There seems to be a set route that backpackers do around Malaysia, usually starting in Kuala Lumpur then going to the Cameron Highlands before moving on to Penang and Langkawi. I bumped into so many people along the way that I had met during a previous leg of my journey! The Cameron Highlands is a popular stop for it’s amazing views (particularly over the tea plantations), it’s fresh strawberries and other fruit & veg, and it’s hiking. I figured it would make a good stop between KL and Penang and the temperature might be a nice break too!
Getting to the Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lumpur took about 4 hours on the bus from the main intercity bus terminal directly to the town of Tanah Rata. I checked the bus times on easybook.com and they seemed to run pretty regularly and I bought my ticket when I got to the bus station. I hadn’t expected the bus driver to be militant about not eating or drinking during the journey, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought lunch to eat on the bus which was at 12pm. Thankfully there was a rest stop at 2 o’clock so I didn’t starve until 4pm! I don’t think all of the buses have this strict a policy but it’s worth checking before you get on.
When I arrived at my hostel in the early evening I bumped into a couple of girls that I had met in KL and they showed me photos of the sunrise tour they had done that morning with CS Travel. Thankfully I still had time to book it as the tour operator offices in Tanah Rata tend to stay open fairly late. I was up at 5:30am to be ready to meet the guide and other tour guests at 6am and we drove out to the tea plantations to our viewing point. We got out of the jeep in the pitch black, but it wasn’t long before the sky started to lighten and the incredible view came into focus beneath us. The gathered clouds meant that we couldn’t see the sun itself and so we got back into the jeep to drive to the Mossy Forest. Finally as we were on our way a gap appeared in the clouds and the sun peeked through. Our driver quickly found a place to stop and we managed to take some more pictures.
Our next stop was the Mossy Forest and we were early enough to be the only ones there and to catch the forest when the mists were gathered and it had a really ethereal atmosphere as light rays shone through the fog. We couldn’t see the whole extent of the views from the various platforms, but it was still really lovely walking around. It’s definitely mossy!
The tour’s final stop was the BOH tea plantation, tea room and factory where I sat overlooking the incredible rolling plantations with a scone and an absolutely delicious Palas Afternoon tea from their seasonal garden tea range. I bought some in their shop as well as some of their Palas Supreme as well. I couldn’t resist! You could do a tour of the factory that ran at set times for about ten minutes, but the timings didn’t quite work out and I decided to focus on drinking tea and shopping.
Ok so the BOH plantation was the last official stop, but we also stopped by a market stall selling fresh local strawberries – when in Rome, right?
We got back from the sunrise tour in time for lunch, after which I set off for some hiking with my newfound friends from my hostel. Maps.me is a great app for downloading offline maps and it was really useful for finding local hiking trails. It was so much fun to be able to go out for a hike without having to organise a tour or a local guide and to have the freedom to go wherever you want and also change your mind if you want to. We climbed up roots, clambered over tree trunks all amidst luscious green jungle and rushing waterfalls. I can’t recommend it enough!
In the end I only had one full day in the Cameron Highlands before hopping on a bus to Penang, but I loved every minute that I was there. The cool temperatures, fun hiking trails, and the delicious local tea were what really won me over. It’s well worth adding in to a Malaysia itinerary if you have the time.