Misty fresh climate with picturesque rolling hills, vast scenic tea plantations, plus terraced flower and vegetable farms; Cameron Highlands boasts a serene, peaceful getaway from the manic pace of city-life Kuala Lumpur or even cosmopolitan Singapore.
Selamat datang! Today I’ll take you through a relaxing weekend itinerary to Cameron Highlands, 3 hours drive north from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and/or 8 hours drive from Singapore. Cameron Highlands was named after Sir William Cameron, a surveyor and a Scott, who mapped out the area in 1885 for the British colonial government. At about 1,500 metres above sea level, it is set along a mountain plateau high above the river valley. Temperatures on this hillside fluctuate between 22-25° Celsius during the day and between 15-22° Celsius at night, making it easier than in the lowlands to jungle trek, camp and picnic. Nowadays, Cameron Highlands remains Malaysia’s largest and premier hill retreat for both local and international travelers, as well as a home to a plethora of agricultural farms and fresh produce.
This trip assumes group travel of four, car rental from Johor; souvenirs & personal expenses are not included.
Total damage to the Piggy Bank per person: MYR650 – MYR800 (USD$150-180)
MYR165 (USD$40) Car Rental for 3 days, per person
MYR20 (USD$5) Breakfast
MYR40 (USD$9) Lunch
MYR40 (USD$9) Dinner
MYR170 (USD$40) Accommodation at Parklands
MYR40 (USD$9) Lunch
MYR40 (USD$9) Dinner
MYR150 (USD$36) Petrol for 3 days, per person (approx)
MYR20 (USD$5) Tolls fees
HOW TO GET TO CAMERON HIGHLANDS FROM SINGAPORE?
If you are in group travel, I recommend engaging a rental car as it will make a super fun road trip. The down-side is the elongating hours of driving, as well as the curvy and winding road to Cameron Highlands, so do be careful if you are not used to driving in hilly mountain areas. We rent Proton via Europcar Johor Bahru for the whole 3 days totalling MYR650 (MYR163/person). The journey is mainly using the old Federal Route 59 departing south from Singapore.
There is an undeviating bus service available from Singapore to Cameron Highlands, and you can also avail the bus service from either Ipoh or Kuala Lumpur. The One Travel and Tours and Konsortium are two bus companies in Singapore that arrange buses to and from Singapore and Cameron Highlands on the daily basis. Konsortium bus ticket costs SGD 65 and the trip take about 8-9 hours. The Konsortium bus departs from the bus terminal at the Golden Mile tower in Singapore daily at 10:30 in the morning. The One Travel and Tours costs SGD 41.
Cameron Highlands is generally cool, albeit a little damp, year-round. The dry season runs from February to April. Monsoon season stretch from November to February. Festival highlights include the Highlands Harmonica Festival in July and the Flower Festival around August or September.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN CAMERON HIGHLANDS?
Motorcycles can be rented at some of the guest houses. Geared scooter bikes prices ranges from: 2 hours 20 RM, 5 hours 35 RM, 10 hours 50 RM. You have to show an international driving licence in order to ride.
One of the best ways to see the area is to walk. So ensure you stay at town centre for optimisation of exploring. In between places of interests though, walk may be inaccessible.
Best way to explore as most areas have good network of roads. Allows flexibility to visit places quicker and explore off-the beaten path.
48 HOURS ITINERARY IN A JIZZ!
0630-1200. En route Cameron Highland
1300-1500. Bharat Tea Plantation
1730-1900. Brinchang night market
2000-2400. Dinner, hotel
D A Y O N E
06.00-12.00 – Kuala Lumpur, En route Cameron Highlands
Departing at 2AM from Johor Bahru, we cruised our way through E2 to E12 highway passing Kuala Lumpur to grab hearty breakfast. I recommend you to dine at Yut Kee, the oldest and possibly the most popular Hainanese coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur. Please do everyone a favour and order the Roti Babi at RM10. It is a sandwich made from white bread and stuffed with shredded pork, onions, and crabmeat; dipped in egg and deep fried. You can pair it with Worcestershire sauce to give you the kicking tangy feeling which eliminates a bit of the cloyingness or greasiness of the meat. Maximum food sins achieved!
Another popular dish to try is the Roast Pork at RM12.50, consisted of 2 pieces of egg battered pork with potatoes and mixed vegetables, drenched with a savoury apple sauce to counter the richness of the meat. Though the pork is not fully coated in breadcrumbs, the skin is beautifully crisp and the meat is super tender with nutty accents from the pistachio stuffing.
12.00-18.00 – Bharat Tea Plantation
Post the happy ending breakfast, the gruelling 3.5hours drive in a long-winded hilly road began. Along the way, we visited one of the most well-known tea plantation called Bharat Tea Plantation. It’s less crowded than the commercialised Boh Tea Plantation, but equally impressive. The plantation was established by Shuparshad, who was also a famous grocer and transporter in Cameron Highlands.
Serene, breezy, refreshing and easily accessible, a perfect place to unwind after a long drive. You can see the bright green tea bushes sprawling in neat rows which seem to go on forever, up and down the slopes of Cameron Highlands. You can trek inside the tea plantation, and if you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of the workers picking on tea leaves.
If you keep descending the valley has been transformed into a small amusement center with a connecting bridge, a small waterfall and a stream. The stream flowing through the valley improves the ambience, since the water seemed to be clean and ice cold.
What better way to finish exploring acres of tea plantation blocks other than to indulge yourself in sweets and cuppa tea! Next to the exit and souvenir shop, Bharat Tea opened a cafe that overlooks 360 degrees bird eye’s view on the plantation. We ordered teapot of black tea along with cakes; served with mesmerising greeneries views and peacefulness they are truly match-made in heaven. The cafe itself offers many types of locally grown highland tea, from common Earl Grey to the interesting fruit infused tea.
18.00-24.00 – Night Market
The size of night market itself is quite small, the stalls predominantly sells what Cameron Highlands is famous for, fresh produce and strawberries. Abundant produce from the highlands is sold here, such as corns, sweet potatoes, as well as a colourful variety of classic Malaysian pasar malams (night market) dishes.
D A Y T W O
06.00-12.00 – Strawberry Farm, Cactus Valley
There are many strawberry farms across Cameron Highlands, we chose Big Red Strawberry Farm due to its close proximity to our accommodation. The farm is one of quite well established, organized, clean and of course full with flowers, cacti, and various types of vegetables. Here you are allowed to pluck your own strawberries and tomatoes. At the time we were visiting though, the strawberries are not in season so they are not fully ripe. But what’s amazing is to witness all the hydroponics vegetables all lined up, gigantic in size, organic, and fresh. I’m almost tempted to just grab and eat it on the spot!
We also visited Cactus Valley, which is nearby the farm. It displays vast amount of different forms and ranges of cacti, from small to big size. It has one of the best collections of cactus in Malaysia, some of the species here are more than 60 years old.
12.00-18.00 – Sam Poh Temple, Lata Iskandar Waterfalls
Just below Brinchang about 1km off the main road, is a brilliant pastiche of imperial Chinese regalia, statuary dedicated to medieval admiral and eunuch Zheng Ho and, allegedly, the fourth-largest Buddha in Malaysia. It’s a hidden gem and not many tourists are aware of this place, but it is quite peaceful place to unwind. As you walk over to the top, you can see the the overview on Brinchang.
As we made our way back to Singapore, using Tapah route instead of Simpang Pulai, we bypassed a huge waterfall which is easily accessible to the public. You will start to notice a lot of cars slowing down as the entrance of Lata Iskandar Waterfalls is just located by the side of the road.
Not many places offer such great cascading waterfall view right by the roadside. Typically, one must trek almost one week before one can witness the beautiful and awe-inspiring waterfalls. Make no mistake, Lata Iskandar is not exactly the most dramatic of waterfalls there is, but who can blame the hordes of visitor who find it very accessible.
The main cascade is pretty much the feature at Lata Iskandar. It’s characterised by several layers of granite slopes and a small pool below the 25 meter drop. If you have enough time to spare, you may attempt the jungle trail that runs along the cascade which should bring you to the second stage of the waterfalls. Otherwise, the view from the roadside is just as adequate. There are cemented steps that have being built to help you go up the falls. Gazebos with benches have being erected and you can use them for picnic with your family or friends. On a hot day, this place is refreshing as the moisture from the water provides cooling effect to the surrounding area.
The water was clear enough, but the idea of swimming by the busy roadside was probably not the best of idea. The stalls by the road sell all sorts of beverages, snacks and food such as corns, sausages and sweet potatoes. If you are thinking of getting a last minute souvenir, you may want to browse at some of the craft works done by the “Orang Asli” or the natives of this highlands.
18.00-24.00 – En Route Singapore
Don’t forget to grab awesome Malay staples upon heading back!
WHAT TO EAT?
Voted one of the best restaurants in the Cameron highlands, you can find some great Malaysian classics here like Curry Mee, Nasi Lemak, Prawn Noodle and of course toast and a half-boiled egg at Uncle Chow Kopitiam.
You can opt for any of Chinese restaurant alongside Brinchang Main Street; the Chinese food are quite decent. One of the most popular joint is Mayflower Restaurant, at Camelia 4 Road. The portion of vegetables was big, while the taste and the price are average. They are mostly well known for steamboat, but you can try they a la carte dishes.
Quite simply, charcoal steamboat dinner is the local must-have dish. It’s perfect for dinner because hot soup meals are best eaten in colder conditions. The meats are thin, there are lots of vegetables, some fish and the only carbohydrates are the noodles which are not alot really. This makes the steamboat meal a FILLING yet quite a LIGHT meal.
WHERE TO STAY?
There are numerous of lodging options from budget to posh within Cameron Highlands. We stayed at Parkland Hotel, which are very central to all the places of interests we visited. There are a lot of convenience stores and eateries nearby the accommodation.
RANI’S TRAVEL TIPS:
- Don’t go on public holiday to avoid hoarder of crowds.
- If you are opting for car rental, rent from Johor Bahru as they are significantly cheaper than renting a car from Singapore.