The Ultimate Guide To Hiking In The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

A Guide To Hiking The Cameron Highlands

An early morning wake up call to watch the sunrise over rolling hills, and emerald green tea gardens is only one of the many adventures up for grabs in the Cameron Highlands; where the hiking is abundant and better yet; completely free.

It was late afternoon as I found myself sitting in the back of a small van with baggage stacked up to my nose screaming down the highway; I couldn’t have been more ready to get out and stretch; well; everything.

In just a few short hours we would be in the town of Tanah Rata in the heart of the Malaysian highlands where the air is fresh, and space plentiful.

The Town Of Tanah Rata

Located in the Malaysian state of Pahang; Tanah Rata is a quiet yet bustling town in the heart of the Cameron Highlands.  Its name in Malay translates to flat ground, which refers to the relatively flat valley in which it lies.

Tanah Rata, Malaysia

The Town Of Tanah Rata

Tanah Rata is a very popular stop on the backpacker trail not only because of its unusually mild weather (compared to the rest of the country), but also for its picturesque rolling hills, tea plantations, and abundant free hiking trails.

Hiking In The Cameron Highlands

In the world of budget travel; free reigns supreme, and when it comes to hiking in the Cameron Highlands; one is spoiled for choice. The area is laden with on the house adventures ranging from fun day hikes to challenging jungle excursions.

However, there is one adventure that isn’t free of charge, but it is; in my opinion; the only ‘must-do’ activity in the Cameron Highlands, and it’s pure madness.

Sunrise Madness

This adventure starts off at 6 am just outside of your hostel or hotel, where a rusty Land Rover will pick you up for a half hour ride to Mount Brinchang; the highest point in the Cameron Highlands.

After winding round and round the mountain in the dark, you will arrive at your first stop. A small area just off the road facing East overlooking the rolling hills and waist-high tea plants dimly lit by the rising sun.

Mount Brinchang Viewpoint Sunrise

Mount Brinchang Viewpoint

Watching the sunrise over the highlands is only the first part of the Morning Madness Tour offered by Cameron Secrets; a local company that claims to be the pioneers of the sunrise tour and one of the best in the Cameron Highlands.

The RM69 or $18 price tag is the cheapest that I could find around town and includes transportation to and from your accommodation, sunrise over the hills, a walk through the Mossy Forest, and a tour of the BOH tea plantation.

The Mossy Forest

Deep in the Batu Gangan Forest Reserve near the top of Mount Brinchang, lies the Mossy Forest. Dense fog engulfs the forest most days which allows moss, lichen, and other micro-organisms to flourish.

Even though the forest is over 200,000 years old, the oldest trees are only a few hundred. This is due to moss and lichen enveloping the trees and adding tons of weight causing them to uproot in high wind and heavy rain conditions which are almost always present.

The Mossy Forest, Malaysia

The Mossy Forest

Soggy wooden platforms covered in moss carry you over the forest floor past downed tree trunks and some of the most exotic flora on Earth.

The Boardwalk Through The Mossy Forest

The Boardwalk Through The Forest

The trip through the Mossy Forest lasts only half an hour ending with a climb up the brand new watchtower overlooking the Cameron Highlands. The temperature in the morning can be quite chilly so I would recommend bringing a jacket.

After you’ve made your way back to the Land Rover you will load up in the back and head off to your third and final destination; the BOH tea plantation.

The BOH Tea Plantation

Founded in 1929 by John Archibald Russell; a British born businessman, and A.B. Milne; a veteran tea planter from Sri Lanka; the BOH tea plantation is the largest producer of black tea in Malaysia.

BOH derives its name from the Chinese word Bohea which means precious happiness and also happens to have been the name of the premium tea grade in early China tea trade.

The BOH Tea Plantation, Malaysia

The BOH Tea Plantation

After WWII and communist threat, Archie’s son Tristan took control of the company growing it to 4 plantations and modernizing with innovative techniques and state of the art machinery of the time.

A BOH Tea Rolling Machine

A BOH Tea Rolling Machine

Today BOH’s four tea plantations; covering roughly 3,000 acres; produce nearly 9 million pounds of tea per year, accounting for about 70% of Malaysia’s tea exports.

BOH Tea Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

That’s A Lot Of Tea

Your guide should give you just over an hour at the plantation to walk through the factory and try some fresh tea and pastries in the cafe overlooking the gardens.

And that; in a nutshell; is what the Morning Madness Tour looks like. You should be leaving the plantation around ten-thirty and arrive back in Tanah Rata around eleven, which leaves plenty of time to hike some of the FREE trails around town.

Time For The Free Stuff

What makes the Cameron Highlands so great; other than the two reasons I mentioned earlier; is that unlike almost every other destination in Southeast Asia; it gives you the option to have an amazing adventure for FREE.

The hiking trails surrounding the town of Tanah Rata are accessible without the use of public transportation and relatively easy regarding time and effort required. However, there is one crucial task that needs to be done before attempting any of the trails.

Travel App: Download an offline map app, particularly Maps.Me. This app has every trail extensively mapped out and makes sure you won’t get lost on some of the more confusing trails. (No one wants to have to come find you in the jungle.)

Trail 1

The trail that leads up to Mount Brinchang where the Morning Madness Tour was located. Unfortunately, for reasons unbeknownst to me; trail one is now permanently closed. 😢

Trail 2 & 3

Trails two and three are better used in combination. Trail two starts at the Sam Poh Temple in the nearby village of Brinchang. It later meets up with trail three leading to Mount Berumbun.

While I didn’t get the chance to hike trail two; I did walk back from Berumbun on trail three which was well marked and a beautiful hike through the jungle.

Distance: 1.7 Miles   Time: 1 Hour

Nature's Obstacles

Nature’s Obstacles

Trail 4

This is a nice option if you don’t want to dive too deep into the jungle. The path is mostly paved and an easy day hike near town. The Parit Waterfall is also on trail four. However, it isn’t anything special, so I wouldn’t go just for the falls.

Distance: 1 Mile    Time: 30 Minutes

Trail 5 & 6

Both trails five and six lead up to Mount Berumbun and are more difficult than some of the others. I decided to go up trail seven and down trail three so I can’t personally recommend either of them, but I was told that trail 5 is an OK path and advised against trail six as it’s quite tricky to navigate.

Trail 5 Distance: 1.5 Miles    Time: 1 Hour
Trail 6 Distance: 1.8 Miles    Time: 1 Hour

Trail 7

I decided to hike trail seven at four in the morning to catch the sunrise from Mount Berumbun. Here’s why you should and shouldn’t do that.

First, the hike only takes an hour and a half, not the three that the locals advise. Second, the top of Mount Berumbun is COMPLETELY overgrown, making a sunrise view impossible. Third, the trail is steep, muddy, and wild, BUT it makes for a super fun adventure in the dark!

Distance: 1.2 Miles    Time: 1.5 Hours

Trail 7 Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Tree Root Staircase On Trail 7

Trail 8 & 9

Trails eight and nine both lead to the Robinson Falls, with trail eight carrying on to Mount Berumbun. The start of the trail can be confusing as you have to walk through a greenhouse and past a powerplant with a very unfriendly dog.

Trail 8 Distance: 1.6 Miles    Time: 1 Hour
Trail 9 Distance: 0.4 Miles    Time: 10 Min.

Trail 8 Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Jungle Fun On Trail 8

Trail 9a & 9b Warning!

Trails 9a and 9b are both known for frequent robberies of hikers. I would advise going in a group if you want to attempt them, but I don’t know why you would because they only lead you to a road outside of town; nothing to see really.

Distance: 1 Mile    Time: 30 Minutes

The Falls

There are two waterfalls located nearby the town of Tanah Rata. Both are pretty disappointing due to the amount of trash found at both. The Perit Waterfall; in particular; looks like a garbage dump.

Robinson Falls, however, is nice. If you try to not think of the trash; the downed trees and mossy boulders make it a pretty nice place for an afternoon hike. As mentioned before Robinson Falls is accessible by walking trails eight and nine.

Robinson Falls Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Robinson Falls

Trail 10

Aside from my early morning adventure on trail seven; trail ten was one of my favorite in the Cameron Highlands.

A few minutes West of town; trail ten begins behind Tan’s Camellia Garden and through a couple of claustrophobia-inducing boulders.

Give Me Some Space!

Give Me Some Space!

The first twenty minutes of the hike is fairly easy and well marked as you cross through the damp and dark forest.

Trail 10 Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Easy Hiking On Trail 10

Things start to change as you approach the base of Mount Jasar. The flat wide-open path turns into steep slippery tree root staircases just like on trail seven.

You will eventually run into a massive power station surrounded by cement; covering what was once the visible trail. Just look around for a bit until you find the staircase leading up the mountain, and the rest of the way is cake.

Mount Jasar Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

The Top Of Mount Jasar

The sunset from the top of Mount Jasar is supposed to be epic. I, however, wasn’t so lucky with the weather.

Trail ten continues North to the Golden Hills area of Tanah Rata, and I hear that it’s very similar to the hike from the West. Keep in mind that the further you walk from town the more likely it will be that you will need to grab a taxi back, which will entirely ruin the free part of the adventure.

Distance: 0.9 Miles    Time: 1 Hour

Trail 11 & 12

Both trails eleven and twelve have been closed for some time. Apparently, there was a landslide a while back on trail eleven, and it never reopened. As for twelve, there is now a residential development sitting right where it used to lead.

Trail 13 & 14

There is supposedly a trail thirteen that links up with trail fourteen, but I was unable to find it on any map.

Trail fourteen starts in the Mossy Forest and leads you along a ridge to Mount Irau. The trailhead for fourteen was blocked off when I was there, by a sign that said special permission was required to hike any further.

Distance: 1.4 Miles    Time: 1 Hour

Getting To The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Getting To The Cameron Highlands

Getting To The Cameron Highlands

As with any other destination in Southeast Asia, the Cameron Highlands is extremely easy to get to. The main routes are from Kuala Lumpur, Penang (George Town), and Teman Negara.

From Kuala Lumpur – Buses leave any of the terminals in KL every half hour; the five-hour bus ride should cost you RM30 or $7.

From Penang – Buses leave the main terminal every half hour, with the ride lasting four and a half hours at RM40 or $10.

From Teman Negara – Buses are hard to come by; instead, you can book a van from Kuala Retang to the highlands for around RM75 or $20 on average.

Where To Stay

There are a dozen hostels in the Cameron Highlands but only two that I have heard good things about and would recommend.

Map Travelodge – This is where I chose to stay, and I had a great experience there. The beds where cubicles with plenty of outlets and a fan; a few even have windows. The price is RM30 or $7.50 per night, and the wifi is pretty bad, but the staff are very friendly.

Father’s Guest House – I heard great things about this place. There seemed to be much more space than at Map Travelodge. It also happens to be where the Cameron Secrets Tours office is located. A bed will cost you RM35 or $9 per night.

That’s All Folks

I believe that is all the information you need to have an amazing trip to the Cameron Highlands. Just remember to keep it cheap and to leave no stone unturned in one of Malaysia’s best adventure destinations.

Have You Hiked The Cameron Highlands?

Pin It on Pinterest