooler than most of Malaysia, strawberries grow well in Cameron Highlands.
Picking your own strawberries is a classic thing to do in Cameron Highlands.
Strawberry farms in Cameron Highlands include Big Red Strawberry Farm, Kasimanis Strawberry Farm or Raju Hill’s Strawberry Farm in Brinchang.
Big Red Strawberry Farm has hydroponically grown strawberries.
The farms also have shops that serve strawberry cakes, jam and ice cream.
6- Buy fresh vegetables from market stalls
Vegetable farms also form part of the scenery, as cooler weather crops are grown in Cameron Highlands and sold in markets throughout Malaysia.
Other market stalls have baskets of freshly picked corn, chillies, cauliflower, potatoes or Chinese greens, all sold at bargain prices.
Pick up a punnet of strawberries, some fresh mandarins or a jar of local honey.
7- Photograph the cool climate flowers
You won’t be wondering what to do in Cameron Highlands if you’re a keen photographer.
Aside from tea plantations, as the weather in Cameron Highlands is cooler, flowers are grown everywhere.
You’ll see them as you drive around in fields and flower stalls.
The flower stall at the Kea Farm market is a kaleidoscope of colourful fuchsias, carnations, roses and chrysanthemums.
8- Go on a jungle trek
Since the days of the British occupation, walking has been a favourite highland pastime and one of the things to do in Cameron Highlands whether you like it or not.
There are a number of walking trails that wind their way through Cameron Highlands’ pristine tropical rainforest.
As some of these trails are muddy and poorly marked, it’s not a bad idea to hire a local guide, especially if you’re planning on diverting off the marked trails.
Although the jungles of Cameron Highlands are a haven for nature-lovers, much of the exotic flora and fauna have yet to be documented.
Trek along the paths in April or May to catch the flowering orchids.
The jungle is also bursting with wild rhododendrons, nepenthes, ferns and bromeliads.
Some of the more exotic plants that grow wild in the forest are cinnamon, rattan or manau cane (which at one time was the main source of income for the area’s indigenous people, the Orang Asli), cendana (red sandalwood) and yellow aromatic kemuning.
9- Solve the mystery of Jim Thompson
As the undergrowth is incredibly dense, it’s no surprise Bangkok silk king Jim Thompson vanished while trekking in this jungle.
It has been over 50 years since Jim Thompson’s mysterious disappearance.
Up until today, there has not been a single clue about where he went or what might have happened to him.
What’s reasonably certain is that he was not eaten by a wild animal.
Although Malayan tigers may have once roamed the area in the past, today they are extinct.
Mountain goats, barking deer, civets, macaques and gibbons hide in the forest but are rarely seen.
Thompson was an American military intelligence officer who marketed Thai silk to the world.
After World War II, he set up his home in Thailand and became a major force in the Thai silk industry.
He was so widely known in Bangkok that a letter addressed to ‘Jim Thompson, Bangkok’ would find its way to him in a city of three and a half million people.
Thompson had a custom of inviting his guests to light the evening fire, a tradition that has been re-introduced by many hotels at Cameron Highlands.
10- Taste local food in Tanah Rata
For more local delights, head to one of the many Indian curry shops at Tanah Rata where you’ll find yourself eating chicken curry off a banana leaf, while the Indian chefs flip hot roti chanai bread on a flat pan.
The local Chinese and Indian cuisine, along with British traditional fare provides Cameron Highlands with a potpourri of multicultural flavours that will tickle your taste buds.
Tanah Rata is the largest town in Cameron Highlands and is packed with restaurants and local shops.
11- Visit the Cameron Highlands Butterfly Farm
The butterfly farm has a butterfly enclosure and a flower garden.
The attraction also has insects, such as tarantulas, and animals, such as rabbits and lizards.
It’s a relaxing place to stroll around, especially if you’re visiting Cameron Highlands with kids.
12- Tour an Orang Asli Village
A tour of the Orang Asli Village is a great way to learn about the indigenous people of the region.
Malaysia’s Orang Asli tribes have their own languages and slight differences in culture.
Most of the Orang Asli in Cameron Highlands are from the Temiah tribe who live in villages around that stretch from the foothills of Tapah to the Cameron Highlands town of Brinchang.
13- Have lunch at The Smokehouse
SmokeHouse Cameron Highlands is an oak-beamed country inn complete with creaking leather sofas, silver tea sets and a roaring log fireplace.
Plaques behind the bar provide light-hearted ridicule of the stiff British colonial tone by encouraging customers to “avoid continuous belching” and “use marksmanship in the toilet”.
The inn’s restaurant serves typical English fare such as bubble and squeak and scones with strawberry preserve.
The Smokehouse Hotel & Restaurant offers accommodation too.
14- Smoke cigars at the Lakehouse Cameron Highlands
Looking for nostalgic things to do in Cameron Highlands?
Further down the valley, the Lakehouse in Cameron Highlands is another nostalgic guest house where you can spend rainy days drinking tea, smoking cigars and reading.
Built by British Colonel Stanley J. Foster, this 18-room Tudor-style guest house has four-poster beds, winged chairs and of course, Devonshire teas.
15- Relax at the Cameron Highlands Resort Spa Village
This luxury 56-room boutique resort overlooks the 18-hole Cameron Highlands Golf Course and carries the Jim Thompson theme throughout.
There’s a spacious two-bedroom Jim Thompson Suite and the Jim Thompson Tea Room, where the tradition of English afternoon tea comes complete with finger sandwiches, pastries, home-baked scones and fresh strawberries.
The resort’s Spa Village offers exotic treatments that focus on the healing and restorative properties of tea.
Most treatments begin with a relaxing tea bath where you soak in a large white porcelain tub filled with hot water, rose petals, kaffir limes and tea leaves.
How to get to Cameron Highlands
A day trip to Cameron Highlands is possible from Kuala Lumpur, however, you may want to stay for a couple of days to see the sights.
For flight bookings, see Malaysia Airlines.
Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands
The easiest way to get to Cameron Highlands is to hire a car and travel along the North-South Expressway. From the expressway, there are two roads leading to Cameron Highlands; the old road from Tapah and the newer route from Simpang Pulai.
Another option is to catch a train to Tapah, then take a bus or taxi to Cameron Highlands. See Malaysian Railway KTM for train schedules.
Hotels in Cameron Highlands
The most popular hotel in Brinchang Cameron Highlands is:
Luxury Resorts in Cameron Highlands
These resorts are the top picks when you want a luxurious getaway.
Budget hotels in Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is an inexpensive destination and there are hotels to suit most budgets, ranging from guest houses and lodges (from $8 a night).
A local inn costs around $15 to $20 a night and there are plenty of budget hotels and apartments for around $20 to $30 a night.
You’ll find somewhere comfortable to stay For $50 to 80 a night:
Homestay in Cameron Highlands
The homestay concept has taken off in Cameron Highlands, with options that range from renting a room or an entire home. Here are three homestays you might want to check out:
Apartments in Cameron Highlands
There are hundreds of apartments in Cameron Highlands available for short stays as well as longer holidays. Check them out here.
Weather in Cameron Highlands
The temperature in Cameron Highlands is much cooler than the rest of tropical Malaysia. Temperatures range between 22° and 25°C during the day and can reach as low as 10°C at night. Light showers are common in the afternoon.
When to go to Cameron Highlands?
To see the wild orchids in bloom, visit during April or May.