Table of Contents
- About Cameron Highlands
- Best time to visit Cameron Highlands: Weather and temperature
- How to get there: KL to Cameron Highlands
- The best of Cameron Highlands: Your ultimate 3-day itinerary
- More accommodation recommendations
Can’t stand the maddening 30-degree heat any longer? Perhaps you’re dreaming of a short getaway to the cooling hilltops of Malaysia’s beautiful Cameron Highlands. Here’s the ultimate travel guide you’ve been looking for. We’ve curated everything you must see and do in Cameron Highlands in this detailed 3-day itinerary that you can bookmark and bring along on your journey! We’ve also included some self-drive tips on how to get to Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lumpur, as well as recommendations on the best places to stay. Keep on reading to find out what to see, what to do, and how to get to Cameron Highlands — we’ve packed everything into this itinerary that’ll make your trip worth every second!
About Cameron Highlands
Located in the southwestern tip of Pahang, Cameron Highlands is about 200 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur. Three main townships make up the Cameron Highlands region: Ringlet, Tanah Rata, and Brinchang.
Steeped in colonial history, the highlands were named after British explorer and geologist William Cameron, who was commissioned in 1885 to map out the Pahang-Perak border. Following his expedition, interest in the region grew. By the 1930s, the highlands developed into a hill station, subsequently attracting an influx of British and local settlers, and ambitious vegetable growers and tea planters whose crops benefited from the climate. Today, Cameron Highlands holds onto its history, evident from the presence of the many Tudor-style mansions, English tearooms, and flourishing plantations scattered around the region.
Best time to visit Cameron Highlands: Weather and temperature
Cameron Highlands is located on the Titiwangsa Range. About 75 percent of the region is 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level. Owing to its unique tableland ecosystem, Cameron Highlands is blessed with a pleasant and cool climate, with daytime temperatures rarely exceeding 26°C and nighttime temperatures going down to 14°C.
The humidity here is high and the weather is significantly wetter than other parts of Malaysia, with 197 rainfall days a year! In fact, Cameron Highlands does not have a “dry season” to speak of. That said, the wettest months are October and November, so avoid an end-of-year trip. The best time to visit Cameron Highlands is from February to April, but do try to avoid the mid-March school holidays if you’d like to skip the crowds.
What to wear: You can get away with shorts and a t-shirt during the day. At night, temperatures are slightly chilly and a light jacket will go a long way. Wear closed shoes and carry an umbrella in case of unpredictable weather.
How to get there: KL to Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is approximately 200 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur. Head north to Tapah, easily done by just following the signs towards Ipoh. After driving for about 1.5 hours, take Exit 132 and you will come to the Tapah toll booth. To reach Cameron Highlands, take the Tapah toll exit and merge onto Route 59. Continue on this road for approximately 47 kilometers and you will reach Ringlet, the first Cameron Highlands township. It is a further 12 kilometers to Tanah Rata and another 5 kilometers to Brinchang.
- Before you start your journey to Cameron Highlands, make sure you have more than half a tank of fuel. The drive will take three to four hours and petrol stations are few and far between. You don’t want to get stuck going up those windy roads halfway through your ascent!
- Yes, the roads twist and turn as you drive up to the top. Narrow passageways and sharp bends may be hard to navigate, so be sure to drive at a speed you are comfortable with. Remember to prepare yourself and any traveling companions who are susceptible to car sickness.
The best of Cameron Highlands: Your ultimate 3-day itinerary
Day 1: Wander Southeast Asia’s largest tea plantation, check out blossoming gardens, have a scenic steamboat dinner
Aim to arrive in Cameron Highlands by the early afternoon. After that long and winding journey up the mountains, you’ll want to check into your hotel and stretch your legs! There are plenty of accommodation options around the highlands, but if you’re looking for a dose of quintessential Cameron Highlands Tudor-style architecture, you’ll find the historical Smokehouse Hotel especially inviting. With antique furnishings, well-manicured gardens, and an old-timey atmosphere, you’ll be transported to a different era here. Check out our extra hotel recommendations at the end of the article for more ideas on where to stay.
Our first stop in this itinerary is none other than one of Cameron Highlands’ most iconic attractions: the BOH Sungei Palas Tea Garden, located in Brinchang. There is a free open-air car park here, and once you climb some stairs, you’ll reach the famous Sungei Palas Tea Garden. The terrace up here offers amazing panoramic views of thriving tea fields as far as the eye can see. Fun fact: BOH owns the largest tea plantation in all of Southeast Asia and there are three main BOH tea fields in Cameron Highlands: Sungei Palas, Habu Ringlet, and Fairlie Estate. Visitors frequent Sungei Palas for its superb hilltop cafe and exquisite views. Kick back and relax with a mug of steaming BOH tea and snack on light sandwiches, pies, and cheesecakes, then head out into the tea fields and enjoy the fresh mountain breeze as you wander the footpaths. For a bit of history, there is also a tea factory here that offers free educational tours. Learn all about the history of BOH and how the company crafts its teas!
Follow Route 59 north for about 8 kilometers to get to the colorful Lavender Garden, located along the main road between Tringkap and Kuala Terla. While there are plenty of flower gardens in Cameron Highlands, this is the only one that specializes in growing lavender — many different types of it, too, from mona lavender to Hokkaido lavender! With three storeys of gardens to explore, you’ll find other flowers here including seasonal hydrangeas and gerbera daisies in all sorts of cheerful colors. If you have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck. You can enjoy some icy cold lavender ice cream, amazingly pretty in its shade of pastel purple! Don’t forget to add some snaps to the ‘gram!
Had your fill of pretty flowers? Head back to Brinchang to check out a different type of botanical garden. Cactus Valley is all sorts of curious, chockfull of oddly-shaped cacti in all sizes. Whether tiny or humongous, spiny or covered in a hairy fuzz, these prickly plants are certainly fascinating. Of course, you can even adopt a cactus of your own here, since this is a cactus nursery! Pick up a little pot (or two) if any of them catch your fancy. The area near Cactus Valley is also scattered with other farms you might want to check out, from strawberry farms to organic vegetable farms, and even honey farms. Make a few stopovers and pick up some fresh local produce if you’re interested in trying the regional fare!
Ready for an authentic charcoal-fire steamboat experience? Cameron Highlands is indeed famous for its array of steamboat restaurants and you won’t find a more scenic one than Water Cress Valley. With an outdoor terrace overlooking a verdant watercress plantation, you can indulge in a sumptuous steamboat dinner while the sun slowly goes down and the temperature starts to dip. It’s perfect weather for hot soup and an exciting smorgasbord of fresh cook-it-yourself ingredients. Don’t forget to try the signature watercress drink for something healthy and refreshing!
Day 2: Explore the Mossy Forest trail, indulge in famous scones, peruse the night market
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, put on some good walking shoes and head over to the mysterious Mossy Forest for a journey through one of Cameron Highlands’ most talked-about walking trails. Blanketing the mountains and valleys of Mount Brinchang, this strangely beautiful forest is constantly shrouded in a dense fog that creates the perfect environment for moss and lichen to flourish. This easy walk brings you through a wonderland of ferns, orchids, and pitcher plants. You might even manage to catch a glimpse of the rare and pungent rafflesia flower, which can grow over a meter in diameter and weigh up to 10 kilograms!
The trail comes to a watchtower that offers views overlooking the misty highlands. Morning temperatures here can go down to a brisk 15ºC, making for an invigorating way to start your day. Do note that road conditions to get to the Mossy Forest are rough, so unless you have rented a 4WD vehicle, we recommend joining a local tour to get there.
Journey back to Brinchang town to replenish your energy and warm yourself up with a delightful pot of hot tea at the Jim Thompson Tea Room. Located in the beautiful Cameron Highlands Resort, the Jim Thompson Tea Room is famous for its warm, delicious, buttery scones served with fresh strawberry jam and clotted cream. The ambiance here is equal parts comfortable and luxurious, with elegant colonial-era décor that embodies an old-world charm.
Drive east and you will find the Sam Poh Temple, a peaceful Buddhist temple sitting atop a small hill at the back of Brinchang town. Interestingly, this temple is the largest religious structure in Cameron Highlands. Free to enter, it is a place of tranquility where you can admire opulent statues and offer prayers at the altar. Sit by the koi pond to enjoy a lovely afternoon in silent meditation.
If the Mossy Forest trail was too easy for you, perhaps you’d like to take up a challenge. Sam Poh Temple serves as the starting point for Trail #2, one of the more challenging hiking trails in Cameron Highlands. Taking about 1.5 hours one-way, the trail brings you through some tough terrain requiring some surefootedness due to its uphill and downhill nature. This trail connects to Trail #3, which leads on to Gunung Beremban (1,840 m), with an elevation gain of about 520 meters. Hikers with a good level of fitness will enjoy the challenge of tackling the topography. Otherwise, we’ve got another hike lined up the next morning following Trail #10 that is not overly tough!
No trip to Cameron Highlands is complete without a visit to the famous night market. Going by many names — Brinchang Night Market, Brinchang Weekend Night Market, Golden Hills Night Market, Brinchang pasar malam — the market operates every Friday and Saturday evening from 4 pm to 11 pm. Embodying the organized chaos of most Malaysian pasar malams, this is where you’ll have the best chance to rub shoulders with the locals and enjoy some mouthwatering local fare. Find typical Malaysian street foods, grilled meats, strawberry fondue, juicy roasted sweet corn slathered with butter, fresh honey straight from the honeycomb, apam balik pancakes, and more! Have a little fun browsing the stalls and have your fill of good food.
Day 3: Climb Gunung Jasar, marvel at the Lata Iskandar Waterfall
We’ve saved the best for last! If there is any activity in Cameron Highlands that embodies the beauty and natural splendor of this amazing region, it’s the Trail #10 hike. While there are at least 14 hiking trails scattered around Cameron Highlands, those who have done the lot will likely tell you this is their favorite. Trail #10 goes up to Gunung Jasar. From Tanah Rata, starting close to Tan’s Camellia Garden, it will take you about an hour to reach the top, where you will encounter sweeping vistas of the surrounding landscape, including great views of the Bharat Tea Estate.
This trail connects to Trail #6, which takes you right down to the tea plantations at Cameron Valley. Doing this will round off your hike to about 3.5 hours. The routes are signposted, and while the journey up to Jasar is more of a climb than a walk, it is one of Cameron Highlands’ easier trails, only requiring a basic level of fitness. Your total elevation gain up to Gunung Jasar will come to about 250 meters. The combined trails provide a beautiful half-day hike that, without doubt, delivers some of the most memorable views of the region!
The last thing to do before heading back to the hustle and bustle of city life is to visit the Lata Iskandar Waterfall. Taking Route 59 back towards Kuala Lumpur, about 35 kilometers from Tanah Rata, past Ringlet, you’ll come to this popular stopping point. Witness white waters cascade over smooth rocks while you relax at one of the picnic gazebos. There is also a bridge at the foot of the waterfall where you’ll get a good view of the rapids and be able to snap a few great photos.
And that wraps up our 3-day Cameron Highlands itinerary covering some of the best things you must do. Already planning your next adventure in Malaysia? Check out our guide to The ultimate food road trip in 48 hours: KL to Penang to satisfy your cravings!
More accommodation recommendations
If you’re looking for alternatives to the 1939 Tudor-style Smokehouse Hotel, here are a couple of other great places to stay.
Location: Tanah Rata
Address: Lot 55, 39000 Tanah Rata, Pahang, Malaysia
Also going by the name of Bala’s Holiday Chalet, this is a splendid Edwardian-style lodge that was once a former British schoolhouse. Taking on the charms of a lovely English countryside home, you can expect a beautiful garden courtyard, lovely breakfasts and dinners, and impressive mountain views behind the hotel.
Address: 30th Mile, Jalan Ringlet – Sungai Koyan, Sungai Khazanah, 39000 Ringlet, Pahang, Malaysia
Tucked away on a photogenic hillside, you’ll find yet another beautiful Tudor-style country house. The Lakehouse overlooks the Ringlet Lake, and it is charmingly flanked by a backdrop of lush woodlands. Of course, as The Lakehouse is located in Ringlet, the lowest town in Cameron Highlands, it’s a little further away from most attractions. However, nothing beats its relaxing and secluded fairy tale atmosphere.