Guide to the CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Malaysia’s Fruit Bowl

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 famous for tea farms, vegetable farms, and flower nurseries – and the fabulous Rafflesia Arnoldii.

Tea Plantation in the Cameron HIghlands
A visit to the beautiful tea plantations is not to be missed when visiting the cool highlands.

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.

Cameron Highlands

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.

Gigantic Butterflies in the Cameron Highlands
These butterflies are real. Mimi doesn’t try to catch them, she’s holding her hand in the picture to show their size.

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.

Visiting

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 should stay in Tanah Rata.

Renata Green at a Tea Plantation in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia
While strawberries are not special to Europeans, tea bushes are.

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.

People crossing a wooden bridge in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia
How close or how far you have to hike, how difficult or how easy the trail gets depends exclusively on the spot the Rafflesia picked for growing.

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.

Rafflesia Arnoldii - the pride of the Cameron Highlands.
Rafflesia Arnoldii – the pride of the Cameron Highlands.

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.

Walking Solo

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.

Tourist-made map on a sign in the Cameron Highlands
How considerate from the other wanderers to leave some explanations on the official signs.

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.

Bewitched mossy forest in the Cameron Highlands
Bewitched mossy forest.

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.

Moss-grown rocks in the Cameron Highlands
Moss-grown rocks along the way.

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.

Tanah Rata

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 radio and tv station on top of Mount Batu Brinchang, constructed by the British in the Cameron Highlands in the 1950s
The radio and tv station on top of Mount Batu Brinchang, constructed by the British in the 1950s.

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.

Practical Information

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.

Hiking the Cameron Highlands
Amidst the jungle wonderland.

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*:

Booking.com

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 weird 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.

Malaysian Steam Boat
Noodles, veggies, meats, and fish – everything is simply thrown in the hot broth and makes a delicious steamboat.

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’ve 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.

Pinnable Pictures

If you choose to pin this post, please use one of these pictures:

Pinnable Picture for the Post on Guide to the CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Malaysia's Fruit Bowl
RAFFLESIA
Pinnable Picture for the Post on Guide to the CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Malaysia's Fruit Bowl
TEA PLANTATION
Pinnable Picture for the Post on Guide to the CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Malaysia's Fruit Bowl
HIGHLANDS

Note: This post is being regularly completed, edited, and updated – last in April 2021.

Did You Enjoy This Post? Then You Might Like Also These:

*This is an affiliate link. If you book through this page, not only do you get the best deal. I also get a small commission that helps me run this blog. Thank you so much for supporting me!

6 Replies to “Guide to the CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Malaysia’s Fruit Bowl”

  1. 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!

    1. 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 🙂

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

    1. 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 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *