Major attractions of Cameron Highland - Tea Farms, Strawberry cultivation, Rose valles, ect - are spread around the mountains and can be visited by using inexpensive public transport that connects various parts of the hill station.
We observed two major hurdles during our Oriental Outings 2011: the unreliable schedule and the language barrier. Although they display a schedule at Tanah Rata bus station but that is only good for reference purpose while the second hurdle actually reflects that most of the users are villagers and farmers.
It would be important to note that some attractions, e.g. Tea Farms, are a bit away from the main road, where the public bus would leave you. Therefore, be prepared for a decent walk.
So, if you are on a tight timeline and can't afford risks, then booking a packaged tour from one of the main tour operators around would be the best bet (advanced booking is not required).
However, if you have ample time then the best method is DIY. Start the day early, as locals do, get a good map (maybe from the internet), select and club places you want to visit, and try to call it a day around 1500 hrs to keep time for contingencies.
Please click here to see what changed our minds to switch from DIY to the packaged tour
Updated July 2007
My recent visit in December 2006 coincided with a weekend during the school holiday period. To escape the unbearably hot weather in Kuala Lumpur, many families & corporate groups had made their way to Camerons in their SUV's, MPV's, mini-vans and even a few 40 seater coaches, only to find that it was equally hot in Cameron Highlands! To make matters worse, some found that their rooms lacked any air-conditioning. What can I say, some people ARE spoilt!
Note: It tends to get cooler in the late evenings and in the night temperatures do drop to 60 degrees F.
Besides the heat, the maddening crowd was everywhere, particularly in and around Tanah Rata, Brinchang and Tringkap, especially at mealtimes. There was no escaping the KL-ites and Penang-ites, not to mention a few Singaporeans doing their "kiasu" thing at buffet times.
With the additional traffic on the roads, it was no surprise that this sometimes creates a traffic jam on the main roads (big sigh) and in Cameron Highlands, there is only one main road.
Additional driving tips/warning:
When you're driving off the main road to off-road farms, bungalows and tea plantations, you'll would likely find yourself driving along one lane roads carved into the hill-side. Be prepared that you may have to reverse your car for several meters when a larger truck or 4 wheel farm vehicle or tourist coach approaches from the other side of the road!
So, when's the best time to visit?
If you are the sort that prefers to avoid crowds and traffic jams, it's best to visit Cameron Highlands during normal days-do avoid public holidays and school breaks. This way you will get the chance to really have a relaxing holiday or second honeymoon holding hands with your loved one, taking slow walks all the while enjoying the fresh, clean mountain air. :-).
Driving up Cameron Highlands using the old road (via Tapah) is quite a dangerous affair. The road is prone to landslides during the rainy season. It's also used by heavy vehicles. The road is winding but not steep. It's a nice drive and you could also enjoy the beautiful greens and scenery on the way. You'll pass by tea plantations and it's really beautiful. But do drive carefully and with low gear. It's a good idea to honk around sharp bends to warn any oncoming traffic. Do not overtake unless you have a proper view of what is ahead! Driving uphill and downhill is a very stressful affair for the car. Ensure you have the brake and tyre checked before embarking on this journey! Only an experienced driver should drive!
At certain times of the year, Cameron Highlands is infested with flies. This makes eating a bit troublesome as the flies will just be around you. Gotta be careful they don't get into your food. I've no idea where the flies come from but it could be from some animal farms!
According to the caretaker at our bungalow and also stories from friends who work at the hotels here, water cuts occur frequently in Cameron Highlands. In fact, it is a common woe that has been reported in the newspaper almost every year. The question is, when is someone in the know going to do something about it? (read my addendum below about REACH)
We faced water shortages in 2004 and again in 2005 when we stayed at our private bungalow.
In fact, in May 2005, due to the limited and uncertain water supply, our family had to take 5 scoop baths, 2 scoops to wet your body and hair, soap yourself all over, shampoo your hair, then 3 scoops to rinse off. If possible don't wash your hair! YES, 5 scoops per person!
What can you do about this?
I'm not sure what you can do about it, but for a start, if you're driving with your kids, you might consider to bring also some water in giant mineral water containers, just in case of a water emergency.
I wish to highlight an article I read on the internet, written by R.E.A.C.H. (Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands a body founded in 2001), which is concerned about the impact of deforestation and over development of Cameron Highlands. Water pollution, lack of quality potable water and temperature warming are among the problems that local residents face currently, and so far, there has been very little done to improve the conditions.
Please do visit the EWARNS website at www.ewarns.com.my for latest information on real-time and forecast early warning on erosion risks / hazards for Cameron Highlands.
The real-time information will be updated every minute basis and forecast is for 7 days.
Live CCTV of Cameron Highlands also available via the same website. Now, you can also get the SMS Alerts broadcast across more than 113 countries!
Hope you have a pleasant journey and do keep track on the risks involved via this wonderful free-to-public website!
Try to drive your car within your skill limitation, always in low gear because that will help you to negotiate corners better
Be extra careful & use low gear when you're driving your own transportation to Cameron Highlands. This is absolutely a must when you're going down hill and try to limit the usage of braking system. Prolong usage of braking system not just promote wear and tear, it also may cause your braking system overheated and burned/jammed the brake pads.
Roads to Cameron Highlands especially from the Tapah route can be inaccessible during rainy season due to landslides, especially during the months of October to December. This is also Malaysia's monsoon season which will record highest volume of rainfall.
Always check out the website www.cameronhighlands.com for latest information on landslide and weather forecast before your departure.
Roads leading to Cameron Highlands are quite winding and narrow at certain stretches. When driving, be patient and don't overtake heavy or slow vehicles at a blind corner. Always use low gear and check your speed limit. Drive safely...
There are about a dozen waymarked trails around Tanah Rata. Get a decent map - and don't stray off them.
There have been several stories of tourists who have ventured off without a guide - striking out into the jungle.
In one case in 2003 a rescue party of policeman themselves got completely lost for about a week and lived entirely off wild bananas and tree sap - glad to say all were found safe in the end.
The waymarked trials are reasonably well signposted and nearer to town use extra guides like coloured bricks - hence the title of the tip
Whilst out in a Land Rover my wife claims that she saw something come in through the window of the car. We were passing by trees and it must have been on the leaves / branches.
She thought at first it was an earwig, and tried to brush it off. It was only then she saw what it really was - with that distinctive tail !
Thankfully it was all over so quickly it carried on out of the rear window, which was also thankfully open.
Apparently if you do actually get stung, the best thing to do is to drink about 3 liters of water which dissipates the affect of the venom.
- good job she didn't see the tiger out of the other window !
At the foot of the hills you start the ascent and unless its changed, I’d say hang on to your lunch. It is a very steep and windy road. On the way up cars were stopped on the side of the road with their occupants bent at right angles inspecting the grass (or was that their lunch… yuck). It really was very windy but well worth the trip. Along the way are interesting sites so you don’t have to do the drive all in one go.
about your health, activities and hygene in local restaurants can be found on the website listed below ;
The weather in mountainous areas such as Cameron Highlands can change very fast so keep a check on the weather forecast.
The road up to Cameron Highlands has many twists and turns, and it may be problematic for those with motion sickness. I have seen people vomitting on the coaches during the journey.