The Cameron Highlands has been a favourite retreat for Europeans for almost 100 years and remains a lovely temperate sport to relax and escape the sweltering temperatures of the coast. The British brought tea to the area and there are many verdant plantations in the surrounds which visitors can visit for refreshments and to learn about the harvesting process.
Strawberries are the other staple product of the region and it is great fun to wander the countryside and drop into some pick-your-own fruit farms and return with baskets full of juicy red morsels.
Exploring the Cameron Highlands
Standing at more than 1,500 metres above sea level, the Cameron Highlands are blessed with a cool climate that makes getting out and about amongst the crisp mountain air an absolute joy.
Hiking and trekking through the verdant undulating hills is a favourite pursuit and there is ample opportunity for swimming in waterfalls and relaxing at stunning mountain passes on your way. Fruit farms are also brilliant distractions and glorious homemade jams and sweet deserts can be sampled or purchased for later in the day.
Brinchang is the main local settlement of Cameron Highlands and, although does not posses many of tourist facilities, remains a pleasant place to relax for a few days. There are tea plantations and waterfalls within easy reach for hikers and a few marvellous local restaurants as well. Tanah Rata is a small village taken over by guesthouses and tourist accommodation that lies five kilometres away from Brinchang. There are some lovely trails leaving from here as well and all hotels can provide guests with a basic photocopy map of the area.
Also near Tanah Rata is the pretty Robertson Waterfall which is clearly signposted and an excellent spot for a picnic. To learn more about how tea is made, pay a visit to the Boh Tea Centre and perhaps sample a cup of freshly brewed goodness. A great way to get fit is by trekking to Gunung Brinching, which is a high mountain peak offering spectacular valley views. The walk to the top takes a little under three hours and the trek leads through jungle and alongside tea plantations.
Although evening entertainment in the Cameron Highlands is fairly low key, there are a range of great restaurants here offering traditional Malay, Indian and Chinese food. There is also a German Swiss Restaurant offering homemade German dishes as well as a selection of traveller favourites.
What to see and do in the Cameron Highlands
Hiking or trekking are the main activities for tourists in the Cameron Highlands. Many people start off at their guest house in the morning, plan a route which takes in a few different sights and stop somewhere idyllic for a sport of lunch.
Then they perhaps go for a swim in the afternoon before returning to their digs for a shower, a hearty meal and a couple of well deserved beers.
It is possible to include many of the sights and attractions of the region with hiking which can split up the journey into manageable segments and throw in some extra interest along the way. There are butterfly farms, flower nurseries, fruit and veg stalls and a fascinating museum to enjoy.
People can get guided tours of tea plantations as well as explore aboriginal Orang Asli villages where peopletoday still live in exactly the same way as their ancestors did thousands of years previously.
Cameron Highlands hospitality
There are a wide range of accommodation options in the Cameron Highlands both in Brinchang and Tanah Rata. Budget travellers will find a good selection of inexpensive dorm beds and no-frills rooms for only a few dollars, while there are great value boutique offerings which provide a little more comfort. A few high-end resorts have opened up with a full range of spa facilities, international restaurants and even a golf course attached.
The food served in the Cameron Highlands takes its influences from many different origins. There is a large Indian and Chinese influence in the area as people from these nations were employed in large numbers to work within the thriving tea industry. Spicy southern Indian curries and aromatic Oriental steamboats are the typical dishes to be enjoyed, but there are also British favourites such as scones with strawberry jam as well. There is very little nightlife to speak of except a few lively traveller-orientated bars in Tanah Rata.
Cameron Highlands transportation
Getting to the Cameron Highlands is easy with direct VIP bus services linking Tanah Rata with KL and even Singapore. For those that want to get farther away should take a brief bus journey to Tapah where there are connections with all major Malaysian destinations. There also is a train station in nearby Ipoh which connects the highlands with the main east coast rail line between Singapore and Bangkok.