The West Coast of Malaysia

CAMERON HIGHLANDS

Global Mark : 14.82    Top 5 : No2

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 5 2 2 2 5 4 4 14.00

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
22 100% 91% (20) 100% 12 to 20 15.64


Description : A cool hilly resort with numerous jungle treks to walk or a cool backpackers retreat with numerous videos to watch...

Comments : With temperatures ranging between 25 and 10 degrees Celsius, this place is popular year round with local tourists. It may become too popular & crowded soon and it already show signs of over-development...

What to do ? Cool down / Walk the 120 million years old Tropical Rain Forest / Follow steep paths up mountains / Smell pine trees / Visit aboriginal villages / Walk tea plantations / Spot an old British WWII helicopter / Swim waterfalls (in theory) / Smell wild flowers or roses / Spot carnivorous plants / Degust strawberries or honey / See colorful butterflies, alive or pinched behind glasses / Listen to birds (incl. eagles) / Shop for big spiders or long stick insects / Hide behind an original wooden mask / Learn Chinese calligraphy at Magnolia Coffee House (opp. Jasmine) / Take the sweater out of your bag / Eat all kind of pancakes / Sip & buy local tea / Swing at the government golf course (R63) / Play other sports at the Strawberry Resort : tennis (R8), squash (R8), swimming pool (R8),...

What you may not like ? The disappearance of some of the jungle to make room for new hotels : heavy vehicles moving the earth all around ! / The disgusting river or waterfalls, full of rubbish / The lack of Tourist Office / Spending money for a guide while free treks are available from most GH / Not having good walking shoes / Some very steep, narrow & exhausting trails / Not spotting too much wildlife beside birds, insects or tractors / Not bringing warm clothes / Some ridiculous souvenir prices (US$1000 for a 30cm high wood local sculpture !) / Visiting during high season (April, August & December) or very high season (festivals & school holidays) / 

How long ? With 14 trails to walk, one week. With a library of 300 plus movies in some GH, your visa length. Excess being unhealthy (ask your doctor !), I would recommend 3-4 days.


Where to stay ? 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online & save money ! >> Hostels

Touts will jump on you when stepping from the bus : they all offer leaflets and free transport to their GH, the best in town ! Except when indicated, GH should offer the followings : HW (an excellent idea at this altitude) / Satellite TV and/or video with a collection of movies to choose from / Map of the area / Free jungle trekking / Free drinking water / Laundry, internet, maps, books, etc...

- In town :

  • Cafe Downtown Hotel (05 4913159), 41 Jalan Besar, on the main road / Room 18(1) or 22(2), w. HW shower 25(1) or 28(2) / Rates incl. breakfast / Go there for the large rather clean and quiet rooms in the middle of town / What you may not like : the lack of charm & backpackers services or atmosphere
  • Daniel's Lodge (05 4915823, kang@tm.net.my), No9 Lorong Perdah, walk west from station and turn right before Jasmine Coffee House / Dorm (10 mattress on the floor) 5, Dorm (6) 6, Dorm (8 w. locker) 7, Sgl upstairs 16, Dbl 18-20 (outside window), w. bathroom 30-35 (outside window), family room (4 people) 32 / Satellite TV, HW shower, free water, free trekking, books, etc. / Occasional JAM sessions / Internet R5 per hour (min. R2) / Laundry R6 (5kg) / Go there for the quiet location, the relaxed veranda , the cheapest dorm in town, the backpackers' atmosphere & complete set of services, the free use of the kitchen equipped w. toaster or to watch video (200 titles) / What you may not like : having to go via the R6 Dorm to reach the R7 Dorm, the basic rooms, the not so spotless atmosphere and the busyness & noise if full
  • Fathers GH (012 5057799, fathersonline@hotmail.com), on a private hill, walk west from station, pass the convent on the right and take the stairs inside the forest, 10mn walk / In Nissen Huts (former soldier accommodations) : Dorm (8) 7, one tiny Sgl 14, Dbl 18-25(16-24 LS) / In Long House (wood) : room w. HW shower 30(1 or 2), 36(3), 44(4), 55(5), down to 25 up in LS / In Main House (concrete) : room w. shower by a garden 30(1 or 2), 39(2), 40(3) / Free tea all day long / Free toast in the morning / Internet R5 per hour (R1 min.) / Jungle walks some days / Go there for the setting at the top of an hill w. volleyball & BBQ places, the laid back backpackers atmosphere (Bob Marley signs), the most spacious room w. shower and the largest selection of books & video / What you may not like : the very basic rooms in the strangely shaped Huts, the grotty, smelly & suffocating TV room (if non smoker), the too relaxed staff, the R1 charge for towel or top sheet, the not so fresh rooms of the main house, the stairs up the hill 
  • Highland Villa (05 4911409), 1A Jalan Tanah Rate, 10mn walk on the road toward Tapah, just before the clock tower / Same owner as Travelers Home in KL / Dorm (6 in bunk bed) 7, Dbl 15(1) or 18(2), Two rooms sharing one bathroom 25(2) or 30(3), Dbl w. shower 30 / More expensive in HS / Free daily tours / Go there for the nice clean rooms w. window and the quiet atmosphere / What you may not like : not being far away from the busy road & the lack of kitchen 
  • Cameronian Inn (05 4911327, nasan@pc.jaring.my), 16 Jalan Mentigi, walk west from the station, turn left & follow the sign (5mn walk) / Indian Management / Dorm (4, bunk bed) 6, Dbl 16-20 (twin), w. window 24, w. HW shower 32-38 (LS 30-35), Trpl 45, Dbl w. bathtub 48 / Free daily jungle trek / Internet R6 per hour (R2 min.) / Laundry R3 (3kg) / Go there for the clean & cozy atmosphere, the nice rooms with brick partitioned walls & good beds, the small dorm, the relative isolation, the relaxed TV room and the complete set of services / What you may not like : having to pay R1 extra for a towel or additional blanket 
  • Hillview Inn (05 4915212), 17 Jalan Mentigi, just before the above / Experienced Indian Management / A big new house w. charm in a garden w. BBQ / Dorm (4) w. HW shower & two balconies 8-10, Dbl 20(big bed) or 25 (twins), w. shower 40 or 45 / Future huge living room w. TV, video, library & travel info / Laundry R6 (5kg) / Internet R5 per hour (R2 min.) / Go there for the nicest dorm in town, the large clean rooms w. balcony and the quiet atmosphere / What you may not like : the lack of deco in the rooms and the basic
  • Jurina Hill Lodge (05 4915522, jurina@tm.net.my), behind the above / Indian Management / A charming green house surrounded by hills / Huge family room (up to 10 people) w. local TV, HW shower & balcony R150 sometimes down to R80, rooms w. HW shower 70, sometimes down to R40(1) or R50(2) / Rates may incl. breakfast / More expensive during festivals & school holidays / Free use of kitchen (incl. toaster), BBQ / Go there to negotiate the price down or if you come with a large group of people and wish to get a place for yourself / What you may not like : the rather expensive rooms, some of them with no balcony & the lack of backpackers services
  • Twin Pines Chalet (05 491219, advch@pd.jaring.my), walk west from bus station, turn left at first road and continue straight / Small house with small garden / Dorm (4 on the floor) 6, Dorm (6 in beds) 7, Tiny Dbl (bunk bed) 15, Dbl from 16 (small inside window) to 30 (bigger outside window w. lavatory) / Laundry R7 (5kg) / Internet 4.5 per hour (R2 min.) / Go there for the great backpackers atmosphere with fire & guitar every evening plus all the other services (kitchen, jungle walk, video, etc.) / What you may not like : the not so clean atmosphere, the small & basic rooms and the noise
  • Papillon GH (03 7836745), 8 Jalan Mentigi, behind the above / Dorm (10 in bunk bed) 10, Dorm (5 in bunk bed) 15, Room (up to 3) 25, w. HW shower 35, whole GH (up to 35 people) 400-600 / Rates of rooms incl. light breakfast / Go there for the family atmosphere in a charming little house and the nicely decorated clean rooms with good beds / What you may not like : the common bathroom with no shower but tab and the expensive dorms

- Outside of town : Not really recommended for backpackers but I visited so...

  • The Bala's Holiday Chalet (05 4911660, balasch@hotmail.com), 1.5km on the way to Brinchang, turn left opposite the hill with stairs (before the path to Parit Falls) / Indian Management / Charming house on top of a hill / Dbl 25, w. shower 35-45 / Go there for the charming atmosphere and the nice garden with great view / What you may not like : not getting the cheapest room (but do they really have any ?), the basic, small & not so fresh rooms, hearing the road below, the limited & rather expensive food (cheapest dish R7), the tiny size of the scones (two plus tea for R11 !) and the 20mn walk to town. 
  • The Old Smoke House, 3km further away from the above, south of the golf course / Deluxe suites start at R400 ! / Go there on honeymoon or to admire the beautiful house, the superb garden and, if possible, the amazing interior. / What you may not like : not being rich yet...


Where to eat ? A lot of place to choose from, on each side of the main road. The cheapest restaurants are Indian (good Murtabak for R3.5, chicken tandoori R4) but the Chinese restaurants offer a cleaner atmosphere (dishes at around R7). Indian style Pancakes are everywhere, for as little as R0.7 (plain w. sugar) 

Internet ? All the GH have internet facilities. Rates varies from R4.5 (Hill View) to R6 per hour. Most have a minimum charge of R2. It is therefore better to head toward the internet places which can be found in the west block of town. The basic rate is R4 per hour. Hackers Cafe (29, Jalan Medan Taiping) has no minimum charge and is open daily from 10 to midnight. 


Trekking the area ? 

This is the main reason to come here, even so some people seem to have difficulties leaving the relaxed GH atmosphere...

There are about 14 different trails to choose from, ranging from a relaxed 20mn promenade alongside a dirty river (Trail No4) to a few hours tough fight to reach the summit of a mountain (Trail No8). 

Most GH now have free treks starting in the morning. Those are usually not the longest nor most challenging but it is the safest & most sociable way to walk around. 

Trekking on your own is very much possible as most trails are marked with color signs but you occasionally may have to retreat as some paths are a bit confusing. Getting hurt is also possible on some steep trails so it is essential to tell your GH where you plan to go and be well equipped.

- The Tea plantations (one day) : One of the most interesting walk is toward Boh Tea Estate via Robinson waterfall. Trail 9 or 9A should take less than one hour down. Then, there is a 6km walk on the flat and scenic road toward the tea plantations. Free visit take place from 9:00 to 16:30 daily except Mondays & public holidays. Coming back, you could walk up to Habu Power Station on the main road and hitch your way toward the scenic view point, then walk Bharat Tea Estate before hitching back to Tanah Rata (there is now too much traffic on the road to have a pleasant walk)

- A wild jungle experience (half a day to one day) : Probably one of the best jungle trek, for those who are not scared to be in close intimate contact with nature. Start with Trail No10 (1-2 hours), on the right from before the clock tower, passing through the Oly Flats and nice Camellia Garden. This trail was lovely 4 years ago but constructions right below now add irritating noises to the jungle's. After 15mn walk, you reach the intersection with Trail no11 and it start to go up. When reaching the yellow muggy road, look for the red sign on the electric tower. The idea is now to reach the summit of G. Jasar (1696m). From there, Trail No6 will go down all the way to the main road. The narrow path start on the left inside the vegetation. There is little chance to get lost as red & yellow signs are abundant (if you do not see a sign for more than 5 minutes, you must be resting !) plus there aren't too many side paths. After 1-1.5 hours, you will reach a road designed for good 44 vehicles. Turn left. When reaching a better road, turn right (turning left will lead you to an ugly Chinese cemetery). You should reach the main road, 3km down from Tanah Rata, within 30mn. You could walk down 2km to reach the scenic view point and then hitch back your way or head straight for a good shower.

- To & around Brinchang (one day) : You could reach the colorful Sam Poh Buddhist Temple via trail No5, trail No3 and strenuous trail No2 in about 2-3 hours. From there, continue north on the main road for 3km toward farms, vegetable markets, strawberries, butterflies garden (R4) or the Rose Valley (R4). Back in Brinchang, head south toward the poor but scenic Orang Asli Village (a few km west from the main road). From there, you have the choice between the hilly Trails No12, 11 & 10 back to Tanah Rata (2-3 hours maybe) or the flatter main road along the Gold course via the charming Smokehouse Hotel and Parit Falls (1-2 hours). 

More itinerary are of course possible. Ask your GH for a map of the area and for itinerary tips. 

Backpacker's Tips : Felix, Switzerland (Sept 00)
 If your in an average (good) shape, you can ride your mountain bike (rent in Tanah Rata at a souvenir shop on the main road)) to the top of Gunung Brinchang. The street is sometimes so steep that you will have to walk. On the way you pass through tea plantations. On the way back, we visited Boh Tea plantation/factory.  

 << Discover the Tea Plantations


How to leave Cameron Highlands ?
With only one company operating and with the exception of Tapah (ticket in the bus), it is necessary to book at least one day in advance.
Most buses however have to be caught from Tapah. Except for destinations on the Ipoh-KL line, it is necessary to reserve a seat in advance as buses coming from Ipoh or KL may not otherwise stop in Tapah. Most GH can arrange this at the same official price (they get commission from the bus company). You will however have to reach Tapah by yourself.
To Kota Bahru or Hat Yai (Thailand), you will have to change bus in Ipoh. In case of traffic jam or breakdown, if you miss the connection, the bus company shall reimburse the ticket.

 

Bus Schedules ? 

From Cameron Highlands :

To  Price Class D Time Nb Freq.
Tapah 3.7 ordi 2 8,9:15,10:30,11:30,13:15,15,16:15,17:30 8 na
KL 10.1 ac 5 8:30,10:30,13:30,16 4 na
Penang 14.1 ac 7 '8:30,14:30 2 na

Notes : D = Duration / To Penang via Ipoh (R12, 3 hrs)

From Tapah :

To  Price Class D Time Nb Freq.
Kampar 1.25 ordi 20mn 6:40 to 19:20 a lot 20mn
Ipoh 4.5 ac 1 9:30 to 20 a few 30-60mn
Cameron Highlands 3.7 ordi 2 8,9:15,10:30,12,13:30,15,16:15,18 8 na
KL 7.8 ac 2 9:30,10:30,12:30,15:30,16:30 5 na
Melaka 19 ac 4.5 10 1 na
Singapore 46-49 vip 7 10,21:30 2 na
Kuantan 24 ac 7 9:15,20:45 2 na
Kuala Terengganu 32 ac 7 20:45 1 na
Kota Bahru 27 ac 7 17:30 chge 21:30 at Ipoh 1 na
Penang 14 ac 5 11:30,16:30 2 na
Hat Yai 36 ac 9.5 17:30 chge 23:00 at Ipoh 1 na

Notes : To Kampar then change to Ipoh / To Ipoh from main road so may not stop if full / To Singapore via Johor Bahru (R46, 6 hrs) / To Kota Bahru change bus at Ipoh / To Penang via Ipoh / To Hat Yai change bus at Ipoh

From Kampar :

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Tapah 1.25 ordi 20mn 6:40 to 18:40,21,22 a lot 20mn
Ipoh 2.1 ordi 1 6 to 22:30 a lot 10-30mn


The trip to Ipoh : SSSSS then SSS / L then R / R3.7+1.25+2.10 / 1.5 hrs+25mn+1 hour / Ordi buses
There was really no reason to rush to guarantee a left seat on the first 8am bus to Tapah : it did not show up ! Instead, one bus arrived at 8:20. - "What time will it go ?" - "8:30". We left at 9am with quite a few seats left, 15mn before the second bus which certainly did not follow its schedules as well. Conclusion : stay in bed longer !
The scenery on the left side was much more enjoyable than on the way up (probably because the seats this time were at the right height) so the trip somehow appeared less strenuous. But as the driving was as careless, there were still the need to grasp something in order not to be ejected by the centrifugal force...
We reached Tapah at 10:40. - "Where are the bus to Ipoh ?" - "Not from here. You can try your luck at the main road but buses from KL will stop only if seats are available. The best is therefore to go to Kampar first and then change bus". How easy it is to travel when people speak English ! Actually, there was one bus scheduled to Penang via Ipoh at 11:30 but it wasn't clear whether or not it would show up or had left already... Even with people speaking English...
Going to Kampar, about 20km away, was therefore the best bet, especially with a bus leaving on time (so it is possible after all !) every 20mn. The scenery was of course two grades below but mountains, lakes and a Chinese cemetery could still be spotted on the right. 
We arrived at 11:25 and left for Ipoh 5mn later. It took one hour to cover the 37km (a record to beat !) but the road was probably more scenic than on the highway (express buses are also available every hour). A few km before town, Sam Poh Tong (Sam Poh Temple) can be spotted on the right. It might be a good idea to get off here for the short visit then catch another bus as getting a bus from Ipoh to Kampar can be an hassle if not from the main remote bus station.
If you wish to stay at any of the southern hotels, get off where most of the passengers are getting off : opposite the Embassy Hotel. If you wish to stay at the YMCA or use Ipoh as a transit town only, remain seated for the 10mn ride to the bus station. 

See also the trip from Kuala Lumpur