Wednesday 20 June 2018

2D1N in Cameron Highlands

Just last weekend, I was at Cameron Highland just to spend the weekend away from oh-so hot Selangor weather. It was a random decision made just two days prior to the trip LOL. I have been to Cameron Highlands on day trips with my family since childhood but this round was sorta a different experience in a way this time I am doing the planning while getting to know about Cameron Highlands. Sharing that with y'all in case you're planning for a trip to Cameron Highlands soon, hopefully you'll find this helpful in your planning.


How to get to Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lumpur

My usual site for bus booking is the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan's website but most of the tickets have sold out by then and the remaining ones were with odd traveling hours. So my travel buddy recommended EasyBook.Com. I decided to get the tickets from the latter and we chose the earliest departure from Titiwangsa Bus Station (accessible by Titiwangsa Monorail Station).

Since we had time, we first have our lunch in Quill City Mall's Roast & Grill.

The bus we took. The sleepy head there just woke up. Face blur like sotong OMG.

I was asleep for the first two hours during which we passed by Bentong and the bumpy, winding ascend from the foot of the hill begin. Somehow, instead of the scheduled 5 hour journey, we ended up traveling for 7 hours! I don't know why, the road was clear. Thankfully, the ride back was just about half the departing time. I actually prefer my couch back, the seats were much more comfortable. Forgot which bus company is that. It's CS Travel.


Where to Stay

I stayed in Tanah Rata in a backpackers' hostel called De Cameron. We booked this from Expedia because I couldn't find a room with a good rate from AirBnB with such a short notice. Other site to check is Booking.Com.

The best thing about this place is that this place is just right opposite the Tanah Rata's Fressia Bus Terminal and right beside MarryBrown's. The other thing is this place is just RM37.50 per person, per night which is quite a steal! One room consist of four bunks with curtains if you want privacy and a small cabinet with four lockers enough to put our wallet, camera plus as a temporary souvenirs space. Just a quick introduction of Tanah Rata, it is one of the 3 main towns in Cameron Highlands and the closest to Brinchang and the peak of Cameron Highlands. By taxi, it won't take you 10 minutes to reach Brinchang!

Other hotels you can find around Tanah Rata are:-

Planters Hotel
Same row of dhophouse with De Cameron,  less than 5 minutes away from the taxi stand. Rates unknown.

Sleepbox Hotel
5-10 minutes walk through badly lit road. Around RM40 per person per night.

Tips #1: Of course, there are a lot others you can find in Tanah Rata but with different rates! Aside from Tanah Rata, you can consider staying in Brinchang town even though Tanah Rata's just like 5-10 minutes away from Brinchang's closest touristy spots. While you can find hostels and hotel just everywhere, it is best to book the rooms online, they are usually fully booked on the weekends and public holidays.

Tip #2: Avoid heading to Cameron Highlands especially on the weekends and public holidays. Traffic during these period is terrible!


Getting around in Cameron Highlands

Ok, this was tricky! We spent a lot of time walking to save money and mostly because we had trouble finding rides because it was such a packed weekend in Cameron Highlands! Coming back from the Brinchang Night Market, no taxi. At Boh Tea Plantation Center, taxis fully booked, the roads were jammed and no taxi drivers willing to drive from Tanah Rata to Brinchang to fetch us back to Tanah Rata... So on day 2 we spent hours walking! Because of that, we couldn't spend time in the Mossy Forest nor Time Tunnel, two places we really want to check out!

From our backpackers' hostel in Tanah Rata, we weren't prepared and didn't know how to get around. Our host recommended a taxi driver who would take us to both Mossy Forest and Boh Tea's Plantation Centre but for RM150! The same, kind taxi driver told us it is possible to get to these places by taking a bus at the station and stopping at the Honey Bee Farm. From there, we could walk.

We're fine with walking so walk we did. Took us close to 2 hours to reach the centre because we made stopovers to snap photos and all! Because of that, we decided against heading to the Mossy Forest... From the Boh Tea's Plantation Centre back to the Honey Bee Farm took us half the time.

See the road right there? That was where we were heading to!

On the bright side, it meant we could enjoy the scenery and take our time snapping photos along the way which was exactly what we did!

On the way back from the Boh Tea Plantation, we crossed path with several groups of people who has resorted to walking because the cars were barely moving! In fact, several times while walking, we caught up with the same jeep with two little girls inside who kept waving at us, they were so adorable!

One energetic uncle we came across remarked, this is the best way to get up (to avoid the jam) and that he's happy to do the walking LOL! Foreigners walking towards the plantation/mossy forest and between the two towns are a common sight as well.

Tips #3 : Go with groups of 4 to rent taxis or a tour. Unless you and your pals don't mind taking your time and long walks. Though bear in mind of the traffic!

Tip #4 : According to my host at De Cameron, there are no cars for rental but scooters or mopeds. However, I have seen foreigners driving but cannot be sure whether they rented the car before heading up to Cameron Highlands or if they own the car *shrugs*


What to Do in 1 Day & 1 Night in Cameron Highlands

I consider myself being in Cameron Highlands for 1 day and 1 night only because by the time we arrived, it was close to 7PM. Our first destination is the park right beside the terminal for photos before heading to the Brinchang's Weekend Night Market.


Visit the Boh Tea Plantation Center or in our case, take a hike!

While walking down towards Time Tunnel, we also stopped by the several markets by the road. There, I found a fruit called buah cinta (this literally translates to "love fruit") which I have never came across before! Out of curiousity, I bought a bunch of four to try. I find their taste pretty interesting, worth trying once. Then probably never again HAHAHAHA. I'm gonna keep this for myself so you guys go try okayss~~

Visit farms and nurseries such as the Bees Farm, Rose Garden, Butterfly Park, Cactus Point and the list goes on!

If you have plenty of time, trek Mossy Forest and go to Time Tunnel Museum. If you got an extra day, consider heading to the Rose Valley and Grapes Farm located further north up Brinchang. Or simply hike up a different trail in the Mossy Forest!


What to eat in Cameron Highlands

In Tanah Rata, places to makan includes Kougen Cafe, Capitale Cafe, Jasmine Cafe. AA Curry House (which is really just mamak restaurant), other mamak shops nearby, a Starbucks, The Mossy Forest Cafe and Old Town. Apparently, you can find The Lord's Cafe and some Chinese restaurants but we missed them.

Brinchang's Weekend Night Market which opens from Friday to Sunday.

Warm up with tomyam or herbal steamboat. We dined at Glory 78's Steamboat & Snack Corner, a restaurant right smack between the Brinchang's Weekend Night Market and Tanah Rata.

Ice creams! It's cold, but who cares? They're available from the Brinchang Night Market or the roadsides market.

Lunch plus tea time at Boh Tea's Plantation Center.


What to get for souvenirs

Cameron Highland grown vegetables, corns and fruits (such as the buah cinta shared earlier). In one roadside market, I found some durians as well.

Not forgetting the potted flower plants, flower bouquets, cactus, air plants and succulents. If I have my own place, I wanna get hydrangaes! They're so pretty and reminded me of my maiden trip to Japan. I wanna go back to Japan!!!!

If you collect fridge magnets like I do, there are plenty to choose from! I bought Cameron stamp magnets for my fam and myself. I also bought this one animal shaped head and ear warmers. I don't remember seeing this last time I was around with my fam but this round, they're everywhere!

If you love tea, buy some Boh Tea from the Brinchang's Boh Tea Plantation Center. I didn't because the last time I was there (years ago!), I remembered having compare the prices and found the Boh Tea's products cheaper in supermarket in Selangor/KL albeit a minor differences. This time, I took some photos of the products and their prices from the Boh Tea's Plantation Center and then came back to compare. Here are my findings:-

Price at Boh Tea's Plantation Center
Price at Aeon
*Boh Tea's bags in a 40g cannister (in 4 different blends)
Not Available
Boh Tea's Seri Songket in retail mixed bags of 30's
Not Available
Boh Tea's Gold Blend in 150g cannister
Boh Tea's Seri Songket in box of 20's
Boh Tea's Ice tea in pack of 20's (Lemon-Lime/Peach/Orchard Splash flavors)
*Boh Green Tea Latte in pack of 12's
*RM14.05 on promo

which brings me to my next tip,

Tip #5: Consider purchasing Boh Tea's products in your local supermarket instead of the Boh Tea's Plantation Center, the price does not differ much. HOWEVER, you can purchase the 40g cannister in 4 different type of blends or the Green Tea Latte pack, I do not see these in Aeon.


Itinerary & Budget for 2D1N in Cameron Highlands

For that 1D1N trip to Cameron Highlands, here is a summary of what I spent on:-

Expenses Descriptions
(Per person)
Accommodation at De Cameron, Tanah Rata
Transportation - Return bus trip to/from KL to Freesia Bus Terminal, Tanah Rata
Day 1
Lunch in KL prior to departure
Transportation - One-Way* Taxi to Brinchang's Weekend Night Market
Food spent in Brinchang's Weekend Night Market - Sweet potatoes ball, corn cob and honey
Glory 75's Steamboat -  Steamboat & Sundae
Souvenirs - Honey sticks & small jar and corns
Total Day 1 Expenses
Day 2
Breakfast at nearby mamak
Bus - One-Way* from Tanah Rata to Brinchang town (Per person)
**Suggestion to hike Mossy Forest in the morning**
Lunch at Boh Tea's Plantation Center (Per person)
Ice Cream break at road-side night market
Honey bees' farm
Hung out the outside Rose Garden (RM6/Adult, RM4/Child)
Butterfly farm's entrance ticket (RM7/Adult, RM4/Child)
Corn in cup for snack
Taxi from Brinchang to Tanah Rata *shared*
Dinner at Old Town, Tanah Rata
Boarded the coasch home
Water bottle
Souvenirs - Magnets and Head & Ears Warmet
Total Day 2 Expenses

As you noticed, you can save from 1) dining less in fancy restaurants and cafe and 2) walking in our case LOL. Looking back, I think we should've pre-booked tours or taxi, it is so much more time-saving and convenient! We weren't prepare this time but at least we know now.

Tip #6 : If you a tourists, ensure you have enough local currency. One friendly Singaporean I met told me that the only money changer you can find is at Tanah Rata. So get enough MYR before you get to Cameron Highlands!


Temperature in Cameron Highlands

We all know the highlands are generally colder. But I found out in a really painful way that you still need sunblock in Cameron Highlands! I think it was from all the walking involved in my current trip. I didn't feel the heat like when I was in Bali, The Nusa Islands, Singapore or  summer in Taiwan! It boggles me how I ended up with such painful burns and it hurts for days!

Tip #7 : Apply sunblock! 

Tip #8 : Bring jacket to shield yourself from the wind. While it isn't super cold most of the time (like during noon, about 28 degrees Celsius) and you can dress up in sleeveless top and short skirt like I do, it did feel cold at times. Temperature was at 18-21 degrees Celsius in the morning and at night when we were there.


In conclusion

It is possible to explore both Tanah Rata and Brinchang towns in 2 -3 days provided that the traffic is smooth (consider going on weekdays!) and if you have transportation to get around. You also save when going in a group of friends or family.

Despite being tired from the hours of walking, we enjoyed our time there! I would definitely love to go back to track the different trails of the Mossy Forest. Cameron Highlands was a great weekend getaway for anyone who wants to get away from the heat and a beautiful place to just relax. Just be mindful of the strong UV rays up the highlands!

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