Cameron Highlands in Pahang is one of Malaysia's most popular tourist destinations, a collection of peaceful townships perched 1500 meters high on a nest of serene mountains. Cooling resorts, tea plantations and strawberry farms sprawl lazily across lush valleys and meandering hillslopes, the perfect setting for a relaxing holiday.
The sea of tranquility, pleasant landscapes and cold climate impart a special experience upon the multitudes of visitors each year. Meanwhile, a different world lies hidden away among the natural surroundings - a rainforest ecosystem rich with the wonders of nature, long held with fascination by researchers and naturalists across the world.
Cameron Highlands was discovered in 1885 by English surveyor William Cameron, under a commission by the colonial government. Forging a path through dense vegetation, he reached a magnificent and sublime plateau ‘shut up in the mountains' along the vast Titiwangsa Range. Yet, the place lay unperturbed for 40 years, until British Administrator Sir George Maxwell developed it as a hill station.
Soon, hotels, schools, homes and even a golf course sprouted overnight, as British and locals settled in. Farmers and tea planters also streamed steadily into the valley, having found its soil to be fertile, and weather encouraging for crops. Today, Cameron Highlands is the leading highland resort destination in the country, supporting a population close to 50,000 people spread over eight interconnecting areas.
Far from rural, the main townships of Tanah Rata and Brinchang are highly developed with a wide range of facilities and services. Hotels, resorts, apartments and shopping blocks tower over the landscape, providing accommodation and leisure activities for its many visitors. Ringlet, Tringkap, Bertam Valley, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja make up the rest of Cameron Highlands.
These smaller towns and villages concentrate heavily on agricultural activities, consequently retaining most, if not some, of their pastoral feel and countryside atmosphere. Traces of Cameron's colonial history still remain, but consist mostly of European stone mansions that have been converted into boutique hotels.
Tourists in Cameron Highlands can expect a peaceful community with a laid back outlook of life. There are plenty of facilities and amenities expected of a modern town, including banks, clinics, restaurants, even a shopping mall (Cameron Square). Walking around is mostly safe at day or night, but you should always keep your valuables in a safe place and not leave them lying around.
It's best to visit during off-peak seasons; check the local calendar for a list of national and school holidays. You don't want to be around on such periods as the vehicle and human traffic is immensely heavy. The weather of Cameron Highlands can best be described as 'cooling wet'. Being high up the mountains means it's constantly cold and humid, with lots of mist in the early mornings and late evenings.
Wearing wind-breakers, jackets and other approriate clothing is encouraged. Rainfall is prominent throughout the year in the Cameron Highlands , but there is usually a short spell of low rainfall between May till July. From September onwards, the rain begins to pick up; expect bright mornings that drastically overcast in the afternoon, progressing to a strong shower in late evenings.
The rains sometimes continue into the night, along with heavy mist.However, the year-end period spiralling into the next year is filled with heavy rain and thunder storms. Landslides can occur frequently but the Cameron Highlands still attract massive amounts of visitors. The heavy rain during this period is also when the natural fauna and flora are out in all its glory due to the increased moisture and cool.
This is the best time to visit the Cameron Highlands if you want to explore the wildlife and nature opportunities, and don't mind getting wet. The climate of Cameron Highland ranges between 20°C - 25°C during the day on average but does get a little hotter during periods of low rainfall. Actually, one can visit the Cameron Highlands anytime of the year; it's a simple matter of whether you enjoy more rainfall or less.
Night falls between 15°C - 18°C but may dip lower after heavy rain. The lowest ever recorded temperature in Cameron Highlands was 7.8°C. During the rainy periods, remember to drive carefully on the road while going up and around the Cameron Highlands as road conditions are slippery. Also be prepared with an umbrella for frequent evening showers or thunderstorms.