During my month stay in Cameron Highlands, I had the chance to do many hikes and sightseeing. I stayed in a small town called Tanah Rata doing volunteer work in a hostel. And when I say a small town, I mean there is one main street where you can find everything that you need. Restaurants, hostels and hotels, post office, ATM, starbucks, travel agencies and bus station. Cameron Highlands has population of 38.000, which covers an area of 712 square kilometers.
The next town is 5 kilometers away and the name is Brinchang. This town has more restaurants and hotels. Many Chinese restaurants as there are Indian. You will find things here that you can’t find in Tanah Rata. There are Strawberry farms, cactus farms, bee farm, butterfly farm, orchid markets and night markets where you can find fresh vegetables and fruits.
These small towns have surprisingly traffic every Friday and Monday. Tourists come and go every day, visitors from Malaysia come up here for the weekend. After all, it only takes two to three hours with a car from Kuala Lumpur. And it takes two hours longer with a bus.
If you are planning to come to Cameron Highlands, be prepared for the cool air and rain. Sun rises in the morning and gives warmth until clouds fill up the sky in the afternoon. The rain begins sometime in the afternoon and usually lasts until the evening or night. A good day would be hiking and sightseeing starting early morning and go for coffee and strawberry scone in the afternoon then go for dinner in one of the restaurants in town.
Here’s what you could do on your own in Cameron Highlands
Jungle path number 1
I highly recommend this hiking path and it is also my favorite. You can go to any travel agency and find a tour that takes you to this place. Most of the tours get you to most popular attractions for 45 RM for a half-day and about 75 RM for a full day. But if you are staying for more than two nights, I would advice to do this on your own. The path begins in Brinchang at the end of the main road towards the North. If you are staying in Tanah Rata, take a cab or hitchhike to Brinchang. Hitchhiking between these two towns is easy and people are friendly and kind enough to help you out if you need it. Once you get to Brinchang, walk up the main street and you will see a yellow sign that says “Jungle path #1” on the left side of the street. The beginning is a smaller road for approximately 15 minutes walk until you reach the jungle. After that, it will take about an hour through the jungle. Make sure you have proper hiking shoes on, because it will get steep and muddy. Right before you reach the top, you will come to Gunung Brinchang, a viewpoint of the landscape which tours usually have a stop. Once you get to the top, you will find an open area and a road. There is also a viewpoint tower, where you can see the entire area around you. This next road is downhill all the way. You will walk past mossy forest, vegetable farms of lettuce, onion and other vegetables I have no knowledge of. Mossy forest is also one of the popular places to check out. Although it was closed when I was there, and what I did was, I walked a little further from the closed entrance and took a small path into the forest. After the mossy forest and vegetable farms, you will find tea plantations. Bright green valley goes on like waves. This road is about three kilometers. It took me about four hours from starting in Tanah Rata and get back to Tanah Rata.
Jungle path number 10
I ran and worked out on this path few times a week. It is not as steep as number one, but the jungle is denser. There is no farms or tea plantations on this path. It is a simple jungle path with a viewpoint of Tanah Rata and landscape on the top. It begins and ends in Tanah Rata. A good couple of hours afternoon walk.
Lord’s café, Tanah Rata
If you have a craving for good coffee and sweets, there is a café I would recommend. This place is cozy with two big rooms and vintage furniture with a tad homey feeling to it. Lords Café is located on the opposite side of the bus station on the main road. If you walk past a fast food restaurant, you have gone too far. They serve hot and cold drinks, such as coffee, tea and chocolate. As for food, there are scones, cakes and pies. I would say their scones are the most popular cuisine. They serve them with butter and jam. But my favorite is the chocolate banana cake.
Weekend market, Tanah Rata
Markets in Southeast Asia have always been one of my favorite places to go to. No matter how small or big, there are always smiles and kind faces. This weekend market begins Saturday afternoon and ends in the evening of Sunday. I recommend waiting till Sunday afternoon where most vendors had set up theirs. There will be many choices to take between fresh vegetables and fruits to freshly made desserts.
New visitors often asked me for advice where to eat. The answer is always Kumar, an Indian restaurant located in the main street. I have enjoyed their tandoori chicken and garlic naan bread. There are many other meals to choose from, from vegetarian meals to desserts. The waiters welcome you with a smile and keeps on smiling as they serve you food. The prices are not cheap, but reasonable.
There are many things to do and see in Cameron Highlands, but these were my highlights during my stay there.