There is nothing sweeter in life than a cup of black tea, overlooking the maze of bright green tea plantations, covering the soft hills of the Cameron Highlands. This charming hill station will warm your heart almost as much as the tea warms your belly.
Cameron Highlands, named after a British surveyor William Cameron who mapped the lands in 1885, spans 275 square mile (712 sq km), is the highest point in Malaysia and is located in Pahang. It wasn’t until the 1920s, when the British returned to the Highlands to develop the fertile and cool mountain lands into tea plantations, a huge commodity at the time.
Today the three major tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands are Boh, Sungai Palas, and Cameron Valley. Boh is Malaysia’s largest producer of black teas and preferred brand.
The main road in Tanah Rata (one of the three sub-divisions of the Cameron Highlands) has several tour operators that can provide information on visiting the tea plantations and other activities in the area. The most popular plantation is Boh Tea Center & Sungai Palas Plantation which offers free tours.
You can also hike/walk to the plantation (about a 3.7 mile/6km walk up a steep winding road) that offers incredible views of the plantation and local wild flowers. When you reach the plantation, there is a tea room where you can warm up with a pot of tea and admire the incredible views.
Tanah Rata also offers over 14 different hikes through the Highland’s ecosystem diverse with forests, jungle and waterfalls. Be sure to hike early in the morning as some of the hikes can take 3 to 5 hours. Maps are available at most hotels and posted around town.
There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. - Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
When To Go
The best time to visit the Highlands is during the dry season, February to May. The region gets rain almost every day, but the weather is much dryer during this time.
In May, the rare Rafflesia flower (“giant flower”) blooms for 3 to 5 days and should be on your list of things to see.
The climate in Cameron Highlands is temperate and cool all year round which is a welcoming change of pace from the rest of Malaysia.
Temperatures range from 57 to 82°F (14 to 28°C). It rains in Cameron Highlands year round, but monsoon season, November to February, should be avoided.
Getting There & Around
Car or bus is the only way to get to the Cameron Highlands which is located 186 miles (300km) north from Kuala Lumpur. Tourist buses departing from Kuala Lumpur leave regularly.
- Mid-range accommodations: $20-55
- Meals: $10-15
- Bottle of beer: $2
- Try the curry Laksa, a spicy noodle soup made with curry and coconut milk. Delicious!
- Bring a waterproof jacket and boots as it rains periodically throughout the day.
- Checkout the local market in Brinchang on Saturday nights for produce and inexpensive snacks.
- Be afraid to hitchhike. It’s common in the highlands.
- Miss a local strawberry farm where you can pick your own strawberries.
- The bushy tea plants are cut flat on top at about 3 feet in order to pick the leaves easier.
- Six mountains reside in the area with the highest peak being Mount Batu Brinchang housing a radio and television station at the towering 6,663 feet (2,031 meter) top.
- The Cameron Highlands has a diverse population with Malays, Chinese, and Indians living the region.