Cameron Highlands: Three days at the teaplantations of Malaysia

A very different side of Malaysia can be found in the Cameron Highlands. No beaches, skyscrapers or scorching heat here. No, the Cameron Highlands are most reminiscent of the English countryside, with rolling green hills, a cooler climate and houses built in the English style. In this travel guide, we will tell you why you should go to the Cameron Highlands and what you can do and see here on a three-day visit!

Malaysia Cameron Highlands Thea estate thea leaves

Three days in the Cameron Highlands!

We are on the bus from Kuala Lumpur to Tanah Rata, a central city in the Cameron Highlands. Slowly we see the landscape change: Palm trees give way to pine trees; skyscrapers to white houses, and hectic city life to peaceful fields full of tea. As soon as we get off the bus we feel a pleasant temperature, the high humidity and stifling heat are gone. A cool breeze and not much later a fresh rain shower ensure that the landscape is so green here.

The following days we make beautiful hikes, visit various tea plantations, eat scones and we drink fresh strawberry juice. We are not the only tourists, by the way, many local Malaysians spend a long weekend in the Cameron Highlands to experience colder temperatures and enjoy the scenery as well. There are more than enough facilities for tourists. Still, as soon as we go into nature, it doesn’t feel that touristy at all. Most (Malaysian) tourists do everything in groups and participate in organized tours. Very different from the activities we undertake: hiking in the jungle (without a guide) and exploring on a scooter the highlands of the Cameron Highlands ourselves.

Cameron Highlands drone photography

How many days do spend in the Cameron Highlands?

We stay three nights in the Cameron Highlands. There is more than enough to do and we travel at a leisurely pace. However, if you have less time, then two nights is certainly enough time to discover the highlights of this place. You can do the following activities for the most part in two (full) days, but it is based on a three-night stay in the Cameron Highlands.

Where do you stay in the Cameron Highlands?

The Cameron Highlands are spread over an area as large as Singapore. However, most activities can be done in a small area around the three cities of Ringlet, Tanah Rata and Brinchang. Of these three, I prefer Tanah Rata because most of the hikes start from here and you have the best facilities here too (including the bus terminal). Tanah Rata really has more atmosphere and lively vibe than the other two villages. Keep in mind, all three villages are not necessarily beautiful, you are really here for the area.

Impression Tanah Rata Cameron Highlands

Where do you sleep in the Cameron Highlands?

We stayed in Tanah Rata ourselves and I can certainly recommend this location to you too. You will find many hotels in Tanah Rata, but not all hotels are equally good. We visited different accommodations in different price ranges and can heartily recommend the hostel, B&B and luxury hotel below.

Traveller Bunker Travelbunker Tanah Rata

One of the nicest hostels we have ever slept in! With a movie room, cosy public areas and a nice kitchen to prepare your own food. Since the beds have curtains, there is a lot of privacy and each bed has two sockets, a fan and a large locker to put your bags in. You sleep here from 11 euros per night for two people (shared room).

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Gerards Place €€Gerards Place

This guesthouse is just outside the centre of Tanah Rata, (about a 10-minute walk), but has a nice view of the hills and nice double rooms. You share the bathroom, just like the living room and kitchen where you will find a fridge, microwave and kettle. You sleep here from 19 euros per night (two people, shared bathroom).

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Cameron Highlands Resort €€€Cameron Highlands Resort

Ready for a night of sleep in an old colonial building? Then stay at this four-star resort just outside Tanah Rata. Not only is the building beautiful, the rooms are also nicely decorated. Also nice: there are activities such as a picnic in the tea plantation. You sleep here from 127 euros per night (two people) including a tasty breakfast.

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Super handy: the best hostels, hotels and lodges per destination at a glance. Read our guide to the best hotels in Malaysia!

The seven best activities for three days in the Cameron Highlands

There is more than enough to see and do in the Cameron Highlands. Below you will find seven fun things to do in the surroundings of Tanah Rata and Brinchang. Because we recommend that you explore the Cameron Highlands on your own, instead of taking part in a standard tour, you should bear in mind that you sometimes have to arrange transportation. We rented a scooter for eight hours for 60 MYR (13 euros). For example, we made a DIY (do it yourself) tour for the Cameron Highlands!

Tip: prefer not to ride a scooter? Then a tour might be nice. We have heard good stories about Eco Cameron Tours.

1. Visit the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands is primarily known for its beautiful tea plantations. You don’t see the green tea hills when you are in one of the three villages, however, just a few kilometres outside the city you can already see the first tea houses. There are currently three tea plantations that tourists can visit. A visit generally means that you drink tea here, enjoy the beautiful view and sometimes get a tour.

Hitch hiking at Cameron Highlands 2

We visited all three tea houses and below you will find our findings:

1. BOH Sungai Palas Tea Center

This is the most popular tea house, mainly because of the amazing view you have here. There is a nice restaurant on the hill which offers a lovely view of the tea fields. Admission is free, keep in mind that this place is very popular, causing (long) traffic jams. So come as early as possible (especially around December and January, when all the locals have holidays too!). Free tours are given here every 30 minutes.

Cameron Highlands sunrise

2. BOH Tea Plantation (Fairlie Tea Plantation)

This tea plantation is also from BOH plantations, just like number 1. It is a lot less crowded here than at Sungai Palas Tea Center and you can take a short hike to a viewpoint here. The facilities are slightly less good and new than at Sungai Palas. You can also do a (very short) tour here for free, but that meant that during our visit you could walk five minutes through the factory without verbal explanation.

Malaysia Cameron Highlands cloudy sky above the thea estates

3. Bharat Tea Plantations (Cameron Valley Tea)

This plantation is closest to Tanah Rata. There are two tea houses here (called Cameron Valley Tea 1 and 2), where you can taste and purchase tea. We visited this plantation during our hike (see activity 3). You can walk along the tea fields, which is a great experience! No tours are given and to walk through the plantation you have to pay an entrance fee of 3 MYR (around 70 cents). Bharat Tea Plantation entrance fee is definitely worth the money.

Cameron Highlands drone photography tea estate

What is the best tea plantation to visit in the Cameron Highlands?

Our visit to number 1, BOH Sungai Palas tea Center, was the best because off the many different stunning views of the tea fields. If you drive a scooter, traffic doesn’t matter since you are able to pass the cars easily.

2. Climb the top of Gunung Jasar and walk through the tea plantations (trail 6 and 10)

There are fourteen hike routes around Tanah Rata and Brinchang. There are long and short hikes, ranging from easy hikes to more difficult ones. On our first morning in the Cameron Highlands, we walked trail 10 and trail 6 combined, as trail 10 turns into trail 6. At hike 10 you walk in an hour through a rain forest to the top of Mount Gunung Jasar. Here you have a beautiful view of the village of Tanah Rata and you can see various tea plantations. There is a large electricity pole here at the top too, which might make the accomplishment of reaching the top a little bit less special. Nevertheless, the views are worth it.

Hiking route Cameron Hills route six

Tip: download the app Maps Me where all 14 hikes are clearly marked.

After the top of Gunung Jasar, you walk a little bit back, after which you switch to trail 6. The first part of this route is quite challenging because the path is hardly visible due to the dense vegetation and you have to descend on a muddy path. Slowly the path becomes less steep and you see more of the beautiful environment again. You walk among farms, coriander fields, vegetable and fruit plantations.

Please note: due to the mud and the descents, be aware of (heavy) rain since the path will become very slippery and potentially dangerous.

Hiking in Cameron Highlands

The last part goes straight through the tea plantations of Bharat Tea Plantations, also known as Cameron Valley Tea. This is a very special experience and a perfect end to this hike. Be aware that at the end of the Bharat Tea Plantation, you still have to pay the 3MYR entrance fee.

Tip: hike 6 does not end in Tanah Rata. Since there is no public transport available from here, you can grab a taxi, walk 4.5 kilometres on the road back, or like us, try to hitch-hike your way back! 

Cameron Highlands drone photography tea fields

3. Eat fresh scones with strawberry jam at The Lord’s Cafe

Finished walking and craving for something sweet? Then be sure to stop by The Lord’s Cafe. This place is the ultimate mix of Asia and England. After ordering, wait until your table number is announced, after which you can pick up your scones (very Asian). In the meantime, take a look around you, there are statues of Christ everywhere, religious prints and crosses. Very special in Islamic Malaysia.

And then you can pick up your scone. This is still warm and seems to come directly from England. With a lot of butter, freshly prepared cream and strawberry jam made from local strawberries, this is a real treat! Click here for the location of The Lord’s Cafe on Google Maps.

Scones Lords cafe Cameron Highlands Tanah Rata

4. Visit a strawberry farm and a butterfly farm!

Yes, these are touristic attractions, however, I still enjoyed visiting both a strawberry farm and a butterfly farm. There are many different strawberry farms in the Cameron Highlands, we visited Raju’s Hill, near BOH Sungai Palas Tea Center. Admission is free, but if you want to pick strawberries, you have to pay for that (30 MYR, approximately € 6.5 for 500 grams). Besides, you can drink delicious fresh strawberry shakes (ask if they do not add sugar). Not a big fan of shakes, don’t worry, they are plentiful of other treats with fresh strawberries to choose from.

Malaysia Cameron Highlands Strawberry farm and strawberry juice

Near the Raju’s Hill strawberry farm is also the Cameron Highland Butterfly Farm. This is a greenhouse where you can view butterflies, but also other insects and reptiles. All the animals you see here can also be found in the wild in the Cameron Highlands. This is certainly a fun activity to do with children. Time spent here is around 45 minutes and you pay 10 MYR entrance fee (around € 2.20) per person.

5. Hike to the Robinson Falls (trail 9A)

With this hike, you walk from Tanah Rata to the village of Habu in about two hours. Along the way, you walk past Robinson Falls, a small but beautiful waterfall just outside the city. It is not an intensive hike and you mainly walk on a well-maintained trail.

From Habu, you can take the bus back to Tanah Rata.

Tea workers village

6. Eat tasty snacks at the Night Market

Every Friday and Saturday evening, there is a night market at the Golden Hills. This is located about two kilometres north of Tanah Rata, near the golf course. Here you find local dishes, strawberries, tea, honey and a whole bunch of souvenirs.

Note: if you do not want to walk along the road in the dark, you will have to take a taxi. There are no buses to and from the Night Market.

7. Visit the Time Tunnel museum

The Time Tunnel Museum is an unexpectedly fun museum. In this museum, you learn more about the history of Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands and how people used to live here. I hardly knew anything about the occupation of Malaysia in World War II. You can also read about the mysterious disappearance of Jim Thompson here. No spoiler alert here, find our yourself what happened to Jim. Super interesting!

Everything is explained on the basis of attributes, old toys, golf clubs and old photos. Admission is 6 MYR per person (approximately € 1.30) and you can get through the museum within an hour.

Wondering if Malaysia is an expensive country to travel in? Then read our blog about prices and budget in Malaysia!

The bests restaurants in the Cameron Highlands

There are more than enough restaurants in Tanah Rata and Brinchang. We can recommend the following places to eat.

The Lord’s Cafe – fresh scones and tea

As described above, you eat fresh scones and drink nice tea at The Lord’s Cafe. Absolutely worth a visit. Click here for the location on Google Maps.

Restoran Sri Brinchang – budget-friendly Indian food

Looking for good but cheap food? Then eat something at Restoran Sri Brinchang. Here you will find fresh naan, tasty curry, hotpot and banana leaf (several small dishes and rice) for very little money. We ate here twice because we liked it so much! Click here for the location on Google Maps.

Coffee The Old white man

Barracks Cafe – tasty sandwiches

Unfortunately, Barracks Cafe was closed when we were here. Everyone is enthusiastic about this restaurant that is located in an old army barracks. You eat sandwiches, salads and healthy dishes here. Click here for the location on Google Maps.

Delicious & Happiness Cafe – cheap Chinese food

In Brinchang you will find Delicious and Happiness Cafe, a Chinese restaurant where you will find many vegetarian dishes. You can also order the Malaysian dish “Steamboat” here. You then get a large pot of boiling broth in which you can prepare vegetables, fish and meat yourself. The prices are low here. Click here for the location on Google Maps.

Mr Aisu Icecream – delicious ice cream

Mr Aisu makes the tastiest ice cream we ate in all of Malaysia. His shop in Brinchang sells ice cream made from fresh strawberries, Belgian chocolate and green tea. The ice creams are not cheap but well worth it. Click here for the location on Google Maps.

Mr Aisu Cameron Highlands ice cream

How do you get to the Cameron Highlands?

The Cameron Highlands are located between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, perfect if your route is like this. Below you find various transportation options to reach the Cameron Highlands. Please note that all buses arrive and depart from Tanah Rata. If you want to go to Brinchang or Ringlet, you will have to take a local taxi and local taxis are not cheap. Both Grab and MyCar are not present in the Cameron Highlands.

You can book bus tickets online in advance via the Easybook or BusOnlineTicket sites.

How do you travel from Kuala Lumpur to the Cameron Highlands?

  • By car / taxi: 2.5 hours – taxi between 100-130 euros.
    You can reach Kuala Lumpur in the Cameron Highlands in just under three hours. If you have booked a taxi, take into account relatively high costs.
  • By public transport: 4 hours by bus – 7 euros
    From Bersepadu Selatan Terminal, the bus station of Kuala Lumpur, direct buses go to Tanah Rata, the Cameron Highlands. The buses have air conditioning and take about four hours to complete the trip.

Are you planning your Malaysia trip? Check out our Malaysia itinerary for three weeks travel!

Hitch hiking at Cameron Highlands

How do you travel from Penang to the Cameron Highlands?

  • By car / taxi: 3 hours – taxi between 120-150 euros.
    It takes three hours by car to drive from Penang to the Cameron Highlands. Taxis are not cheap for this long distance.
  • By public transport: 5 hours by bus – 7 euros
    There are direct buses to Tanah Rata (and vice versa) from the Sungai Nibong and Komtar terminals in Penang. There are several bus companies, all great buses with air conditioning and in five hours you are in the Cameron Highlands.

Read our guide on 3 days in George Town, Penang with 15 fun activities.

Cameron Hills Tanah Rata

How do you travel from Ipoh to the Cameron Highlands?

  • By car / taxi: 1.5 hours – taxi costs 50 euros
    In just an hour and a half you can reach the Cameron Highlands from Ipoh.
  • With public transport: 2.5 hours – 3 euros
    Ipoh is not very far from the Cameron Highlands. You only take 2.5 hours per bus. Several buses go daily from Terminal Amanjaya in Ipoh to Tanah Rata.

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  1. by Jabin on 18 April 2023  07:46 Reply

    Hello, lovely article. Are there any trails that are flat surfaces to walk on? I am recovering from a knee injury but at the same want to escape the tropical heat in the coming long weekend in May. You can suggest any other cool but hassle free places in peninsular Malaysia as well.

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 4 May 2023  16:05 Reply

      Hi Jabin,
      Sorry not so far we know. But we have to be honest and haven't paid attention to looking for trails which are completely flat :(
      Enjoy your time and get well soon!
      Kind regards,

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