The Cameron Highlands are situated over 5,000 feet above sea level on the main mountain range of Malaysia and is famously known for it’s nature based tourist attractions and many lush green tea plantations (70% of all the country’s tea is produced here).
The area has a much cooler climate than the rest of Malaysia and has many fantastic hiking trails, strawberry farms and a wide variety of flora and fauna. You will also spot evidence of Cameron Highlands colonial history with several quaint English tudor style houses dotted around.
Here is our ultimate guide to the best Cameron Highlands attractions and our top travel tips.
Best time to visit Cameron Highlands
The best time of year to visit the Cameron Highlands is between the months of February and September when the temperatures are most pleasant. Rain is frequent throughout the year but at its heaviest during the monsoon season which is between November and February, and at its driest between February and April.
If possible make sure you avoid visiting the Cameron Highlands during weekends and school/national holidays – many locals flock here to escape the heat from the cities, and attractions become very hard to reach due to huge traffic jams.
We would recommend staying a minimum of 2 nights here so that you aren’t rushing around trying to see as many Cameron Highlands attractions in a short space of time. If you are very time limited then you can visit Cameron Highlands on an organised day trip from Kuala Lumpur >
How to get to Cameron Highlands
There is no airport or train station near the Cameron Highlands so the best way to reach there is by road. There are several direct services from Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, and good connections to most major cities on the west coast.
Approximate bus journey times and costs:
- From Kuala Lumpur: approx 4 hours (from 35 MYR)
- From Ipoh: approx 2 hours (from 20 MYR)
- From Georgetown, Penang: approx 6 hours (from 35 MYR)
Check 12Go Asia below for the best fares and book well in advance as routes do sell out:
The roads on the bus journey to Cameron Highlands can be a bit windy so if you usually get a bit queasy then remember to bring your motion sickness pills. Most buses will drop passengers off at the main bus station in the town of Tanah Rata.
If you do not fancy taking a public bus and have some cash to splash then you can book a private transfer between Cameron Highlands and Kuala Lumpur >
Getting around the Cameron Highlands
Whilst the main towns of Tanah Rata and Brinchang are walkable, most of the Cameron Highlands attractions are spread over a large area and public transport is almost non existent. To get around you will either need your own transport, book onto a group or private tour, or hire a taxi.
Scooter rental can be arranged through agencies in town and will cost around 50 MYR for half a day hire (5 hours) and 80 MYR for a full day (10 hours). Car rental is available too but it is probably a lot cheaper and easier to hire a taxi instead.
Grab taxis are not available in the Cameron Highlands but you can hire a local taxi to visit a few attractions for around 25 MYR per hour (for a minimum of three hours). The taxi terminal is located next to the main bus terminal or you can ask your hotel to arrange one for you. One way taxi fares between Brinchang and Tanah Rata towns are a fixed fare at 10 MYR.
If you want to see as many Cameron Highlands attractions as possible in one day then there are a variety of companies that offer cheap group day tours for around 80 MYR per person. There are several ticket offices in Tanah Rata town so our tip is to stop by a few of them to pick up their brochures, and then compare the different itineraries before making a decision.
We found some of the attractions on our day trip a little disappointing so you do get what you pay for. Read more about our cheap day tour in Cameron Highlands >
What to pack for the Cameron Highlands
You will need to pack for all weather conditions when visiting the Cameron Highlands. It is warm during the daytime so you will most likely be wearing shorts and t-shirts, but by evening the temperatures will drop (especially during the rainy season) so you will need a light jacket and trousers.
It also rains a lot so make sure you add a waterproof jacket or umbrella, plus some sturdy shoes to your Southeast Asia packing list if you plan to go hiking.
Cameron Highlands accommodation
There are two large towns in Cameron Highlands located about six kilometres apart – Tanah Rata and Brinchang. We recommend staying in Tanah Rata as it has the most budget accommodation options, a good variety of restaurants and the main bus station.
We stayed at the Tudor-style Heritage Hotel for 4 nights in one of their cheapest rooms which was comfortable, large and had a balcony. The room cost £45 (225 MYR) per night during the month of February and is just a few minutes walk into town.
Here are some other highly rated accommodation suggestions for all types of budget in the Cameron Highlands:
BUDGET – Traveller Bunker Hostel
Highly rated hostel located a short walk from restaurants in Tanah Rata with cheap private capsule dormitory style rooms.
BUDGET – Fathers Guest House
Hostel located a 5-minute walk from the bus station in Tanah Rata with private capsule dormitory accommodation and friendly staff.
BUDGET – Sleepbox Hotel Cameron Highlands
Hostel with luxury sleeping pods, outdoor terrace and tour / transport ticketing desk.
MID RANGE – Copthorne Hotel
Affordable Tudor-styled resort accommodation with indoor pool, fitness centre and restaurants
MID RANGE – Arundina Cameron Highlands
Clean and comfortable hotel located a 3-minute walk to the town centre of Tanah Rata.
LUXURY – Cameron Highlands Resort
Five star hotel set in a colonial building with sweeping views of the golf course and surrounding hills. Facilities include an in-house spa, restaurant and bar.
LUXURY – The Lakehouse
Charming country house inspired by English heritage surrounded by beautiful gardens with large rooms featuring wooden ceiling beams and four-poster beds.
LUXURY – Smokehouse Hotel
English cottage-style accommodation with views of its award-winning gardens. Facilities include an onsite restaurant that serves traditional English breakfast and a luxury afternoon tea on the outdoor terrace.
Cameron highlands attractions
Tanah Rata town
Tanah Rata is a great place to base yourself and has most of the budget accommodation options. Everything is centred around one main street and has banks, ATMs, grocery shops, restaurants, and travel agencies. The town itself is nothing special and looks a bit rundown and shabby, but you will most likely be spending your evenings here after a day of sightseeing.
Brinchang is the other main town in the Cameron Highlands and is a 10 minute drive north of Tanah Rata. If you happen to be visiting on a weekend then check out the night markets held every Friday and Saturday night. You’ll find stalls selling local produce, street food and souvenirs.
Visit the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands
No visit to Cameron Highlands is complete without visiting a tea plantation. Most of the tea estates are owned by BOH which is the largest black tea manufacturer in Malaysia, and the most impressive one is the BOH Sungai Palas Tea Centre.
We visited Sungai Palas Boh Tea Estate as part of our group day tour. BOH is located 15 minutes north of Tanah Rata and their plantation spans over 465 hectares. You can enjoy a cuppa on the outdoor terrace with stunning panoramic views of the tea fields, take a tour around their factory, view an exhibition of BOH’s history or browse the gift shop where you can buy some BOH teas to take back home. The estate is open to the public Tuesday – Sunday.
Other tea plantations you can visit if you have time include Bharat Tea Plantations and Cameron Valley Tea Houses 1 and 2.
Visit a strawberry farm
Because of the cooler climate, the Cameron Highlands is the centre of strawberry production in Malaysia. There are many strawberry farms located in the area and most will allow you to pick your own and charge you according to the weight. Alternatively you can purchase a punnet of them for a set price, along with jars of strawberry jam, strawberry ice cream and strawberry juice.
Popular farms include Big Red Strawberry Farm, Kok Lim Strawberry Farm and Raju Hill Strawberry Farm.
The Butterfly Garden is one of the most popular attractions in Cameron Highlands and a great thing to do if visiting with kids. You get to see large and colourful butterflies up close in a landscaped conservatory filled with flowers and greenery. There is also a mini zoo and flower garden on-site which are not really worth visiting.
Go jungle trekking
There are 14 different colour-coded hiking trails with various levels of difficulty that either start or end in Tanah Rata town. Most of the trails will take you through tea plantations, past waterfalls and offer incredible panoramic views of the Titiwangsa Mountains.
Because of the frequent rain, some of the routes can be closed because the trail is prone to landslides so check with the staff at your hotel or guesthouse. Most of the trails can be walked independently but the more difficult ones can be steep and poorly maintained, and there have also been accounts of robberies reported, so for safety reasons we would recommend doing a hike on a guided tour >
Before you set off on a hike make sure to pack water, sturdy shoes, a waterproof jacket, insect repellent, hat and sunscreen. Also download the app Maps Me if hiking independently as mobile phone reception can be poor.
Visit the Mossy Forest
The Mossy Forest is one of the oldest in the world (around 200 million years old) and due to its immense height above sea-level, low-level clouds in the sky blanket the forests with moisture (and sometimes mist) creating the perfect conditions for ferns, lichen, moss and orchids. A 2km pedestrian boardwalk takes you through the forest and there is a lookout tower with amazing views of the surrounding area.
Explore the Time Tunnel Museum
The Time Tunnel Museum is located in Brinchang and is a quirky exhibition of over 4,000 vintage objects and photographs giving you an interesting insight into the history of the Cameron Highlands from the 1950s to 1990s. It feels a little bit like a bric a brac shop but there are a few nice photo opportunities in the basement area. This is a great thing to do on a rainy day and the entry fee is 6 MYR.
Shop at the Cactus Valley
The Cactus Valley is walkable from Brinchang town and is a newly built botanical attraction/shop with numerous types of cactus, flowers and ornamental plants on show. We visited as past of an organised day tour and it was nice to have a look around, but think it might be a bit difficult to take anything home as a souvenir!
Visit Sam Poh Temple
This is the largest Buddhist structure in the Cameron Highlands and located on a small hilltop behind Brinchang town. This serene and peaceful temple houses a large statue of Lord Buddha, dragon statues and hand-painted ceramic tiles.
The temple can be reached on the number 2 hiking trail and is also on many of the group day tour itineraries. Entrance into Sam Poh Temple is free.
Kea Farm area
About 3km north of Brinchang is a small agricultural district with a large roadside market, some grocery stores and restaurants. The market sells fresh fruit and veg, along with some very cheap toy and souvenir stalls. The other attraction here is the ‘Kea Garden’, a ‘sensory’ experience (their words) where you can pose with pictures in a huge plastic garden (with massive oversized fruit) as soft music plays and bubbles blow all around you – 1 MYR entry).
Where to eat in Cameron Highlands
There is a great choice of cuisine available with everything from Western, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese and Malay food. Most restaurants are located in Tanah Rata and Brinchang towns – here are some dining recommendations:
British style tea and scones
If you are looking for a fancy experience then head to the Jim Thompson Tea Room inside the 5 star Cameron Highlands Resort, which has charming English colonial decor. Their English Afternoon Tea includes a three-tier selection of mini pastries, sandwiches and fresh strawberries and is available daily from 3pm-6pm, costing 75 MYR per person.
Alternatively head to Old Smoke House – another charming and historic hotel that does a tea and scones set for just 25 MYR in an outdoor English garden setting.
If you are on a budget then The Lord’s Cafe in Tanah Rata sells a really delicious cream scone set for a bargain price of 2.50 MYR. This charming little cafe feels a bit like your grandma’s house and is open Monday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm. Scones usually sell out by mid afternoon and we also recommend trying their delcious mango lassi.
There are a handful of Indian restaurants in Tanah Rata but we recommend the highly rated family owned Restoran Sri Brinchang. Their Southern Indian cuisine is extremely cheap and delicious, and dishes include authentic banana leaf curry, tandoori chicken and roti canai.
Chinese steamboat meals are the most popular cuisine in Cameron Highlands and many restaurants in Tanah Rata and Brinchang offer this. A pot of flavoured soup is heated by charcoal and fire, and diners can add their choice of raw ingredients to the simmering pot such as as chicken, thinly sliced beef, vegetables, mushroom, fishballs, tofu, noodles and seafood. Once cooked the contents are scooped out into bowls and eaten with a dipping sauce.
The restaurants Kwan Kee, You Hoo and OK Tuck serve the best charcoal steamboat and prices start from 28 MYR per person. Note if you are visiting during a weekend then you will need to make a reservation in advance for any of the steamboat restaurants.
SIM cards and pocket WIFI
Having data on your phone whilst travelling is almost essential these days – from planning your route around the city, booking a Grab taxi or for staying connected with friends and family back home. SIM cards are pretty cheap in Malaysia with generous data allowances and are available to purchase from airports, malls and convenience stores (bring your passport along for identification purposes).
You can also prepay online and collect a SIM from Kuala Lumpur KLIA2 airport. Just remember to make sure your phone is not locked to your local network provider before purchasing one.
Alternatively if you do not want to change your SIM card then renting a pocket WIFI device might be for you. We’ve used them multiple times and love that we can both connect our devices to it, however the downside to the Malaysian ones is that there is a data allowance of 1GB per day. Pre-order one online with Klook for collection when you arrive at either KLIA or KLIA2 airport in Kuala Lumpur.
Other Malaysia blog posts
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- Cruising in Langkawi – a ‘spirited’ sunset adventure
- Tasting Malaysian cuisine on a Kuala Lumpur food tour
- Exploring Langkawi’s Mangrove flora and fauna
- Island hopping in Langkawi
- Exploring Kuala Lumpur from above – KL Tower and Eco Forest Park