Things to do in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

things to do in the Cameron Highlands tea plantation

The Cameron Highlands are one of Malaysia’s oldest tourist destinations, welcoming visitors since the 1930s looking to escape the sticky humidity of Kuala Lumpur. The Highlands were given their name in 1885 after British geologist William Cameron, who was tasked by the colonial government at the time to survey the Pahang-Perak border area.

The elevation of the Highlands coupled with its climate means that it is a fantastic place to grow tea. If you’ve ever glimpsed a picture of the Cameron Highlands online you’ll no doubt have seen swathes of emerald tea plantation covering the undulating slopes. However, the Highlands do offer a visitor more than tea and I was keen to include this destination on my travels around Malaysia.

You’ll find plenty of things to keep you amused for a weekend in the Cameron Highlands and if you fancy including some walking trails into your visit then you could easily extend this to three or four days. Below I share some of the things to do in the Cameron Highlands, plus some information about where I stayed and how I got there.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

What to do in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Take a day tour of the tea plantations

The best way to get around the area and see the highlights of the Cameron Highlands is to take a day tour. There are many different tour providers to choose from and I went with a company called Cameron Secrets. The run various trips, from full day adventures to guided walks in the mossy forests of the highlands.

I was picked up in the morning by Francis who was driving a Land Rover…

As an aside, I have never been anywhere than the Cameron Highlands where I have seen as many old Land Rovers. It seems like any time an old, rickety Land Rover Defender goes to heaven in the UK, they are actually patched up and shipped out to Malaysia. Here, in their retirement, they probably keep running for another 20 years. Everywhere I looked I spotted a Defender and they clearly are the modern day workhorse of Cameron Highlands.

Francis took us to view a plantation owned by the BOH Tea company, one of two large landowners in the area, and Malaysia’s most beloved brand of tea. The particular area we were viewing was 600 acres of bright, glossy tea. Modernisation in production has meant that they use machines to pick only the freshest tips of tea from the top of the plants.

A higher altitude means a lighter tasting tea, which is why the Cameron Highlands is famed for its tea production.

things to do in the Cameron Highlands tea plantation

Visit the BOH Tea Factory

No visit to the tea plantations would be complete without a cup of tea at the BOH Tea Factory (closed on Mondays), which produces the equivalent of 5.5 million cups a day.

BOH was established in 1929 and is a household name in Malaysia. I enjoyed my walk though the factory where you could peek through glass walls into the areas where the tea is processed. In the shop area of the cafe there was also a great display that detailed the history of the tea in Malaysia and the development of one of the country’s most beloved brands.

The cafe is beautifully situated with a stunning view over the rolling tea plantations below, so it’s definitely worth grabbing a cuppa and settling in for a while to watch the world go by here for a while.

As most British people, I really like a good cup of tea and sometimes they can be hard to come by when you are travelling. I found that BOH tea had a lovely, light flavour and I enjoyed the experience of sipping my cup within meters of the fields where it originated.

I was quite tickled to discover that you can purchase BOH tea online, so if you’d like to give it a try from the comfort of your own sofa, it can be yours!

Cameron Highlands BOH tea plantation

Mossy forest at Gunung Brinchang

Most organised day trips seem to cover a trip to the Mossy Forest at Gunung Brinchang (Mount Brinchang). At 2,032 metres above sea level it is the highest mountain in the Cameron Highlands that is accessible by car. Because of the moist and dewy environment  the conditions at Gunung Brinchang are perfect for moss, lichens, orchids and ferns. It has become a popular tourist destination to take in the views and walk through the forest to explore the foliage.

Although there is supposedly a nature trail that scales the mountain from the outskirts of the town of Brinchang, it’s certainly easiest to visit the mossy forest as part of a day tour of the Cameron Highlands.

If you like your exploration off the beaten track, may be slightly disappointed because you cannot trek through this area under your own steam. Due to the delicate biosystem of the forest, you’ll find there are raised wooden walkways for tourists to walk on to protect the plants below.

Once you get into the thick of the forest though I’m positive you’ll look past this as you focus instead on enjoying the beautiful surroundings. There was definitely something magical about the forest as every surface you looked at was carpeted in a thicket of glowing moss. Vines and orchids curl down from every branch and the whole place was a sea of greens of every hue.

Cameron Highlands Mossy Forest Mount Brinchang Malaysia

Pick your own strawberries

Everywhere you look you’ll notice signs for pick your own fruit. I figured that as I was in the epicentre of Malaysia’s fruit growing industry then why not?

I joined a couple of other travellers I had met in my hostel and we went off to pick our own strawberries at Big Red Strawberry Farm. What we found strange was that the prices were set for two people ‘sharing’ their entry, so as I was the odd one out, I opted to not pick any strawberries! We agreed to split the cost between us as we would all get to enjoy the fruits of the labour!

We were presented with two small plastic containers that my travel companions got to fill with lovely strawberries. Although we rolled our eyes initially at their diminutive size, once these boxes were full we did actually have a lot of fruit to much our way through!

The centre seemed to have an extensive gift shop with an amazing array of Malaysian strawberry themed nicknacks in about every imaginable shape and size… There was a restaurant here that looked popular and various kids amusements. All in all it seemed to be a bustling place for families to shelter from the pouring rain.

Would I recommend picking your own strawberries in the Cameron Highlands? Well, the experience was an expensive way of getting our hands on the fruit that we could have simply bought from the local market stall outside for less than half the price… But the activity was pleasant enough to while away a damp and chilly hour.

Walking trails in the Cameron Highlands

Filled with good intentions, I told myself that I would walk at least one of the trails through the hills of the highlands whilst I was there. What I should have done was give myself an extra day to fit this in, as with the heavy rain downpours and my other activities, I didn’t end up having enough time to head out on any walks.

It does seem a bit tricky to find information about the Cameron Highlands walking trails online but there are several blogs like this one on Trip Savvy that go into detail.

Pick up a map of the walking trails from your accommodation. Most walkers confirm that you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness as the trails are muddy, steep and uneven with roots and rocks underfoot.

Walking boots are a must!

Pick your own strawberries Cameron Highlands Malaysia

Other things to do in the Cameron Highlands

I only spent a couple of days in the Highlands so my time was limited. However, depending on your itinerary and largely what the weather is doing, there are plenty more options to while away an afternoon.

You’ll find an abundance of farms in the area all geared up to welcoming visitors through their doors to sample a taster of the region’s produce and industry. Instagrammers will love the Lavender Farm with its fields of purple, whilst those not so worried about capturing the perfect shot will enjoy the lavender ice cream on sale.

  • Lavender Farm
  • Rose Garden
  • Cactus Farm
  • Orchid Farm
  • Honey Bee Farm

Museums and other attractions include the Time Tunnel Museum, Malaysia’s first memorabilia museum featuring artefacts from the Highlands’ (5RM / £1 GBP / $1.75 AU) and Sam Poh Temple in Brinchang. Sam Poh is the fourth largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and its location on top of a hill means it has great views of the surrounding area.

Map of tourist attractions in the Cameron Highlands

How to get to the Cameron Highlands

The most straightforward way to get to the Cameron Highlands is by bus. There are numerous companies that connect the main towns and cities in Malaysia and with the Cameron Highlands being a popular destination for local and international tourists alike, it’s not difficult to track down a bus company to take you there.

My tip is to ask at your hostel reception. I organised my travel to the Cameron Highlands from Penang via my hostel in Penang. I could arrange the date I wanted to travel and my ticket was sorted through the hostel.

I paid 43 Malaysian Ringgit, which is £8 GBP / $14 AU for a six hour bus journey.

Other popular routes to and from the Cameron Highlands are from Taman Negara, which is Malaysia’s national park.

The bus picked me up at 7.30am and travelled via Ipoh where we stopped for a toilet and snack break, then onwards to the Cameron Highlands.

Where to stay in the Cameron Highlands

One of the main places to stay in the Cameron Highlands seems to be Tanah Rata, which has the greatest selection of accommodation and restaurants. Whilst it won’t win any awards for being the most beautiful town, it’s certainly in a good position to access day trips to the main sites and you can even walk to a few nearby fruit farms and other attractions. There is a bus terminal there where the buses to the Highlands drop off most travellers.

I stayed at a hostel called Father’s Guesthouse in Tanah Rata. It had good reviews online and I found it to have a good mixture of dorms and private rooms. I shared a 10 bed dorm for 30 RM a night / £5.60 / $10 AU that had a shared bathroom. There are several common rooms with plenty of board games for entertainment and sofas to relax with a book.

I always use Booking.com for sourcing my accommodation. Frequent use means you can unlock their Genius rates and their reviews are all verified. Use the box below to search dates at Father’s Guesthouse in Tanah Rata. 
Booking.com

When to visit the Cameron Highlands

The weather is a lot cooler in the Highlands, which can either be a blessed relief or a bit of a shock depending on how well you are coping with the heat and humidity of Malaysia. The climate is great for growing all the tea and fruit of course, but potentially not so good for you if you rock up in your shorts and sandals.

I visited at the end of March / beginning of April and the weather followed quite a predictable format. The days would start off sunny then make way for afternoon storms.

And it rained. A lot.

My recommendation is a pair of walking boots or waterproof sandals for sloshing through the torrential rain and flooded roads, plus your best waterproof jacket.

The best time of year to visit the Cameron Highlands is during the dry season, which runs from February to April. The hottest time of year is during May – July when the heat and humidity rises.

Best guide books for Malaysia

Getting around the Cameron Highlands

If, like me, you don’t have a car when you visit the Cameron Highlands then there are a couple of options for exploring the area.

  • Take an organised tour – the easiest way to get around if you’re short on time is by a local tour, such as the one I took (details above)
  • Rent a bicycle – most hostels and hotels will be able to organise bike rentals for a few ringgit a day
  • Local bus – there is a bus that travels from Tanah Rata to Brinchang although the schedule is supposedly a bit unreliable.
  • Taxi – the easiest way to nip around. Local journeys will cost you about 8 – 10 RM.

Cameron Highlands Mount Brinchang Malaysia

Should you take a day trip to the Cameron Highlands?

If you’re only in Malaysia for a short time, you may be wondering whether a day trip from Kuala Lumpur to the Cameron Highlands may be worth the effort. There are a number of companies who offer one day trips to the Cameron Highlands. These will typically last 12 hours, leaving KL early in the morning and feature a photo stop at the Lata Iskandar Waterfall on the way, a visit to the BOH tea plantation and several of the flower farms plus a lunch stop. Expect to pay 320RM / £60 GBP / $110 AU for a small group tour in a mini van. 

Tips for visiting Malaysia

  • The currency of Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringgit (RM)
  • Malaysia  is a largely Muslim country. Be mindful that standards of dress may be more conservative than what you are used to and consider packing a pair of lightweight, long trousers or a skirt and a shawl to throw over your shoulders if you are female. That said, I found dress styles to vary widely, especially in more urban areas and near the beach.
  • Malaysia has a tropical climate and is relatively hot and wet all year round with temperatures averaging at around 32 degrees centigrade during the day, although the Highlands will be cooler due to their altitude. The best time of year to visit the Cameron Highlands is February to April. The wettest months are October through to February, although rain falls throughout the year.

Other Malaysian travel ideas you may like

 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

 

Over to you! Have you visited the Cameron Highlands or would you like to? Let me know what your experience was like and your favourite thing to do. If you have a question, let me know!

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Best things to do in the Cameron Highlands Malaysia

8 Comments

  1. April 6, 2019 / 9:21 AM

    The blog is amazing. The strawberry picking is pretty interesting and did not know about it. I will definitely refer to the blog during my trip to Cameroon Highlands.

  2. Riley - Riley's Roves
    April 6, 2019 / 4:39 PM

    Wow, this looks absolutely gorgeous!

    • April 7, 2019 / 1:51 PM

      The Cameron Highlands are very pretty – definitely worth a short trip if you are in Malaysia.

  3. April 6, 2019 / 6:44 PM

    Great Post!! Your photos have inspired me to add this to our Malaysian itinerary <3

    • April 7, 2019 / 1:50 PM

      That’s super! I’m definitely glad I included it in my Malaysian trip as it was different to any of the other places I visited. Have an amazing time!

  4. April 6, 2019 / 9:23 PM

    I know very little about Malaysia, and nothing at all about the Cameron Highlands, so thanks for such an informative post!
    As an avid tea drinker, I would love to check out the tea plantations! I can only imagine how delicious it would taste being so fresh!

  5. April 6, 2019 / 9:51 PM

    The Cameron Highlands look amaaaazing! I was gutted that I didn’t go there while I was in Malaysia. This has made me really want to go, haha.

    • April 7, 2019 / 1:51 PM

      A reason for another trip to Malaysia!! 🙂

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