With its cool air, lush hillscape and touch of colonial nostalgia, Cameron Highlands lures both locals and globetrotters to this weekend wonderland. Here is a comprehensive list of things to do in the highlands, from the not-to-be-missed activities, to uniquely local favorites. Keep this for your next trip!
1. Visit the tea plantation
No visit to Cameron Highlands is complete without visiting the vast tea plantations. Thanks to its fertile valleys and cool climate, the British realised that this was ideal for planting tea, even developing the area into a hill resort in 1925. Now, it is the leading tea-growing region in Malaysia.
It’s easy to imagine yourself in a different country as you stand in the middle of this majestic sea of green. Rustling tea leaves form Mexican waves with every brush of the wind. Some of the usual haunts include the BOH Tea Plantation, Bharat Tea Plantation and Boh Sungai Palas Tea Centre. Be sure to take photos and have a cuppa while you are here.
2. Eat lavender ice cream at the Lavender Garden
Malaysians don’t get to see lavenders often, so this garden is an opportunity to admire lavender blooms, as well as other colorful flowers. If you have seen lavenders abroad, then you might find the garden smaller than expected.
There is a café selling lavender or strawberry soft serve ice cream, coffee, tea and little snacks. The entrance fee is RM10 for adults.
3. Pluck fresh strawberries
Cameron Highlands is one of the only places in Malaysia that grows strawberries all year round. When this dainty fruit is in season from May to August, you are allowed to enter the farm and pluck your own strawberries. You would want to try them fresh off the farm, with a dollop of cream on the side. Strawberry is also in everything here, from ice cream to jam, milk shake, juice, waffles and even strawberry with chocolate fondue – an absolutely delight if you are a fan of strawberries.
Well-known strawberry farms you can add to your list include Big Red Strawberry Farm, Kok Lim Strawberry Farm and Raju Hill Strawberry Farm.
4. Smell the roses in a rose garden
If you can’t get enough of flowers, take a stop to smell the roses at Brinchang and Tanah Rata. The Rose Centre and Mrs. Robertson’s Rose Garden are some of these gardens. The enchanting rose terraces feature over 100 types of delicate blossoms, peppered with decorative sculptures across a scenic trail. A lovely spot for photos!
5. Adopt a cactus
Apart from fresh fruits and vegetables, many people choose to buy plants home as souvenirs. Even if you aren’t big on gardening, you have to agree that cacti are relatively easy to take care of. The cacti collection displayed at Cactus Valley and Cactus Point come in all shapes and sizes, so you can choose the right gift for yourself or a friend.
6. Go back in time at the Time Tunnel Museum
One of the arguably most interesting museums you can find in Malaysia can be found in Cameron Highlands. The Time Tunnel Museum pays homage to local culture and bygone times through over 1,000 artefacts, photographs and memorabilia.
The best part is that it’s interactive as much as it is educational. You are welcome to pose with the props as you order a drink in an old kopitiam, run your grandmother’s kitchen, or ride a vintage motorcycle.
7. See colourful butterflies at the Butterfly Farm
The Butterfly Farm is one of the oldest and most popular attractions in Cameron Highlands. Its living collection of butterflies flutter around a landscaped garden filled with flowers and greenery, while beetles and other exotic insects are also exhibited in the enclosure. It’s a good place to put on your list if you have children.
8. Visit Sam Poh Temple
Located in Brinchang, Sam Poh Temple is the largest Buddhist temple complex on the highlands. It is as peaceful as the hill it rests upon, flaunting an intricately-designed architecture, dragon statues and hand-painted ceramic tiles. Entrance into Sam Poh Temple is free.
9. Indulge in afternoon tea at Jim Thompson Tea Room
Nestled amidst rolling hilltop landscapes and a golf course is the Jim Thompson Tea Room. Their afternoon tea set is popular amongst guests, and comes with a three-tier selection of mini pastries, sandwiches and fresh strawberries. Their scones are served fresh from the oven, with clotted cream and delicious homemade strawberry jam – a must try to experience that English colonial charm.
10. Hike up Mount Brinchang
Hiking enthusiasts or anyone up for an adventure should attempt to go up Mount Brinchang. You can either follow the trail through the jungle, which takes roughly 3 hours to get to the peak. The hike itself is moderately challenging, so it would be good to have a guide with you, as you get to learn about the flora along the way as well.
As you make your way to the top of Mount Brinchang, you’ll enter the Mossy Forest, which is when you realize why people often describe it as a fantasy forest.
There is also a road leading upwards if you choose to go by car, although you would have to be extra careful if it happens to be foggy.
11. Explore the mysterious Mossy Forest
This natural reserve is so surreal and unique, it deserves a part of its own! Not many people know about this emerald jewel, which serves as a rich habitat for exotic plants like the pitcher plants, ferns and medicinal herbs. Carpeted by a thick layer of moss, you’ll probably feel like you are stepping into the Middle Earth of Malaysia. The fantasy-like attraction is also where the Malaysian film, Puteri Gunung Ledang, was supposedly filmed.
12. Visit the Sri Thendayuthapani Swami Temple
Built by early Indian settlers, it is the largest Hindu temple in Cameron Highlands. Along the walls of the temple and up the main stairway, there are vibrant figurines depicting various Hindu deities.
13. Get into local life at a night market
Enjoy the cool breeze as you walk down Tanah Rata Night Market or Brinchang Night Market. You can find local produce, street food and souvenirs here – all the better (and cheaper) if you can put your bargaining skills to the test.
14. Buy fresh produce from the Kea Farm Market
This open market is a hotspot for those looking for fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers. Locals would shop here during weekends, especially on the last day of their trip. That way, they can have fresh produce when they reach home.
15. Shop at Cameron Square
You would hardly think that there would be a shopping mall here, but Cameron Square is the first and only on the highlands, now proving to be popular with local and international tourists. While you would not expect it to have crowds like in the city, it has many retail outlets, cafes and eateries.
16. Play golf at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Golf Club
If playing golf is your idea of a leisure getaway, you might want to check out the Sultan Ahmad Shah Golf Course. Tucked between Brinchang and Tanah Rata, this 18-hole course is the only one you can find in Cameron Highlands. With the chilly air, it certainly makes you feel like you are in a different continent.
17. Visit the Mah Meri Art Gallery
The Mah Meri is an ancient tribe that lives in Pulau Carey, Selangor. In Cameron Highlands, their impeccable craftsmanship in woodcarving is exhibited at the Mah Meri Art Gallery, Tanah Rata. Many of these masks and wooden sculptures have been awarded the UNESCO Seal of Excellence.
Read next: Lost Village of Malysia’s Ancient Tribe
18. Chill at the Lata Iskandar Waterfall
Visible from the main road, the Lata Iskandar Waterfall rests within a well-known park on the way to Cameron Highlands from Tapah. Visitors drop by for a dip into the pool, next to a stream of refreshing water that cascades down several tiers. There are several food stalls and craft vendors close to the attraction.
19. Visit an aboriginal village
On the way towards Cameron Highlands, there is an Orang Asli village from the Semai tribe. Known for their shifting cultivation and blowpipe hunting technique, they have chosen to stay in the jungle and continue practising their traditions. There are guides who can bring you into the village and learn about their cultures.
20. Have a steamboat dinner
Don’t be shocked when you quiz Malaysians on what to do in Cameron Highlands, and they reply that they only have a steamboat dinner planned.
This is common for Malaysians who want a quick break with friends somewhere close by. Some book a steamboat restaurant in town. Others bring a steamboat kit up, get some raw ingredients from the local market, and have a DIY feast in the apartment. It really warms you up in the cooling highlands!
So here it is – our guide to Cameron Highlands! There are many things to do in and around this natural gem in Pahang, but there’s a better way to see it. Why not have a local bring you around and experience it like a local? Look for a local guide and fun experience in Cameron Highlands on LokaLocal.