When travelling to Malaysia, one normally doesn't think of tea plantations and mountain chalets. But when visiting the Cameron Highlands in the country's interior, that is exactly what you will find.
A former hill station for English settlers to escape the unbearable heat of Kuala Lumpur, this charming area is a must stop on anyone's list when visiting Malaysia. Rich with lush jungle, rolling mountains, waterfalls and agriculture, one can lose themselves for days hiking its many trails and relaxing for afternoon tea and scones on a veranda overlooking breathtaking scenery.
The Cameron Highlands are a three-hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur on a harrowing winding road. The trip can have hair-raising accidents happen though local people seem to be unfazed by the unpredictable driving.
Sheer drops, narrow roads and a winding route will get your heart pumping. But you can take comfort in the fact that you are riding in luxury.
The buses are pure decadence in Malaysia. Super VIP buses for a mere US$10 buys you an over-sized fully reclining seat, English movies and western bathroom on board. The roads are in good condition and the drivers are quite skilled. Once you become used to the dizzying speed of driving in Asia, it becomes more bearable.
The views en-route are breathtaking. You are reminded of the rice terraces in Vietnam's Sapa. Only instead of rice terraces, it is tea plantations. Mountainous terrain filled with trees full of vibrant green leaves blending together. Planted in neat rows, it is as if a giant knife has sliced lines through the solid canopy creating winding patterns in the rolling landscape.
Upon arrival in the main town of Tana Rata, several touts from surrounding guest-houses are there to greet you vying for your business. It can be a daunting task choosing the right accommodation, but there are plenty of places to stay and it is easy to get around. Kang Travellers Lodge is a great choice and once settled in, one has to check out the towns many cafes and restaurants. Sitting down with a book and drinking tea and dipping scones are a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of most of Malaysia.
Dinner offers plenty of opportunities, but make sure not to miss out on the Steamboat dinners at one of the many restaurants offering them.
The thinly sliced meat with vegetables and noodles cooked in a simmering pot at your table gives a welcome warmth to the cool high landevening.
It is the hiking and the jungle that brings one to the Cameron Highlands however, so make sure to grab a map and set out for one of the many trails in the area. A must do trail is Gunung Brinchang. It is the highest peak in Malaysia and starts from Sungai Palas. The 1-hour hike through the jungle trail takes you to a summit that offers spectacular panoramic views. Clouds sweep in and out over the mountains changing the scenery with each passing second.
Once you have soaked in the sights, a gentle walk down the road takes you past the Sungai Palas tea estate, offering beautiful photo opportunities. Deep green lines are etched into the mountains where millions of tea plants neatly planted in rows and patterns. Catching a ride back to town is easy. Friendly people will offer a seat in the back of their truck and you can stop for fresh fruit en route.
Several other trails can be explored as well, there are 14 in all.
They take you to the beautiful Robinson Falls, Parit Falls, to a Buddhist Temple and around the Cameron Highlands Golf course. It is truly getting back to nature when one visits The Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.