The Cameron Highlands is a region located some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur. It offers visitors numerous hiking trails, old colonial houses, and, as the tea-producing capital of the country, lots and lots of tea!
Visiting the Highlands is usually on every traveler’s bucket list, as people are keen to enjoy the cool temperature and lush, green surroundings. From jungle trekking to strawberry picking, the Cameron Highlands are perfect for relaxing and sightseeing.
You can easily spend days hiking, drinking tea, eating, and reading a good book. It’s the perfect place to chill out and slow down. I loved my time here.
This travel guide to the Cameron Highlands can help plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your visit!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Cameron Highlands
1. Tour the tea plantations
The Cameron Highlands is Malaysia’s tea-producing center due to its high altitude and cool climate. Visit one of the plantations and enjoy some tea and scones while admiring the lush tea fields. The two most popular plantations are the BOH Tea Plantation and Cameron Bharat Tea Estate.
2. Go jungle trekking
There are 14 trekking routes heading out from the town of Tanah Rata. Most of the hikes lead to waterfalls and scenic viewpoints. If you want to do one of the more challenging routes, you’re required to hire a guide and obtain a permit. Frequent rain results in trail closures, so research and trails before you go.
3. Visit Tanah Rata
Tanah Rata is the largest and most developed town of the Cameron Highlands. But it’s not huge — the town center consists of only one street! It’s also the center of the Highland’s nightlife, which ends around midnight (it’s never very rowdy here).
4. Tour Sam Poh Temple
Built in 1972, the Sam Poh Temple is the fourth-largest temple in Malaysia and provides an arresting view against its lush jungle backdrop. The temple sits in the hills overlooking Brinchang and offers a panoramic view of town. Inside you’ll find statues of Buddha, Zhenghe, and other deities.
5. Climb Gunung Brinchang
Gunung Brinchang is one of the most beautiful mountains in the country due to its jungle trails and viewpoints over the highlands. At 2,000 meters high (6,560 feet), the main trail to the top starts at the north side of Brinchang town and takes about two hours total. If you’re unable to hike, you can also drive to the top.
Other Things to See and Do in the Cameron Highlands
1. Visit a farm
The Cameron Highlands has tons of farms: bee apiaries, rose farms, cactus farms, strawberry farms, lavender farms, and more. These farms usually offer free tours with the ability to purchase products afterward. Cactus Valley has some giant cacti on display that are up to 60 years old, while Lavender Garden lets you try lavender ice cream. At Kok Lim Strawberry Farm, you can pick your own berries and then swing by the cafe to taste their strawberry ice cream, juice, and jam. Admission varies per farm, costing upwards of 10 MYR per person.
2. Find tranquility at Robinson Waterfalls
By following jungle trail number nine, you’ll end up at Robinson Waterfalls after a quick 10-minute walk. These falls are a very serene and peaceful way to fill a relaxed afternoon, especially if you are there in the wet season (November-March) when the waterfalls are at their biggest. Pack a lunch, bring a book, and lounge the day away.
3. Take in beauty at the Flower Festival
The Highlands are Malaysia’s leading producer of flowers and home to the annual flower festival every August and September. Aside from displaying bright blossoms and other plants that grow in the area, the festival includes flower parades and flower competitions where growers get to show off their skills. If you’re not in town during the festival, check out the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi), an agro-technology park divided into several different gardens, including a stunning Orchid Garden and a Rose Garden. Several of the Flower Festival’s events take place here as well. Admission is 6 MYR.
4. Visit the Pasar Malam Night Market (Brinchang Night Market)
Located in the Golden Hills area of Tanah Rata, The Pasar Malam Night Market (also known as the Brinchang Night Market) occurs Friday and Saturday evenings from 5pm-11pm. Shop from over 150 local vendors and take your pick of affordable souvenirs or other treats like strawberries and tea. This is a nice way to end a day of adventure as you grab some traditional Malay street food (try the satay, a tasty grilled meat) and peruse the local wares. A lot of vendors sell the same souvenirs so shop around for the best prices before buying.
5. Wander the Pasar Pagi Morning Market
Roll out of bed after spending the night at the Pasar Malam Night Market and head straight to the Pasar Pagi Morning Market for breakfast. It’s located in KEA Farm Town and is open from 8am-3pm every day. There are mostly farm goods here, including fresh fruit and veggies, but you’ll also find some hawkers selling street food, clothing, and souvenirs. Flower vendors also come here to show off their goods.
6. Hike the Mossy Forest
Hire an experienced guide and explore the lush and thriving Mossy Forest, where the high altitude and cool temperatures create a unique environment full of tropical ferns, plants, and trees. On the Boardwalk, keep an eye out for bright-green Rajah Brookes butterflies, brightly plumed birds, and monkeys. Due to weather and trail conditions, it may be muddy and slippery, so pack a rain poncho and comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots. You can also take a taxi to the BOH Tea Plantation and walk to the trail, but a guide is recommended for this experience so that you can learn all about the area’s unique environment. Admission to the Boardwalk is 30 MYR. Eco Cameron Tours offers 4-hour group tours for 80 MYR per person.
7. Visit the Time Tunnel
The Time Tunnel is a (very small) museum featuring vintage items from throughout the history of the Cameron Highlands. A visit won’t take up much of your time, but you’ll get to see things like old-fashioned signs, postcards, photography, and even a replica of an old Malaysian coffee shop. It’s kitschy but makes for a fun way to spend an hour or two. Tickets are 6 MYR.
8. Hunt for Rafflesia flowers
Did you know that the Cameron Highlands are home to the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia? It’s technically a parasitic plant and is sometimes known as a “corpse flower” due to its corpse-like odor. Still, their giant red blooms are impressive to see in person. They’re classified as endangered, so you’ll need to arrange a tour with a company like Eco Cameron to see them in bloom in the Blue Valley. Tours are private, so prices depend on the size of your group. Since blooms are unpredictable (and rare), contact the tour operator to see if any tours are going ahead.
9. Tour the Mah Meri Art Gallery
This museum and art gallery in Tanah Rata showcases the intricate artwork of the indigenous Mah Meri people of Malaysia’s Carey Island. It includes incredibly detailed wood carvings like statues and sculptures made of mangrove hardwood, though the masks are the most impressive, featuring lifelike animistic characters. Admission is 37 MYR.
10. Eat steamboat
Steamboat, also known as hot pot, is very popular in the Cameron Highlands and a definite must when in the area. This communal meal consists of a boiling pot of hot broth in which you cook various ingredients like meat, tofu, fresh vegetables, fish balls, noodles, and more. The traditional method, still widely used in the region, is cooking over a charcoal grill to infuse the food with more flavor. It’s a great way to warm up in chilly mountain evenings! There are many steamboat restaurants in the area, but my favorite is Cameron Organic Produce Steamboat Restaurant, where a steamboat meal for two is 60 MYR.
For more information on other cities in Malaysia, check out these guides:
The Cameron Highlands Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Hostels start around 35 MYR per night for a dorm with 10 or more beds. Dorms with 4-6 beds cost 85-100 MYR per night while a private double room starts at 135 MYR. Free Wi-Fi is standard and free breakfast is common. Most hostels also have a kitchen for those looking to cook their own food. Prices are consistent year-round, but you may have to pay upwards of 20 MYR more per night on the weekends.
There are many campgrounds in the area for those traveling with a tent. Prices are generally 10-35 MYR for a basic plot, with a surcharge of 5-10 MYR per person per night. Campgrounds usually have hot showers, toilets, and BBQ pits. The more expensive ones (50-60 MYR per night) have Wi-Fi.
Budget hotel prices – Basic guesthouses cost around 65-90 MYR per night and generally come with a fan (no A/C), shared bathroom, and shared kitchen facilities. Hotels cost 110-180 MYR for a basic double room with A/C and free Wi-Fi. Most hotels in this range do not offer free breakfast.
Airbnb is available in the area, with prices for private rooms starting at 95-110 MYR per night. For an entire home/apartment, prices begin at 150-200 MYR per night.
Check with your accommodation beforehand to see what your transportation options are for getting to your hostel/hotel. Since everything is so spread out in the Highlands, you may have to hire a taxi to get you there.
Average cost of food – Malaysian cuisine takes influences from China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore. Rice or noodles are the basis of most dishes, and seafood and fish feature prominently, as do chicken and beef, which are usually halal as Islam is the most widely practiced religion in the country. Commonly used vegetables include cabbage, bean sprouts, lotus root, sweet potatoes, taro, and long beans.
The unofficial national dish is nasi lemak, fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and flavored with pandan leaf and accompanied by different sides, usually served for breakfast. Other popular Malaysian dishes include roti canai (a sweet or savory flatbread), ikan bakarlaksa (spicy noodle soup), and many different regional fried noodle and fried rice dishes.
You can find plenty of street food options in the Cameron Highlands for less than 6 MYR, especially at the markets. A meal at a Malay restaurant costs around 10-15 MYR while a takeaway meal from a Chinese restaurant is 8-10 MYR. A combo meal at a fast-food restaurant is 10-12 MYR.
For a meal at a mid-range restaurant, expect to pay around 30 MYR for one course.
While alcohol is often frowned upon, you can still buy beer out at the bar, usually for around 13-15 MYR. When you can find them, a glass of wine or cocktail is 17 MYR. Local tea is 3 MYR, while a cappuccino is around 6 MYR.
While here, definitely try a steamboat (hot pot). My go-to is Organic Produce Steamboat Restaurant, which uses certified organic vegetables from their garden. The traditional charcoal stoves used give the food more flavor. The food is delicious and affordable, with a vegetarian set for two people and Chinese tea costing about 55-65 MYR. The restaurant fills up quickly during dinner time so get there early.
Western meals are a bit more expensive, though not by too much. Breakfast costs 10-17 MYR, pizza costs 15-17 MYR, and a pasta dish is 20 MYR. Due to the British colonial influence on the area, there are a number of restaurants and teahouses offering British fare, such as fish and chips (which generally costs 25-30 MYR).
For a week’s worth of groceries, expect to spend between 100-200 MYR for basic staples like rice, produce, and some meat or fish. 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.
Backpacking the Cameron Highlands Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking the Cameron Highlands, expect to spend about 100 MYR per day. This budget covers staying in a hostel dorm, eating cheap street food and cooking, limiting your drinking, taking the bus or cycling to get around, and doing mostly free activities like hiking.
A mid-range budget of 275 MYR per day covers a private Airbnb or hostel room, eating out at cheap street stalls and enjoying the occasional sit-down meal, having a few drinks, taking some taxis to get around, and doing more paid activities like guided hikes and plantation tours.
On a “luxury” budget of 510 MYR or more per day, you can stay at a hotel, rent a car or take more taxis, drink more, eat wherever you want, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
The Cameron Highlands Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
A little goes a long way in Malaysia and this area is no different. That said, here are some extra ways you can save money in the Cameron Highlands if you’re on a super tight budget:
- Camp – The Cameron Highlands are pretty safe, so if you’re feeling adventurous, this is a good way to save on accommodation. There are a lot of campsites in the area but Sungai Pauh Campsite is the cheapest, charging 10 MYR per person 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.
- Visit during the week – Weekends here are busy so visit during the week to beat the crowds and find cheaper accommodation deals.
- Enjoy the free hikes – Most of the trails don’t require a guide so get out and enjoy the abundant free nature here.
Where to Stay in the Cameron Highlands
Looking for budget-friendly accommodation? Here are some of my favorite places to stay in the Cameron Highlands:
How to Get Around the Cameron Highlands
Tours – The Cameron Highlands have limited transportation options so the easiest way to see the sights is to take a tour. There are private and group tours that usually combine a visit to a tea plantation, a hike in the moss forest, and visiting local farms. Your hostel or hotel can easily help you get set up based on what you want to do and how long you want to go.
Bus – Public transportation is extremely affordable at 1.50 MYR per ride, but it’s often unreliable. A shuttle bus from Tanah Rata to the tea plantations and most attractions costs under 5 MYR. The 3.5-hour bus from the Highlands to Kuala Lumpur costs 22-35 MYR.
Motorbike – You can rent a motorbike for around 50-60 MYR per day. Just be aware that these are windy mountain roads, often slick with mist and rain, so only rent a motorbike if you’re a confident driver. Traffic flows on the left.
Taxi – Taxis are generally unmetered, with most drivers offering fixed rates to main attractions. However, they’re still a very affordable option. A taxi from Tanah Rata to the BOH Tea Plantation costs around 65 MYR roundtrip. Taxi drivers usually have a fixed rate of 75 MYR for a three-hour tour that takes you to three attractions of your choice, which is usually the most affordable and flexible option.
Hitchhike – It is common for people to hitchhike in the Cameron Highlands. Waits are usually not long and many drivers speak English. For specific tips and information, check out HitchWiki.
Car rental – There aren’t any major car rental agencies in the area. If you’re traveling from Kuala Lumpur, you can rent a car there for around 85 MYR per day. Just remember that traffic flows on the left here.
When to Go to the Cameron Highlands
The best time to visit is between April and September. During those months it doesn’t rain as often and the temperature ranges between 25°C (77°F) during the day and 16°C (60°F) at night.
The monsoon season is November-February, though it is quite rainy even in the drier seasons.
If you are visiting for the jungle treks and hiking trails, I recommend traveling during the dry season, between March to June. You’ll have better weather and the trails will actually be useable.
Cameron Highlands is often jam-packed on weekends, especially during the dry season. You may encounter bigger crowds as well as slight price increases on tourist attractions. When planning your trip, it’s important to check for national holidays and long weekends since it can significantly change your experience if things are shut down.
How to Stay Safe in the Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is an incredibly safe place to backpack and travel – even if you’re traveling solo and even as a solo female traveler.
However, robberies have happened on some of the hiking trails, so ask your hotel for an update and hire a local guide if necessary. As usual, watch your belongings and leave your valuables in a safe place when hiking.
Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never walk home alone at night, never accept drinks from strangers, etc.).
There aren’t many travel scams in the region, but if you’re worried about getting ripped off you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.
This isn’t a party area, but as an extra word of caution, avoid using drugs. They are illegal in Malaysia and the penalties are stiff.
Your biggest challenge will likely be dealing with nature and weather. Frequent rain results in trail closures. Research the weather and trails before planning your trip. Most importantly, bring rain gear and hiking boots so that you’re prepared. Most of the accessible hikes lead to waterfalls and scenic views. If you want a more challenging trek, you’re required to hire a guide and obtain a permit.
Additionally, avoid tap water as it’s unsafe to drink and might get you sick.
If you experience an emergency, dial 999 for assistance.
Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
The Cameron Highlands Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Agoda – Other than Hostelworld, Agoda is the best hotel accommodation site for Asia.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
Cameron Highlands Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on travel in Malaysia and continue planning your trip: