Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

The drive from Kuala Lumpur to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands was both incredibly beautiful and incredibly terrifying.  The bus ride takes about 4 hours on windy roads through the mountains.  Our bus driver did not seem as concerned as us about the narrow roads, blind corners and steep cliffs.  He proceeded to drive extremely fast while blasting his horn at each narrow corner.  We held onto our seats for dear life and tried not to look out of the window at the plunging road too often, needless to say we arrived in Tanah Rata a bit white in the face.  However, getting off the bus into the fresh, and significantly less humid, mountain air, put us at ease.  The town of Tanah Rata is very small and very relaxed and we enjoyed it a lot more than the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur.  Our first evening was spent exploring the town, having some drinks and of course eating a lot of naan and curry.

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There were many small restaurants in Tanah Rata serving tandoori chicken and tandoori oven cooked naan.  And it was fun to watch the naans cook in the huge tandoori ovens, and of course to eat a ridiculous amount of them.

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Tandoori Oven

The thing to do in the Cameron Highlands is to visit a tea estate.  So we jumped on a very cheap tour that took us to a few sights in the area.  We got to see some incredible (yet misty) views and explored a bit of the surrounding jungle.

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We all adore tea so our highlight of the day was visiting the famous Boh Tea Estate.  As we drove in we were greeted to spectacular landscapes of tea bushes on the hillsides and learned a bit about the plants (some of them are nearly a hundred years old!).  We also took a tour of the factory to see how the tea was made.  And finally we were able to relax and drink copious amounts of tea on a balcony overlooking the plantation.  Heavenly.

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With our bags heavy with tea leaves and our belly’s full of naan and roti, it was time to leave Tanah Rata after a couple of nights in the beautiful Cameron Highlands.  Our time here was a real highlight in Malaysia and I highly recommend at least a couple of days in the area.  Overall, this is a cheap place to travel and we spent about US$35 (NZ$50) per day, including the tour to the plantation.

Editor’s Note: Visited Malaysia in 2014, updated in 2017.

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