This is a guide to the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia’s Fruit Bowl, that should be on every visitor’s itinerary. This mountainous part of Malaysia is famous for tea farms, vegetable fields, and flower nurseries – and the fabulous Rafflesia Arnoldii.
While we poor Europeans are travelling to Asia seeking the tropical sun, the Colonialists – no matter from which motherland – were desperately looking for cooler places in higher regions. Here, they were building settlements and mansions to take a break from….being wealthy and having servants.
Whether you go to Da Lat in Viet Nam, Thansur Bokor in Cambodia – or precisely the Cameron Highlands: You’ll find a temperate climate, elegant villas and holiday homes, as well as an excellent infrastructure in lush surroundings.
Having been to many of these places, I must say that the Cameron Highlands are a bit less colonial and a whole lot more sumptuous.
These highlands, named after British explorer and geologist William Cameron, range from 800 meters to 1.603 meters above sea level.
There are over 700 species of plants growing here, and the vegetation changes according to the ascent of the mountains.
The highlands are famous for tea farms – BOH being the most popular one, vegetable farms, and flower nurseries. Therefore, in places, ugly, plastic-covered hothouses are obstructing the views. But no worries, it gets better. Once you get into the woodlands, a perfect and undisturbed ecosystem will amaze you.
Besides the sumptuous flora, this area is also a shelter for a wide variety of animals, birds, reptiles, and insects.
And the fabulous Rafflesia arnoldii is the best-hidden gem. Albeit, it’s only a stemless blossom looking like some weird red cabbage. However, it’s the largest single flower of any flowering plant. We’ll get to that later.
There are two main places to stay in the Highlands, Brinchang and Tanah Rata, the latter being the administrative center. However, if you are into hiking and nature, and Malaysian life, you also should rather stay in Tanah Rata than in very touristy Brinchang.
If you are rather into shorter strolls, souvenir shopping, and lots of strawberries, stay with the Asian tourists in Brinchang. You need to know that strawberries are a very exotic fruit in Asia. Therefore, they are a big deal here for visitors from other Asian countries. Picking a couple of these red fruits at a ridiculously high price is one of the major activities.
I’m European, we are drowning in strawberries. I came here to see the jungle. All over Tanah Rata, you can book different combo-tours practically around the clock.
Obviously, you’ll book a tour according to your interests. But if you ask me, I’d recommend taking a hike – no offense! – to see the Rafflesia arnoldii, if it is the season – mostly in April.
If it’s not the season, you do not need a guided tour to explore the jungle trails around; actually, we didn’t even have a map. But if you want to take one with you, you can buy it cheaply at many places in Tanah Rata. Then, just follow one of the 9 designated trails.
However, ask locals whether there is a reason not to go on a particular hiking trail at that moment. Or if they have any recommendations.
You cannot miss the beautiful tea plantations – and one of my favorites was the mossy forest. Normally, moss grows on the tree’s shady northern side.
Here, however, it overgrows the trees and bushes completely. Therefore, you could not use it for orientation like you might in other woods. The mossy forest looks like an enchanted fairytale jungle.
Although the center of Tanah Rata looks really small, you find all the facilities and amenities you might need. This includes various banks and ATMs, a hospital, and the main police station.
The taxi and bus station make travelling to, from, and around the Highlands very easy and affordable. So you don’t need to join necessarily an organized tour.
How to Get There
There are many public buses going mostly by the hour between Ipoh and the two towns in the Cameron Highlands.
Moreover, there are privately run shuttle services catering to George Town on Pulau Penang, the Taman Negara, and Kuala Lumpur. There is also a mini-bus going to the Jetty in Kuala Besut where you can catch a ferry to Pulau Perhentian.
Although I’m a passionate travel planner, I can only recommend not to worry too much about how to get from one place to another. As long as you are travelling between the popular tourist spots, they will practically carry you from A to B. And even the places off the tourist route are connected by trains or buses.
How to Get Around
As I said, the Highlands are all about hiking, hence, you’ll get around walking.
To get to remote spots, you can take a public bus. Obviously, it’s possible to cycle. But remember that you are visiting a mountainous region – and also, Malaysian drivers are ruthless, to say the least.
Therefore, for individual visits, I’d rather recommend going by cab.
To explore more of the jungle, it’s, obviously, safer to join an organized tour. For solo travellers like me, this is also a great opportunity to meet people.
Best place to sleep
If you are looking for a comfortable place that leaves you happy and wantless, you’ll enjoy the relative luxury of the Century Pines Resort*. They offer everything you expect from a good hotel. This includes an excellent location about three minutes from the Tanah Rata main bus station on one side and the jungle in the backyard.
If you can do with less luxury, want to enjoy the company of other budget travellers, and don’t mind staying a bit farther – however, still within walking distance – from the town center, Gerard’s Place* is your best bet. It’s basically a big flat where every guest has its room – some with a shared, some with an en-suite bathroom. The owners get out of their way to assist you with everything you might need.
Check out the Century Pines Resort‘s* if you’re in the mood for a little bit more at a great price. Or check out Gerard’s Place* if you’re looking for comfort yet contact and togetherness with other travellers.
On this map, you can check out more convenient lodging options*:
Best Place to Eat
Like everywhere in Malaysia, in Tanah Rata food is a very important asset. In the city center are many good Indian restaurants. Nevertheless, the big thing here is the Steamboat, sort of a fondue where you cook ingredients of your choice in a broth.
The only thing that’s a bit irritating is the seafood formed from some….paste. Don’t get me wrong: They have an incredible variety of veggies and real fish and meat. But, nonetheless, some weirdly formed stuff, too.
However, it is a very enjoyable and entertaining way of eating. I guess it’s the more the merrier. In our case, it was only the two of us, but we had a great time.
To enjoy the best of both worlds, i. e. Malaysian tea, British scones, and local strawberry jam, you absolutely have to pay The Lord’s Café a visit. It’s located basically across the street from the bus station on the upper floor. A real – local – treat.
What to See
If you don’t have much time to spare in the Cameron Highlands, an organized day trip from Kuala Lumpur might be a great alternative. Therefore, here are some great suggestions on how to get there*:
The Cameron Highlands were only one of many places I visited on my road trip through Malaysia. Do you want to read about all the other beautiful spots I’ve visited? Then go to the main post and take your pick! There you’ll also find valuable general information that will make your trip smoother.
If you choose to pin this post, please use one of these pictures:
Note: This post is being regularly completed, edited, and updated – last in November 2022.
Did You Enjoy This Post? Then You Might Like Also These:
MALAYSIA – Asia’s Melting Pot – a complete guide
24 hours in KUALA LUMPUR
Guide to PULAU LANGKAWI – More Than Just a Beach
Travelling by Bus Around the World or Ride with the Devil
PULAU PERHENTIAN, Tropical Paradise in Two Sizes
Guide to the TAMAN NEGARA, Malaysia’s Garden Eden
Guide to GEORGE TOWN in PULAU PENANG
Guide to PULAU PANGKOR – a Place for Lazy Dayz
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54 Replies to “Guide to the CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Malaysia’s Fruit Bowl”
This post brought back memories of my visit to the Camaron Highlands many, many years ago. We had a lot of strawberries and went hiking too. But despite several attempts at different places we did not see a Rafflesia flower. It was towards the end of the season already and I was so dissapointed back then. Now I think we just have to go back and give it another try.
I went with a guide who was determined to show us the flower. He was not friendly, but he was very, very determined 😉
As always, your photos are wonderful. I love Malaysia. It’s been so long since I last visited it.
For the tea farms, are there places where you can pick your own tea or buy tea from the farmers themselves?
Malaysia is so far away from the North, and I still think I am not ready to visit this country. Moreover, happily, I found the tropical sun in Andalusia! Haha. But well, indeed, I am glad about your trip to this exotic country. What beautiful flora and fauna Malaysia has!
For me, it’s not only about the weather – I love to experience different cultures. I’m saying bye to myself, after all 😉
Wow! This is an amazing share you have here. I thought Cameron is in Africa? That was a little confusion there, LOL 🙂
What a beautiful trip! The Cameron Highlands look magnificent and the history is interesting. I’ve only been to Kuala Lumpur on a stopover, but I’m sold on visiting this region should I ever return.
My love for Malaysia also began with a stopover in KL…. 😉
Love all the pictures shared here, this is a beautiful sharing, i miss travelling a lot. Cheers
Wow! That Rafflesia Arnoldii is a must-see. It is definitely worth the hike. I haven’t seen one yet so this is a great experience. I agree with you that mossy forrest looks like an enchanted fairytale jungle. It’s so colorful. Would love to see that for myself. Thank you for sharing about the Cameron Highlands.
The Rafflesia is beautiful, but it kinda creeps me out. LOL I think it’s the giant opening.
The places look beautiful. Th food looks delicious too! I hope to visit someday.
Everything looks so lush! I can’t believe the size of the butterflies. The Monarchs in my yard are large, but not as big as my hand!
The butterflies are so pretty and so big!
…and a bit scary 😉
That’s a good tip to get suggestions from the locals on the hiking. I do love a good hiking adventure.
Wow it looks amazing – I want to go there! That red flower is so cool and the butterfly is beautiful.
There were many of those giant butterflies – and we were petrified they might take off…. 😀
Wow! This looks like an amazing place to visit! That butterfly is huge! I’ll be adding this to my bucket list.
Those butterflies were insane – yet fascinating 🙂
I have been to Malaysia but not yet in Cameron Highlands. Sounds like a fun and nice place to visit. I hope to see it soon. Maybe after the pandemic?
Then you should definitely go – I’m sure you’ll like it. Food is great there, too 😉
Gorgeous photos! You definitely added a new spot to my travel destination list!
Thank you! I’m sure you’ll love it there 🙂
What a lovely place! I would love to see the tea plantations as well. And that really large butterfly that didn’t fly away immediately when you put your hand near it.
Thank you for sharing!
Wow, looks so incredible a beautiful place to visit. So many fabulous places to visit. I would love to walk in a jungle, looks so intriguing.
Nnnniiiicccceeeee…the tea plantations here remind me of those in Kasese in Uganda! They are simply breath-taking, looking at them from a distance! Thanks for sharing.
Wow look at the size of that butterfly! And I can’t believe it’s sitting so well for you too! What a gorgeous place to visit. Definitly on the bucket list.
We kinda wished he would move – and at the same time the idea scared us to death 😀
the place looks fantastic! I was considering Malaysia for travels before 2020 but I have never heard of Cameron Highlands
Such beautiful images and places.Tea plantations are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us.
Yes, the tea plantations are beautiful – and the tea is excellent.
Wow. Thank you for including so many pictures. The scenery is just breathtaking.
That flower looks like something out of an alien movie! Also, the fondue looks delicious, I love hotpot style cooking and hopefully with the end of COVID we will see that more!
Yes, the Rafflesia is certainly something else.
The Rafflesia Arnoldii looks insane. I’ve never seen a plant or flower like it. Worth visiting just to experience seeing it in real life.
It is pretty amazing – like a huge cabbage 😀
What beautiful images everywhere. Now, this is something closer to home because Malaysia is a neighboring country so the views are much more familiar to me.
Now that’s an adventure. I’m from thw Philippines so Malaysia is really just our neighbor country. I haven’t been there though but i have many Malaysian blogger friends who always share the beauty of this country. Oooh that Rafflesia.. They said it is the stinkiest but also the biggest flower in the world.. We also have them in the southern part of our country.. Also their Durian is so special too…
Thank you for sharing us your journey… Have you been to the Philippines too?
No, I haven’t but it’s very, very high on my list. I hope it won’t be long till I can go 🙂
The Rafflesia arnoldii is, by far, the scariest flower I’ve ever seen. Even on my computer screen thousands of miles away, I jumped when I saw it.
Hahaha – it’s certainly not beautiful. The hike to find this….thing was even scarier 😀
This looks so an awesome place to visit. I like to go to green places. My favorite haha.
It’s a very nice place to unwind.
That butterfly is so gorg! Malaysia is really a great place, planning to visit when this pandemic is over.
The view at the tea plantations is absolutely breathtaking! I’ve been wanting to go to Malaysia – been researching places that I’d like to check out (I prefer places that are less crowded/traveled). I haven’t heard of Cameron Highlands but based on your post, I think it’s something that I’d enjoy.
What a lovely place I love the nature view and fresh air. I will add this on my bucket list awesome photos!
So many surprises in one article! First of all, that flower. It looks like something from a sci-fi movie I had no idea those existed and certainly not in Asia. I love that places like these exist in an otherwise stiflingly hot region of the world. I would love to explore those tea fields. The hotpot at the end looks really good too!
Haha, on the one hand, we wished that butterfly would move – on the other hand, we were terrified 😀 Yes, the highlands are great and not to be missed when in Malaysia 🙂
Wow this is one of my favourite things about travelling, looking at the beautiful native flowers, plants and trees. Not to mention those butterflies. Where I live the meadows are dying out and reducing the frequency of seeing butterflies. I just love them
This lush greens space in Malaysia looks like an amazing spot to visit. Such a great way to get out into nature. And get fresh produce too. I think we would do an organized tour. Both to see the best spots and to ensure I did not get hopelessly lost!
I have yet to visit Cambodia, but every time I see pictures it makes me want to travel there. And I love that butterfly picture, with the hand in the photography you can really see how large it is!
We needed minutes to find out whether the butterfly was real or just decoration. We were waiting for it to move – at the same time we were horrified by the idea 😀