In our recent blog update, we mentioned that we spent a few days up in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia. With C’s mum in tow, we had a lovely time enjoying the cooler temperatures and the surrounding greenery.
I thought I would write a post summarizing what there is to do in the Cameron Highlands. This gives you an insight into what we got up to and offers a helpful guide to others when deciding whether to visit. The best bit about some of these, is that they are absolutely free!
Visit a Tea plantation
This is probably the main reason why anyone visits the Cameron Highlands. Back in 1933, Shuparshad Bansal Agarwal identified the Cameron Highlands as being an ideal place to grow tea. Now there are a number of tea plantations that you can visit. The rolling hills carpeted with green are stunningly beautiful and make for lovely photos and what’s better is you can walk amonsgt the plants for free! In addition, most of the plantations have cafes where you drink tea for yourself. We visited the primary plantation of the Bharat Group, 2km south of Tanah Rata. Bharat is famous for making the brand, Cameron Valley Tea. The largest plantation in the Cameron Highlands is operated by BOH and includes a factory where you can see how the tea is made.
Hike the trails
I first heard about the Cameron Highlands whilst in Bangkok, when we visited the house museum of the famous Thai silk merchant, Jim Thompson. Mr Thompson mysteriously went missing whilst hiking in the CH in March 1967 and has never been seen again.
There are a number of great, mostly well marked out (but badly signposted) hiking paths all over CH, starting from Tanah Rata; there is a large board in Tanah Rata showing the trail routes (definitely not to scale), you can buy maps from most of the tour offices or hotels (same map, but smaller) or you can opt to go on an organised tour. The trails will take you through jungle/forest, alongside rivers and waterfalls and up to 2,032m above sea level at the crest of Gunung Brinchang.
If you are really lucky, you may be able to spot the Rafflesia, one of the biggest and most endangered flowers on the planet.
Time Tunnel Museum
This little museum which is in Brinchang is a goldmine of local history. Crammed full of photographs and first hand accounts, you get a real sense of the transition of the Cameron Highlands from 1920’s (when they were first used by British Troops) right up to today. There is also a rather eclectic collection of toys, everyday items and advertising memorabilia from across the decades. Whilst not quite free, for only MYR6 which just over £1 or $1.40 each for adults, it’s a great way to spend an hour or so learning about the development of CH and specifically Tanah Rata.
Visit A Strawberry Farm
As well as Tea, the Cameron Highlands is known for its fruit and vegetable farms, specifically Strawberry Farms. There are a number of these across the Cameron Highlands, however the one we visited was called Big Red Strawberry Farm, which is also in Brinchang. This is also owned by Bharat who own the tea plantation. Here they hydroponically grow strawberries and lettuces. Assuming they’re in season you can pick your own strawberries (although you do have to spend a minimum of MYR25) or simply enjoy the delights of the cafe. You can order everything imaginable containing strawberries from coffee and milkshakes, to ice cream and cake.
Drink Tea and Eat Scones
Compared to the rest of Malaysia, the climate of the Cameron Highlands is much cooler. In fact, it was very reminiscent of being back home in England (including the rain!). So why not “go all English” and sit down to enjoy a cup of tea and a scone with jam and cream. You can find this at all of the tea plantation cafes or in Tanah Rata at The Lord’s Cafe, a very quaint little establishment above Marry Brown’s burger restaurant.
Visit the different towns
There are three main townships spread across the Cameron Highlands. Whilst Tanah Rata (meaning Flat Land) is the tourist hot spot containing hotels, banks etc Brinchang is the main settlement for locals. In addition there is also Ringlet. There are no longer local buses running between them, so either hiring a scooter or getting a taxi are probably the best ways to get around. Each settlement is approximately 5km apart so walking is a possibility, if you don’t mind hills. However, hitch-hiking on the back of a pickup truck is definitely the most adventurous way to get up and down the steep winding roads.
Sam Poh Buddhist Temple
A beautiful Chinese style temple, set on a hill in Brinchang. It is the largest religious structure in the Cameron Highlands, and the 4th largest buddhist temple in Malaysia. It is completely free to enter, and the views over Brinchang are lovely. As with all temples, dress modestly and don’t forget to take off your shoes.
Have you visited the Cameron Highlands? What was your favourite thing to do? Please get in touch and share your memories and/or photos with us!