Last weekend I brought my family for a short trip to Cameron Highlands in Pahang. Cameron Highlands with its cool climate and beautiful rolling hills dotted with lush green tea plantations is a major tourist attraction for locals and foreigners alike.
There are 3 different ways to get to Cameron Highlands. The most popular one is through Tapah (exit 132 PLUS highway) using route 59 to Ringlet and then Tanah Rata. Another one is further north via the Simpang Pulai exit and visitors from the east coast can use the Gua Musang - Cameron Highlands road.
Coming south from Kuala Lumpur, I chose the quick and convenient Tapah route which took about 2 and a half hours drive. The road quickly goes uphill from Tapah along the small and narrow road hugging the hill slopes. Minor landslides is a normal occurrence round these hills but that doesn't seem to stop the vehicles including these lorries from speeding down these roads endangering people's life.
Along the way you will find the Lata Iskandar waterfall followed by Ringlet before arriving to Tanah Rata. Tanah Rata is located before Brinchang and it is a relatively smaller town too. However I find Tanah Rata to be a lot cleaner, better organized with more pleasant environment than the former. You can find dozens of shops and restaurants in the vicinity including a few banks and even a Starbucks outlet.
Brinchang is a little further north about 9 kilometers away from Tanah Rata. Maybe because of the permanent day & night market, Brinchang to me looked a lot cluttered and not very clean with rubbish strewn all over the place. That said, you can find a lot more shops, hotels and accommodation here compared to other places in Cameron Highlands.
There are many different types of accommodation available in Cameron Highlands, catering to different budgets and preferences. You can choose from Guesthouses, chalets, hotel rooms, apartments, bungalows and even an English cottage. We opted to rent an apartment within MARDI's Agrotechnology Park near Tanah Rata during our last trip.
Situated 5,000 feet above sea level, Cameron Highlands certainly is quite chilly especially during the evening. Temperature can drop down to 18°C at night. The same cannot be said during the day though because the temperature can go up to a steamy 28°C in the afternoon, thanks to global warming and deforestation of the surrounding area.
The three storey apartment comes with 3 rooms equipped with queen sized beds each, 2 bathrooms with hot water, living room with settees, Astro, a dining table and a kitchen area. There's no cooking stove here but there's no stopping you from being creative and bring along an induction cooker or two. The apartment is limited to 3 units only though and you'll need to book and pay for the deposit a few weeks in advance. Rental is only RM200 per night and you can call MARDI Agrotechnology Park at 05 4911255 for reservation or more info.
One advantage of staying at MARDI's apartment is you can just stroll along to the Agrotechnology park next door - free of charge (regular visitors is only charged RM1.50 anyway).
The agrotechnology park is a major agricultural research center for temperate fruits, vegetables and also tea, surrounded by beautiful flowery gardens some of which are also up for sale.
In the evening we visited Tanah Rata town for dinner. There's several mamak and western restaurants to choose from and there's Starbucks. In the end we stopped by Tanah Rata food court right in the middle of town and had dinner at Emida's Restaurant which served a reasonably good local food with competitive (read: acceptable) rates.
Next we went for a short drive to Brinchang town to do a little shopping at their famous night market. They have everything you'd expect to find in Cameron Highlands from souvenirs, fruits, vegetables, honey, strawberries and even more strawberry related souvenirs.
A visit to Cameron Highlands will not be complete without visiting any one of its famous tea plantation. For me I always wanted to visit Boh's tea plantation in Sungai Palas near Brinchang so that's where we headed on the second day.
The road to Sungai Palas tea plantation is really small and winding which can barely accommodate 2 vehicles passing at once.
At the center of the Boh Sungai Palas tea plantation you will find the Boh Tea Centre. Here you can learn about the history of Boh tea and tea plantation.
The walk up to the Tea Centre is only 200 meters and you can choose between the regular tarred road or using the planter's bush walk. The breath-taking scenery alone is enough to make your trip there truly worth your while.
You can also take a tour of the tea factory and learn more about tea processing.
Afterwards you can hang out the Tea' Ria for a cup of freshly brewed Boh tea best enjoyed with some scones, cheese cake or apple pie.
At 712 square kilometers, Cameron Highlands is quite a large area and you certainly won't be able to visit all the places of interest in a single weekend. So far I can say I had a really pleasant experience visiting Cameron Highlands for the first time. Shall I come back in the future? A definite yes!