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The Cameron Highlands Rundown

Colonial hill stations are mementos of a bygone age. These high altitude remnants of European imperialism in Asia remind us how utterly intolerable the summer heat in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka et al must have been for the pasty, pallid colonial officials of the day. Officials who simply had to, out of climatic necessity, skulk to cooler, shadier climes in order to preserve some semblance of sanity amid the brutal equatorial swelter. ... Read more »

South Asia, India in particular, was not the only bastion of hill station development. Extensive surveys of the upper realms of Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam by various colonial powers from the late 19th Century onward led to a vast assortment of projects, many of which flourish to this day. The Cameron Highlands is one of the most notable examples, not only in Malaysia but, indeed, in all of Southeast Asia.

Named after William Cameron, the British official charged with mapping the region in 1885, the Highlands cover just over 700 km ² in northwest Pahang, a state where rainforest resorts like Bukit Tenngi, Fraser’s Hill and the Genting Highlands also proliferate. The creation of the Cameron Highlands was an explicit manifestation of the old colonial notion that nature, specifically the wild, feral rainforests of South Asia and Southeast Asia, had to be brought to heel. And so, slowly but surely until the dawn of the Second World War and in the mold of the exalted hill stations of India, it was. The Cameron Highlands remain one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia to this day.

Cameron Highlands’ Top 10

10. Big Red Strawberry Farm Agro-tourism drives the economic engine of the Cameron Highlands, with pick and pluck your own fruit and vegetable farms throughout. Big Red Strawberry Farm is one of the best.

5. Ee Feng Gu Honey Bee Farm is a must for anyone with an affinity for the sweet, sticky stuff.

9. Cactus Valley is a terraced botanical oasis of flowers, fruits, vegetables and, yes, cacti.

4. Cameron Highlands Golf Course Highlands golf offers a much different play experience than, say, Carnoustie or St Andrews. No links course, for one, ever had an ambush of tigers roaming its grounds.

8. Brinchang Night Market takes over the small Cameron Highlands town on weekends and holidays, with a cornucopia of local products for sale.

3. Time Tunnel museum is a foremost depot of eclectic pre-War memorabilia, documents and photographs. A pre-eminent look at the evolution of the Cameron Highlands.

7. Boh Sungai Palas Tea Estate The Cameron Highlands is the premier hub of tea agriculture in Malaysia. Boh Sungai Palas Tea Estate offers a superb glimpse into the entire process, from cultivation to production.

2. Cameron Highlands Butterfly Farm is a lush sanctuary for everyone’s favourite holometabolous insect.

6. Cameron Bharat Tea Plantation has a lovely teahouse amid the verdant highland scenery, just outside of Brinchang.

1. Robinson Falls, in Tana Ratah, the heart of the highlands, is a spectacle anytime of year but particularly throughout the wet season.

Cameron Highlands History

  • Boh Sungai Palas Tea Estate – Enjoy informative videos about the plantation and take guided tours that show how tea is picked.
  • Boh Tea Estate – This estate is accessed via a walk through the jungle that makes the Cameron Highlands famous.
  • Cameron Bharat Tea Plantation – This plantation allows you to enjoy tea in the comfort of a teahouse.
  • Galleria Time Tunnel Gallery – This gallery offers a wealth of items that detail the area's history.
  • Taman Sedia – This is the very first Malay settlement established in the area.

Cameron Highlands Art & Culture

  • Hindu Temple – A Hindu temple attended by Cameron Highlands tea pickers.
  • Heritage Hotel – This hotel is fascinating due to its tudor-style architecture.
  • Orang Asli Village – The village is one of the more interesting sites to visit to learn more about local culture.
  • Sam Poh Buddhist Temple – This Buddhist temple is located just a short distance from the Hindu temple.
  • Ye Olde Smokehouse – This former smokehouse has several Yorkshire furnishings and antiques on display.

Cameron Highlands Shopping

  • Boh Sungai Palas Gift Shop – The tea plantation has a gift shop that is a must for every serious tea lover.
  • Raju's Hill Stawberry Farm – This farm features a gift shop with delicious strawberry jams.
  • Cactus Valley – You may be quite surprised to learn that cacti can be purchased here.
  • Multicrops Central Market – If you want to stock up on local tea, jam and more, this is the place to go.
  • Yung Seng Souvenir Shop – Here you can find authentic local woodcarvings.

Gay & Lesbian Cameron Highlands

  • Ipoh – The vast majority of gay-friendly places are located in Ipoh, the closest large city.
  • Tanah Rata – This is a good place to visit local bars and possibly meet locals discreetly.
  • Mossy Forest Boardwalk - Often a good place to meet new people.
  • Plantation Teahouses – The teahouses are popular with some lesbians.
  • Bala's Holiday Chalet – This is a good place to meet people, with delicious scones and hot tea.

Cameron Highlands Outdoor

  • Cameron Highlands Butterfly Farm – This farm has a splendid collection of beautiful butterflies.
  • Kok Lim Strawberry Farm – This farm allows you to pick your own 0.5kg container of strawberries.
  • Ee Feng Gu Honey Bee Farm – If you have ever wanted to see a working apiary, this is your chance.
  • Fathers Guest House – A tour guide specialises in local nature tours.
  • Sg Puah Campsite – This is a great place to camp near Tanah Rata.

Cameron Highlands Sport

  • Play 18 holes of golf at the Cameron Highlands Golf Club, which is challenging.
  • Use the Hiking Trail 9 to see some splendid scenery.
  • Travel the Hiking Trail 10 to see parts of the Mossy Forest.
  • Go jungle trekking to see beautiful jungle scenery.
  • Hike the Mt Brinchang Jungle Trail to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Cameron Highlands.

Cameron Highlands Local

The area that demarcates the Cameron Highlands is about half the size of Greater London and is home to less than 40,000 people. Three townships and five settlements comprise the area as a whole.

Ringlet represents little more than a pit stop on the way to cooler, altitudinal recesses of the Cameron Highlands. The small town is emblematic of lowland Peninsular haunts and is a vital node in the flower and vegetable trade.

Tanah Rata translates as “flat ground”, which, in light of what motivates most to visit the highlands, seems like a negative. Yet the most populous town in the Cameron Highlands is a popular base from which to set off and explore the region. Inns, hostels and hotels abound here.

Brinchang is the second-most popular town of record with tourists to the Cameron Highlands and especially notable because of a weekend and holiday night market. A good gateway to Mossy Forest treetop walks.

Bertam Valley, close to Ringlet, is rife with agricultural activity throughout the year. From the top exporter of carnations in the world to swaths of bird of paradise by the roadside, the area bursts with colour.

The tiny village of Kea Farm is awash with fruit, flower and vegetable stalls and sits atop the Cameron Highlands. The vantage point is spectacular and nearby mountain forays reward visitors with abundant photogenic scenery.

Tringkap, some 8 km from Brinchang, is a significant producer of honey, roses, fruit and vegetables. Highlights include Rose Valley, Fragrance Nursery, Kok Lim Strawberry Farm, Ee Feng Gu Honey Bee Farm and Boh Sungai Palas Tea Estate.

Kampung Kuala Terla has experienced a wave of precipitous growth since the completion of the Second East-West Highway in 2004. The small town is primarily a collection of small farmsteads.

Kampung Raja was built in 1980 when the construction of a dam outside of Ringlet necessitated the relocation of villagers. The town has since grown to include many fine accommodations and restaurants for visitors on holiday in the Cameron Highlands.

Cameron Highlands Eat & Drink

As the veritable garden and orchard of Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands is profuse with the ingredients and products that make for memorable food experiences. Visitors can have it in a variety of ways, from humble farmhouse kitchens to restaurants with white linen finery, hillside cafés to roadside markets.

The Lord’s Café (Tanah Rata) is a casual spot for afternoon tea - try the strawberry scones - or lunch.

Restoran Bunga Suria (Tanah Rata) has excellent South Indian staples, from dosas to a wide range of veg options.

Restoran Ferm Nyonya (Tanah Rata) serves exactly that - authentic Nyonya cuisine - to straved, appreciative Highlands trekkers.

Merryganic (Brinchang) is a wholesome haven of organic fare from the immediate area.

Jasmine Café (Tanah Rata) has been a reliable Cameron Highlands bet since the 1990s and features well-made Western classics.

Zainab Sam (Tanah Rata) is the prime place to be in the Cameron Highlands for delicious Malay cuisine. Affordable and service with a smile.

Golden Win Restoran (Brinchang) is a wildy popular Chinese restaurant with good hot pot/steamboat meals.

Jungle Bar (Tanah Rata)is open until 2 a.m., with pool, darts, music and live Premier League telecasts.

Restoran Sri Brinchang (Tanah Rata) serves some of the best banana leaf specials, tandoori, naan and clay pot chicken in the Cameron Highlands.

Travelers Bistro & Pub (Tanah Rata)serves a good draught and is the only pub of note in the Cameron Highlands.

Cameron Highlands Events

Events in the Cameron Highlands hinge largely on the arrival and departure of the harvest seasons. At one point in time, the area did host a Flora & Fruit Festival in early June but, alas, that no longer seems to be the case.

While there are no festivals of note per se, visitors can take part in a wide range of activities. Rainforest and mountain treks, in particular, draw huge interest and offer unparalleled glimpses of the highlands at their most virginal.

Markets and farms provide opportunites to commune with the region’s agricultural bounty. From strawberries to vegetables of all shapes, colours and sizes, visitors can self-pick and indulge at their leisure.

Tea plantations evoke a colonial air of nostalgia and provide a thorough education on the all-important Cameron Highlands crop.

Cameron Highlands Golf Course is always available to those who want to tee off in a tropical milieu. The course rents clubs and equipment and has reasonable walk-in fees.

When To Go

The appeal of the Cameron Highlands, since colonial times, has always been the cooler, mountain conditions and lush rainforest setting. This undeniable factor is still at play today, as domestic and foreign tourists alike flee torrid urban enclaves in the lowlands for a refreshing hit of hill resort air.

With that, the temperature rarely creeps above 77°F (25°C) in the highlands and nightly lows can dip to a chilly 50°F (10°C). The primary wet season is from May to September. While heavy downpours usually last two hours, at most, they can cause significant damage in the form of landslides and the like. Obviously, appropriate attire for hot, cold and wet conditions is a must.

Getting Around

The main points of entry to the Cameron Highlands are Tapah or Simpang Pulai, both in the state of Perak, via the North-South Expressway. From the former, Ringlet is the first town, while Kampung Raja is the first stop from the Simpang Pulai route.

Tanah Rata, in the middle of the Highlands, is about 110 km from Ipoh and 205 km from Kuala Lumpur.

Bus service to the Highlands is available from Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

What To Miss

With the exception of the top ten above, avoid cafés and restaurants in the Cameron Highlands that serve Western and European-style cuisine. Overall, they have a poor track record. Stick to kitchens that lean Malay, Chinese and South Indian.

Waterfall tour operators in the Cameron Highlands have an equally shady reputation. If the decidedly undramatic cascades in the area interest you, try to make the trip on your own, sans guide.

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Copthorne Hotel Cameron Highlands (formerly known as Equatorial Cameron Highlands)
Reviewer score
3.6
out of 53 Reviews
Kea Farm Brinchang Cameron Highlands Pahang 39100

To experience this ultimate mountain getaway within a refreshing difference, the Copthorne Hotel Cameron Highlands (fo... More hotel details

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Cameron Highlands Resort Pahang
Reviewer score
4.6
out of 51 Reviews
Tanah Rata Cameron Highlands Pahang 39000

Whether it is a weekend retreat or longer stay, Cameron Highlands Resort Pahang provides quality accommodation and pro... More hotel details

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Century Pines Resort Cameron Highlands
Reviewer score
4.4
out of 54 Reviews
Lot 42 Jalan Majid Pahang Tanah Rata Cameron Highlands 39000

Century Pines Resort Cameron Highlands provides quality accommodation and professional services for an enjoyable vacat... More hotel details

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Star Regency Hotel & Apartments Cameron Highlands
Reviewer score
0
out of 50 Reviews
MDCH 39 Jalan Besar Brinchang 39100

Providing comfortable accommodations in an accessible location, Star Regency Hotel & Apartments Cameron Highlands make... More hotel details

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