The Cameron Highlands is a mountainous area of Pahang, Malaysia and a popular getaway for domestic and international tourists alike. Home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, this region is famous for its Mossy Forest, as well as its agriculture and the Boh Tea Plantation. With its many sights, a Cameron Highlands weekend trip is a wonderful way to revitalize yourself and take in some fresh air.
The Cameron Highlands spans across a range of elevations, from 984 feet/300 meters to 6758 feet/2060 meters above sea level. So the temperatures there are a bit cooler, with an average high of 72°F/22°C and average low of 59°F/15°C. The climate is quite refreshing if you are coming from much hotter weather!
The greenery of the forests, farms, and tea estates blend together with a slower pace of life to cultivate a placid destination for visitors. In fact, the region was originally developed as a hill station by the British during their colonial period in Malaysia, essentially a resort area at a higher elevation to escape the heat and unwind.
In addition, the Cameron Highlands makes for a great quick trip from Kuala Lumpur, as it’s about a 4-hour bus ride from the capital, providing a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
This Cameron Highlands weekend trip guide will review 4 places I visited on my weekend in the region, with lots of photos to showcase the beauty of the area.
We actually entered the area on an overnight bus from Singapore, so that we could end our trip in Kuala Lumpur and fly out from there. Not the greatest, but the most efficient.
If you do this, definitely make note of the license plate and appearance of your bus, as we struggled to find our bus in the parking lot at the Malaysian customs and immigration center (at 1 AM, no less). We were the last ones on the bus and only managed to find it because one of the drivers recognized us.
In the end, we arrived at our destination, the town of Tanah Rata, around 10 AM, though we were projected to arrive around 7 or 8 AM.
Buildings and buses around Tanah Rata
We just stayed around Tanah Rata on the first day, even though we wanted to do an afternoon tour. Rain was predicted all day, so we decided to try our luck with a tour the next day. This ended up being a good choice, as it rained all day the first day and was clear the second day.
So we hung out, ate, napped, and found a tour for the next day. Had some of the best chicken makhani I have had in my life for dinner. We also bought some Malaysian SIM cards for our time in the country.
The delicious chicken makhani, some food stalls
Our tour started at 8:30 AM, picking us and a few other backpackers up in Tanah Rata in an off-road vehicle. We first stopped for a photo op of the tea plantation, and then continued on to the Mossy Forest around Brinchang.
Photos from the first stop
The Mossy Forest is a distinctive feature of the Cameron Highlands: a forest high up in the mountains, whose climate and elevation has promoted the growth of moss on much of the forest.
While the Mossy Forest is, in fact, a mossy forest, this type of rare biome is better known as a cloud forest. The customary clouds that permeate cloud forests provide the right environment for the aforementioned moss, as well as a host of other plants.
The moss and haze saturating everything gave the Mossy Forest a very otherworldly feeling. The dramatic way the sunlight filtered through the clouds into the forest also contributed to the fantastical atmosphere.
Moss and fog everywhere
Scenes around the Mossy Forest
The forest is also home to an assortment of unique plants. The tour guide pointed out and told us about various plants as we walked, including what I was most excited to see: pitcher plants out in the wild.
The pitcher plant is a type of carnivorous plant that attracts insects which then slip into the pitcher cup and get trapped in the liquid at the bottom. The insects are then slowly digested by the liquid, and the nutrients of their corpses are absorbed by the plant.
As part of our tour of the Mossy Forest, we hiked up to the top of Gunung Brinchang (“Mount Brinchang”) using the wooden walkways. Gunung Brinchang is the second highest mountain in the Cameron Highlands at around 6561 feet/2000 meters.
From our vantage point on the walkway, we couldn’t see anything on one side of the mountain because of the fog. On the other side, we could see some of the hills through the trees, though it was still a bit hazy. Around the walkway were more moss-covered trees and other cool flora.
Views of Gunung Brinchang
Some plants around Gunung Brinchang
I really enjoyed the Mossy Forest and Gunung Brinchang. With few cloud forests in the world, you can’t miss the Mossy Forest if you visit the Cameron Highlands.
Boh Tea Plantation
After the Mossy Forest, the tour group made its way to the Boh Tea Plantation, which, according to Boh, yields an astounding 70% of the tea in Malaysia.
We stopped along the way for another photo op of the tea shrubs. Hanging around the spot was a man with a snake named Nana that we could hold. So some of us got photos with Nana, and we went on our merry way.
Lovely views around the Boh Tea Plantation
Nana the Snake
At the visitors center, we could learn a bit about Boh’s history, purchase tea and other souvenirs, and partake in some tea and snacks at the cafe. I ordered the Palais Supreme tea and a scone, which came with jam, butter, and cream.
I really loved going through and seeing the Boh Tea Plantation. The grounds are extremely hilly and dynamic, so every spot offered differing but gorgeous vistas. I also just really like tea.
Cafe overlooking the hills, my scone and tea
Even if you aren’t a big fan of tea, I would still highly recommend driving through the plantation area for the views alone!
The last major stop of our tour was at a strawberry farm, where the strawberries were grown via hydroponics.
There are a number of strawberry farms dotting the Cameron Highlands, so there are also many strawberry-based foods and products available for purchase or consumption across restaurants and shops of the area.
We didn’t spend a lot of time at the farm, but had enough time to see the strawberries, try some jam, and get some quick food or drinks.
Around the farm
Trying some strawberry jam
After the farm, we ate lunch with the other people on our tour at a place recommended by the tour guide. Then we had to get our luggage that we left at our hotel so we could hop on the bus to Kuala Lumpur.
I really enjoyed our detour into the Cameron Highlands. On a trip that was mostly spent on islands and in cities, it was great to get away to a destination that a. was teeming with nature, b. was less hot and humid, and c. had a slower pace and was more relaxing. Our Cameron Highlands weekend trip provided the green, cool respite we needed.
The landscapes of the Cameron Highlands were dazzling. The endless waves of emerald undulating across the tea plantation and into the distance were unforgettable. Walking through the Mossy Forest felt like wandering through a fairy tale.
With the relative proximity to the capital (~125 miles/200 kilometers), the Cameron Highlands are a great overnight or weekend trip to pair with a visit to Kuala Lumpur. There are also plenty of tours available that will take you to a variety of locations around the area if you don’t have access to your own car.
I don’t know that I would visit Malaysia just for the Cameron Highlands, but I would definitely recommend a visit to the Cameron Highlands if you have the time and are already nearby.