A Weekend in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Also read:

10 Days in Malaysia & Laos – Budget & Itinerary

Backpacking in Laos Part 1 of 3: Vientiane

Backpacking in Laos Part of 2 of 3: Vang Vieng

Backpacking in Laos Part of 3 of 3: Luang Prabang

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.

My Companions

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 🙂

L-R: Jayvee, Myr, Karla, Ruby at the peak of Mossy Forest

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.

Bus schedules are posted for everyone’s reference

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.

Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS): Kuala Lumpur’s central bus terminal. Ticket counters are located on the second floor

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.

Waiting area for passengers at the ground floor

This wasn’t our bus, but this was the gate where we had to wait. Our bus arrived after 10 minutes.

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.

Lounge

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.

Mentigi Guesthouse’s room for 4. It was a lot neater before we arrived and made a mess of things. LOL.

Our room had a veranda, coffee making facilities, hair dryer and a water heater in the bathroom – all of which, we thoroughly enjoyed.

The guesthouse also had a garden area which we only enjoyed during our last day because it finally stopped raining!

Breakfast wasn’t included in the room, but there were snacks for sale at the reception.

Itinerary: 3D/2N

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.

Pasar Malam

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.

Fresh vegetables

Lovely flowers from the highlands ❤

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.

Chocolate & strawberries are always a good idea ❤

Our dinner that night for only MYR 6!

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. Continue reading

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10 Days in Malaysia & Laos – Budget & Itinerary

Also read:

10 Days in Malaysia & Laos – Budget & Itinerary

A Weekend in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Backpacking in Laos Part 1 of 3: Vientiane

Backpacking in Laos Part 2 of 3: Vang Vieng

Backpacking in Laos Part of 3 of 3: Luang Prabang

I was able to book affordable roundtrip tickets to Laos through one of AirAsia‘s seat sales. Laos has long been on my travel bucketlist primarily because of Kuang Si Falls. I was finally able to realize that dream. The only problem was that the flight to Laos would be from Malaysia as there are no flights to Laos from the Philippines. And so we booked roundtrip tickets to Kuala Lumpur from Manila and decided to spend a couple of days in Malaysia before flying to Laos. Since I and my companions have already explored Kuala Lumpur, we chose Cameron Highlands as our destination this time.

We spent 3 days in Malaysia and 7 days in Laos. I was able to record all of my expenses throughout the 10 days and thought to share it here. There are 3 different currencies you will see on the table below: expenses in Laotian kip (lak) while in Laos, expenses in Malaysian ringgit (Myr) while in Malaysia and expenses in Philippine peso (Php) for all the reservations and pre-bookings we did before the trip. I converted the overall total in USD at the bottom of the image.

The itinerary includes ALL expenses: accommodation, flights, food, shopping, snacks, laundry, etc. I hope this helps you out when planning for a similar trip 🙂

I’ll be writing about our trip in more detail in the upcoming weeks!

Please click on the picture to view the details more clearly 🙂

My First SEA Trip Part 1: 2 Days in Malaysia (2012)

My First SEA Trip Part 2: 2 Days in Singapore (2012)

Going to a foreign country for the first time is both terrifying and exciting. The fright is there because you are leaving everything that is familiar and diving into a totally different culture with no idea what’s in store for you. And the excitement is also there because it will be an unforgettable adventure.

It has always been my dream to travel to another country ever since I took that first plane to Cebu. Many people think it’s hard to achieve, but all it takes is booking that flight and having a little courage. Everything else seems easier when you have taken the first step.

My Companions:

I have many friends who have been bitten by the travel bug and surprise seat sales don’t faze them. When AirAsia offered free seats to Malaysia and Singapore, we immediately booked our tickets. We just picked a date (almost a year from the booking date) and stuck to it. Shiela, Jella  and Rhan were just as excited as I was at the prospect of going to another country. It was our first time abroad. Jella have been out of the country before but it was with her family. The year-long wait was spent planning out our itinerary and saving up for the trip. We all felt a large amount of maturity and responsibility with this trip. We only had ourselves to take care of each other when we step out of the Philippines. It was very empowering.

Shiela, Rhan, Jella & Me :)

Shiela, Rhan, Jella & Me 🙂

The Flight: AirAsia

At the time of our booking and of our flight, AirAsia was operating from Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga. Jella’s dad volunteered to take us to the airport. It took less than 2 hours to get to DMIA from Manila. There was no traffic because we had an early morning flight. I was disappointed when I first saw DMIA. NAIA Terminal 3 was many times better and bigger.

Anyway, the first thing we did upon arriving was exchange our money to Malaysian Ringgit (1 MYR = ~14 Php) and to Singapore Dollar (1 SGD = ~35 Php). There are several money exchange kiosks at the airport and we chose the one with the highest rates, of course.

SGD & MYR. The sizes vary depending on the amount. Mahirap para sa mga OC tulad ko.

SGD & MYR. The sizes vary depending on the amount. Mahirap para sa mga OC tulad ko.

The check-in counters were still not open but we had the option to use AirAsia’s self check-in machines that were located near their counters. This is a good option for travelers who have no check-in baggage like us. The next step for us was to pay the travel tax (Php 1,620) and terminal fee (Php 550). Lastly, we lined up to get our passports stamped. We didn’t know that we had to fill out an immigration card before lining up. Our immigration officer was understanding and waited for us to complete the forms. The four of us talked to the immigration officer at the same time. We all had our documents prepared: certificate of employment, our return flight to the Philippines, a copy of our itinerary and hotel booking confirmations. We were very prepared so the officer stamped our passports with no fuss.

Finally, may tatak na passport ko!

Finally, may tatak na passport ko!

We waited for a couple more hours before our plane departed the airport. We all felt giddy when the plane took off. Three hours went by and we finally arrived in Kuala Lumpur. We touched down in LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal). We walked to the immigration counters and our passports got stamped with no problems.

Like DMIA, LCCT was a bit far from the main city so we had to find a way to get to Kuala Lumpur. There were bus counters in the arrivals section of the airport and we purchased tickets for MYR 9. We exited the airport to find our bus and I found out the the driver’s side was on the right. Amazing!

It took about an hour before we reached KL Sentral and we planned to take the monorail (Malaysia’s version of MRT) to Bukit Bintang where our accommodation was located. But we were too tired and too hot to make an effort to locate it. We hailed a taxi instead which turned out to be our first lesson learned. The taxi drivers were claiming that traffic was bad due to Ramadan and quoting a price that was too high. The third taxi quoted a price that was slightly less than the first two so we agreed at his price. But we realized our mistake when we arrived at our destination in about 15 minutes. Dahil dyan, hindi na kami nagtaxi habang nasa Malaysia. I am not saying that all taxi drivers in Malaysia are bad though, just be cautious. Based from what we experienced, parang taxi drivers lang dito sa Pilipinas.

Our Accommodation: Anjung KL Guesthouse

We chose to stay at Anjung KL Guesthouse because of its budget-friendly price, the positive reviews on the web and it’s strategic location. When we arrived at the guesthouse, we met Roy who was manning the reception area. He asked us to leave our shoes outside and to present our passports so he can list down our names. We payed MYR 120 for an overnight stay for 4 pax. Anjung KL felt very homey and welcoming. Our room on the third floor was spacious enough for the 4 of us. We had to share a bathroom with the other guests but it wasn’t a problem since the shower rooms were kept clean. We rested for a bit and used the downtime to text relatives that we have arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur.

Anjung KL's facade

Anjung KL’s facade

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