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Cameron Highlands, Malaysia: Tea Plantations and Gigantic Rafflesias

A hypnotizing oasis full of vibrant green tea fields and mossy cloud forests awaits you in the mountainous Cameron Highlands. Enjoy a soothing cup of freshly brewed tea in between excursions to find exotic flora and fauna along dense hiking trails.

Experience the natural beauty of western Malaysia in one of its most unique and accessible regions. Quiet your mind, breathe in crisp clean air, and reconnect with Mother Nature with two days exploring the best parts of the Cameron Highlands!


During the 19th Century, the British Empire established a strong colonial presence in Malaysia, especially in the port cities of George Town and Singapore. Surveyors soon discovered the potential of the elevated fertile plateau to grow tea, vegetables, flowers, and strawberries.

Once road construction finished in 1931, the Cameron Highlands transformed from an isolated area to a delightful destination to break away from the heat of nearby cities. The establishment of elaborate mansions, farms, rustic cottages, ranches, and a six-hole golf course resulted in an influx of tourists and laborers.

After Malaysia gained its independence in 1957, the Cameron Highlands continued to prosper with bountiful crop yields. Presently, the main towns of Tanah Rata, Brinchang, and Ringlet have visitors all year round due to the family-friendly attractions, cool weather, abundant restaurants, and spacious resorts.

Where to Stay

Brad and I decided to base ourselves in Tanah Rata due to its central location, proximity to the trailheads, and variety of restaurants. If possible, try to visit the Cameron Highlands during the week to avoid hectic traffic jams and overwhelming crowds.

We booked an affordable room for two nights at Father's Guesthouse. The comfy queen-sized bed, impeccably clean bathroom, and friendly staff were top-notch! The outdoor shared kitchen was great for preparing coffee and small meals. The hotel has a peaceful atmosphere since its tucked away from the main road.

BOH Tea Plantation

Rows of cascading emerald tea shrubs as far as the eye can see are the main attraction at BOH Tea Plantation. Misty clouds dance with rays of golden sunshine creating a spectacular landscape. The covered balcony at Sungei Palas Tea Garden is the best spot to soak up the views!

Sample a few varieties of tea and baked goods as you admire the scenery. Opt for a strawberry pastry or scrumptious chicken pot pie depending on your appetite. Afterwards, take a self-guided tour through the tea factory to understand the harvesting and manufacturing process. The gift shop has plenty of box teas available for purchase.

The easiest way to reach BOH Tea Plantation is via Grab (similar to Uber/Lyft). Arrive early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. Traffic along the narrow road leading to the main entrance can be a headache during peak hours. Admission is free. If you only have time to visit one tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands, choose Malaysia's largest tea producer!

Rafflesia Private Tour

Behold the largest flower species in the WORLD! Southeast Asia is home to the Rafflesia; a genus of parasitic plants without roots, leaves, or stems. These brilliant red blooms typically smell like rotting flesh to attract insects, such as flies, to aid in pollen transfer from male to female flowers.

While Brad and I were walking near our hotel, we bumped into a friendly Australian couple who raved about a private tour they took which included a trek in the jungle to see a Rafflesia. We immediately contacted their local guide, Carl (WhatsApp +60 12 998 4229), who confirmed the same Rafflesia was still alive. Blooms only last for five days, which makes the rare encounter even more special.

After an hour drive and 20-minute hike in the rainforest, we reached the breathtakingly bizarre flower. The spiky center, interior white spots, and textured petals were magnificent! Wear long sleeves and pants to protect yourself against pesky bugs and rough foliage. Our private tour with Carl cost 300 MYR ($64 USD) and was worth every penny. Don't miss out on this bucket list opportunity!

Hiking Trails

Nature lovers will be drawn to the numerous hiking trails of the Cameron Highlands open between February 1st-October 31st. A permit, obtained at the Forestry Office for 10 MYR ($2 USD), is required to enter the reserve. According to a sign we noticed, visitors can be fined up to 50,000 MYR ($10,630 USD) or imprisoned if caught without a permit.

Brad and I initially wanted to complete Trail #10 to the Cameron Valley Tea Houses, but couldn't due to search and rescue efforts to find a missing hiker. Some of the trails are overgrown with infrequent markers. Explore with another person if possible and bring plenty of supplies, including water, snacks, insect repellent, and rain gear. Inform your accommodations of your whereabouts to be on the safe side.

We began our day in the woods with a leisurely walk along Trail #4. The entrance is next to a bridge on the east side of Century Pines Resort. Brad observed a remarkable caecilian (snake-shaped/worm-like amphibian) probing the muddy streambed nearby Parit Falls. While we racked our brains over the weird critter, I discovered a bright green frog seeking shelter within some tangled roots.

After purchasing our permits, we made our way through the narrow and overgrown entrance of Trail #6 next to Sungai Pauh Campground. Eventually, the path became less claustrophobic and featured steep inclines, twisty turns, and mossy branches. Singing birds and pretty butterflies kept us company in the invigorating cloud forest.

Following our lunch break at the Rain Shelter Cross Junction, Brad and I made our way back to Tanah Rata via Trail #5. High above in the lush canopy, we noticed a stealthy civet with spotted fur and a white-tipped tail! The extraordinary encounter near the end of our day in the rainforest brought happy tears to my eyes.

Overall, the three trails took us approximately 4.5 hours to complete at a relaxed pace. Although cell coverage is reliable, download to ensure accurate navigation. We wrapped up our expedition at the KoMARDI Hotel. Please take out what you take in and leave no trace, including biodegradable food which can harm wildlife.

Cameron Valley Tea Houses

Looking to get up close and personal to waist-high tea shrubs? Head to the Cameron Valley Tea Houses! Start with an afternoon visit to Cameron Valley Tea House #2 to sip herbal/fruit tea before wandering through the manicured tea fields to reach Cameron Valley Tea House #1.

To celebrate our fantastic day in the wilderness, Brad and I treated ourselves to a couple of buttery scones with fresh strawberry jam and cream. We shared a pot of comforting tea while resting our tired legs. The hydrating elixir boosted our energy levels enough to embark on the dirt trails connecting the two tea houses. Open-air shuttles are also available if you don't want to walk. Purchase a wristband for 4 MYR ($0.85 USD) to access the property.

The Cameron Valley Tea Houses allow visitors to partially enter the tea fields at their own risk. Beware of venomous snakes and scorpions. The photo opportunities are a huge draw for travelers. Keep in mind you'll likely share the area with families, countless tour groups, and plantation workers.


The Cameron Highlands is about midway between George Town and Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia's public transportation system is a breeze to navigate. Easy-to-follow bus schedules with affordable tickets take the stress out of planning your trip.

Brad and I combined our two-day getaway in Ipoh with our two-day adventure in the Cameron Highlands. We purchased bus tickets with CS Travel and Tours online via redBus from the Ipoh Amanjaya station to the Tanah Rata station. The journey took approximately 2.5 hours. Make reservations in advance to guarantee a seat, especially on weekends and around public holidays.

During the first 30 minutes of our bus ride back to George Town, we experienced some nauseating switchbacks. Consider eating a light meal and bringing medication if you're prone to motion sickness. We knew it was going to be a bumpy journey once the driver handed out plastic puke bags!

Final Thoughts

There are a few harsh realities to be aware of in the Cameron Highlands. It's a balancing act which I don't intend to sugarcoat!

Honestly, a lot of things to do in the towns are worth avoiding, such as the hydroponic strawberry farms, petting zoos, bee farms, and museums. Skip the cheesy tourist traps and prioritize the natural beauty.

The juxtaposition of the pristine environment against hundreds of white plastic tubular greenhouses can be disheartening. Expanding farmland, construction projects, and traffic congestion are taking a toll in the Cameron Highlands. Brad and I also observed garbage floating in the streams. We tried to have a positive impact on the area by supporting ecotourism and picking up trash along the hiking trails.

The Cameron Highlands is a worthwhile destination despite its shortcomings. Sitting next to a tropical Rafflesia, exploring vast cloud forests, and drinking cups of delicious tea were amazing highlights I would've been sad to miss during my travels in Malaysia!