Leaving intoxicating and bustling Kuala Lumpur to seek serenity in the beautiful Cameron Highlands – I hear this is a gorgeous part of central Malaysia…
The KTM train from Sentral Kuala Lumpur leaves at 13:00hrs and arrives at 15:20hrs, but our train is late.
If you’re not staying in Ipoh and catching a connecting bus to the Cameron Highlands, then take the 11:00hrs train, so you arrive in time for the 15:00hrs connecting bus to the Highlands.
Otherwise, you have to hang around for almost 3 hours for a connecting bus, which leaves at 18:00hrs – there isn’t much in Ipoh.
Although the cost of the bus is at a tourist price, the locals take these buses and pay the same price, as I don’t think there is a cheaper option.
- Discover the hard way that travelling on this bus in the late afternoon on a Friday (or Saturday) is a really bad idea. This is when the night market in Brinchang is held and very popular with locals. So, expect traffic jams to add another 2 hours onto the 2-hour bus trip. Today, it takes almost 2 hours to travel the last painfully slow 5 kilometres.
- Check out Foreign Lemonade’s Travel Packing Tips for more advice on planning your travel, transport, and packing for a trip.
Loads of activities await travellers when arriving to the Cameron Highlands of which many involve food, of course.
Big Red Strawberry Farm
From the Brinchang main town centre…
…walk north for 10 minutes and the sign for this strawberry farm is on your left. Pass the Cactus farm before walking up the hill to your Strawberry Delight.
Pick your own strawberries but you must pick the kilo and not eat any along the way – supervisors watch. The café here serves scones, jam, cream, and tea amongst the usual fair.
The best place for scones is the café next to the Brinchang Hotel (owned by the same hotel) and very reasonable for 2 good-sized scones, real cream, jam, a pot of tea (with fresh milk), and very authentic. This café offers much better value and quality than the scones and tea at the Boh Tea Plantation. Although, if you trek or travel to this plantation, it’s lovely to sit in the café, sip plantation tea, and watch the spectacular ever-changing panorama of the plantation fields with the unfolding weather. Take a raincoat as it rains hard in the afternoon.
Boh Tea Plantation
From Brinchang, take the local bus and ask to stop at the Boh Tea sign (Vegetable Market, down from the Honey Bee farm) on the highway.
From the sign, the easy walk to the Boh Tea Plantation provides stunning scenery and well worth the 6 kilometre round-trip walk. You may even catch the Indian tea pickers in the fields – very picturesque.
Have a spot of freshly brewed leaf tea and delectable cake at the Cameron Valley Tea Shop…
…which offers a scenic vista of the plantation and a great vantage point for photos.
A souvenir shop also awaits as does a hallway explaining the plantation’s history.
Trekking in the Highlands
Many guided treks and tourist trips are on offer in the Highlands, which bus you around in a mini buss and include lunch and sets you back a small fortune.
You can enjoy most of the treks, if not all, independently at only a cost of a local bus fare, your own water, and food.
Gunung Beremban trek
If you feel like a hike to Gunung Beremban, then from Brinchang walk through the Sam Poh (Buddhist Temple).
Stop by for some exquisite sculptures…
Before heading on your trek.
At the back of the temple, take the stairs leading up to a house then walk around the house until you see a goat track with a white triangle sign. Along the path, there is another sign that shows you the way. A trekker also added the time left to finish. This is where you start the trek that takes you scrambling over gnarly exposed tree roots and climbing up and down hills. This is a difficult trek.
After a 2-hour hike, take a right at the T-junction, walk back around the Gold Course and into Brinchang again. This takes around 3.5 hours.
Gunung Brinchang trek
An arduous trek to Gunung Brinchang starts beyond the Night Market area and JBA Quarters, with the Path 1 sign.
This path is sporadically marked so keep an eye out for markers to the top, which takes a couple of hours of hard climbing. When you arrive at the top, you pass a fenced-in transmitter tower and besides this, stairs lead up to a viewing tower.
If the weather is kind, expect a great view, otherwise, enjoy the clouds!
Trek back the way you came or take the tarred road, which is not so arduous. This road takes you past vegetable farms and eventually past the Boh Tea Plantation path (leading left). The round trip is about 12 kilometres.
Where to sleep
The Jasmine Hotel (No.29-32 Brinchang) has great friendly staff, clean large rooms with a private bathroom, and slow Wifi in the room. You don’t need an air-conditioner as it is chilly of an evening in the Highlands.
The Jasmine is a great location. With the added bonus of only a few minutes’ walk to the Night Markets, which serves up some of the best food yet that I have tried in Malaysia and at cheap hawker prices.
Tana Rata is where most travellers (especially backpackers) seem to stay as loads of cheap Hostels grace this town. The restaurants are a little more expensive in Tana Rata, offering much more western food than in Brinchang.
I much prefer Brinchang for its accommodation, local restaurants, and especially the night markets.
A local bus (around every 2 hours) runs between the two towns and beyond. Opting to use our legs everywhere or a local bus, we bypass taxis during the 7-day stay.
Taxi drivers here can get quite pushy and nasty. The word is that they rip tourists off severely – no surprise.
Where to eat
Food glorious food!
There’s a plethora of inexpensive restaurants just outside the Jasmine Hotel.
For breakfast, venture to the Indian restaurant (next door to Jasmine’s), which serves amazing Roti Canai Telur (Indian flatbread cooked with egg and onion) and wash that down with a cup of strong black brewed coffee. Think this is the cheapest find anywhere in Malaysia.
If breakfast is anything to go by then dinner at this bustling restaurant bursting with locals is sure to be luscious and inexpensive served by friendly staff. The golden rule when choosing somewhere to eat is if locals are in the restaurant, then this will be a great dining experience.
Brinchang is famous for its wonderful Steamboat dish and prices vary greatly.
You must try this deliciously fresh dish, which is a pot served up with a spicy (or non-spicy) stock on a gas cooker in the middle of your table. Around 3 plates full of greens, noodles, seafood, chicken, and more, are laid out and accompanied with small dishes of sauces and spices.
Throughout this dining extravaganza, you place in the boiling stock whatever you wish to eat next. Cook this for a few minutes and continue to graze perpetually and as long as it takes to finish all the dishes. Typically, this takes a couple of hours or more…
The Wy Att restaurant just up from the Jasmine Hotel is reasonable and the quality is excellent for a steamboat.
You must try the Brinchang market just up from the Jasmine Hotel, which is held each Friday and Saturday night from 18:00-22:00hrs.
Very popular with locals, the deliciousness that is cooked in front of you at the cheapest of prices, makes your mouth water and arrests all your senses at once.
You can’t but help want to try everything. Scrumptious chicken-stuffed Murtabak, many types of Mee Goreng, Nasi Goreng, Malay muffins – more like heavenly delicate crepes with crushed nuts and a dab of creamed corn – roasted chestnuts, fresh strawberries, massive apples, and a selection of fresh produce – divine!
Loads of clothes and trinkets are also on sale.
Stay here long enough and your waistline rapidly expands – just like mine is already!
Fresh strawberry juice is the specialty of the Cameron Highlands as of course, strawberries are grown in this region. Most restaurants serve delightful fresh and wholesome strawberry juice.
You will gorge yourself in the Highlands for ridiculously cheap prices…
Leaving the Cameron Highlands
Very sad to leave Brinchang as this town is proving to be a favourite so far, for its serenity but especially the wonderful food.
Need to press on with Taman Negara next for a spot of jungle trekking…