If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now you’ll know that one reason I embarked on my Asia trip was to see where else I could live in the world. At the end of a visit to every new city I’ve been to, I’ve done a summary to see how it compares with others. You can read all my past ‘wrap-ups’ here.
Seeing as I’m a city girl at heart, I feel it’s a little unfair to compare a piece of countryside with any city but for the sake of continuity, here we go. Cameron Highlands; place number six.
I would say because the Highlands is such a sparse area, there isn’t many opportunities for culture to really jump out at you. Sure, there are plenty of locals living there but most places are designed for and marketed towards tourists. Having said that, there are local Malaysian restaurants, a night market, and a handful of Hindu and Buddhist temples around so it depends how hard you’re willing to look. You could easily stay in your hotel complex for the duration of your trip and be none the wiser which, understandably, is the draw for a lot of short-term visitors on spa-weekends etc.
In general, I found the local people very friendly and willing to help. I was somewhat cautious because I got heckled from cars by men several times and I genuinely couldn’t work out if they were being inappropriate or just wanting to be friendly. I’m still not sure which! Still, I have heard from other people that they think Malaysians are some of the friendliest people in the world so I suppose I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt!
As was the case in Kuala Lumpur, everyone I encountered in the Highlands spoke near enough fluent English. Easy! Aside from being understood and problem solving efficiently, it meant I could easily share anecdotes and jokes with people without something being lost in translation. After being thrown into a Mandarin-speaking environment for a month, this was really lovely 🙂 There was one particularly waiter who kept me entertained over dinner with his stories!
As you would expect in the countryside, you’re not presented with a bountiful choice of transport options. It’s pretty much ‘taxi’ or ‘walk’. It’s very difficult to hail a taxi off the street so you should book a taxi in advance from where you’re staying and then arrange for them to either wait for you or pick you up at an agreed time. It’s a little annoying but the only other option would be to hire a car which would be best suited to those living in Kuala Lumpur and are just driving up to the Highlands for a weekend away.
Things to do/nightlife 2/5
As stunning as the Highlands are to look at, there’s not a lot to do. The Highlands are famous for their tea so definitely go and visit one of the plantations. I recommend the Boh plantation (click for photos etc.). There’s also a night market, a strawberry farm, and a lavender garden. Aside from being pampered in a glorious colonial hotel, I think most visitors take hikes through the forest and mountains. I desperately wanted to go for a hike too but I only found out this was an option when I arrived in the Highlands and I didn’t have time to organise anything because I was only there 48 hours! (Bad planning, I know). From just the photos I saw, the magical Mossy Forest looked like an amazing place to explore and hike! There are a couple of local companies that organise hikes/treks/jungle excursions so have a look at Google or ask your Highlands hosts/front desk staff).
If you’ve come to the Highlands for a peaceful break (especially away from the craziness of Kuala Lumpur) and clean country air, then you’re definitely in the right place. I can 100% guarantee the Highlands are as pretty in real life as they are in photos! Honestly the most beautiful natural place I’ve visited so far in the world. The place is literally like somewhere out of The Shire. Bright green, rolling mountains which just look so BOUNCY. I just love the Highlands.
Although I’m a city girl at heart, the Cameron Highlands are definitely my favourite peace of countryside I’ve visited to date. Whilst there isn’t a huge variety of things to do, you’ll definitely have enough for a long weekend away. I’d recommend booking yourself into the Cameron Highlands Resort for a luxury weekend break or, if you’re more of an active person, plan yourself a hiking trip!
Despite how pretty, calm and easy the Highlands are to visit, I know I couldn’t live there because I’d go stir-crazy! I met a lovely Canadian man on my last night (who I ended up having a deliciously-fancy totally-platonic dinner-date with) who lived locally because he worked as a horticulturist and even he admitted he could get a bit bored and stir crazy sometimes. But still, for a temporary visit, the Highlands are wonderful are you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you came to Malaysia and didn’t visit them!
Have you been to the Cameron Highlands before? What did you think? Perhaps you live there? Let me know in the comments below!