We decided to stay in Malaysia for the weekend before flying to our intended destination which was Laos. I and my companions have already explored Kuala Lumpur in the past so we discussed where to stay. I originally wanted to explore Melaka but Jayvee has already been there. It was Jayvee who suggested going to Cameron Highlands because she wanted to see the tea plantations there. A quick Google search about Cameron Highlands had all of us agreeing immediately. LOL.
Jayvee and Karla have appeared on my blog so many times. However, it was my first time traveling with Myr. This trip became so much more fun and unforgettable because they were with me. I couldn’t count how many times I laughed until my belly ached because of them. I am so happy to have kaladkarin friends like them and who are on the same wavelength as I 🙂
The Flight: Cebu Pacific
We could easily have skipped the trip to Cameron Highlands and went straight to Laos if not for the fact that we were flying with Cebu Pacific. This airline is notorious for its delayed flights and we didn’t want to risk missing our flight to Laos in the early morning if we flew to Kuala Lumpur at midnight on the same day.
Surprisingly, our flight wasn’t delayed even though it was one of the last flights to leave NAIA Terminal 3. We arrived past midnight in Kuala Lumpur and decided to wait there until early morning to go straight to Cameron Highlands. It was easy enough to find seats and catch some sleep at the airport.
How to go to Cameron Highlands
Commuting to Cameron Highlands from KLIA 2 was so easy. I was impressed with the transportation system in Kuala Lumpur. Just before exiting KLIA 2, we found ticket counters for shuttle buses bound for different places in Kuala Lumpur. We just approached one of the ticket counters and asked for tickets to TBS-BTS.
Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS): Kuala Lumpur’s Central Bus TerminalThe Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) is the central bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur. It is connected to Bandar Tasik Selatan (TBS) train station, hence the name TBS-BTS. A faster option to go to TBS would be via the KLIA Ekpres. We chose the bus because it was way cheaper and we weren’t in a hurry. We arrived at TBS in under 1 hour.
I was amazed once I arrived at TBS. It looked like an airport terminal. We bought tickets in just under 5 minutes because they had a centralized ticketing system. This meant that we could go to any counter and just tell the agent where we were going. The agent just pulled up all the buses and the scheduled departures going to Cameron Highlands and we chose our preferred time or bus company.
The tickets indicated our gate number where we would wait for our bus to arrive. The screen on our assigned gate indicated that we were ready for boarding 10 minutes before our departure and another agent arrived to scan our tickets. Everything was so efficient and new to me that it got me wishing that we had the same system in Manila.
I was asleep for most of the trip, but woke up when we were traversing the zigzag roads going up to Cameron Highlands. I have to mention that our driver was so careful and didn’t go over the speed limit while driving.
It took around 4 hours with 2 stopovers to arrive in Cameron Highlands. We alighted at the bus terminal, immediately looked for lunch, and went to find our guesthouse which was walking distance away from the town.
Our Accommodation: Mentigi Guesthouse
Our guesthouse was really walking distance away from the town, but what we didn’t know was that it was an uphill walk. LOL. They provided free shuttle to and from the terminal, but their shuttle wasn’t there when we arrived and I forgot to inform the guesthouse our estimated time of arrival. So we decided to walk.
We chose Mentigi Guesthouse because it was the cheapest guesthouse with good reviews in Agoda. I didn’t notice that there was no air conditioning when I booked, but it wasn’t really a concern when we were finally able to feel the cold weather of Cameron Highlands. It also helped that Allaine and Ver who took turns manning the reception area were Filipino. They were so friendly with all the guests and we felt at home because of them.
We reserved the room that could accommodate 4 people and it was more than enough for us. My favorite part was the bed and the blankets. It was so hard to leave their warmth every morning when confronted with the cold and rainy weather. LOL.
Our room had a veranda, coffee making facilities, hair dryer and a water heater in the bathroom – all of which, we thoroughly enjoyed.
Breakfast wasn’t included in the room, but there were snacks for sale at the reception.
Day 1: Night Market
We arrived in Cameron Highlands around noon. Our original plan was to drop our bags at the guesthouse and immediately explore the town of Tanah Rata. The rain made that impossible since we were only planning to walk around the town. So we napped the afternoon away until it was time to leave for the Night Market.
The Night Market or locally called “Pasar Malam” is a famous tourist attraction in Cameron Highlands. The bazaar only takes place on weekends and during holidays. There is a wide array of products sold here: native products, food, merchandise, vegetables, plants and souvenirs. It was a 10-15 minute drive away from Mentigi Guesthouse. There is no public transportation in Cameron Highlands so taxis are always the answer when you want to go somewhere.
There were only a few people when we arrived at the Night Market because it was still raining. Luckily, we had umbrellas and raincoats with us. We had the best time trying out all the local foods there. Our favorite find was a stick of strawberries already coated in hardened chocolate. The first bite of chocolate and the juice suddenly oozing from the strawberry was heavenly.
We wanted to explore more but the rains were getting heavier and we were getting wetter despite our umbrella and raincoats. We decided to go back to the guesthouse and rest because we had an early start the next day.
Day 2: Mossy Forest Tour, Sam Poh Buddhist Temple & steamboat dinner
We availed the half-day Mossy Forest Tour from Eco Cameron. They had great reviews on Trip Advisor and a partner of our guesthouse. We were picked up just before 9 AM on a jeep with 1 other passenger. I appreciate that they didn’t cram so many of us in 1 group tour.
Our guide, Francis, advised us that our supposed first stop of the tour was not open to the public. Gunung Brinchang View Tower was undergoing some renovations until the end of January 2018. But he assured us that we would have an amazing view at the top of our Mossy Forest hike.
The hike was only 30-minutes long but it wasn’t easy. The rains that morning have stopped but the trail was muddy and slippery. Some areas were also very steep which required us to use both arms for balance. Midway through the hike, I noticed that the vegetation was different. Francis told us that we were finally in the Mossy Forest. All the moss should have felt creepy but I was only amazed at its beauty. Francis started with the educational tour and I learned so many things that morning.
Parts of the mountain we were standing on had at least 5 feet of moss which helped retain water. No wonder the ground was so soft and mushy in some areas. We were also advised not to step on fresh moss because it would kill them. Francis also pointed out an insect-eating plant which really didn’t eat insects. It just produced a sap which insects find so addicting that they aren’t able to leave. We even saw a toad living in one of the larger plants.
One last tidbit that I remember Francis sharing with us was about a wild orchid believed to be already extinct but we found it on the side of the trail looking so fragile in its minuteness.
After exploring the Mossy Forest, we headed to Boh Tea Plantation for more sight seeing and tea, of course. The tea plantation is so vast, but sadly not so well-kept. According to Francis, there are only a few workers at the tea plantations now compared to before. And so we could see the plants were not perfectly groomed and weeds can be also be seen.
We entered a building where we could see some of the steps in producing tea. The strong smell of leaves and tea almost overpowered me upon entering. It wasn’t a bad smell, it was just too strong for our noses.
After the brief tour in tea-making, it was time to gratify our stomachs at the Boh Tea Cafe. For the taste, we found the food to be a bit expensive. The pastries were a bit dry as well. We enjoyed the tea though.
This marked the end of our Mossy Forest Tour. We got back on the jeep, but instead of going to Mentigi Guesthouse we asked Francis to drop us off near Sam Poh Buddhist Temple. It was located a short walk away from the main road but it was easy to find once we asked the locals for directions. According to Google, this is the 4th largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.
We arrived just as it started to rain so bad. We explored the temple, explored some more, waited and waited. The rain still didn’t stop. There were no taxis passing by the temple so we decided to just put on our raincoats and walk back up to the main road. It was such a cold and wet walk. LOL.
We arrived at the taxi station where we waited for over an hour. I heard from a local that there were only a few available taxis that day because most of them have been hired for a whole day by other tourists. Calling for a taxi was another option, but none of us purchased a local sim.
We finally arrived back at Mentigi Guesthouse wet and hungry. All of us took turns for the shower and went out again to try Cameron Highland’s famous steamboat dinner. We went to Mayflower Restaurant for this experience because they had good reviews online and they are among the affordable ones. Each set only costs Myr 23! And for the amount of food that was served, it was so worth it ❤ We stayed for over 2 hours at the restaurant, but we still weren’t able to finish it all.
There were different kinds of vegetables, meat, seafood, noodles and dimsum. Combined with the chicken and tom yum broth, it was so delicious and perfect for the cold weather.
Day 3: back to Kuala Lumpur & Mitsui Outlet Park
Our last day in Cameron Highlands was so chill. We spent the entire morning lazing around while packing our stuff for Laos. We purchased our bus tickets to Kuala Lumpur directly from the guesthouse. We checked out at noon and headed directly to the bus station. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the staff of CS Travel, the bus company we rode to and from Cameron Highlands, were Filipino! We had a great time exchanging stories with Ate Gina and Ate Alexa while waiting for our bus. CS Travel arranges for bus transfers, accommodations and tours while in Cameron Highlands. I wish I knew of them beforehand so I would have booked everything with them.
For lunch, Ate Gina suggested we eat at Restoran Sheng Ming. The food was affordable but very delicious!
And when we got bored at the bus station, Ate Gina also suggested that we go to the park just across the street for some sightseeing. Tanah Rata Park was just an average park for me, except for their paid public toilet which was SO CLEAN. We just people-watched at the park until the rain started to pour again so we went back to the bus station and waited for 3pm for our departure.
This time, the bus stopped at KL Sentral. From there we could take KLIA Ekpress or the shuttle to the airport. We chose the shuttle because it was cheaper. Travel time took around an hour even though the staff at the information desk said that the traffic was so bad that time. I didn’t feel the traffic at all. Or maybe I am just too used to Manila traffic that anything better is good with me. LOL.
And because we had so much time before our flight to Laos in the early morning, we decided to look for the free shuttle from the airport going to Mitsui Outlet Park. It was about 20 minutes away from the airport and carried all kinds of brands at sale price. We left our bags at the travel center for free. The lady just reminded us to go back 5 minutes before the mall closes.
We had less than 2 hours before the mall closed so everything was sped up. In hindsight, this was good for my wallet because I didn’t have enough time to look for things I wanted to buy. LOL. I was able to buy a discounted Herschel backpack for the boyfriend at his request though. After that, we waited for the shuttle back to the airport, ate dinner, found seats where we could nap and waited for our flight to Laos.
For the complete list of our expenses while in Malaysia, please refer to this post: 10 Days in Malaysia & Laos – Budget & Itinerary.
Malaysia is such a good option for connecting flights as compared to Singapore which is more expensive. There are many good options for sightseeing in Malaysia while in transit. If you only have a few hours, the Mitsui Outlet Park or a Putrajaya tour can be possible. For a few days, travelers can stay in Kuala Lumpur or nearby areas like Cameron Highlands. If we have another trip that requires a connecting flight in Malaysia, we are considering going to Georgetown or Melaka next time 🙂