Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top 10 things to do in Cameron Highlands

No Cameron Highlands visit will be complete without a visit to the Boh Tea plantation. 
The cool, crisp air and lush, green vegetation in Cameron Highlands makes it a popular highland getaway in Malaysia.
Visitors can learn about the natural surroundings, go for walks or simple enjoy the beautiful landscape in this sprawling hill station. In fact, with an area of 71,000ha, Cameron Highlands has a lot offer.

Here are the Top 10 activities you can experience or indulge in, when you’re in Cameron Highlands:
1. Boh Tea plantation

No Cameron Highlands visit will be complete without a visit to the Boh Tea plantation. The tea company was founded in 1929 and covers three plantations or tea gardens as they are known.  These are Fairlie Tea Garden, Habu Tea Garden (which was the first garden) and the Sungai Palas Tea Garden.   The travel across these plantations offer views that are breathtaking, as visitors make their way through rolling hills on narrow hillside roads.
The Sungai Palas Tea Centre offers visitors a chance to learn about how tea is processed and packaged in a guided factory tour, finishing off with a nice pit stop at their cafe to enjoy a variety of teas and cakes.
To enter the Sungai Palas plantation, visitors have to take the lane near the Ee Feng Gu Honey Bee Farm in Brinchang, which is the same route visitors use towards Gunung Brinchang.   The tea centre operates from 9am to 4pm and is closed on Mondays.
2. Jungle walks
Nature lovers and walking enthusiasts can take advantage of the hilly terrain and tracks to enjoy Cameron Highland’s natural beauty.  This hill station offers walks of varying difficulties, with some being a casual stroll while others are more strenuous.  Some of these tracks take you into the jungle and offer views of the misty mountains.  The tracks are marked 1 to 10, with a range of difficulties, from climbing Gunung Brinchang or crossing Gunung Beremban.
An easy one is Track 5 or Path 5 where you can walk through the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institution and head on the road towards Tanah Rata.  Visitors are advised to speak to a local guide on the current situation of walking tracks before embarking on a walk alone, as some trails may be close due to bad weather.
Those keen on doing strenuous hikes are also told to bring sufficient equipment like torchlights, warm clothing and water, and to not leave without informing a guide or hotel staff as the tracks may be more difficult to tackle than expected.  Locals often talk about the mysterious disappearance of American entrepreneur Jim Thompson during a hike in 1967.  Even local guides and Orang Asli trackers – who know the terrain like the back of their hands – failed to find him.

Cameron Highlands
Raju Hill Strawberry Farm in Brinchang, Cameron Highlands.
3. Farms
Cameron Highland’s cool temperatures are conducive to plant a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  Farms are located across the highlands’ main towns, starting from Ringlet right up to Brinchang. Visitors are encouraged to head to Tringkap or Kuala Terla to have a look at the larger vegetable farms which grow crops like cabbage, cauliflower and spinach.  Cameron Highlands also boasts large strawberry farms, so be sure to stop by the Big Red Strawberry Farm, also known as Taman Agro Tourism Cameron Highlands to hand-pick strawberries or enjoy some freshly made strawberry ice-cream.
This beautiful hill station also offers travellers a chance to explore flower farms, located in the Bertam Valley, Kampung Raja, the Blue Valley and Habu area.  Many varieties of daisies, roses and chrysanthemums thrive in this environment.
4. Steamboat cuisine
Although not originally from Cameron Highlands, the Chinese Steamboat has caught on at the hill station and visitors can choose from the dozens of restaurants that offer this cuisine, loosely based on the fondue concept.  Patrons get meat, vegetables and noodles to be dipped into a boiling pot filled with stock or spicy Tom Yam soup.
5. Temples
Those who want to learn more about the culture and practices of people living in Cameron Highlands, can opt to stop by the Sam Poh Buddhist Temple, in Brinchang.  This temple sits on a hill overlooking Brinchang and offers patrons a good view of the town.  It was built in 1972 and houses a large Buddha statue.  Another temple is the Sri Thandayuthapani Swamy Temple, a colourful Hindu temple visited often by the tea-picking communities in the highlands.
Cameron Highlands
The Kea Farm Market.
6. Markets
Markets anywhere in the world are a pleasure to visit.  The ones in Cameron Highlands consist of two types, the Pasar Pagi (Morning Market) and the Pasar Malam (Night Market).   The morning market is located in the centre of the Kea Farm town and operates daily from 8am.  The night market is situated in Brinchang, and sets up at about 3pm till late.  Visitors can buy just about anything in these markets, from fruits to gifts and souvenirs.
7. Butterfly farm
Families and nature lovers can enjoy the butterfly farm where several species of this colourful insect live.  It is essentially a garden built on a hill slope, and known to be one of the older tourist attractions in the area.  The Butterfly Farm is located close to the famous Kea Farm, about 3km from Brinchang.  Among the highlights of this farm are free-flying butterflies, a tortoise pen and a mini insectarium. Open daily, tickets are between RM2 and RM5, with a free guided tour when available.
The Rajah Brooke's Birdwing.
8. Bee Farm
A not-too-distant cousin from the butterfly attraction, is the bee farm.  There are several farms of this sort in the area, in Ringlet, Tringkap and Kea Farm.  Watch how local honey is cultivated and learn to appreciate the role of bees in balancing the ecosystem from the exhibitions at the farms. Don’t forget to sample the various types of honey available.
9. Waterfalls
Beautiful waterfalls are often part and parcel of lush hilly terrains and mountainous regions.  There are several waterfalls in the area, one of which is on the way to the highlands, if visitors are travelling from Tapah.  This is the Lata Iskandar waterfall, a popular picnic spot and a pit stop for drivers and passengers to stretch their legs and enjoy cool, fresh air.  Two other famous waterfalls are the Parit Falls, located off Trail 4, and Robinson Waterfalls which hikers can get to from Trail 9.
10. Cactus Valley
Cactus Valley boasts a large variety of cactuses, some as old as 60 years.  Patrons who are curious about the cactus can explore the colourful spiky plants, which come in all shapes and sizes. Located on a hillside area close to Brinchang, the farm also cultivates a range of flowers, apple trees and passion fruit plants.

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