Cameron Highland is located in the state of Pahang, Malaysia. Access to the highland is by road only. Using train makes it rather complicated, requiring a change of transport in the town of Tapah.
Here are some of the few ways you can get there:
- by car
- by coach/bus
- by train to Tapah. Then
- by taxi/bus transfer from Tapah
The best way is still by self drive though for the first timer, the winding road needs a certain amount of driving skill especially negotiating through the plantation roads! And of course, you can explore the many sights faster than walking and avoids having to hire a taxi to move about.
For those who don’t drive, backpackers and budget travellers, coaches/buses will be the better alternative. Coaches/buses take you directly to Tanah Rata bus station. So you might consider booking your accommodations here for convenience sake.
I think going there by train then transfer to taxi/bus from Tapah would be the most inconvenient way to travel to Cameron Highlands. The train station is not even located in Tapah (I couldn’t even find it when I made a detour and drove down to Tapah for a look-see!). It is located outside of Tapah somewhere to the west. You will need to take a taxi or bus to Tapah, and from there book either a taxi or bus that will take you to Cameron Highlands. Nope, too complicated for consideration. I wouldn’t even try it myself.
There are two approaches by road. Starting from North-South Expressway, you may use the older winding road from Tapah toll exit, or the newer, easier to drive road from the Simpang Pulai toll exit.
The Tapah way exit the North-South Expressway from Tapah toll exit. Basically just follow the sign board. You cant miss it! This route is more challenging to drive as the road is more winding. And you will need patience and good driving skill to overtake slower vehicles. Many a times I got to test my patience while trailing a heavily laden lorry!
However, you will pass by the breathtaking Lata Iskandar waterfall. You can get some light refreshment here, and there are pottery and souvenir shops around.
This route will take you to Ringlet town first, then to Tanah Rata.
Exit the North-South Expressway at the Simpang Pulai toll. Turning right from the traffic lights you will be on the trunk road heading to Ipoh. Just a short distance away, you will reach another crossroad with traffic lights. Turning right will take you to Cameron Highlands, going straight will head towards Ipoh, and if you are so inclined, you can take a quick detour to Kellie’s Castle by making a left turn here.
Sign boards indicating the way to Cameron Highlands are now available on this two junctions. So you are unlikely to make a wrong turn here. Just in case, you can always watch out for some landmarks as a guide.
While waiting for your turn at the traffic light junction, you may double check by looking out for these two landmarks a Polis Station on your left and a Surau (a small Muslim chapel) on your right.
Turn right once the traffic light turns green. Just continue straight on this road, you may see another sign indicating the way to Cameron Highlands. After that no more. Not to worry, it is just one way stretch with no side road turn offs. Along the way you may see some factories and quarries.
After about an hour of driving, watch out for sign board stating direction to Blue Valley Plantation, Kg. Raja & Kuala Terla. There will be a right turn to Kg. Raja and Kuala Terla. Take it, as it leads to Cameron Highland!
This route is sort of like coming up Cameron Highlands from the back door! Well it felt like it, but it is a lot more easier to drive.
You will go through Kg. Raja, then Kuala Terla, pass through Tringkap, then only will you reach Brinchang before coming to Tanah Rata. There might be some slight confusion at Kg. Raja, but should have adequate signage to get you by. This route you can get to see many farms and housing for the locals, though the side roads tend to be quite hap hazardly arranged.
Both ways takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to arrive at Cameron Highlands.
So which way should you use? Why not use both! Use the Simpang Pulai way to go up, and then use the older Tapah way to go down. That way you still get to visit the Lata Iskandar waterfall, and have much easier time driving up the hill and still enjoy the scenery!