The Cameron Highlands is one of Malaysia’s most extensive hill stations. It covers an area of 712² km, about the size of Singapore, At 5,000 ft (1,500 m) above sea level it is also the highest point in Malaysia accessible by road. During the day, the temperature seldom rises above 25 °C; at night, it can drop to as low as 12 °C.
The towns lie in a string of settlements approximately 25 km long. From north to south these are:
- Kampung Raja - one of the larger towns; close to the roads to Ipoh and Gua Musang
- Taman Tringkap
- Kea Farm
- Tanah Rata - the main town of the Camerons
- Ringlet - one of the larger towns; close to the roads to Tapah and Kuala Lipis
- Bertam Valey
The highlands can be accessed by road from both coasts, though most travellers enter from the west. Ipoh has a road up to the highlands via Simpang Pulai, the other route from the west is further south, via Tapah. The main road from the east passes through Gua Musang; there is also a more circuitous route from Kuala Lipis (both of which are on the Jungle Railway).
Approaching from the west
From Ipoh, take an air-conditioned Kinta Omnibus service (RM16.80, 2.5 hr, 8AM, 11AM, 3PM, 6PM) to Tanah Rata from Ipoh's Medan Kidd bus terminal (5 min walk from the train station). The buses travel via Simpang Pulai and stop at towns such as Kampong Raja and Brinchang. Be sure to let the driver know if you need one of these towns.
From Kuala Lumpur, buses to Tanah Rata leave from Pudu Sentral Bus Station (RM28-RM39, 4.5 hr, 8.30AM-3.30PM though mainly in the morning). Some buses can be booked online at http://www.busonlineticket.com
From Singapore, overnight VIP buses operated by Grassland and Fivestar leave from the Golden Mile tower/complex (SG$55-SG$65, 10 hr). Buses stop at Ringlet, Lakehouse, Brinchang Hotel, Equatorial Hotel, Heritage Hotel and Tanah Rata.
Approaching from the east
From North-South Expressway, exit the expressway at Tapah and then proceed via route 59 straight to the highlands. It takes about 1 hr 30 min to reach the first town of Ringlet.
Alternatively, you can exit the expressway at Simpang Pulai, Ipoh and proceed via route 145 to Cameron Highlands. It takes about 1 hr to reach the first town, Kampung Raja. Condition of this route is significantly better than Route 59 from Tapah.
By shuttle mini van
You can also use mini van transfer to get to Cameron Highlands:
- From Kuala Lumpur-pick up at Swiss Inn, Jl. Sultan, Chinatown. 12PM Daily RM35, duration: 4.5 hr
- From Penang-pick up at Georgetown, 8AM Daily RM50, duration: 4.5 hr
- From Taman Negara-pick up at Kuala Tembeling Jetty. RM85, duration: 5.5 hr
- For reservation: ☎ +60 4 2626 171 (Banana Travel & Tours) ☎ +60 5 491 5823 (Kang Tours & Travel)
A taxi station is located at about 100 m east of the bus station along Jalan Besar road. Taxi fares are subject to negotiation as most of the taxi drivers are notorious for not using the meters. Be prepared to negotiate hard.
The resort is made up of eight neighbourhoods. The three townships are Ringlet, Tanah Rata and Brinchang. The five settlements are the Bertam Valley, Kea Farm, Tringkap, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja. All are separated from one another by a considerable distance. The most popular towns of the retreat are Tanah Rata and Brinchang. They are about 4 km apart.
One of the best ways to see the area is to walk. Do bring along an umbrella just in case it rains.
The bus station is at Tanah Rata. Buses run hourly to most of the tourist spots. The fare is about RM1.50.
The resort has a good network of roads. If you are planning to get off the beaten track, renting a car may be a good option.
Motorcycles can be rented at some of the guest houses. You must have a license to ride a motorcycle.
The taxi fare between Tanah Rata and Brinchang is RM6. You can hire a taxi for 2 hr for RM50. This rate is approved by the government.
By van charter
You can plan an itinerary of your own by hiring a 10-seater van. Make sure you confirm the charges before making any decisions.
- Gunung (Mount) Brinchang. At 6,666 feet above sea level, this is the highest point in Malaysia which is accessible by car. At the top of the mountain is a radio and television station. Close to the installation is a 15 m high “Observation Tower”. This is the best place to get a good view of the Cameron Highlands and the neighbouring state of Perak. The taxi fare to the summit and back can amount to as much as RM100. Before heading this way, it would be wise to negotiate with the taxi driver to see if the trip could include a visit to the nearby Mossy Forest and the Boh Tea plantation which is located at Sungei Palas.
- Mossy Forest. There is a boardwalk at the top of Gunung (Mount) Brinchang which takes you through the Mossy Forest. This reserve is unlike any other in peninsular Malaysia: its base is covered with a thick carpet of moss. Most of the trees here have remained untouched for centuries. Be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time exploring this place.
- Parit Waterfall. There are two ways to get to the waterfall: you could either start from the Forestry Department or take Track 4 which is at the side of the Century Pines Resort. If you opt for the former, you should reach the falls in less than an hour. For the latter, the journey is about 15 min.
- Rafflesia Flower. The largest flower in the world (actually an external parasitic plant, lacking leaves, stem or roots). The only way to see this plant is to join guided tour which comes with 4WD transport as it is located in Blue Valley are which is around 1 hr drive from Cameron Highlands town.
- Robinson Rose Garden, Rose Centre & Rose Valley. All three estates are worth a visit. Here you can see how roses are grown.
- Robinson Waterfall. The falls are a short distance from Tanah Rata. It could be reach via Path 9.
- Time Tunnel – The Local Museum (located within the Kok Lim Strawberry Farm), ☎ +60 16 3288 438, +60 13 5247 120. The Time Tunel is Malaysia’s first memorabilia “museum”. It is recognised as one of the main attractions of the Cameron Highlands. The galleria is filled with objets de art that showcase what life was like in Malaysia after the Japanese occupation. Apart from collectibles and memorabilia, there is also an assortment of old photographs on display here – most dating back to the post-war years. The “museum” is open daily from 9AM-6PM. There are no restrictions to photography at the gallery. The entrance fee is RM5 for adults and RM3 for children. There is ample parking available at the complex.
- Butterfly Garden/Butterfly Farm (3 km northwards of Brinchang on the main road). Open until 6PM. Located next to each other with similar exhibitions of many butterfly and insect species to see. Very interesting is insect garden, where a friendly staff takes the insect off and you can take photos with the leaf insect, stick insect and other creatures on your hand. There are no restrictions to photography. The entrance fee is RM5 for adults and RM3 for children. 5RM.
Several tour operators have offices on or near the main road in Tanah Rata. The packages (jungle trekking, farm adventure, go to Ipoh to see Kellie's Castle etc.) and prices are all very similar, but ask about extra charges like admission to the museums and to see the Rafflesia. Morning and afternoon tours are very popular. Night tours are listed by most operators but are not popular so don't expect them to be available unless you're in a group of 4 people (or 3 at some).
- Boh Tea Centre and Sg Palas Plantation (follow the main road from Brinchang towards Kg Raja. After the Equatorial Hotel, look for signs and then turn left into the narrow hill road. The junction faces a row of stalls selling fruits and vegetables from the Kea Farm and can be easily missed.). Operated by Malaysia's largest tea company. Tours available of tea factory. Interactive educational studio, a retail outlet, and a nice cafe. Stunning vistas of rolling hills amidst a carefully tendered tea plantation. The drive up the hill can be very narrow at stages, so caution should be shown when driving up. The view from the top of nearby hill at the plantation is well worth the effort of climbing up. Free tours.
- Rainforest Adventure 2 (Rafflesia) Tour, Tanah Rata, ☎ . For those who prefer to do jungle trekking with a guided tour and travel by 4WD Land Rover. See the largest flower in the world, Rafflesia is the flower of an endangered species of parasitic plant, often nicknamed the corpse flower due to it's rather pungent odor. Itinerary includes visiting an aboriginal village to try out a blow-pipe. Please book in advance and check for Rafflesia availability as the flower is seasonal). RM98.
- Country Side Tour, Tanah Rata. This is a regular and cheapest sight seeing tour in Cameron Highlands. 5 major tourist attraction. RM25.
Mount Yong Belar
- Wild Junction, Blue Valley. Explore the mossy rainforest. Hiking activities start from Tanah Rata/Brinchang/Kg.Raja. Experience a 4WD ride to trail head and an overnight stay in the jungle.
Gunung (Mount) Irau
- Overnight Camping at Gunung Irau, Kang Tours & Travel (Tanah Rata), ☎ . Overnight. Camping overnight at Gunung Irau, one of the highest peaks next to Gunung Brinchang. All camping gear will be provided and the tour is guided. RM350.
- Trek to Gunung Brinchang (Finding the path can be a bit confusing as the sign is located about 10 m from the main road. Ask for directions to the army base and follow the road to the end. From there you will find clear signs for the path). A peak at 2,000 m, which can be reached by walking 'Trail 1' from Brinchang. The walk to the top takes about 2-2,5 hr. It is an easy path to follow and it is perfectly possible to do this trek without a guide. The trek is not very steep but you need to be in decent shape. After reaching the top, follow the road for another 6 km down to reach the main road, where you will find the 'boh' tea plantation. From there you can take the hourly bus back to Brinchang.
- Cameron Highlands Golf Course (between Tanah Rata and Brinchang), ☎ . This is a beautiful although quite challenging 18-hole course with tricky greens and terrain. Like most of Malaysia however, it could benefit from cleaning up some of the garbage in certain areas, such as the steams. If you require them, a pretty decent range of golf clubs are available to hire for RM70 at the club house.
- Big Red Strawberry Farm (Within walking distance from the township of Brinchang), ☎ , fax: +60 5 491 1344, e-mail: email@example.com. 8.30AM-6PM. The Big Red Strawberry Farm is one of the largest Agro-Tourism Farms in Malaysia. It is a lot different from the other places of interest. Here you can pluck your own strawberries and tomatoes. The sheltered farm covers an area of approximately 5 hectares. There are no charges for photography at the farm. Free wifi access at the cafeteria. Ample parking space available at the complex.
- Cactus Point (about 500 m from Kea Farm), ☎ . 7 days a week. Situated on a hill slope, this establishment sells practically every type of cactus imaginable.
- Cactus Valley, Pekan Lama, Brinchang (within walking distance from the township of Brinchang), ☎ +60 5 491 5640, +60 5 491 5641, fax: +60 5 491 5109, +60 5 498 1945. This nursery has one of the best collections of cactus in Malaysia. Some of the species here are more than 60 years old. There are no charges for photography at the nursery.
- Cameron Highlands Butterfly Garden, 43rd Milestone, Green Cow, 39100, Brinchang (about 5km from the township of Brinchang), ☎ +60 54 961364, +60 5 401 1184, fax: +60 5 491 1184. Daily 9AM-6PM. A wide variety of butterflies and insects can be found here. It is open daily from 9AM-6PM. The entrance fee is RM3 for adults and RM1.50 for children. Ample parking is available at the complex.
- Cameron Highlands Butterfly Farm, 43rd Milestone, Kea Farm, Brinchang (about 5km from the township of Brinchang), ☎ . 9AM-6PM. This farm is next to the Butterfly Garden. There are no restrictions to photography at the farm. Ample parking space is available at the complex. RM3 for adults, RM1.50 for children.
- Ee Feng Gu Honey Bee Farm, 75, Batu 43, Green Cow, Kea Farm, Brinchang (Between Kea Farm and Tringkap), ☎ +60 5 496 1951, +60 5 4962755, fax: +60 5 496 2951, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 8AM-7PM. This farm has been around for ages. It is one of the best places to buy fresh honey. Free admission.
- Kok Lim Self-Plucking Strawberry Farm, UT/MR/F-255, Jalan Sungai Burung, Brinchang (between Kea Farm and Brinchang), ☎ , fax: +60 5 491 5481. The Kok Lim Strawberry Farm is one of the largest strawberry farms at the retreat. The strawberries here are grown on “A-frames”. This is a good place to get the best price for the strawberries you pluck. There are no restrictions to photography at the farm. There is ample parking available at the complex. Free admission.
- Rose Centre (Located at Rose Valley Village, Kea Farm, Brinchang), ☎ , fax: +60 5 496 2989. Daily from 8AM-6PM. More than a 100 varieties of roses are grown here. Aside from the abundance of the beautiful roses, is a lovely walk up the hillside on the property with excellent view of the surrounding area. RM5 for adults and RM3 for children.
- Tea/tea products (Available at the tea plantations, convenience stores and sundry shops). Tea is widely sold at the Cameron Highlands. It is wise to buy tea that is grown and sold at the tea estates.
- Tourist Infomation Guide Book (Available at the Tourist Information Centre, most hotels, petrol stations, guest houses, convenience stores, eateries and sundry shops). It is good to have a map of the Cameron Highlands while you are on holiday at the retreat. Most guide books do come complete with maps and a brief description of the places of interest to visit.
- Yung Seng Souvenir Shop, 23, 29 & 30, Main Road, Tanah Rata (near the Post Office), ☎ , fax: +60 5 491 3163. An upmarket shop with an interesting mix of handicrafts and souvenirs.
Food is not a problem at the Cameron Highlands. There are many Malay, Western, Indian and Chinese restaurants to pick and choose from. While you are here, do try the steamboat, a pot of boiling soup where you can cook your own meat and vegetables.
- Bala's Holiday Chalet (9AM-6PM). Famous for its tea and scones.
- Gerai Opah, Tanah Rata. If you’re looking for a good filling breakfast, try the kampung nasi lemak.
- Jasmine's Cafe, Tanah Rata. Closes 9:30PM~late. Big on Dutch soccer clubs, there's only one color that characterises this place, Oranje. Superb ambience, good chicken chops and some vegetarian options. RM33-55 per pax.
- Mayflower, Tanah Rata. Good place for steamboat.
- Merryganic, Lot3a, Jl. Besar Brinchang. 10AM-7PM. Healthfood, natural and organic products.
- Restorant Kumar, No.26 , Main Rd, Tanah Rata, ☎ . Authentic Indian meals such as banana leaf rice RM7. Tandoori chicken RM7.
- Sri Brinchang, 25 Main Rd, Tanah Rata (Next to Starbucks), ☎ +60 5 491 5982, +60 12 452 4392. Cheap and very good Indian food. Tandoori Chicken: RM7.50.
- Time Tunnel Cafe, UT/MR/F-255, Jl. Sungai Burung, Brinchang (within the Kok Lim Strawberry Farm), ☎ +60 16 3288 438, +60 13-5247 120. 9AM-6PM. Rustic setting. Wide food choice. Service with a smile. Nice place to take photographs.
- Zainab Sam, Tanah Rata. Local cuisine.
- Jungle Bar ((Daniel's Lodge Jungle Travellers Bar), No.9, Lorong Perdah. Tanah Rata (Located behind Daniel's/Kang Travellers Lodge), ☎ . 7:30PM-2AM. A bar with a jungle theme and nightly bon fire. Live football match telecasts. Pool table is available, dart board and music. Beer is RM8 a bottle and the clientele are mainly international travellers. Plenty of places to sit and talk and the atmosphere is relaxed.
- Travelers Bistro & Pub. The only pub in Tanah Rata. A decent place to meet other travellers. Beer RM10.
- Brinchang Hotel, 36, Brinchang Main Road, ☎ , fax: +60 5 4913452. Located in the centre of Brinchang. Cheap and good.
- Cameronian Inn, No.16 Jalan Mentigi, ☎ 60 12 559 5017. Cottage with a nice garden, afternoon tea and strawberry scones. Mix of dorms and private rooms. TV room with AstroTV. 4-bed dorm: RM15, private double room w/shared bathroom: RM50.
- Daniel's Lodge / Kang's Traveler's Lodge, Tanah Rata, ☎ . Very basic but pleasant dorm accommodation. Free hot showers, free 24 hr wifi , pool table and nightly bonfires. Movie room with DVDs available. Spacious common area and garden terrace cafe. Can make tour and transport arrangements. Dorm:RM12, rooms:RM30-120.
- Father's Guest House (Closed until may 2012-same owner operates No. 8 Mentinggi Guesthouse), Lot 25 Tanah Rata (5 min walk from Tanah Rata. Note that a Garmin GPS will put you on the back road and in the bush. The house is up the hill, and you will need to go back to the main road and turn left and then take the first left of Jl. Gereja.), ☎ , fax: +60 549 15484, e-mail: email@example.com. A popular holiday retreat surrounded by forest and gardens. In-house cafe serves local and western cuisines. Big wifi lounge area. Tour and transport bookings available at reception counter. Dorm: RM15, double with shower: RM90.
- Kang Travellers Hotel, No.38, Jalan Besar. Tanah Rata (On the main road 200 m from the bus terminal), ☎ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. An easy going budget hotel for travellers but dont expect too much. Free 24 hr wifi, spacious rooms some with attached and common bathroom. On the main street of Tanah Rata. Tours and transport arrangements are also available. RM40-120.
- Number 8 Guest House, Tanah Rata (Fairly new guesthouse, just behind Twin Pines down a small road but only 3 minutes walk from town). 4 rooms of simple but clean accommodation with modern beds and furniture. Free wifi and an internet terminal which costs RM3. RM50-80 double with shower.
- Sg Pauh Campsite (near Taman Sedia, 5 min drive to Tanah Rata or Brinchang), ☎ . The campsite has got all the basic amenities like washrooms, BBQ and cold showers. There are electrical sockets spread around the site. RM3 per tent, If you want the electric power the price raises to 10RM..
- Tudor Home Inn, 10A, Jalan Angsana 3, Bandar Baru Brinchang, Brinchang., ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Twin Pines (Located just behind the (inactive) construction area). Friendly Indian owners and clean rooms, hot shared showers. 24 hr TV room, internet for nominal charge, food for 3 meals, small garden, laundry service RM6 for the first 4 kg. Can arrange tours in the Cameron highlands. Single attic rooms with mattress on the floor: RM15, rooms: RM25-RM75.
- Bala's Holiday Chalet, Batu 39, Jalan Besar, Tanah Rata, ☎ , fax: +60 5 491 4500, e-mail: email@example.com. The hotel is one of the oldest colonial buildings in Cameron Highlands, converted from previous use as a school for the children of expatriate families. Within walking distance of Tanah Rata. English colonial decor and manicured gardens, TV room, reading room and library with a fireplace. Laundry, safe deposit facilities. Internet and a free shuttle service to/from Tanah Rata town. Cottage style rooms RM120 nett, RM380+ for suites.
- Hillview Inn, No.17, Jl. Mentigi, Tanah Rata (5 min walk from bus station), ☎ +60 5 4912915 firstname.lastname@example.org. The rooms are clean, carpeted and spacious. Free pick up from the Tanah Rata bus station. Free wifi and Internet service. TV room on every floor. Arrange tour and transport bookings. A café serves hot snacks, tea and scones, drinks and beers. RM70-240.
- Cameron Highlands Resort, ☎ . Tanah Rata. The Cameron Highlands Resort (formerly Merlin Inn) Boutique resort with 56 well-appointed rooms and suites. Fronts the Cameron Highlands’ 18-hole golf course. It also houses the third wellness centre of the award-winning Spa Village, which offers exotic treatments focusing on the healing and restorative properties of tea. Room rates start from US$200 for the deluxe rooms.
- Century Pines Resort, ☎ , fax: +60 5491 1115. Tanah Rata. A cosy hotel located at the north-end of Tanah Rata. It houses a spa which offers spa and massage packages. There are 111 rooms in various sizes; superior, deluxe, suite. Rates start from RM160 for the superior rooms.
- Equatorial Cameron Highlands, ☎ , fax: +60 5 496 1333. Kea Farm, Brinchang. The highest resort in the Camerons and also its biggest. There are 240 self-contained low-rise apartments as well as 270 rooms and suites in the hotel tower. Rates are from RM380 for the rooms and RM680 for apartments.
- Heritage Hotel, ☎ , fax: +60 5 491 5666. Tanah Rata. 165-room hotel at 1,500 m above sea level. Surrounded by lush tropical forest with panoramic views of the town. Eye-catching tudor styled architecture and elegantly sculpture garden provide an ambience of an old English countryside. Rates start from RM350++ for the superior rooms. Inclusive of steamboat dinner and breakfast. Watch out for promotion on their web page.
- Hotel De' La Ferns, ☎ , fax: +60 5 491 6198. Batu 39, Jalan Besar, Tanah Rata. It is the latest boutique hotel at the Cameron Highlands. The hotel is approximately 2 km from Tanah Rata. It is close to the golf course.
- Strawberry Park Resort, ☎ , fax: +60 5 491 1949. Tanah Rata. Neo Tudor-style resort contains 230 modern styled fully-furnished rooms and apartments that blend in with their natural surroundings. Rates start from RM350 nett for the smallest studio apartments to RM1,050 nett for a 3-bedroom penthouse.
- The Lakehouse, ☎ , fax: +60 5 495 6213. Ringlet. Tudor style hotel siting atop a hill and overlooking the Sultan Abu Bakar Lake near the town of Ringlet. Short drive from Tanah Rata. 11 deluxe rooms, 3 junior suites, 3 family suites and 1 honeymoon suite. Rates start from RM465 nett.
- The Smokehouse Hotel, ☎ , fax: +60 5 491 1214. Tanah Rata., }. English Tudor style hotel with a colonial ambience, built in 1939. Traditional English breakfasts, tea in the lush gardens with scones, cream and strawberry jam. Dine in probably the finest restaurant in the Highlands and take pleasure in a drink by the fireplace. Well-appointed suites. Room rates range from RM400+ to RM600+.
Internet facilities are readily available.
- All Souls' Church. It is located between Tanah Rata and Brinchang. Sunday services start at 10.30AM.
- Ipoh is the capital of the State of Perak and known for its good local food and colonial architecture. 1 hr away by road. From Tanah Rata's Bus station there are buses that go to Ipoh, the cost is RM15 for the bus in the early morning and RM19.30 for the other bus during the day.