5 Attractions In Cameron Highlands For People Who Don’t Like Crowds

Once a pristine mountain retreat, Cameron Highlands is a far cry from how it used to be 20 or 30 years ago. Vast swathes of forest have been cleared to make way for hotels, farms and tourist attractions. It isn’t even cold anymore in the daytime, and god forbid you go on a weekend, what with the hordes of tourist buses unloading at the flower farms and strawberry plantations. If I wanted to push and shove among a crowd, I’d go to a mall in KL – at least those are air conditioned. ūüė¶

Depressing points aside, there are a couple of spots in CH still worth visiting, and where you are less likely to get trampled in case of a stampede.

LATA ISKANDAR 

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If you’re travelling up from the Tapah-CH side, you can’t miss the Lata Iskandar waterfall, located just by the side of the road. Comprised of several tiers, the water cascades down into pools where one can bathe and cool down from the intense heat. Despite being a public recreational area, it’s surprisingly clean, and the waterfalls are flanked on each side with lush greenery. More seasoned hikers might want to go on the trail to see unique flora and fauna in the area. There are also some shops selling local handicrafts from the Orang Asli, jungle produce and souvenirs.

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CAMERON VALLEY TEA PLANTATION 

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CH has a couple of big tea plantations, including the Boh and Bharat plantations. Cameron Valley belongs to the latter, founded by migrants from Uttar Pradesh.

Boh is popular for their jam and scones, which is served at a picturesque little cafe overlooking the valley. As such, the place can be slightly more crowded. CV also has a lookout point, but you can opt to walk down to the plantation to take pictures, or take a buggy down to a spot where they have a bridge and a small garden. PS: Entry is RM10 per pax, which is overpriced imo.

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Sam Poh Temple at Brinchang is a Buddhist temple dating back to the 1970s and is well worth a visit if you’re into culture and architecture. While not very large, the temple has intricate decor, a grand prayer hall housing various Buddha statues, and is well maintained and upkept.

CACTUS POINT

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Perhaps it is due to its location which is a few kilometres away from Brinchang, but Cactus Point is less crowded than other nearby attractions, and the spacious layout makes it easier to navigate and browse through as well. As the name suggests, the place is dedicated to various species of cacti both large and small. In fact, we were surprised by the variety of different types they have on display, from tiny ones that could fit into the palm of one’s hand, to giant ones that tower as high as an adult. They also carry a smaller selection of garden plants and flowers, and you can even buy them to take home.

BUTTERFLY FARM

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One of CH’s oldest tourist attractions, the Butterfly Farm is home to hundreds of butterflies within its enclosed gardens. It also has enclosures for live insects, reptiles, scorpions, small mammals and an aviary. The place is¬†in need of an upgrade, as the interiors are old and dated, but since most tourists will prefer going to shiny new attractions, it means you get the whole place all to yourself! ūüôā Despite its age, the gardens are still well maintained and you can get up close to the butterflies (they have a large collection of Rajah Brooke Butterflies) while taking a leisurely stroll and admiring the garden’s pretty blooms.

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Gaharu Tea Valley Agarwood Plantation, Gopeng

How well do you know your own country and its hidden gems? 

At times I feel like I’ve already seen it all. But then I stumble across places that make me question that belief – like the Gaharu Tea Valley Agarwood plantation. I never knew this place existed, and the funny thing is, it was the supposedly¬†less tech-savvy people (ie parents) who suggested the trip after Googling it.

Well done, mom and dad. xD

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Tucked within the sleepy town of Gopeng in Perak,¬†the Gaharu Tea Valley was started in 1992 – which means that the place has been around for more than 24 years! One wonders why they aren’t more popular as a tourist attraction among the public (they probably need more marketing!), but the place has had many celebrity guest visits, including from HK stars and local ministers/politicians. Spread across 300 acres, the plantation has over 200,000 agarwood (Gaharu) trees, which are prized for their medicinal and aesthetic properties.

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Since the plantation is huge, vans will shuttle visitors back and forth from various checkpoints. While waiting for our ride, we stopped by at the ‘base’ where they have a shop selling all sorts of Gaharu products, most notably tea. The brand is called HOGA, which is short for Holistic, Original, Genuine, Authentic tea.

Unlike conventional tea leaves, gaharu tea is made from different parts of the tree, which gives it a woody,fruity taste with herbal overtones. It’s meant to be drunk in the form it is served, without added sugar. The cold samples they provided were very refreshing and cooling on the throat – perfect for a hot summer’s day.

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The tea is said to have various health benefits, such as detoxification, strengthening the kidney and liver, reducing insomnia and stabilising blood pressure. It can be pricey though (upwards of RM200+ for a medium-sized box). They also have other products like flavoured ramen and recipe sachets (bak kut teh, herbal soup).

20161001_102201 Our comfy air conditioned van arrived and took us up to the first checkpoint Рa small building/gazebo perched on top of a hill. The vantage point offered us a beautiful view of the valley below, covered in gaharu trees for miles as far as the eye can see,  with deep rolling green hills beyond the horizon.

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Interesting fact about gaharu trees: in its natural state, it’s just a random light and pale-coloured tree – but once it gets infected by a type of mould, it turns into a very dense, dark and resin-embedded heartwood with a distinct fragrance often used for incense and perfumes.¬†At the plantation, according to the guides, they have to go about ‘injuring’ the trees so they can be exposed to the mould.

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Moving on to the next checkpoint, we came to a small garden lined with gaharu trees, painted over with animal murals. Good for selfie enthusiasts out there. There was also a murky pond with stingrays (but we couldn’t see anything coz it was too dirty), an enclosure with a few tortoises, and a flower patch.

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The last checkpoint is a quaint garden with a pond. To get to it, visitors pass through a staircase overhung with colourful painted bottles. Another great selfie spot! 20161001_110248-tile

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Statues of the 12 Chinese animal zodiac.

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And a huge old tree in the middle of the courtyard.

Gaharu Tea Valley is a great place to visit if you’re doing a tour of Gopeng/Ipoh and its vicinity. The tour shouldn’t take more than 1h30m, since there isn’t much to do other than take pictures, look at the scenery and learn a little about the gaharu plant. Entry is free, but the guided van tour is RM10 for adults and RM5 per child, which is reasonable + you get to see a side of Perak beyond the usual touristy spots. However, bear in mind that it isn’t very Westerner-friendly since the guides speak mostly Chinese/Malay and there aren’t many English signs.

GAHARU TEA VALLEY 

Mukim Teja, Kampung Sungai Itek
9840 Jalan Gopeng,
31600 Gopeng, Malaysia
Phone: +6053511999
Open: 9am – 6pm

 

Tea Plantations @ Ciater, Indonesia

 

 

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While driving down from Tangkuban Perahu, you’ll pass by the Ciater district, which is famed for its vast tea plantations. Seas of green roll through the landscape,¬†amidst¬†a¬†backdrop¬†of deep blue mountains.¬†

According to our guide, there are no ‘private’ tea plantations in the area, only government ones. They are usually open to visitors, so you can stop by the road and just hop on down to walk among the plants!

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The cool weather, coupled with the mild scenery? Really didn’t seem like I was in Asia at all lol.

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A mosque was sounding prayers through a loudspeaker nearby.

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For those who want to buy the produce, there are numerous tea houses in the area that you can stop by at. Else, it’s a nice place to get some beautiful postcard-esque photos !