Misty hills, stretches of green tea plantation and miles of strawberry farms are what dominate the beautiful Malay hill station of Cameron Highlands. The cool weather makes the place a great getaway from the hot and humid tropics down on the coast around Penang.  It’s not too hard to escape into the mountains, either: It’s supposed to be a four-hour bus from Penang and a little less from KL, but you should be ready for some hefty traffic along the way, and journey times closer to the six-hour mark.

Cameron Highlands
Do not pluck the tea leaves sign | © Crabs Move Sideways

The town of Tanah Rata is one of the most accessible in the area. Perhaps the architecture is not the most incredible – it kinda’ looks like a Disneyland Switzerland – but it’s a good base for visiting the surrounding farms, starting some picturesque hiking trails and trying some tasty Malay and Indian cuisine.

Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands tea | © Crabs Move Sideways

Cameron Highlands is famed for its tea fields for a reason! We can easily say that visiting the plantations was a highlight of our trip. The views were spectacular and it was a great opportunity to learn more about the drink we have nearly every day. We headed to Tea Station 1 – unimaginative names abound in Malaysia.

If you’re lucky, you might just get a ride with the most amazing taxi driver in all of Malaysia (tall order, eh?). The name’s Ravi. Not only did he have the best vintage car in town (with power seats that moved back and forth at the press of a button) but also some great recommendations about the place.

Cameron HighlandsPeople Cameron Highlands | © Crabs Move Sideways

He drove us the 20 minutes or so it takes to get from the heart of Tanah Rata to the entrance to the tea fields. The clouds were gathering a little but no matter, tea was on the menu. It’s a couple of ringit for a ticket and you’re in, weaving through pockets of green tea plants while camera-touting tour groups whizz past on golf carts. It’s all a little surreal really.

Just don’t come expecting the sort of sweeping vistas of green tea plantations you get in places like Munnar and Darjeeling. In Cameron, the farms are hidden between pockets of misty rainforest, carved out in bowls between the rocky mountains where the clouds form. A brown river of muddy water ran through the heart of the one we visited, like some sort of Willy Wonka chai stream waiting to be drunk.

Despite being caught in a massive storm, we managed to have some fun with really cool Malay people (Uno cards never fail). Soaking wet, we scrambled from the base of a green valley and into the local tea house for some warming chai. Ravi proved to be a total legend when he scooted down in his low rider to pick us up after our rain-doused trip to the Cameron Bharat Plantation.

Cameron HighlandsSelfie in the tea plantation | © Crabs Move Sideways

Cameron Highlands was a great place to escape the heat (never thought we’d be happy to get cold) and see some beautiful tea plantations. There’s certainly something to be said about the whole place loosing a little of its charm to bulk-built, cookie-cutter apartments in the faux-alpine style, but there’s still wild jungle and hidden pockets of tea leaves to discover. Cheers!