Hiking the Cameron Highland trails without a guide

The Cameron highlands, a cool and fertile region in the middle of peninsular Malaysia is a hikers paradise. Don’t expect challenging multi day adventures, but rather beautiful walks that start right from your hotel doorstep and lead you through strawberry farms, tea plantations and dense jungle. And with our help you can explore it all by yourself!

Hike

When staying in Tanah Rata, you’ll find numerous tour agencies, that will all tell you it’s better to hike with them instead of alone. Don’t buy it. You will rarely find a place that is more fit for hiking without a guide than the Cameron Highlands. Just download maps.me and you are ready to go.

Below, you can find some pointers on making your walk as pleasant as possible.

1. Navigation

Don’t buy a map. Seriously. The map we bought was incomplete and not detailed enough to be of any help. Maps.me is an app that will very precisely show you the way and works offline.

2. Preparation

Trainers or hiking shoes are perfect. You don’t need any heavy duty stuff for these hikes. Long pants are advisable. Bring plenty of water. Even though the weather is cooler up here, it is still humid and you will sweat. A lot. Also, some snacks or lunch (depending on your route) and some cash are necessary items.

Stuff a lightweight rain poncho in your daypack. Also, a powerbank is a great idea, since you will depend on your phone for the route. Oh, one last thing, leave your arachnophobia at home. When you are the first of the day on the trail, you wil definitely walk through your fair share of webs.

3. The trails

Some of the trails around the Highlands are closed or simply do not exist anymore due to new roads or farmland. Maps.me is fairly up to date but it’s always wise to check with your hostel if the route you want to take is a good one. The trails intersect at some places so combing them into bigger or smaller walks is a good way of adjusting your hike to your preferations.

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Trail 6 on the east side of town (there are 2) is a fun way to connect the Gunung Jasar hike to Tanah rata while avoiding the main road. Tip for trail 6 East in general: Make sure you start at the side of the forestry campsite, since there is a gate that can only be opened from that side. Be advised that both the trail 6s only exist on maps.me and not on the paper map we bought. You can also use trail 4 to avoid the main road.

4. The peaks

For a moderately challenging hike, go to the top of Gunung Berembun via trail 7 and get back down using trail 3. Watch out that on your descent you don’t accidentally end up on trail 6. Trail 3 is quieter and more adventurous.

For a fantastic view take trail 10 to Gunung Jasar. Leave early to reach the top before it gets cloudy. When you get to the powermast, use the “stairs” to make it all the way to the top. One side of the hill overlooks the town, the other tea plantations and forest

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To get to the highest point, rebelliously ignore the fact that trail 1 is closed and reach the top of Gunung Brinchang. Be aware of the fact that there is also a road that leads up there and you will be rewarded for your climb with not only the way to the mossy forest but also many tourists.

5. Safety

In the past, there have been reports of robberies on trail 9. Ask your hostel about the current situation and tell them your plans. And keep in mind that is always wise to hike with a buddy.

To tour or not to tour

In Tanah Rata you have all the important sights of the region within reach. If you want a better insight in the economy of the region, book a half day tour for 25 to 40 Ringit. It will take you to a tea plantation and factory (factory is closed on monday), Butterfly garden (additional 6 Ringit), Bee farm, Rose garden (7 Rm), local market and Buddist temple. All these locations are easy to visit on your own but the tour was very… uhm… efficient.

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Note: The butterfly garden we went to is also a bit of a zoo. For the standards of the region it’s okay animal wellbeing wise, but do prepare for the loneliest racoon ever.

Extra info

After all this walking and looking around, you need a great meal and a comfy bed. We found both!

Eat

Good food here is easy to find. Here you can find some of our personal favorites:

To get your Durian fix, go to the little stall across the street from Planters hotel. They also sell the best Mangosteen, a perfect hiking snack.

For breakfast, go to “The Lord’s Café”, hidden in a small street across from the bus station. Delicious scones, regional tea and a good egg sandwich for a fair price.

Lunch or dinner is best at Suria. They serve authentic Malaysian and South Indian dishes from a huge menu with small prices. The vegetarian Muhrtabak was our personal favorite.

Craving a burger? The Mossy Forest Café is your spot. Pricey but good and don’t forget to order a strawberry milkshake.

And last but not least, find our new friend Miss Cheese. She runs a stand with Pisang Goreng Cheese, which is fried banana with cheese and a topping to your liking.

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For just 5 Rm you can clog your arteries but man, it’s worth it. I also used to think that banana and cheese is a weird combination but trust me, it’s the best! You can find her on the road between the All Souls Church and the start of trail 4.

Sleep

For our well deserved shut eye, we first stayed at the Orchid haven hostel. But at 90 Ringit per night we found this accomodation a bit steep.

The BB Inn for 50 Ringit was more friendly to our budget but since we stayed at the streetside we did not sleep at all when England played Croatia all the way into extra time. Due to the time difference, the match started at 02.00 and ended with deeply disappointed and drunk English tourists at around 4.30. Yay.

If you have any additions or questions for us, let us know. I hope this article will help you in having the same amazing time that we had here.

♥ Dagmar

Ps. We took more pictures 🙂

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