Cameron Highlands has been one of the many vacation “Hotspots” for Singaporeans, ever since we were young kids. When I was in Primary School, I remember going up the winding roads, and spending a huge amount of time puking into a red plastic bag. Although the journey was torturous, the weather and fun times at the top make the pilgrimage up to the mountains worth it. It has been more that 3 decades since I went up to the Highlands, and I was definitely looking forward to it.
The visit to Cameron Highlands was even made more tempting with the prospect of staying in their No.1 Resort (As Voted by Trip Advisor). This Luxury YTL Resort, is not just a great spot for honeymooners, but also a great “pit-stop” for families to unwind after a long trip. The Resort’s premises is built on an old building which has been around for ages. Surrounded by Tudor-styled cottages, I believe that my family has driven past this building when my parents brought me up to Cameron many years ago. With its refurbishment, YTL brought in their own style and finesse to the whole resort. Housing the third wellness centre of the award-winning Spa Village group, which offers exotic treatments focusing on the healing and restorative properties of tea.
For those of us who have not been to Cameron Highlands. It is located 200 km north of Kuala Lumpur and stands at approximately 1,500 metres above sea level, Temperatures fluctuate between 22° and 25° Celsius during the day and between 15° and 22° Celsius at night, making it the perfect Getaway for us Tropical Singaporeans.
The Good News for all commuters is that travelling up the Mountains is no longer as arduous as before. In fact, none of my passengers felt nauseous when they went up via the new route. The old route is called the “Tapah” exit, and this is the first road that you will see when travelling up from Kuala Lumpur. The roads here are sharp and narrow, and with heavy vehicles using this road, the trip can be pretty dangerous.
I would recommend that families go up to Cameron Highlands via the Simpang Pulai Exit. The new route from Simpang Pulai is less winding and the road is wider. Other than some sharp bends, the road is relatively easy to drive. Some drivers tend to speed here, thus it is essential that families drive up in a comfortable and reliable car!
We were very happy to use this route especially with the Brand new Kia Sorento. The car proved agile and powerful enough to handle the slopes and provided power acceleration when we needed to overtake the slower trucks. With the Car’s entertainment system, my kids were very much pre-occupied and distracted, as we drove up the mountain. Blessed with plenty of head room and leg room, the kids could also stretch and sleep comfortably, when they got tired. Truly an affordable family car!
How long does it take on the Simpang Pulai Route?
Although to it takes longer to driver up to mountain as compared to the old route from Tapah, the benefits far outweigh the costs! The ride up was safer on the new route, and more importantly, no one was vomiting into a red plastic bag.
For interested Drivers, here are the directions:
Driving Directions to Simpang Pulai Route:
To get to Simpang Pulai, from the North-South Expressway, exit at the Simpang Pulai interchange (Exit 137). Turn right and follow the road signs up Cameron Highlands. You will pass by Kampung Raja, Kuala Terla, Tringkap and Brinchang before reaching Cameron Highlands Resort in Tanah Rata. There’s one last Petronas Petrol Station which is just off the expressway and toll station, which you can top up your petrol before you head up the mountain.
Rooms at Cameron Highlands Resort:
Cameron Highlands Resort features 56 beautifully-appointed rooms and suites. Rooms are adequately spaced, and offers plenty of room for the kids to run around.
Moving around the Hotel, expect a quaint British Colonial atmosphere where guests are brought back into time. Walking into the tea room, expect a Pianist to belt our your favourite classical tunes, as you recuperate from your long drive with some high tea.
Surrounded by the Tudor styled surroundings, we sat down and enjoyed some High Tea “English Style”. With your favourite scones, tea and sandwiches, we could feel the inches increasing in our belts. Nathan was in love with the strawberries, and needed no coaxing to eat his food! We highly recommend having English Afternoon Tea at the Resort, as it is one of the most relaxing ways to spend a lazy afternoon at Cameron Highlands.
One of the fun things for the family, is to have a “light the fireplace” experience at the Resort. Every night, a family will be invited to light the fireplace, and our brave Nicole was the first to volunteer for the task. With the weather, the fireplace, and the cocktails, we felt like we were in a cottage in Europe.
The Great thing about staying at the Cameron Highlands Resort, is that it is self-contained, and it offers restaurants and dining within its premises. If you don’t feel like driving out to the towns nearby, you can have dinner at the hotel. As usual the kids had a really healthy appetite, and it seemed to be increasing with the cool temperatures! I think you can tell, that they enjoyed their meals at the Resort!
Besides the Fine Dining Menu, one can also enjoy Steamboat within the Resort. Steamboat is actually an “evergreen” favourite dish at Cameron Highlands, due to the cooler night temperatures. With the whole family crowding around the electronic stoves, the family gets to bond over dinner and enjoy their favourite food as well.
So besides the meaty steaks which are served at the restaurant, you can also get a cool Angus Burger in the tea room. Like what they say, they have something for everyone!
For those asking, are there activities for the family at Cameroon Highlands. Here are a list of our favourite activities.
Things to do at Cameron Highlands
For Nature Lovers, do explore the many Nature trails at Cameron Highlands.
One of the highlights at the hotel is a Nature Hikes. One highly recommended hike is the Jim Thompson Hike. History has it that he regularly hiked at Cameron Highlands. Jim Thompson is the famous American silk trader and businessman. He ‘disappeared’ when he was in Cameron Highlands, during one of his trips. To commemorate his love for the area, you can go for a hike which is the route he usually took when he went for his walks.
In any case, if you are a nature lover, you will love what you can find in the woods. For our city kids, it is definitely a side of life they need to explore more! Don’t worry about the level of difficulty, as the trails come with a difficulty rating, and you can definitely find an easy one for the kids!
Because of the cool temperature, hiking was relatively easy, and the whole family had a fun time. (We took the easy route!) The guide will also point out many interesting details about the plants in the area. He gave a good story of Jim Thompson’s disappearance and told us the various theories behind his disappearance.
Strawberry Farms, Mushroom Farms and More!
There are many touristy things to do here. One is to visit the Strawberry Farm and the Mushroom farm. If you are thinking about directions, let your worries be put to rest. There are tons of Strawberry Farms in the highlands, so you will be spoilt for choice. There are tons of other organic farms along the roads, and they will serve as great education for the kids.
We brought the kids to pick Strawberries and they loved the experience! The farms give you a plastic container, and basically you are charged according to the weight of the harvest that you bring home. As usual, we could not resist the Strawberries, and the adults were eating and plucking at the same time. For the Best Strawberries, look for those which are dark red. They need not be regularly sized, as it sweetness is not determined by the shape of the Strawberry (This was based on advise given by the staff).
Another must-see is the Boh Tea Plantation.
The common and touristy one is at Sungei Palas. Although I’ve not been there, I’ve read the reviews and heard from our hotel manager that this one is a very commercialised Tea Centre. It would still be a great experience, but he advised us to go to the Boh Tea Plantation at Habu.
The Plantation is a good 30-40 min drive towards Tapah. As this plantation is on the old route, expect super windy roads, but breathtaking views! Once entering the plantation, expect single lanes, where you need to keep “Honking” your horn, to let the cars know that you are approaching. Being a City Driver, I was not used to such road conditions and it proved to be a bit nerve wrecking, as the oncoming traffic, can drive right into you. However, the views at the plantation and the experience at the tea plant, will prove to be an invaluable experience for the kids.
At the Tea Plantation, there’s a small cafe. Drink their tea and have some pastries. I loved the tea, as it was really fresh, but the pastry proved to be just passable for a relaxing afternoon tea.
After some tea, do check out the factory. The tour is super short, but it was an eye opener to see how they process the tea leaves. And the smell was gorgeous!! So so fresh!
Walking around, you can venture up a small slope to have a good view of the plantation. It was totally worth the drive. Try to go at about 2-3 p.m. So that when you make your way home, there’s hardly any traffic towards the tea plantation
Overall, we totally enjoyed our stay at Cameron Highlands. We spent 2 days in the ranges, just totally exploring the towns, farms and just relaxing. We highly recommend families to stay for at least 2-3 nights in Cameron Highlands to enjoy the whole experience. If you are looking for a good massage after your drive, do try out the Spa At Cameron Highlands Resort. Called “Spa Village Cameron Highlands”, this is the only Award Winning Spa in the highlands, and you will definitely be totally relaxed after the experience.
Click here to find out more about Cameron Highlands Resort.