Cameron Highlands is a hill station located in the northwestern tip of the state of Pahang, Malaysia.
Cameron was ‘founded’ by William Cameron in 1885 on one of his mapping expedition. The gentle slopes and plateau land (and possibly the highland climate) made it a prime area for development into a resort for the British. Development however only formally started in 1925.
Prior to that, Cameron Highlands was dense jungle occupied by the jungle natives. While their lifestyle is still primitive, they have slowly learnt to tap on the tourism economy.
Today Cameron Highlands is one of the 11 administrative divisions of Pahang as well as a well known resort getaway, thriving on both local agriculture and tourism. It has three townships – Ringlet, Tanah Rata and Brinchang and five settlements.
Sights & Activities
1. Pick your own fresh strawberries – Cameron Highlands is famous for its strawberries. Strawberries are one of the staple local produce that keeps drawing tourists from tropical climates. Pick your own juicy red strawberries and feast on them in your hotel. However they will need special packing if it is for the journey home.
2. Enjoy breathtaking views of a tea plantation – Tea is planted on the slopes of the highland and creates a stunning vista. Even if you are not a connoisseur of tea, you will enjoy a cuppa overlooking the valley and have a go at plucking tea leaves on the steep slopes. No joke.
3. Take a hike or drive up to Gunung Brinchang – At 2032 metres above sea level, Gunung Brinchang is one of the only few summits you can actually drive up to. Talk about taking a short cut. Up here, there is a lookout tower you can climb but the view is obscured by clouds that probably permeate the area all year long. En route, you can also stop by the ethereal Mossy Forest with its stunted trunks and moss covered ground.
4. Experience the night market – On weekend nights, the road further uphill of Brinchang is transformed into a night market where you can purchase all kinds of local fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. The atmosphere is really energizing as you don’t often find a pasar malam that doesn’t make you perspire.
You can either take a hair raising coach ride uphill or downhill or you’ll have to go with your own private transport.
For the coach, you can purchase the tickets from the Pudu bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur, preferably at least one day in advance.
The coach will drop you at Tanah Rata after a 3 to 4-hour journey. To get from Tanah Rata to Brinchang, you can grab a local taxi.
With your own private transport, there are two gateways to Cameron Highlands – Tapah or Simpang Pulai.
Whether you’re coming from KL in the south or Ipoh to the north, I would highly recommend Simpang Pulai as the ascent is more palatable.
When I was returning to KL via Tapah, I became nauseous because of the extremely windy descent. The only highlight downhill is a brief stop at Lata Kinjang waterfall.