Highlands is Malaysia's premier hill resort. Located in the state of
Pahang, on the Main Range of Peninsular Malaysia, at 1524m above sea
level, it is the largest of the Malaysian hill resorts. Much of its
appeal lies in the neat sprawling tea plantations which date back to
1929, as well as terraced flower gardens, strawberry farms, orchads and
Being a popular hill resort, Cameron Highlands is well-developed with
visitor amenities, tourist attractions, activities and a range of
accommodation for a comfortable, leisurely holiday in cool invigorating
Centuries ago, the dense jungle-clad mountainous terrain of the Main
Range of Peninsular Malaysia was home to the indigenous aboriginal
people called the orang asli, living on nature's sustenance found within
the rich jungle preserve. In 1885, William Cameron, a British surveyor
in the government service, went on an exploratory expedition of the
mountain range for map-making of the Perak/Pahang Border. He reported a
'fine plateau shut in by lofty mountains'. However, it was only inearly
1920s, when the bridle path up the mountain was improved that led to the
development of a hill station.
The cool climate which never ranged more than 20?c, along with its
fertile soil also attracted a young British resident, John Archibald
Russell, who saw the potential of tea as an important cash crop in
Malaya. Large tracts of the highlands were acquired, and the virgin
jungle cleared for cultivation of tea bushes. Thus began Boh Estate, the
first highland tea plantation in the country. Subsequently, other tea
estates were opened, among them, the Blue Valley and Bharat plantations.
The highland was also found to be conducive for the commercial
cultivation of vegetables, flowers and fruits such as oranges and
The increasing popularity of the Cameron Highlands in recent years has
attracted the development of more tourism facilities and spots to cater
to the growing number of visitors.
To See and Do
Visitors are attracted to the Cameron Highlands largely for a change of
climate and pace. As such, activities are nature-based and relaxing with
a variety of activities and attractions to suit one's mood and level of
The Cameron Highlands consists of a series of little townships which
include Ringlet, Tanah Rata, Brinchang, Trinkap, Kuala Terla and Kampung
Raja. The total population is approximately 25,000, the majority of whom
are employed in agriculture and the leisure industry. The best tourist
amenities are sited in or around Tanah Rata but Brinchang is fast
catching up with a number of new apartments and restaurants.
Ringlet is the first township that one approaches on the route up the
highlands. It has often been bypassed by visitors in their hurry to get
to the summit.
Just after the township, about a kilometer away and perched atop the
hill on the left is The Lakehouse Hotel. Overlooking the Sultan Abu
Bakar Lake, the Tudor-style country house is an ideal place to savour
English tea and scones, or strawberry and cream. Built in 1972, the
25-room hotel is exquisitely furnished with antique décor, poster-beds
in the suites and has a cosy fireplace for relaxation. The hotel is also
well-known for its Continental fare.
Habu, just after Ringlet, is more a locality for the Habu Power Station
and the Sultan Abu Bakar Lake. Of interest to visitors passing through
this locality is the flower nursery, some fruit and vegetable stalls,
and the permission orchads that are an attraction during the fruiting
season from August to September. Shortly after Habu, on the right is a
narrow but scenic road that takes you to the Boh Tea Plantation, one of
the major tea plantations in Cameron Highlands. Northwards, a narrow
steep uphill path leads to the Robinson Power Station and the Robinson
Approximately 13km away from Ringlet is Tanah Rata, the main town of
Cameron Highlands. It has a population of about 7,000, mostly those
involved in the hospitality, food and service sectors.
The heart of the beguiling little town centers on Jalan Besar, the main
street. Flanked by a row of quaint shop houses on one side, the town has
a sense of warm communal atmosphere normally found in mountain hamlets.
The residents here exude friendly charm and courtesy and are generally
helpful to tourists. English is widely spoken, given the area's early
colonial history. It is very easy to feel comfortable and at peace with
oneself in this tranquil environment.
As the main town in the highlands, Tanah Rata is well-served by a range
of hotel accommodation, restaurants, shops, a post office, a hospital,
clinics, travel agencies, a tourist information center, a scenic public
garden, golf course, a bus station and a taxi stand.
All of these are within walking distance but taxis are available for
hire at RM18 per hour, for venturing beyond the town. For sight seeing,
you can book a half-day tour for approximately RM15 to RM30, depending
on your itinerary
The town center is a good base to begin your jungle trekking. There are
14 different trails of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty.
The montane forest of Cameron Highlands is ideal for birdwatching as it
hosts species such as Long-tailed Broadbill, Orange-bellied Leafbird,
Grey-chinned Minivet, and Silver-breasted Broadbill. For good sightings,
the longer trails which lead up to quiet peaks such as Gunung Beremban
and Gunung Jasar are best bets. Evenings and sunrise are ideal times to
see birds at their most active period.
About 3km north of Tanah Rata is Brinchang, the center of the highlands
'green produce'. Though it began its early days as a vegetable
gardeners' settlement, it has developed into another delightful
destination for tourists. It is situated on a slightly higher altitude
than Tanah Rata, and its surroundings are hills terraced by vegetable
farms, flower gardens and tea plantations. Here, a wide range of holiday
accommodation is available to visitors, ranging from hotels to
apartments and colonial bungalows.
Brinchang boasts the only golf course in the highlands. The18-hole'
par-71 Cameron Highlands Golf Course is quite challenging with tricky
greens, undulating fairways, thick rough, meandering streams and fine
sand bunkers. As rains are quite common in the afternoon, it is
advisable to play early in the morning. The Golf Course is open to the
public. Green Fees are RM40 on weekdays and RM60 on weekends or public
holidays. Caddy Fee is RM18.
Adjacent to the Cameron Highlands Golf Course is The Smokehouse Hotel,
an enchanting Tudor-style building built in 1937. The pretty boutique
hotel with latticed windows, wooden beams and furnished with interesting
antique artifacts has 13 lovely suites. English cuisines, including
cream teas are served. Its English country garden is especially a treat
to its guests.
Across the road, on the hills overlooking the Cameron Highlands Golf
Course are two strawberry farms where fresh luscious strawberries,
homemade jam and marmalade are on sale.
Sam Poh Buddhist Temple
Serving the large Chinese population that live in Brinchang is the Sam
Poh Buddhist Temple. The ornate Buddhist temple is built on a hill
A new elaborate temple serving the large Indian population, it is easily
located in Brinchang along the main road.
Located at Brinchang, this center is built on terraced grounds and
covered overhead with skylight roof. There is a variety of cactus
plants, some as old as 60 years. ON ground level are strawberry plants,
while on the upper levels are a profusion of blooms, cacti and even
apple trees. Tomatoes, cucumber, honey pears and strawberries are on
The biggest rose center in Cameron Highlands, Rose Center Kea Farm, is
located at Rose Valley Village in Brinchang. It has over 100 varieties
of roses growing on terraced ground. Sculptures, fountains, walkways and
pergolas are incorporated within the grounds making it a pleasant
experience for visitors. At the peak, one can get a panoramic view of
the surroundings. Souvenirs, fresh roses, pressed flowers and plants are
Fresh flowers are cultivated in the highlands and are a leading export.
Most of the flowers are grown in Brinchang. Flower nurseries can be
found located on the hilly inclines bordering the main road in Brinchang.
Bloom like roses, chrysanthemum, carnations, dalia, geranium and
'everlasting flowers' are grown at the nurseries. No visit to the
highlands is complete without purchasing some of these colorful cuts to
take back home.
There are several butterfly farms located conveniently near the main
road in Brinchang, Butterflies flit in a natural, simulated environment
of a tropical garden.
Look out for the black and shimmering green Raja Brooke butterflies.
Cameron Highlands is the nation's prime producer of fresh vegetables,
with some of the produce exported to neighbouring countries. Most of the
vegetable farms can be spotted from the road along Brinchang to
Tringkap. Cabbages, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, leeks, parsley and
peper are grown here. Purchases can be made at the vegetable stalls.
Vegetable stalls are a common sight along the roadside but for a wide
choice and freshness visit the Brinchang Market early in the morning.
Many visitors staying at bungalows and short-let apartments, in fact,
buy back an assortment of fresh vegetables for their next meal.
Beekeeping is a recent activity in the highlands and the only bee farm
is located at Brinchang, just after the Butterfly Farm. Honeycombs and
bottled honey are available for sale.
Palas Boh Tea Estate
One of the bigger tea plantations, guided tours are offered around the
factory to enable visitors an sight into the processing of tea. After
tour, visitors can sit out at the tea shop, overlooking the hills, and
enjoy tea and shortbread. A variety of tea, from Pekoe to
Cinnamon-flavoured ones is on sale.
Trinkap, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja are little settlements populated
by the local population who work various sectors in the highlands. They,
however, offer a glimpse into the daily lifestyle of the highland
village folk as they go about their activities.
Tea is influenced by its character, flavour and bouquet which is in turn
greatly influenced by the environmental conditions under which it is
The tea story in Cameron Highlands began in 1929 when a young British
resident, John Archibald Russell, saw the potential of the Highlands as
an ideal 'tea country' and sowed the seeds of a thriving tea industry.
Major tea plantations are Boh Tea Plantation, Sungai Palas Boh Tea
Estate, Bharat Tea Estate and Blue Valley Tea Estate.
Tea pickers begin their work on the hills well before sunrise, plucking
only the tender leaves of the tea bushes. The leaves are then weighed at
the hills before being transported to the factory for processing.
At the factory, moisture is reduced through a process which is known as
withering, thus stimulating the natural chemical reactions within are
vital for the tea's flavour.
The leaves are then rolled by machines called rotovans, setting free the
juices necessary for fermentation, a critical stage which develops the
flavour, aroma and characteristics of tea. Fermentation is halted when
the leaves are fed through hot-air machines. The drying process takes
about 10 minutes during which the leaves are turned into the crisp black
forms we are familiar with. The tea leaves are then graded according to
their particle size.
In recent years, the highland tea has been exotically flavoured with
oils, flowers, herbs and essences, of which the Songket brand has a
variety to choose from. They include flavours of vanilla, mint, orange,
lemon, passionfruit, cinnamon and cardamom. In all more than 3000 tea
varieties are available in the world of tea.
Highlands Flower Festival
Every year, in August/September, the popular highland resort celebrates
a Flower Fest that extols the colorful blooms and agricultural produce
of the highlands. Events include flower exhibitions, parades,
demonstrations, competitions, traditional cultural shows and cuisine.
Eating out is an enjoyable experience with a variety of food available
at Tanah Rata and Brinchang. Fine English food is offered at The
Lakehouse and Ye Old Smokehouse but many of the local restaurants do
serve up a decent English meal, breakfast or afternoon tea at
Chinese restaurants are favoured by locals for steamboat, a
'do-it-yourself' cook-in where a variety of raw meat, seafood and
vegetables are cooked in steaming hot soup. Indian restaurants are
plentiful, given the large Indian population. They serve a spicy, hearty
fare of rice and curries. There is also a number of Malay restaurants,
Moghul restaurants and a few vegetarian restaurants.
Nigh activities are limited to those offered by the hotel lounges.
However, most visitors to Cameron Highlands are quite contented to take
a stroll around the towns and soak in the relaxed atmosphere at the
Cameron Highlands offers a range of hotels, chalets and colonial
bungalows to suit one's preferences and budget.
Cameron Highlands, though located in the state of Pahang, is only
accessible via Tapah in the state of Perak. Access is from the
North-South Highway and the turning-off point is at the Tapah
Interchange No.132 where Route 59 leads to the resort in an ascending
series of twists and bends. The 60km route from Tapah to the resort is
interesting, passing aboriginal dwellings, scenic mountain views, and a
changing montane forest as one climbs up. At the 22km point is the
majestic Lata Iskandar Watrefall, a popular stop-over for motorists.
There are foodstalls and an orang asli handicraft center here. The
journey by road to Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lumpur takes about 4-5
There are 4 bus services, operated by Kurnia Bistari, departing from
Pudu Raya, Kuala Lumpur for Tanah Rata. The service starts at 9am and
the fare is RM10.10 one way.
From Tapah, the local bus leaves at hourly intervals for Tanah Rata and
the fare is RM3.70 one way.
Taxis do ply directly to Tanah Rata from Kuala Lumpur's Pudu Raya
Station. The fare is RM150 per taxi. From Tapah to Tanah Rata, the taxi
fare is RM40-60 per person.
The rail stop is at Tapah. From here, take the taxi or bus to Tanah