Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Travel: Cameron Highlands, Pahang

Cameron Highlands is the smallest district in the state of Pahang which is located in the north-western corner of the state. One of the wonders of Malaysia, it is the largest and most famous hill resort in the country. This highland paradise still retains much of the charm of an English village with unique architectural styles.

Cameron Highlands is also the leading producer of flowers and tea in Malaysia. Be prepared for a lovely sight of extraordinary flowers and plants you won’t see flourishing elsewhere in Malaysia such as the monkey pot plant, strawberry, cactus and many more. Located on the Titiwangsa Range at about 1500 metres above sea-level, the temperature here can drop to 16 ˚C or lower at certain times.

Cameron Highlands is made up of 4 main townships followed by smaller settlements at different elevations. The first town from the south is Ringlet, followed by Tanah Rata, Brinchang, Kea Farm, Tringkap, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja.


If you're driving via the old road from Tapah, Ringlet is the first town you will reach. Located at an elevation of 1,200 metres above sea-level, Ringlet is one of the main agricultural hub for the highlands. Bertam Valley which is located about 5km away is one of the main flower and vegetable producers in Cameron highlands. You won't find any hotels here as the nearest hotel is the LakeHouse which is less then 10 minutes away. This is also the place to fill up on fuel.

Tanah Rata

Further up is Tanah Rata which is about 12 km’s which is about 20 minutes drive from Ringlet. This is the administrative capital of Cameron Highlands where the government offices, hospital and the district police station is located. The main bus station is also located at Tanah Rata and this is where you would be able to get your transportation needs within and out of the highlands. Most of the chalets and backpacker's accommodation is located here in and around Tanah Rata, Almost all the jungle trekking and waterfall trails starts from here too.

Local tours and transfers out of Cameron Highlands can be obtained from the various tour operators in town. Money changers and internet cafe's can also be found here. Tanah Rata would be a nice place to enjoy the highlands, especially during the weekdays. It is much more quieter compared to Brinchang where most of the big hotels and restaurants are located.


Next is Brinchang which is about 4 km’s (10 minutes drive) from Tanah Rata. This is where you will find most of the hotels and restaurants. The night market which is open every Saturday night and on holidays, features all kinds of vegetables, flowers, fruits and other products of the highlands. This place can get really crowded during the weekends and holiday season. Traffic jams and parking problems can be a nightmare during this time. Next to Ringlet, this is the only other town with petrol stations so keep your fuel tank in check.

Kea Farm, Tringkap, Kuala Terla & Kampung Raja

Beyond Brinchang, the road leads to all the way to Blue Valley. Most of the tourist spots are located around this route. This is where you will find the markets, vegetable farms, flower gardens, bee gardens and butterfly gardens. The road also branches out to the Sungai Palas tea plantation from here where you can visit the factory or have a cup of tea while enjoying the breathtaking view of the plantation.

If you continue on the main road heading north, it will be downhill from Kea Farm onwards. You will see vegetables farms all the way from here to Tringkap and beyond. Tringkap is a small farming community where you can find stalls along the road selling local produce. Fifteen minutes away is Kuala Terla, another small farming community. 

Kampung Raja is the last town on the map. Since the opening of the Simpang Pulai road, this town has become the gateway to the highlands from the north. From here, you can head west to Ipoh or east to Gua Musang in Kelantan.


The Cameron Highlands got its name from William Cameron, a British surveyor who was commissioned by the then colonial government to map out the area in 1885.

In a statement concerning his mapping expedition, Cameron mentioned he saw “a vortex in the mountains, while for a (reasonably) wide area we have gentle slopes and plateau land.”
When approached, the late Sir Hugh Low, the Resident of Perak, expressed the wish of developing the flat terrain as a “sanatorium, health resort and open farmland”. A narrow path to “Cameron’s Land” was then carved through the dense jungle. Nothing much happened after that.

Forty years later, Sir George Maxwell visited the locale and decided to transform the place into a hill station. A development committee was formed in 1925. Later, a road was constructed from Tapah to the highlands.

The building of the road was a challenge. The crew not only had to deal with the weather; they also had to live with the risk of being down with malaria.

When the road was completed in 1931, the British and the locals moved in to settle on the slopes of the mountain. They were soon followed by tea planters and vegetable growers who found the fertile soil and cool climate to be especially suitable for the growing of their crops.

By the mid-1930s, there was a remarkable change in the territory: it now had a nine-hole golf course, several cottages, three inns, a police post, two boarding schools, a dairy, nurseries, vegetable farms, tea estates, a Government Rest House and an Experimental Agricultural Station.

The district continued to grow until the outbreak of the Second World War. During the Japanese Occupation (1942–1945), there was hardly any development in the area. When the Japanese withdrew in August 1945, the place underwent a transformation.

Today, the haven is not only the biggest and best known of Malaysia’s hill stations; it is also the highest point in Malaysia which is accessible by car.