When I visit a country for the first time, as I did recently in Malaysia, I always want to see everything immediately. Preferably the whole country at once. Pretty utopian. So I try to plan my trips so that I travel to as few different areas as possible. Fortunately, this works well in Malaysia, the country is small and you can get around quickly and comfortably by bus, train, car, plane or boat. Cheers to the transportation options in Malaysia! So after a weekend in Kuala Lumpur, I took the bus to the Cameron Highlands, to Tanah Rata. In the middle of the interior, in the middle of the mountains, in the middle of the tea plantations. Pure nature. And pretty much the complete opposite of busy Kuala Lumpur. And the fresh air. A little cooler – but pleasant in summer. And the nature here was really good for me: you can find out everything you can do in the Cameron Highlands in this article!
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Hey, I’m Tatiana, a German-Brazilian living in Berlin & the author behind The Happy Jetlagger. I’ve been writing about my travels since 2014. In addition to my job as a flight attendant, this blog is my passion project!
Cameron Highlands: Malaysia’s tea paradise
The tea plantations ensure that the landscape is dotted with lush green fields. This is because only the very young, light green leaves are picked for our tea, while the older, dark green leaves remain on the bush. And so the tea plantations stretch like a bright green blanket over the mountain landscape of the Cameron Highlands. Incidentally, the tea plantations here are – how could it be otherwise – a legacy of the British, who found perfect conditions here in colonial times to grow their beloved tea. Mild tropical climate, not too hot, not too cold.
Original BOH tea from the Cameron Highlands
Around the time I was in Malaysia, I became an absolute tea drinker. And after being able to enjoy really good tea right at the source in the Cameron Highlands, so to speak, I am now quite discerning when it comes to good tea.
But luckily I can now order my tea happiness from the Cameron Highlands directly to my home! In the Salacca tea house you will find a wide variety of BOH tea from Malaysia!
And it wasn’t just the tea that the English brought with them, but also plenty of Land Rovers to get them through the adventurous landscape. To this day, the world’s highest density of Land Rovers can be found in the Cameron Highlands!
Sunrise in the Cameron Highlands: the magic of nature
As a city kid, I never thought I was particularly close to nature. But this has been changing for some time now. Maybe it’s my age, oh dear. Or the fact that Berlin, the city where I live, is simply too much of a city: too rough, too gray, too crowded. It’s annoying and sometimes diminishes my enthusiasm for city life. In foreign cities, I find my way around easily from a standing start. New York, Bangkok, São Paulo – it doesn’t matter. Big cities are my territory. And they no longer impress me at all because the challenge is missing.
What knocks my socks off: A very simple sunrise. In Berlin, you only see it when you come home from the club. But a sunrise over the mountains of the Cameron Highlands, full of lush green tea plantations and pristine tropical forest – that is truly breathtaking. And suddenly you are sucked into this great everyday life in nature – and you yourself are very small.
The Mossy Forest in the Cameron Highlands
The tea plantations are impressive. But in the Cameron Highlands you also come across a piece of rainforest, high up in the mountains. Damp, and covered all over with moss.
That takes an incredibly long time to grow just a few millimeters. That’s why there is a part of the Mossy Forest that you can explore via a wooden walkway – and it’s best to do this early in the morning, otherwise you’ll have to share the impressive natural experience with lots of other tourists.
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Tips for the Cameron Highlands: tea and hiking!
There are two large producers with tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands: BOH Tea and Bharat. Both have visitor centers where you can buy tea, taste it and watch it being made. Or you can simply walk through the green fields. Also nice.
There are numerous hiking trails around Tanah Rata. They are not necessarily well signposted, but pretty much every accommodation has more or less accurate maps. But you should be really careful, the paths are sometimes adventurous and lying injured somewhere in the Malaysian jungle is stupid. So it’s better to set off at least in pairs and always have a small survival kit with water, cell phone, etc. with you.
Another big tourist attraction in the Cameron Highlands are the strawberry farms. Asians might find it spectacular, but it didn’t really knock my socks off. The Butterfly Farm is small and clearly laid out, but still gives a nice impression of the surrounding nature. And I saw butterflies there for the first time that were as big (and almost looked like) bats.
Overnight stay in the Cameron Highlands or Tanah Rata
Accommodation in Tanah Rata is more expensive in terms of value for money than elsewhere – and also much simpler. But it doesn’t matter, because in the Cameron Highlands you just walk around all day anyway and fall into bed in the evening dead tired from so much oxygen and natural spectacle. Two popular accommodations (which were even recommended to me by my Uber driver in Kuala Lumpur) are Gerard’s Place* and Father’s Guesthouse*, which belong together and are similar in style: Simple rooms, but functional and a pleasantly communicative backpacker atmosphere.
Tanah Rata has a good selection of restaurants and cafés, even a Starbucks for those who can’t do without it. But I found the best breakfast on the roadside, at one of the self-service stalls with plastic stools and folding tables. With a lot of rice, chili and sweet Nescafé. Sounds bizarre. It was. And incredibly delicious.
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