Cameron Highlands Malaysia, land of tea plantations, strawberry fields and tours
Nested high above the central area of western Malaysia’s hot peninsular is a land of cool air, mist, lush forest and history. The Cameron highlands heralded a strange call to me the moment I read about them. They spoke the soothing instinctive words of relief, and relaxation.
They told me that in over 3 years I could rest my sweat glands and wear a coat. Something I found immensely stimulating to the point of giddiness.
The untold effects of prolonged humidity and heat
I’ve joked with a friend that one day I could make a fortune by taking part in a medical study on the effects of long-term no-return travel. No respite of home, mixed in with a lifestyle few if any other have ever lived.
And of course, the uniqueness of all this makes such a study a moot point anyway
I’ve been sweating pretty much everyday for the past 3 years. And before this 2+ years of extreme sweating/diet/life in West Africa. This takes a toll, physically on one’s body, let alone mentally.
Air-conditioning is always around and a mild relief. But for anyone who’s not native to, but lived in high humid / heat environments with air-conditioning will know what I mean when I say:
“You can only stick air-conditioning for so long ….”
It has a dehydrating, factor that also takes a tole on you. Even the Bukidnon highlands in The Philippines was positively hot compared to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. So, enter my near on gasping excitement to arrive in the cool Cameron highlands in Central Western Malaysia.
Rain may come and go, but the Cameron Highlands live on
Wearing my windproof jacket I sat out in the cool lush breeze of the hostel balcony area. There were electrical sockets for laptops by every seat and WIFI that let me upload photos with ease. Birds sang on overhead tree branches, and a green mountain surrounded me.
Had I discovered a non tropical real Malaysian paradise for a while?
The answer is of course no. The hostel had no food, but the town was so small it did not matter. What did matter were the horrible amount of tours passing by like clockwork.
Even the lovely black and white town houses were plastered in tour signs, hotels and company names. I was in a “tourist land” town. The third biggest income generator of the Cameron Highlands.
Cameron Highlands is the salad bowl of Malaysia
A lesser known fact is due to its cooler climate the Cameron Highlands produces most of Malaysia’s fresh vegetables. A drive around the mountain area will reveal both small and large farms alike. Most covered in huge plastic sheets to protect the produce from heavy rains.
Meanwhile, the rest of the mountainous region is made up of lush bright green tea plantations. Which is perhaps the areas most famous export, and largest tourist attraction.
Choosing the right tour of the Cameron highlands in Malaysia
Everywhere you look in this area you will see signs all offering the same tours at about the same price. It goes something like this:
Sample day tour prices in Cameron Highlands :
Rafflesia Jungle trek
Full day tour with 4×4 vehicle
|Garden full day tourFull day tour with 4×4 vehicle||Half day tourHalf day tour with van |
|Cost: 108 RM||Cost: 98 RM||Cost: 25 RM|
All tours exclude entrance tickets etc (usually around 5-8 RM) In the off season prices are sometimes reduced
Note: there are dozens of tours on offer in the Cameron Highlands. But, they basically all boil down to a half day tour, a jungle trekking tour, and a Rafflesia tour.
A do it yourself tour in Cameron Highlands
If you are driving, you’ve just made life very easy for yourself. Everything in the Cameron Highlands is quite far apart. And certainly many people do choose to walk, or bicycle around. Just be very aware that the weather is temperamental here. And, it most likely will rain at some stage. While this can seem nice after the heat of other parts of Malaysia, I ‘ve seen a lot of miserably tourists looking very wet and muddy.
If you do like trekking though, you might just have found the best place in Malaysia to enjoy some great jungle and independent walking.
That said, you’ll need quite a few days to get everything in if doing it yourself without gasoline powered transport.
To take a tour or not?
I’m not here to break my rear end and work up a sweat walking around the mountains. I’m here to stop sweating. And, truth be told, I don’t have a huge interest in anything on offer here other than the climate. I’ve seen plenty of rainforest, jungle, bee farms, butterfly farms and even the raffelisia in my travels.
I also know how these tours operate, and it’s never exactly “exciting stuff”.
No, I am here to relax back and let my body’s sweat pores go into hiding for a while.
I took the 25 RM half day tour for the sole purpose of a cheap way to see the lay of the land. And, to visit the historical Boh tea plantations.
And, in hindsight, for me, it was the best tour to take. It gave me a brief look at the major attractions on offer in the Cameron Highlands.
A small review for those planning a tour in the Cameron Highlands
- Tea Plantation – very nice views of the mountains, stop your mini van and get out for as long as you can!
- Tea Factory Tour – 10 minutes of mildly interesting tea information
- Rose Garden – An interesting looking flower garden built on a hill
- Butterfly Farm – Nothing exceptional, there’s an insect section here too if you want to see Malaysian tour guides pull at insects for gasping tourists – note the damage done to the insects
- Bee Farm – mesmerizingly boring, boxes with the odd bee and expensive honey
- Market Square – If you’ve seen one market, you’ve seen this one
- Buddhist Temple – again, if you’ve seen a Buddhist Temple this one is not so special in any way
- Strawberry Farm – More of a strawberry shop tour than a “farm tour”, but the treats are nice if you are not used to strawberries
It’s all about the climate in the highlands
So yes, I am very glad I only spend 25 RM on a half day tour. The rest of the day I sat on a balcony reading a book, sipping on a hot chocolate and enjoying the cool breeze of mountain air.
While the average tourist might find this boring in comparison to a “jungle trek”, for me the respite has been overwhelmingly relaxing. More over, I even need a blanket in bed at night!
To me, this feels as good as a beach side resort!
Planning on booking a hotel room in the Cameron Highlands?
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A hitchhike and a walk through the tea plantations meeting some tea leaf pickers