Cameron Highlands With Young Kids
In order to try and avoid the heat of Kuala Lumpur, I would definitely recommend visiting Cameron Highlands with young kids. We recently took a trip up there for three days two nights and I think this is a good amount of time to visit the majority of the main attractions, though any amount of additional time in the cooler temperatures would always be welcome!
First things first, its a bit of a drive, unlike one of its smaller neighbours Fraser’s Hill and Genting Highlands, it’s a bit far, in my opinion, for just one night from Kuala Lumpur. Whichever way you go, you’re looking at least three hours each way and that’s on a good day!
Car Hire – If you don’t own a car, I would definitely recommend hiring one. Car hire is pretty cheap in Malaysia and we have used Green Matrix Car Hire quite often or Socar is becoming more popular for short term rentals. Both are very affordable and easy to use.
Taxi – You may struggle to find a taxi driver who will only do the one-way journey however it certainly won’t be impossible. Speak to your driver about potentially staying over and even being your driver whilst you’re up there and then drive you back, weighing everything up it may not work out too expensive.
Train/Bus – This can be done but be prepared for it to take a long time. See here for a more detailed guide but if you’re heading to Cameron Highlands with young kids you don’t want them to be sat on a bus for 10 hours.
If your budget and circumstances allow, car hire is undoubtedly the easier option.
Where to Stay
As is often the case, there are varying options in terms of budget of hotels, Airbnb and homestays. We stayed here, as there were eight of us. It was a huge place and even came with a maid (and a gatecrashing praying mantis), a slightly surreal experience if you’ve never had a maid before (or a praying mantis).
Cameron Highlands pretty much consists of one main road running through the mountains with small towns along the way. The main places to stay are Ringlet at the southern end of the road, followed by Tanah Rata and Brinchang. I would advise staying in Tanah Rata or Brinchang as there is certainly more going on there.
On your way up, I would suggest coming off at Tapah and then stopping off at Lata Iskandar. This is a large waterfall after about 30 minutes from leaving the main road. You will literally drive past this if you take this route so definitely worth getting out and stretching your legs, there are plenty of food stalls to get a snack too.
What To Do
Cameron Highlands is probably best known for its tea plantations and visiting one should certainly be on your to-do list. Boh Tea and Bharat Tea are the two main producers here. We decided on Boh Tea, mainly because its the tea we drink at home.
So there are two main Boh hotspots.
Boh Tea Centre – This offers a free five-minute tour around the factory where you can see the workers sorting and producing the tea. Having been on a tour of a tea factory whilst in Sri Lanka and getting right up close to the action and learning a lot, this tour from behind glass windows will only give you a very brief introduction in comparison but still recommended. Most people will come here for the cafe built out over the plantations themselves, with the accompanying views.
Boh Tea Plantation – Also offering a factory tour, or so we were told, we drove up the winding roads to get here only to find the factory was closed which was a disappointment. We were told it is always closed on a Monday (though we were there on a Tuesday!) There is a cafe where you can get a fresh cup of Boh Tea and also take a walk up to the viewpoint if you’re feeling fit.
You don’t really need to visit both, if I was to choose, I would definitely select Boh Tea Centre
When you’ve had your fill of tea, there is plenty more for you and your kids to look at in Cameron Highlands.
You don’t have to go far to find a strawberry farm as there are plenty around. We went to Raaju’s Hill. It was a slightly pricy 30 rm per couple to not even half fill a box with strawberries but its big business in Cameron Highlands and the kids loved it! If you’re used to picking strawberries from plants on the ground and breaking your back in the process, no need to worry, all plants are potted at a good height so to minimise having to bend down.
Butterfly and Insect Farm
Another thing the kids loved was Cameron Highlands Butterfly and Insect Farm. The butterfly enclosure is not massive, unlike some of the butterflies! There were the usual insects you would find including the odd reptile with some rabbits and sheep thrown in for good measure. Whilst it’s worth a visit, I’ve heard it described as a ‘mini – zoo’ if you go thinking that, you’re going to be disappointed. Set aside an hour maximum for a walk around.
Next door to Cameron Square Shopping Centre, we popped into Ee Feng Gu Bee Farm, this was really good. There is no entry fee, you’re free to walk around the gardens, there is a large shop inside where you have the option of buying various bee and honey related products. The honey straws went down a treat, 1 rm for a small tube of honey each with a different taste (including durian).
I wasn’t quite sure I was happy with the kids walking around with the bees flying everywhere but it was absolutely fine. There is also a maze, this you have to pay for, whilst I heard good things about this, it was closed on our visit.
So a lot is talked about in terms of ‘Jungle Trails’ in the Cameron Highlands and it should certainly be on your itinerary if that’s what you’re in to, which we are. However, it didn’t quite work out well for us.
Mossy Forest appears to be the main trail. Unless you’re driving a 4×4 or want to risk seriously damaging your car, don’t attempt to get up the road on your own. There are plenty of tour operators along the main road in Tanah Rata who will be able to take you up. Yes, there are people who have managed it in a small car and come away unscathed and if you want to take that risk, you go for it. We found this all out a bit too late so never actually made it up there. If you want to go up Mossy Forest, get a tour guide to drive you up.
There are a number of other trails in Cameron Highlands, we opted for Trail 10 however at present, the entrance to the trail is currently through a building site and to get up to the start required navigating some ridiculously steep steps and then climbing up a mud hill.
We made a group decision not to follow through with this, very frustrating trying to get to two trails and failing both times. Have a look at this for a detailed description of this and the other trails in Cameron Highlands, don’t be put off.
So that is what we got up to but there are plenty of other activities that we just couldn’t fit in…
Talk a (free) walk around Cactus Point. A covered area with, surprisingly, a lot of cacti on show.
We would have liked to have a walk around here but unfortunately, time didn’t allow but from speaking with the locals, its certainly worth a look.
Sam Poh Buddist Temple
A good-sized temple built high on a hill giving good views and a bit of a breeze, this is worth the short trip up. Read more on it here.
There is plenty to do in Cameron Highlands with young kids and enough to keep you occupied for a good few days, in my opinion, you need at least two nights to justify the trip from Kuala Lumpur. Having your own transport will make things a lot easier as it’s all quite spread out but with a bit of planning, you can lump in various activities together.
If you’re planning on a jungle walk, do some research first, turning up unprepared will just end in disappointment and frustration if you’re either at the wrong one, not dressed appropriately or about to do some damage to your car.
…and last not but not least, enjoy the cool temperatures!