From Penang many tourists will visit the Cameron Highlands. We only went for two nights and a day, but it is a pretty long journey so plan ahead. Buses from Penang to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands take about five hours with inevitable delays. If you have the time then getting up to the hill station and enjoying some respite from the heat is worthwhile. You can organise your bus ticket online at Express Bus Malaysia.
The two main towns where the majority of accommodation in the Cameron Highlands is based – Tanah Rata and Brinchang – are not particularly nice. They are made up of mainly mock Tudor style buildings, which are nice, but the surrounding oversized hotel buildings really detract from the area. However, one doesn’t go the Cameron Highlands for the towns, but for the beautiful scenery and walks that surround them.
As with most of our travel we were not particularly organised in planning and getting up to the Cameron Highlands so we missed out on the chance to join a group tour of the area, but this turned out to be a blessing. After reading about some of the organised tours and how they tend to visit very busy locations such as the Butterfly and Strawberry farms, we decided we would just see the Mossy Forest and the Boh Tea Plantation – two free and less crowded locations.
We decided to get a taxi to the Boh Tea plantation from Brinchang and then walk up to the Mossy Forest from there. It was about an hour walk, but on a very steep incline. There is a boardwalk through the Mossy Forest, which makes for a nice change from the road up. It is full of stairs though so don’t go expecting a rest after your walk! The taxi to the Boh Tea Plantation from Birchang should cost you 25myr so haggle with the driver if he tries to charge you more.
The Boh Tea Plantation is a great place to stop for a rest and a cup of tea after your walk. There is a big café with a veranda overlooking the tea plantation, a delightful place to relax and breathe in the fresh air of your surroundings. You can also walk freely around the tea plantation and there is a small museum like set up for you to learn about the history of the Boh family and their tea plantation.
Accommodation in the Cameron Highlands
We chose a hotel that was in Brinchang, not Tanah Rata – where the Cameron Highlands bus station is located. This is a smaller town in the highlands and as such is quieter with less food options. However, we enjoyed staying there and found everything that we needed. In hindsight it appears we could have asked the bus to drop us off and pick us up in Brinchang, but we didn’t know this before so ended up getting taxis to and from the Tanah Rata bus station.
Parkland Hotel: I considered this to be a good find, particularly as the Cameron Highlands appears to be either dorms or expensive hotels as opposed to affordable private rooms. Our room cost 100myr a night, which is starting to creep up by Asia standards, but was worth it for comfort. We ended up with a double and single bed and private bathroom all of which was very clean and comfortable. Air-conditioning is not required in the already cool Cameron Highlands.
Food in Brinchang
Cactus View Steamboat Restaurant: Steamboats are hugely popular in the Cameron Highlands and are a nice interactive way to eat. You have a big hot pot/BBQ placed on the table and are given a huge selection of meat, fish and vegetables to cook yourself. It is a really fun way to eat and a good way to get in some basic meat and vegetables. It cost us just 50myr for two people including Chinese tea.
J-Tea Café: If you’re staying at the Parkland Hotel this is a great place for breakfast. They do good egg based breakfast sets, but for me the stand out was a nice big salad. I ordered mine with both chicken and egg, which was a good way to get in some gluten free protein at our first meal of the day.
Boh Tea Plantation: Go here for the drinks and the amazing view over the tea plantation. There is no gluten free food available but the variety of hot and cold teas are very good.
The Cameron Highlands is a beautiful place to escape the oppressive Malaysian heat for a day or two if you have the time. This was our final stop in Malaysia before we decided the prices were getting a bit too steep and we just missed Thailand. Stay tuned for more travel articles including my tips for India coming soon.