If you’re planning on visiting the Cameron Highlands whilst you’re in Malaysia, and I highly recommend that you do; you should be really careful about how and where you choose to spend your time. There are PLENTY of hiking trails to get your teeth into as well as multiple attractions in both Tanah Rata and Brinchang. I want to set apart the wheat from the chaff so if you’re here in the Cameron Highlands for a limited time only- like I am, then you will know all of the best things to do.
I read a lot of blogs posts on this place before arriving; we were only planning on spending one full day in Tanah Rata so I wanted to make sure I made the most of every minute. Everywhere I read the main attractions; The Butterfly farm, Strawberry farms, Cactus Valley, Time Tunnel museum etc. were absolutely fantastic and were places definitely not to be missed. Now I don’t know if it’s because these posts were written many years ago, or if it’s just a matter of personal opinion, but in my eyes; most attractions here are not at all worth your precious time or money.
What NOT to do
- Big Red Strawberry Farm- This was our first port of call, we arrived early so we could get the best pick of strawberries before the tours arrived. Nothing- we saw no strawberries at all (granted this is a seasonal thing), instead all we saw were lettuces. There is no information available on the way their crops are grown, just rows of plants behind gates you can’t enter. Strawberry picking- if you can find any that is, will set you back 25 MYR (approx £4.50) for 500g which is ridiculously overpriced, I mean come on! The cafe is the only thing worth visiting here- they sell strawberry themed meals; sundaes, chocolate fondue, even a strawberry salad (but I’m English, it’s hard to impress me with an okay strawberry). The entry here is free so if you have some time free I wouldn’t tell you not to go…but there are much better things to be doing around here.
- Cactus Valley- This attraction is next door to the Big Red Strawberry Farm and I’m sure if you walk up to it, you’ll want to turn around and walk back again. Cactus Valley is a poor excuse for a tiny garden centre (you could literally walk through it in less than a minute), I didn’t even see any cacti from the outside. At 5 MYR (Approx £1) entry, it simply doesn’t seem worth it in my eyes.
- Time Tunnel Museum- Upon arrival to this museum, I thought we had the address mixed up. It’s a tiny store front, with a huge sign saying ‘Time Tunnel Museum’ so apparently we didn’t get mixed up after all. The place was absolutely dead and nobody other than the ticket seller was taking advantage of this attraction, which I think tells you everything. Needless to say we didn’t pay the 6 MYR entrance fee; it looked tacky, run down, and a little pointless.
- Butterfly Farm- This attraction seems like it would be lovely- you’d go and watch all of the amazing Asian butterflies (and trust me, the butterflies here are incredible) in their natural habitat. Actually this isn’t the case, what I hear is that the butterflies are not free to fly about, and neither are the multitude of snakes, lizards and other reptiles. If you don’t want to see animals miserably cooped up in small enclosures or see live baby mice fed to snakes then I’d suggest avoiding this one.
- Tours-When you first get here, the tours seem like an amazing deal. You can get everything you wanted to see done in half a day. I would really recommend you don’t do one. They are quite pricey for one (prices start from 26MYR- approx £5 p/p) and they take you to a lot of crappy attractions- mainly ones mentioned above. Plus most of the time they don’t actually include lunch or entrance fees. Plus the best way to see this place is on foot- you can’t experience the views the same by car. If you’re far out from an attraction you desperately want to go to then hitchhiking is a fantastic option here. We were picked up in 30 seconds by a lovely woman, Malaysia in general is one of the safest places to hitch a ride, everybody seems to do it here.
Now, this post seems all doom and gloom but I have actually LOVED my day in Cameron Highlands, it’s all about knowing how to spend your time that’s all. It seems here that anybody with a farm or a little bit of land have slapped on an entrance fee and labelled it an attraction, this is what I’d recommend avoiding. However, there are some pretty amazing things to do here.
What Katie Recommends
- Go Hiking- There are so many brilliant jungle treks here to choose from, they really should be the main reason for your trip. Even if you just did a short hike, there are some lovely streams and waterfalls you can discover on a short 30 minute walk. Check with your hotel which trails are the best for you (they will usually have maps, top tips and information on all of them). Make sure you check if any trails or shut depending on the time of year you visit and tell someone at your hotel which trail you’re planning to do, just in case.
- Visit a Tea Plantation- Unlike so many other attractions, this one, I promise definitely is worth it. The tea plantations are so beautiful to look at, it would be a crime not to visit one whilst here. I’d recommend the BOH Sungei Palas Garden location as for me, there really is no comparison. Come and relax in the glass cafe right in the midst of the biggest tea plantation in the area and drink a pot of freshly brewed tea, grown right where you’re sat. Why not enjoy a scone or two whilst there. It’s a very Brisith affair, which was so strange for me to experience. But, it was founded by an English man- with the surname of Russell, so who knows maybe we’re related. It’s about an hour walk from Brinchang but you can drive to the top. The views are to die for though, so I would highly recommend walking, trust me it makes the cuppa at the top even more delicious.
- Hike to the Peak of Brinchang Mountain and explore Mossy Forest-Brinchang Mountain is over 2000m high, but if you walk to the Tea Plantation mentioned above you’re already on track so it would be rude to not continue. The views on the way to the top are breathtaking, you may meet a few goats on the way up and once you’re high enough…it’s like you’re walking amongst the clouds. Mist seeps in when you’re not expected and pretty soon you feel like you’re at the top of a beanstalk in a mystical fairy tale. Once at the top you can have a wander around Mossy Forest- an amazing place where moss covers literally everything; it’s amazing to experience.