The Cameron Highlands is 200km north of Kuala Lumpur, and is the highest region in mainland Malaysia. The area is popular with locals and tourists keen to enjoy its cool temperature and lush, green surroundings. As the tea-producing capital of the country, the Highlands are the perfect place to enjoy a nice cup of tea and relax while scoping out the lush landscape. From jungle trekking to picking up a bargain at one of the night markets, the Cameron Highlands are the perfect combination of relaxation and sightseeing.
Hostel prices – Hostels are affordable here, with some starting at just 25 MYR per night. Most dorms will cost around 35 MYR per night while a private double room costs around 100 MYR. Free WiFi and free breakfast are both common and most hostels also have a kitchen for those looking to cook their own food. Camping is available in the area for those who have a tent. Prices can be as high as 50 MYR per night for a four-person plot, though you can find places for as little as 5 MYR per night.
Budget hotel prices – It might be worth it to spring for a hotel since the city is so affordable — expect to spend around 80-120 MYR for a double room. Rooms around 100 MYR will generally come with free WiFi and free breakfast. Budget hotels with A/C or kitchen facilities are rare. Airbnb is available in the area, with prices for shared accommodation starting around 50 MYR per night. For an entire home or apartment, prices begin around 175 MYR per night (though most are usually double that).
Average cost of food – You can find plenty of options for less than 6 MYR, though a decent meal at a restaurant will cost you around 8-10 MYR. For a nice meal at a mid-range restaurant, expect to pay around 20 MYR — what a deal! While alcohol is often frowned upon, you can still buy beer out at the bar, usually for around 10 MYR. A coffee will cost around 5 MYR. For a week’s worth of groceries, expect to spend between 100-200 MYR. Stick to local staples, as imported items like wine or cheese will blow your budget in no time! However, with food so cheap, it’s better to eat out at the local markets than try to cook for yourself.
Transportation costs – Transportation is extremely affordable. A bus from Tanah Rata to the tea plantations and most attractions cost under 5 MYR. A bus from the Highlands to Kuala Lumpur will cost under 50 MYR. Bike rentals are available for under 5 MYR per day. A taxi from Tanah Rata to Brinchang will cost around 8 MYR, while taxis to Ringlet and Boh will cost 25 MYR and 40 MYR respectively.
Suggested daily budget – 110-130 MYR / $25-30 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out at the markets, hiking, doing the free activities, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. If you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be on the higher end!)
Money Saving Tips
- Camp – Cameron Highlands are pretty safe, so if you’re feeling adventurous, this is a good way to save on accommodation and have an experience. Sungai Pauh Campsite charges around 5 MYR per night.
- Cycle – For a few Ringgit per day you can rent a bike from most hotels. Although local transportation is super cheap, this is an excellent way to see the area and have a truly local experience.
Top Things to See and Do in the Cameron Highlands
- Tour the tea plantations – The Cameron Highlands is Malaysia’s tea-producing capital due to the high altitude and cool climate. By visiting one of the plantations you can watch the entire production process and then enjoy tea and scones while looking over the tea fields. It’s possible to combine tours of the plantations with visits to a strawberry, bee or butterfly farm. This costs around 20-40 MYR.
- Wander through Tanah Rata – Tanah Rata is the largest and most developed town of the Cameron Highlands. That being said, the town center consists of only of one street, Jalan Besar White buildings, parks, and hotels. It’s a quaint town but it’s also the center of the Highland’s nightlife, with locals and tourists descending on the Jalan Besar on a Saturday night. Jalan Besar is where you’ll find some of the area’s best restaurants, too.
- Visit a bee farm – There are three bee farms in the Highlands, although Tringkap Bee Farm is the best. The farms are usually free to tour, and it’s pretty cool just to watch the worker bees buzzing around collecting the honey. The best part of the trip is the honey tasting at the end! Plus, you’ll also have the opportunity to buy fresh honey. Admission is free.
- Go to Sam Poh Temple – Built in 1972, the Sam Poh Temple is the fourth largest in Malaysia and is quite an arresting site. The temple sits in the hills overlooking Brinchang and offers a fantastic view over the town. Inside you’ll find statues of Buddha, Zhenghe, and other deities.
- Climb Gunung Brinchang – The road up to this hill is the highest in Peninsular Malaysia at 6666ft, although the climb is not that tiring, presumably because the cool climate helps things along. The panoramic views over Brinchang and all of the Cameron Highlands from up here are spectacular and consequently this one of the most popular walking tours in the region.
- Do some jungle trekking – There are 14 trekking routes heading out from Tanah Rata, so you are sure to find a trail to suit your ability. Trails are a great way to take in some of the local attractions, as many of the trails pass by places of interest.
- Find tranquility at Robinson Waterfalls – By following jungle trail number 9 you’ll find yourself at Robinson Waterfalls. These falls are very serene, quite, and a great way to fill a relaxed afternoon, especially if you are there in the wet season (November-March) when the waterfalls are the most impressive.
- Take in beauty at the Flower Festival – The Highlands are Malaysia’s leading producer of flowers and as such are a great location for an annual flower festival. The festival takes place in August/September every year. Aside from displaying the flowers and agriculture grown in the area, the festival also includes parades, competitions, and cultural shows.
- Eat strawberries until you burst – Strawberries are delicious here! They grow everywhere and they are served a hundred different ways. Try the strawberry lassi or for something more unique, strawberry coffee.
- Walk through Cactus Valley – This is a nice outdoor site, with beautiful flowers and plants everywhere you look. Walk along the various terraces and check out the different fruits and vegetables. There are some neat gifts for sale, as well as cacti and other potted plants.
- Go golfing – The golf course here is beautiful and a promising challenge for beginners and advanced golfers alike. The course is 18 holes with varying greens and terrain. Expect to pay between 10-20 MYR.
- Eat at Rosedale Bistro – This is a popular little café for locals and travelers alike. Aside from the pleasant atmosphere, the menu offers everything from local food to Chinese and European dishes. It’s inexpensive and the WiFi is free.
- Visit Cameron Highlands Butterfly Farm and Garden – This garden features a huge variety of different bugs and butterflies. Entry is cheap and it’s open all day long. Next door, there is a butterfly farm too. Adults pay 7 MYR while children enter for 4 MYR.