Cameron Highlands: Tips to planning your trip; and where to get the best scones

So beginning of this year 2020, we originally planned to visit either Hong Kong or Seoul. And then in end January, the unfortunate COVID19 started in Wuhan, China; and quickly spread to Hong Kong and Japan.

Still wanting to have a trip (and thank goodness we did one just before the Control Movement Order started in Malaysia), we decided to just stay put in country, and hence we did a road trip north to Cameron Highlands and Pangkor !

img_8217
Cameron Highlands

I have always wanted to visit Cameron Highlands, but I guess I took it for granted since it is only 3 hours drive from home. So, we made it happen, I took one week off, and we started our road trip with Cameron Highlands our first stop !


Getting there & around

img_8393

You can reach Cameron Highlands by either bus or car. From KL, the drive is about 3 hours (4 hours if you are taking the bus). Getting around, if you don’t have a car, you can either call for a cab, or hire one with a driver for RM 50 (10 EUR) per 2 hours.

If you are like us, planning to include Cameron and Ipoh in one trip. You must take the Second East West Highway (Federal Route 185) connecting Cameron Highlands and Ipoh. We did Ipoh after Cameron, and took this scenic route descending the highlands. You get this gorgeous view of the valley (regret I didn’t stop to spend more time/ take photos), and there’s this long stretch of driving in between cliffs and never ending greens ! It is definitely one drive I never thought I get to experience in my country, and yes, I am proud of our rainforests.

img_8013

When to go

You don’t want to visit Cameron Highlands when it is wet season. Nothing beats reaching there, and not being able to walk the tea plantations ! The best time to visit is February and March, with the lowest rainfall and lesser tourist crowd.

Tip: It does get a bit chilly at night, so do pack along a light jacket if you plan to do some night walking. 

If you can, visit during weekdays. We were told by our guide that weekend crowds can be a bit overwhelming. And avoid school holidays if you can ! Cameron is one of the school holiday favourites.

As for how many days, I say best is to stay a minimum 2 nights, maybe not more than 3 nights, unless you plan to hike all the trails.


Where to stay

I am very fortunate that my company owns two bungalows in Cameron Highlands, for only employees to lease. For 2 double bed rooms, I only had to pay RM 100 per night (RM 200 if on weekends). It is a great bargain and hence not the easiest to get a booking.

img_8409

Otherwise, there are plenty of accommodation options in Cameron. If you are looking to spend a bit more, the Cameron Highland Resorts (CHR) is gorgeous ! It does come with a hefty price tag of about RM 600 (130 EUR) per night.

As for location, the options are either Tanah Rata or Brinchang. Tanah Rata is kinda the town centre, where the bus terminal and taxi stand are. Brinchang, which is further up, has more restaurant options.


What to do

Tea plantation

img_8228

It goes without saying, the first thing you must do is visit a tea plantation ! We joined a half day tour with Eco Cameron Tours, which covers BOH tea plantation and Mossy forest. It costs RM 50 for adult, RM 35 for child.

img_8245
Sungai Palas tea plantation
img_8160

Sungai Palas tea plantation is one of BOH’s four estates in Malaysia. It spans across 234 hectares, and this estate alone produces 800k cups of tea per day ! Seeing this in person beats all the beautifully photoshopped photos I have previously seen online !

img_8256

Tip: Start your journey early if you want to avoid the crowd in your photos. 

Mossy forest

The Mossy forest is another unique feature here, close to the summit of Mount Brinchang. So we were told, there are only a handful of mossy forest in the world, because it requires very specific conditions to grow, i.e. right altitude, temperature, humidity, and just the right amount of sunlight.

Be warned, it is not possible to walk here ! We saw maybe 2 backpackers hiking up, it must take 2 to 3 hours to reach from Brinchang ! The road conditions are quite bad too, the terrain is uneven, and the passage very narrow. I would not drive my own car on that road too. As such, I highly recommend joining a tour, of which we were transported on a 4X4 Land Rover.

img_8403
Our faithful 4X4 from Eco Cameron Tours

Entrance fee is RM 10 for Malaysian, RM 30 for foreigner.

Jungle trekking

Our stay in Cameron was 3 days 2 nights. We originally wanted to do trail #10 up to Gunung Jasar, but we drove to the entrance and I gave up after seeing the muddy trails. I was not going to feel sorry for not wanting a clean and relaxing holiday away from work.

However, if you are all in for a sweaty hike. You should check out the trails.

Strawberries farm

Strawberries farm (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

There are plenty of strawberries farms, it almost feels like a tourist gimmick. You pay a fee to “pick” your own strawberries grown on trellises inside a green house.

Cactus point

Cactus point was a rather surprise discovery for us. It is basically cactus on wholesale ! You can visit for free, and not buy anything. And you should ! The giant varieties they have are pretty cool !


What to eat

Besides tea, Cameron Highlands is famous for two other things, i.e. scones and strawberries.

Scones

I love eating scones, but at the same time, I am really bad in baking. I always long for the scones from Fortnum & Mason (London). And so, we set out to try as many scones as we can while at Cameron !

So, we tried The Lord’s Cafe (highly recommended by Tripadvisor), Smokehouse Hotel (recommended by my friend), and Jim Thompson Tea Room (in CHR cause we wanted something fancy).

img_8413
Jim Thompson Tea Room

And the verdict … The Lord’s Cafe was our least favourite, it was a bit bland, served with store bought whipped cream and strawberry jam. They have a “special” Strawberry scone, which was not better than the plain scone.

Our favourite is Jim Thompson Tea Room‘s ! The scones was served warm, has a nice crust on the outside, and the inside is buttery and slightly crumbly. It is a bit pricey, but it is seriously good !

Steamboat

Steamboat (Source: vkeong.com)

Steamboat is another popular item in Cameron, which makes sense to have when you get chilly evenings.


TL:DR

img_9169
  • Best to visit during weekdays. Avoid school holidays.
  • Must visit tea plantation.
  • Hire a guide/ join a tour if you plan to visit Mossy forest.
  • Best scone is from Jim Thompson Tea Room.

Check out this other blog I have been referencing when I was planning my trip !

40 thoughts on “Cameron Highlands: Tips to planning your trip; and where to get the best scones

  1. Holy moly, 800k cups of tea per day! That’s impressive. You guys are lucky that you got to get in one last trip before the lockdowns. A few days in the country with rolling green mountains and rainforest is perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea, 800k cups a day ! I couldn’t believe it myself when the guide told us, but I quickly googled it and yes BOH produces over 5 millions cups a day from its 4 estates !

      Like

  2. It was funny. When I read the title, I thought we were going to read about Scotland. So fascinating to find these beautiful highlands in Malaysia! I would definitely want to visit in the dry season so I could walk around the tea plantations. We have loved that experience in other parts of the world. Good to know that a tour is the best way to see the mossy forest. We love tea rooms. So we would want to try the Lord’s Cafe. Maybe get some of those fresh strawberries! (LD Holland)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those lush green rolling hills are simply stunning. I can only imagine how peaceful your 3 hour drive would be to have this landscape to look out onto. The tea plantation definitely would be the main highlight of your trip, it is unbelievable the amount of production! I would never have been able to guess. I am glad you were able to travel local, and lucky you have so much beauty in your backyard.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You did good to visit the Cameron Highlands in January instead of going to HK, because HK can be visited anytime of the year, while the Cameron Highlands not. And after all, it was awesome to be able to stay in one of the bungalows that your company owns! We’ve never been to this place, but it reminds us a lot of the landscape we saw north of Guilin, except that there were rice fields instead of tea plantations.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If you can plan a last minute trip to Guilin, then do that because of the weather! As you already know, it’s not goot to travel around Asia during the wet season, especially to see rice or tea plantations . So, we chose to visit Guilin and its surrounding areas in November. It was supposed to be sunny and everything… except that it rained A LOT and it was so misty that we didn’t get to see the plantations from our hotel balcony (we made sure to stay in a boutique hotel with supposedly breathtaking views!). Our local guide told us that it was not normal, but nowadays it’s hard to predict the weather (climate change and everything…). So, since you seem to be able to plan last minute trips, we definitely recommend you to do that if and when you want to go to Guilin! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Lucky for you that you got accommodations through your job! The Cameron Highlands look so beautiful. They’ll definitely be on my itinerary whenever I finally get to Malaysia. Good to know that February and March are the best months to visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The BOH tea plantation is just such a site of natural beauty! Wow! The first tea plantation I visited was in Boseong, South Korea, and you’re right. The photos just can’t completely capture it. Sorry your trip was postponed, but looks like you still had a fun adventure! Thanks for sharing, and looking forward to reading about your experiences in Hong Kong when you get there.
    Also, your TLDR section at the end made me laugh out loud. I love details, and my wife is all about just the main bullets. She would appreciate it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When I went to Malaysia, I was only able to go to KL, the busy side of the country. I am planning to go back again and want to explore more of the nature side. I guess Cameron Highlands is perfect! To be at the highest point and to be one with nature, what more can I ask for? Thanks for creating this comprehensive guide!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope u come back to Malaysia again ! There’s so many more places to explore ! But yes Cameron Highlands is one of my favourite in my country 😊

      Like

  8. Wow, those tea plantations are gigantic. I enjoyed the plantations near Hangzhou, China, but they were not that massive. I really like your photos and the pictures of the food make me hungry. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh wow, it looks so stunning there. We have been to a KL a couple of times and really should have gone to the Cameron Highlands during one of the visits as it would have been a great break from the city. Although I didn’t know there were different places to try scones there so at least I am now aware for when we do get to visit. Seems it is worth paying a bit extra to go to Jim Thompson’s place for them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Looks like you had a great time in the highlands. Like you, I was lucky to get a trip in before all the craziness started. I’m quite ready to stay travelling again now!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Cameron Highlands looks so beautiful. It reminds me of the tea gardens of Munnar in Kerala, India. We want to visit Cameron Highlands when we are there in Malaysia again.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I LOVE the look of the Cameron Highlands! It’s all so lush, green and beautiful! You know, I think it is much colder, be we have super mossy forests here in the west of Canada too. It’s far too cold here to grow so much tea though!!

    p.s. I had no idea that Malaysia was big on scones! I love the high tea at Fortnum & Mason too, so i totally trust your tea judgement. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. When I first clicked on this I thought it was going to be about Scotland. I had no idea something like this existed in Malaysia!

    What a great way to get out of the city and enjoy the quieter side of life. I haven’t been to Malaysia, but I’ll have to add this to my list.

    Also SO many cups of tea! 😱

    Liked by 1 person

  14. These hills are so gorgeous and laden with natural beauty. I would love to take a stroll around tea plantation. I went to KL a few years back but I was only there for a day and didn’t explore a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Visited Cameron Highlands a few years back.. It was lovely there.. Enjoyed walking among the tea plantations the most.. This post brings back fond memories from that trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Glad that you went on a road trip before the lockdown. Loved to see the serene landscape and greenery at Cameron Highlands. I haven’t got a chance to explore that part of the world yet but hope to visit someday!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sounds like a great trip you squeezed in just in time! I was supposed to spend the month in KL in April but, alas, COVID cancelled those plans. ☹️ I’ve wanted to visit the Cameron Highlands ever since I read the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Hopefully I’ll make it there one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. So sorry to hear you had to reroute your original trip plans but so neat to see you still found an awesome spot within your own country! Such gorgeous green rolling hills and looks so serene!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It is always a pleasure to visit Tea plantations and the ones in Cameron Highlands look really huge. 800k teacups – wow! Quite a huge number. The mossy forest, the strawberry farm would be another place where we would love to check. Thanks for all those tips too.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I will surely keep Jim Thompson’s in mind when I will visit Cameron Highlands. The bungalow you guys were put up at are really beautiful with amazing surroundings. The tea plantation is breathtaking. I would love to take a walk around it and for that, will make sure I dont visit the place during rainy season.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I love the mix of tea plantation and high tea, so classy and colonial! I visited a tea factory in Sri Lanka but didn’t spend enough time in the tea fields, they are so beautiful… And to think of all these precious cakes to enjoy after the visit! yum!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s