With green, rolling hills and cool mountain air, the Cameron Highlands are your chance to escape the heat for a day and picnic among strawberry farms, wander colonial-era tea plantations or search for medicinal herbs in mist-cloaked moss forests.
At 800 to 1,600 metres above sea level, the Cameron Highlands are a blessed relief after the sweltering heat of the Malaysian lowlands – as the British geologist William Cameron discovered when he first mapped them in 1885. Ever since then, Malaysians and outsiders alike have been escaping to these hills, whose lush and gentle slopes roll away into the distance under a great patchwork blanket of tea.
Tea was first brought to the Cameron Highlands by the British in the 1920s, and the fertile soil and temperate climate proved the perfect match. Today, it’s the region’s signature product, and definitely the main reason to visit. These vast, undulating plantations are among Malaysia’s most photogenic landscapes, and if you like the idea of wandering through them, eating fresh strawberries, checking out the tea processing factories and sampling the local blends – you’ll love it.
Beyond the plantations, in the wilder regions of the Highlands, you can escape to landscapes untouched by colonial development. Here, hike into thick-canopied moss forests where pitcher plants and orchids thrive among medicinal herbs and exotic spices, and the trees drip with mosses, ferns and lichens. This is also something of a birdwatcher’s paradise, and you can spot white-throated fantails and mountain peacock pheasants flitting between the branches.
Don’t come for quaint local villages – you won’t find them here. Come to experience a different face of Malaysia, where the cool climate and grand colonial hotels tell a completely different story from the hectic trading ports and hyper-modern cities of the lowlands.