A Cameron Highlands Travel Guide – The Quick Version
Welcome to the Cameron Highlands travel guide, this post will aim to answer all the common questions that are often posed when researching any destination.
To best use the Cameron Highlands travel guide, see the table of contents and skip the stuff you don’t need, or already know.
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Cameron Highlands Video
Cameron Highlands Travel Guide Part 1 – Things To Know Before You Go
What is a Cameron Highland?
The Cameron Highlands region is relatively new in the scheme of things and how ancient Malaysia is. It was first discovered by a chap named William Cameron, who was surveying the land for the British in 1885.
He recommended that the land be developed, but nothing much happened until the 1920’s when it was established that tea would grow, and the area around what is now Tanah Rata is the most suited area of the highlands to do so.
The first road was completed in 1931, it has since remained an area of great farming soil and a big supplier of all of the tea for the entire country.
Tourists come here to avoid the heat of the rest of Malaysia, to see the natural beauty on offer, to visit the plantations and to complete a set of hiking trails around the area.
N/A (Tanah Rata is the largest town in the highlands)
Tanah Rata is situated at 1,440m above sea level.
*This is for Tanah Rata only. The entire highlands region covers 712 km² and has a population of 34,000 people.
Where Are the Cameron Highlands?
As the penguin flies, Tanah Rata (the town within the highlnads that most people stay in) is located 153km from both Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown in Penang.
What’s The Weather Like in The Cameron Highlands?
Tanah Rata, like all of the Cameron Highlands, is up at altitude and enjoys a much more pleasant climate than the majority of Malaysia. The days are a lot cooler, the nights even sometimes cold.
It can still get quite warm when you are hiking though, because the jungle will be a lot more humid than it is in town. It can rain a lot, and the rain can be quite chilly, but not all rainy days are the same, some days are just a quick shower.
For a rough guide of all the months combined;
Average Rainy Days:
July averages the least with 15 days.
October averages the most with 26 days.
How Long Should I Stay in The Cameron Highlands?
Most people will only stay for a brief period of time, the exception to this is if you are coming here specifically to hike all of the trails that are around town in there entirety.
For most other people you will want a minimum of 3 nights, that gives you 2 full days that if planned well, you will be able to do a lot in.
I recommend 4 nights, with the extra day to give yourself a flexible schedule.
You can stay a week here, just know that the modern conveniences might be harder to come by, but if you’re the outdoorsy type and want to do every jungle trek and tour, then feel free to stay longer. It is a beautiful part of the country and a great place to avoid the heat for a week.
The views from the top of trail 10 are quite enjoyable. Is there anything fluffier than a cloud?
(Shot with the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).
How do You Get to The Cameron Highlands?
The way that everyone arrives here is via bus. The most common routes are either from Penang (5-6 hours), or from Kuala Lumpur (4.5 hours).
The duration of the bus is heavily effected by both traffic, and the size of the bus. If you are on a large coach, it will come to a crawl as you enter the winding mountain roads near Tanah Rata. It will have to stop, let cars through, reverse and it will be slow as hell.
There are also half size type coaches that can get around the corners a lot quicker, but I think it depends on how many are booked onto the journey as to which sized coach they will use.
PENANG – TANAH RATA;
($11 US, $16 AUD, £8.50, €10).*
KUALA LUMPUR – TANAH RATA;
($11 US, $16 AUD, £8.50, €10).*
*Price and conversions are done at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
BOOK YOUR TICKET TO TANAH RATA HERE
How Expensive is Tanah Rata?
I found Tanah Rata to be quite cheap, some of the value for money at restaurants was very good.
I did a full day tour, which was a full day of trekking, driving around in an old Landcruiser and visiting all of the tourist attractions and it only cost me 98 MYR.
What Is The Currency?
Tanah Rata, like all of Malaysia, uses the Malaysian Ringgit (RM) which is often stylised by an ‘MYR’ suffix.
Conversion rates at the time of writing are;
- $0.25 US
- $0.36 AUD
Or alternatively, 1 of each of the above currencies respectively will give you;
- 4.05 MYR
- 2.80 MYR
- 5.50 MYR
- 4.50 MYR
Tea plantations are a lot like ogres, which are a lot like onions.
(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6).
The Cameron Highlands Travel Guide Part 2 – Things To Know Once You Arrive
How to Get Around in The Cameron Highlands?
In Tanah Rata you will usually be walking around the town, or hiking the trails nearby. All of the further tourist attractions are generally done as part of a day tour but of course scooter rental is always an option for those staying a longer period of time.
Some scooter rental agencies will put restrictions on where you can ride the scooter and will track you with GPS, they will keep your deposit if you break the rules.
Taxis can be caught sometimes from the road if you are hiking and the trail head finishes on the road. This is a good way to get back to town if you are too tired to walk along the road all the way back.
Where To Stay in The Cameron Highlands?
Tanah Rata. It is where the trailheads all start from, it is the centre of the region for tourism and you can get anywhere you need to go from here.
Try these three hostels;
- Hiker’s Sleep Port. (This is where I will stay if I ever go back).
- BRICKS Sleepbox. (This is where I did stay and it is very nice).
- Father’s Guesthouse. (This is a very common place for backpackers to stay.
Click here to see my hostel review of BRICKS Sleep Box.
Where to Eat in Tanah Rata?
I think your best bet is to ask the people who work at the hostel that you decide to stay in, they are generally more than willing to point you in the right direction to a place within walking distance of the hostel.
I can’t honestly say that I was here enough to try everything on offer, but I can say that the following places I enjoyed.
I came here regularly for breakfast, they opened at a reasonable hour (07:30) and they made a very decent American breakfast for 15 MYR ($4 US) and a single shot latté for 9 MYR ($2.50 US).
Surprised to see the bad reviews for this place. I had a good experience, the menu is massive, it has all sorts of food available and the serving sizes were very healthy. It is quite cheap as well.
Restoran Bunga Suria;
If you want to save money then this is the place to go. I got a meal and a coffee for a combined 11 MYR, the serving size was good and the food was as can be expected for the price, but not bad by any means.
I Love Coffee More Than Life Itself! Where Should I go!?
Malaysia is generally bad at coffee. But I found that Amsterdam cafe made a really good coffee, I went there every morning for a double shot, which cost about the equivalent of $4 and tasted great.
Where to do Laundry in Tanah Rata?
I was lucky enough to stay at BRICKS Sleepbox who had their own washing machine and dryer in the hostel for a nominal fee. However there are laundromats around on the main street, not all appear on Google so you will need to keep a lookout for the signs when you’re there.
It won’t be hard to find.
360° image of a lookout just below the peak when hiking trails 10 and 6. Grab the image and drag to look around.
(Shot with the Insta360 One X).
I Need to Lift Weights, Any Good Gyms?
I went to one gym in Tanah Rata. It is also the only gym in Tanah Rata.
It is called Joe’s Fitness Gym Cameron Highlands.
It isn’t too bad, there is no aircon, towels or free water refills but it has all the things you will need to keep you busy for a quick travel workout.
It is cheap at 12 MYR per entry.
Things to do in The Cameron Highlands
In the interest of keeping this Cameron Highlands travel guide short and to the point, I have made a separate post highlighting the activities available to you in Tanah Rata.
Most of them can be covered in a day by using a tour company. They are cheap considering how much you will get done, and I definitely recommend using one to see all the highlights.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular tourist attractions in The Cameron Highlands;
- Mossy Forest
- Hiking Trail 10 and 6
- Rafflesia Flower Tour
- Boh Tea Plantation
- Cameron Valley Tea Plantation
- Strawberry Farm
- Butterfly Farm
Hiking a combination of Trail 10 and 6 is the most common and most interesting trail. But if you are really into hiking, then you will find many more trails to explore. See this map below to get an idea of the trail offerings around Tanah Rata and the surrounding areas.
Otherwise, for more hiking head to Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand.
This is the best way to visualise the layout of the hiking trails in The Cameron Highlands.
- The tour to see the Rafflesia tour will be a long walk through jungle pathways that are covered in leeches. Wear long pants, lightly coloured, this way you can see them easily to flick them off.
- The leeches will drop down into your shoes and will bite through your socks, so try get them and check for them regularly. You won’t get sick from a leech bite, but if you get bitten you will bleed quite a lot due to the fact that they leeches use and anticoagulant in their saliva to improve blood flow (it stops the blood from clotting).
- Buy a cheap poncho to carry with you when hiking, or carry a light rain jacket. It can rain at any point of the day and it might get chilly, it isn’t as warm here as the rest of Malaysia.
I think that’s all she wrote (she being me in this instance) for this Cameron Highlands travel guide, all questions are welcome.