Thinking of a short stay up in the hills? Cameron Highlands might be the perfect place for you. Within four hours reach of KL, it’s a great getaway which the whole family will enjoy.
There are a couple of hill stations in Peninsular Malaysia, notably Genting Highlands, Fraser’s Hills and the largest of all: Cameron Highlands. Founded in 1885 by British colonial government surveyor William Cameron, the highlands have a strong British colonial influence. Cameron Highlands with its highest point standing at 1,500m above sea level, is located in Pahang. We spent two nights in Camerons recently, with our two three-year-old children.
How to get there
Via the North-South Expressway coming from KL, you can exit at either Tapah or Simpang Pulai. The latter is a less windy option to reach the highlands, albeit slightly longer. The roads are wider and safer. You can stop at the Simpang Pulai rest stop (just before the exit) before you begin your ascend. When taking this route, you will end up at Brinchang town first, the first of the three main townships here. The other two are Tanah Rata and Ringlet. Most hotels are either near Brinchang or Tanah Rata.
Some people wanted to know if the children were allright on the drive up. Yes, they were! We drove from Kuala Lumpur and broke for lunch with two more pit stops along the way. The trip took roughly four hours with our two toddlers in tow.
Things to do with kids
There is more to do in Cameron Highlands than only admiring the green hills. There are many farms, tea plantations, hiking trails and food (yes food!) to try in Cameron Highlands, all very suitable for a short stay with kids.
The Mossy Forest, strawberry farms and butterflies
The Mossy Forest is a beautiful place for hikes. We took a short two hour trek and organised our trip via the Strawberry Park Resort with a guide in tow. Kids as young as 3 years old can do this, as we found out for ourselves! Make sure to put them in good shoes, long sleeves and trousers and bring water and a snack for them.
Cameron Highlands is strawberry haven. We went to the EQ Strawberry Farm, where the kids had a ball picking their own strawberries. Be willing to pay RM30 (minimum) for half a kilo. You get a pair of scissors and a bucket or tray to place the strawberries in, which will be weighed later on by the staff. Some farms have a cafe where you can try homemade jam, milkshakes and yummy ice cream! Other easily accessible farms are Big Red Strawberry Farm, Raju Hill Strawberry Farm and S’ Corner Central Market.
The Butterfly Garden and the Butterfly Farm were also a hit with the kids. Both places offer up similar experiences and are right next to each other. We visited the Butterfly Garden, where the kids saw a variety of butterflies fluttering about freely in the farm enclosure. The place also doubles up as a mini zoo with bunnies, ducks, turkeys, a scorpion and a frog pond, reptile exhibits and aquariums displaying stick insects and beetles. The entrance fee is RM7 for adults and RM4 for kids. Other places to consider are the Cactus Valley, the Lavender Garden and the Rose Centre.
Bees, tea plantations and scones
Thanks to Waze we found our way to the Ee Feng Gu Apiary or Cameron Highlands Bee Farm. The entrance is free, but you are kind of left to your own to navigate your way around. We entered a sprawling hilly garden filled with bee hives (in boxes) dotting the entire area.
You can buy souvenirs and honey sticks in the shops in the main building.
While Camerons and tea plantations are synonymous, we didn’t visit one on this trip. However, if this is your first time to the highlands, do plan a visit. You will witness beautiful tiered-styled gardens made up of an abundance of tea leaves. There are cafes with viewing decks in the grounds which will allow you to sip your tea and enjoy a majestic view. Some of the plantations include BOH Sungai Palas Garden, BOH Tea Garden and Bharat Tea Plantations.
Try the scones! My son in particular loved it. We found Lord’s Cafe, a 17-year-old cafe which charges RM2.80 per scone which comes with butter, jam and whipped cream. The cafe serves basic meals and you need to order at the counter and make your payment first.
Opt for a steamboat dinner on those chilly nights- yes it’s possible with toddlers! Just be sure they sit away from the hot pot. There are quite a few restaurants in Brinchang and Tanah Rata town with many halal options as well.
What else can you do in Cameron Highlands?
We read about a Grape Farm in Cameron Highlands, however it was too far for us to visit. If time is on your side, head to Kwang & Sons Grape and Tomato Farm, which should be an interesting experience.
Tips before you plan your trip
- Go on weekdays when traffic is manageable. Due to the single and narrow lanes, traffic on weekends and school holidays are usually reduced to a snarl.
- Book tours via your hotel. Most hotels will have a tour desk, which will recommend great places for your family to visit. If your kids are older, you can opt for full day tours. We opted for a half day tour with our kids and found that worked best. Driving on your own can be stressful with the narrow roads, especially if you’re heading to the tea plantations.
- The best time to visit strawberry farms are in the morning before the big tour busses get there.
- Find out from your hotel when the night markets in the area operate and head over with a taxi. Here you will find a variety of vegetables, fruits, flowers and other highland produce at a minimal price.
- The weather in the day was not chilly, however temperatures surely dipped at night. A light jacket is most suitable.
- Try to avoid travelling there during the rainy season due to landslides which may occur on the way up.
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