Located approximately two and a half hours away from Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands is a picturesque highland resort sitting 5,000 feet above sea level.
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In 1885, a British government surveyor named William Cameron was conducting a land survey on the Titiwangsa Range when he came upon a plateau. Though he failed to mark the plateau on the map, its location was later confirmed by subsequent excursions. The idea of developing the plateau into a place for retreat and farmland was contributed by Sir Hugh Low. It was named 'Cameron Highlands' in honour of the man who found the place.
A narrow path leading to the highlands was later cut to improve its accessibility. Plans to expand and improve the narrow path came into view in 1896 and continued on till 1902. Sir George Maxwell, after a visit in 1925, realized the highland's potential and decided to make it into a hill station. Things became better after the roads were properly constructed as many wealthy residents and British government officials began building retreats after finding that the highland's cool climate offered much needed relief from the humid conditions of the lowlands.
The Cameron Highlands' popularity grew after the planters found out that its fertile soil was well suited for growing tea, a prized commodity at that time. This drew the attention of John Archibald Russell, who started a tea plantation in 1929, which rose to fame as Boh Tea Plantation. With its location so close to Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands became an ideal alternative for those looking for a short respite over the weekend. Renowned for its nature related activities and sights, the highlands remain one of Malaysia's premier tourist destinations, especially those who wish to experience the laid back highland lifestyle.
As Cameron Highlands is the main supplier of tea for Malaysia, it is only natural that the three most famous tea plantations are located here: Boh Tea Plantation, Sungai Palas Tea Plantation and the Cameron Valley Tea Plantation. Some of the plantations offer guided tours of their factories to show the process of converting the plucked tea leaves to the final product as well as cafes where visitors can savour their teas. Boh Tea Centre, for example, has a cafe that offers a stunning view of the tea slopes as its patrons enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea.
The numerous strawberry farms located throughout Cameron Highlands are also an attraction for tourists who visit. These farms are well known for the strawberries that can be found all year long due to the cool climate of the highlands. Some of these farms offer visitors a chance to pluck their own strawberries which will then be weighed and priced accordingly. Others sell freshly made strawberry jam, strawberry yoghurt drinks, strawberry ice-cream and anything else that can be made out of strawberries to visitors.
The vegetable and flower gardens are also worth visiting while holidaying in the Cameron Highlands. These gardens normally grow continental flowers like roses, carnations and gerberas that are available for sale. One popular garden is the Rose Centre in Kea Farm. Different types of roses can be found growing in terraces in this garden. Pergolas, sculptures and fountains are placed within the centre to evoke the feeling of a stroll through a summer garden.
Visiting Kea Farm is like going to a farmers' market or a county fair - it's not a typical farm but a marketplace for vendors peddling their wares. There is much to see and browse at the farm's many shops that sell home-grown vegetables, an assortment of cacti, strawberries as well as flowers. It is a good idea to check out the prices at the various shops to get the best bargain for those interested in purchasing any of the items on display. There are also food stalls located around Kea Farm to satisfy hungry appetites. The place comes alive with traders from the night market on Friday and Saturday nights who offer not only the usual fare of vegetables, but also souvenirs as well as freshly cooked snacks and delicacies.
Being a premier resort destination, Cameron Highlands is well connected by road. The winding roads leading to the highlands may present a challenge to most average drivers. Previously, the only way to access the foothills of Cameron Highlands was through the Tapah toll exit from the North-South Expressway and through the winding roads. Though it is a more testing route, drivers will be able to pass by the beautiful Lata Iskandar waterfall. Those who opt to take this road will arrive at Ringlet first before reaching the town of Tanah Rata.
With the opening of a new road from Simpang Pulai, the drive up to Cameron Highlands has become more pleasant as it is less winding. Road conditions are better and wider, which makes overtaking heavier vehicles a little bit safer. It takes lesser time to reach Kampung Raja, one of the smaller towns in Cameron Highlands. From here, Brinchang and Tanah Rata is only about 25 to 30 kilometres away.
Bus services to most major destinations in Malaysia are available at Cameron Highland's main terminal, Freesia Bus Terminal, located in the centre of Tanah Rata.