Popular Highlands Retreats of Pahang


smelling the roses at cameron highlands
roses of many colors at cameron highlands
red and white roses at cameron highlands

The state of Pahang is blessed with delightful and popular highlands with wonderful and refreshing sceneries, tranquil streams and waterfalls, besides other natural attractions.

Pahang has actually 4 cool and popular highlands retreats and resorts that are not only favorite getaway spots and popular to the locals, but also to foreigners and tourists alike:-

1. Cameron Highlands

2. Fraser’s Hill

3. Genting

4. Bukit Tinggi

The first two -- Cameron Highlands and Fraser’s Hill –- have long been in existence, that is, since the early 1900s, and are looked at as "traditional" popular highlands getaways and retreats, and a haven for nature lovers, bird watchers, and for those who are not into high energy depleting physical activities ...what’s that again?

On the other hand, Genting and Bukit Tinggi were relatively "newly" established in the 1970s and 1990s respectively.

Genting is unquestionably Malaysia’s "City of Entertainment" with several hotels, indoor and outdoor theme parks, 18-hole golf course and where world class entertainers and artistes regularly perform and have their stints there. It is also the only place in Malaysia where a world-class casino and legal gambling activities are allowed.

Bukit Tinggi too has its own unique attractions where there is something for everyone in the family. Rabbit park, horse riding, golf, street performance and outdoor dining around the French –themed resort town and Japanese Village provides a spread of exciting and joyful entertainment for the whole family.

I will, however, take you to the two "newer" popular highlands of entertainment in another special page, but for now, follow me first to the two "traditional" retreats popular for its cool weather and rich flora.

So, follow me (and my nieces, Nana, Ayu and Mia - during their school holidays) and let’s take a ride to the first of the two cool highland retreats now...


green roses at cameron highlands
Bharat plantation for tea lovers at cameron highlands
tourists from England befriended

CAMERON HIGHLANDS – A COOL RETREAT  

Cameron Highlands, a cool and refreshing retreat with surroundings that reminisce European resorts of old, is just about 3-4 hours drive away from Kuala Lumpur or Kuantan.

It is surrounded by undulating valleys and the majestic rolling mountains of the Titiwangsa (Main) Range.

This popular hill station is situated at 1,829 meters above sea level with a subtemperate climate of 21 degrees Celcius during the day and about 15 degrees Celcius during the night.

It was discovered in 1885 by a British surveyor, William Cameron, during a survey expedition. In 1925 the area was developed into a hill station and it quickly became a favorite retreat for the British officials and visitors who colonise Malaysia at that time.

Even now, Cameron Highlands remains Malaysia’s largest and premier hill retreat with its eternal spring climate, scenic beauty and bountiful temperate farmlands.

Malaysian city dwellers who want to get away from the noise and pollution, and the hustle and bustle of the cities, are among the big crowds who come to unwind and relax amongst the cool serenity of the highlands.


tea plantations at cameron highlands
tea leaves
tea plantations at cameron highlands

The place is famous for its tea plantations and you can see the bright green tea bushes sprawling in neat rows which seem to go on forever, up and down the slopes of Cameron Highlands.

The first highland tea plantation in the country and also the oldest and largest tea producer in south-east Asia is Boh Plantations, which is still owned and operated by the original British family since before the Second World War.

The Boh Cameronian tea produced here is one of the finest tea in the world, and it is the most recognizable of the Malaysian tea brands.

Visit the Boh tea plantation and take a guided tour of tea planting. And see how tea leaves are handpicked in the traditional way, graded and then processed.

After which, indulge yourself in a cup of hot freshly brewed tea of your preferred flavor - with, of course, some tasty shortbread - just like the way of the English of old... Umm..mm..munchy.

And you can then visit the flower gardens on terraces, rose and wild orchid gardens, flower nurseries, and potted plants where flowers and cactuses are sold at very reasonable prices.

Stop at the Agro Technology Park in the main town of Tanah Rata and surround yourself with the temperate blooms and herbs. The Park is situated at 1,400m above sea level and houses the oldest tea bushes in Malaysia dating back to 1926.

Witness a dazzling greenhouse display of flowers, strawberries and vegetables. Learn about research and development activities on subtropical flora on the highlands.

You should also visit the orchards and vegetable farms and if you think strawberries are found only in the western countries of the world, well, visit the strawberry farms here and taste the fresh pickings and the delicious home-made jams.


SIDEBAR

Special Tip!
----------

If you are a nature lover, photographer or bird-watcher, a great place to stay is the MNS-Boh Field Study Centre, located 1400 meters high in the "heart" of the tea plantations near Ringlet.

The Center is managed by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), and there are chalets and a dormitory for visitors, students and researchers. If you are a member of the MNS, there is a discount on the rates.

The GPS location is lat. long. 4.453340, 101.432203.

For information or reservations, Tel : 03- 32892294, Fax: 03-32894311, Email : mnsboh@gmail.com, or visit the MNS main website.

P.S. - Read about the Pahang branch of the MNS here.

END OF SIDEBAR


cactuses at cameron highlands
small cactuses for sale
huge cactuses at cameron highlands

Fresh fruits and vegetables, potted plants, cacti and souvenirs can be bought at the markets in Brincang. On week-ends especially, crowds of locals can be seen buying the fresh vegetables and fruits.

And yes, for the fanatic golf player, there is an 18-hole golf course there. Husbands can play the rounds of golf and leave their family to explore the other attractions of Cameron Highlands!!


HOW TO GET THERE

Tapah, at the foothills of Cameron Highlands, is the gateway to the hill station and can be reached by bus, taxi or train from Kuala Lumpur.

The taxi and bus services at Kuala Lumpur’s Puduraya Terminal will take you all the way up to Tanah Rata.

You can also take the train to Tapah town and then continue your journey via the regular bus or taxi services up to Tanah Rata, about 60 km away.

Cameron Highlands is also accessible via the new highway at Simpang Pulai. Driving from Kuala Lumpur, the Simpang Pulai exit is about 45 minutes north of Tapah along the North-South Expressway.

Which way should you take?

I suggest you take the ascent route via Tapah town as you will pass through natural waterfalls, hot springs, Orang Asli (indigenous people) settlements, religious shrines, souvenir shops, roadside markets and some other things you might find interesting.

koi fishes pool at cameron highlands
koi fishes in the park
lata iskandar waterfalls at cameron highlands

Make a short stop at Kuala Woh, a recreational park with natural hot springs. And then go on to Chenderiang and Lata Iskandar, where you will find the beautiful cascading waterfalls.

lata iskandar waterfalls

As you slowly wind your way up the road to the three townships of Ringlet, Brinchang and Tanah Rata you will be greeted with verdant green hillsides planted with young tea plants.

Ringlet, the first of the township, lies 1,135 meters above sea level. The attractions here include a temple, a magnificent Tudor styled hotel called the Lakehouse, and several flower nurseries. Nearby is the Boh Tea Estate, as I mentioned earlier, where a tour can be made.

If you are feeling a little adventurous, you may want to try the Dayang Endah trail that will lead you to the Robinson Waterfall. Other trails are also available that may involve a gentle stroll or a half-day trek for the very fit.

Then on the road up to Tanah Rata you will come across the Cameron Bharat Tea Plantation and the Tea Shop. Here you will find some unique souvenirs, English scones...as usual... and more tea to fill your tea’s (..oops..) desire.

Tanah Rata is the principal town and administrative center in the district of Cameron Highlands which covers an area of 712 square kilometers.

admiring roses
green roses at cameron highlands
yellow roses

NOW, HAVING THOROUGHLY ENJOYED CAMERON HIGHLANDS AND TASTED THE SPECIAL TEA THERE, LET'S GO TO...

FRASER’S HILL

mosque at Fraser's Hill
Welcome signboard on the hills at Frasers Hill

This quiet getaway and cool retreat is named (in 1919) after a Scottish adventurer and tin trader -- Louise James Fraser -- who established a tin-ore trading station there at the end of the 19th century during the British colonial times in Malaya. 

post office, Frasers Hill

He, however, disappeared in the area in 1916 and until now is disappearance remains an unsolved mystery – adding yet to the sometimes mystical aura of the place.

Fraser’s Hill is located at 1,524 meters above sea level, with average temperature of 21 -23 degrees Celsius and is located about 100 km from Kuala Lumpur, between the Selangor-Pahang border.

In the early days before Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957, Fraser’s Hill has always been one of the favorite highlands (the other being Cameron Highlands) of the British colonial masters working in the country, as the place to get away from the hot tropical weather of the lowlands and enjoy the cool weather similar to their British motherland.

typical bungalow at fraser's hill

Not surprisingly then, this quaint highland resort is in fact sometimes likened to an English village as the granite-colored mock-Tudor buildings dot the verdant landscape. And once there, you will feel as though you are living somewhere in a little country village in England!

In fact you will find the colonial influence of the British masters pervades the surroundings of this rather unique Malaysian naturalist paradise.

Although Fraser’s Hill is relatively cool and comfortable to live with compared to the sometimes humid heat elsewhere, I do find the place rather small, but no less charming. There are still plenty of activities to fill the time. It is basically a retreat where you just settle down and unwind with books and family activities. 

beautiful flowers at Fraser's Hill

However, if you are an out and out naturalist, a lover of flora and fauna, or just an avid bird-watcher, then you might not want to leave Fraser’s Hill –- not until you have thoroughly explored its truly beguiling natural surroundings and habitats.

mesia of frasers hill

You will find in the centre of the town the Fraser’s Hill Nature Education Centre (FHNEC) – set up in 1997 to support its conservation efforts - very informative especially for those looking to learn more about Fraser’s Hill and the flora and fauna found there.

There are many nature trails with distances ranging from half a kilometer to five kilometers, where assistance of guides are necessary to complete the trail.

So take out your binoculars or digiscope, go trekking and just wait for the birds to come… And snap them with your camera or videocam ...

In fact more than 260 species of birds, local and migratory, have been observed and recorded here. Among the exotic birds found and sighted there are the mountain imperial pigeon, silver-eared mesia, mountain tailorbird, rhinoceros hornbill, long tailed sibia and the chestnut-capped laughing-thrush.

strewaked spiderhunter at frasers

Bird watchers from all over the world are naturally thrilled to know that every year Fraser’s Hill is the location for the Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race, where participants compete to sight, identify and record the most number of species registered in the official checklist.

To flora lovers on the other hand, Fraser’s Hill is one cool highland retreat you will definitely love. This is because the mock-Tudor buildings dotting the landscape is surrounded by beautiful wild flowers, flower nurseries and well tended gardens. And further out you will find nature trails leading to streams and waterfalls that refresh the spirits.

There are horses and ponies at the Paddock– again following in the English building style - for those who want to experience the pleasures of riding. And, to be different, perhaps you can try exploring the nature trails on horseback.

jeriau waterfalls area

If you prefer, located about 4 kilometers from the town center, is the Jeriau Waterfall, an ideal place to bring the family for picnic. Not far from the town center is Allan’s Water, a former reservoir, where you can go boating and go fishing as well.

Fraser’s Hill, as I mentioned, is comparatively small, obviously much smaller than Cameron Highlands, but still definitely charming what with the pervading quaint old English style buildings.

There is a small market square with a little clock tower, --which probably is the most photographed object there -- and together with the greeneries of the landscape adds to the overall charms and rustic English country ambiance of the place. 

the famous clock tower at fraser's hill

As in all popular tourist destinations nowadays, you will also find a golf course there. But surprise, surprise - the town’s golf course – Royal Fraser’s Hill Golf Club, designed in 1925 - is in fact the first highland course in Peninsular Malaysia and was built on former tin mines!

Overall the course is fairly easy and rather quite playable for the golf beginner or a high golf handicapper (that’s me of course… shy..shy... a 24 handicap that is unchanged since I took up the game 25 years back!).

However, there is a newer and more challenging 18-hole golf course called the Fraser’s Hill Golf and Country Club at Jeriau, about 3 kilometers away from the main town.

But never mind, golfing is just a nice sweaty pastime... and at Fraser’s Hill most people come to feel the cool weather and recuperate, and to observe nature at its best.


HOW TO GET THERE

There are two ways you can access Fraser’s Hill:-

The first is through the Kuala Lumpur-Karak highway where you have to turn left at the Bentong junction and proceed to Teranum, on the way to Raub. At Tranum, you have to turn left towards the Gap where the ascent up the hill takes place.

Alternatively you can take the trunk road heading towards Ipoh, Perak and as you reach Kuala Kubu Bharu, you then proceed to the Gap.

The Gap refers to an 8 km narrow one-way traffic winding road that utilizes a gate control system to regulate the flow of ascending and descending traffic.

For the uphill traffic, the ascent is allowed at odd hours from 7.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. while the descent is allowed at even hours from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.

During these times traffic is only allowed through for the first 40 minutes of each hour. The last 20 minutes buffer is to ensure that all vehicles have adequate time to reach their destinations before the change in traffic flow.

Therefore you may have to wait awhile for the opposite traffic to pass if you miss the ascent or descent schedule.

If you are driving there, make sure you fill your tank with petrol at Bentong, Raub or Kuala Kubu Bharu, as there is no petrol station at Fraser's Hill. A small retail shop there sells petrol in containers, but during peak periods sometimes it runs out of petrol stock.

By Bus

For bus commuters from K.L., from the Pudu Raya bus terminal you can take the bus heading towards Kuala Kubu Bharu as well as Raub. You then alight at Kuala Kubu Bharu and take a taxi direct to the hilltop.

Search For Hotels and Resorts in Pahang Here!


HOME AGAIN

Enjoy, and be rejuvenated by the cool highlands of Pahang

I hope you’ve enjoyed the trips to the 2 cool highland retreats of Pahang.

And you have trekked in the lush jungle and swam in the cool waterfalls. Or  enjoyed the mountain sceneries and tea plantations, and perhaps played a round or two of golf there. 

So, click now to other delightful destinations of your choice and follow me for other adventures and pleasures in the state.

*** SELAMAT DATANG***


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