Whether you’re a nature enthusiast keen to hike the rolling hills or a high roller ready to wage your bets at the casino, Pahang’s highlands have just the escape for you.
The Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands in the state of Pahang are two popular escapes from the sweltering heat of Malaysia’s urban centres for locals and tourists alike.
Beyond their similarities, both in fact offer very different pleasures. Which one to visit all depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for.
The Cameron Highlands is an old British outpost in the verdant hills of Pahang, first discovered in 1885 by William Cameron, who was a surveyor of the colonial government. Compared to the Genting Highlands, its attractions are of a more earthly nature.
Venture into the surrounding rainforest via a four-wheel drive vehicle to catch a glimpse of the Rafflesia – otherwise known as the ‘corpse flower’ for its pungent smell.
Jim Thompson Cottage
Otherwise, retrace the steps of Jim Thompson, a businessman and former World War II operative of the United States’ Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency). He seemingly vanished into thin air one evening in March 1967 when he left the Moonlight Bungalow guesthouse (today the Jim Thompson Cottage) for a walk in the woods.
Alternatively, try walking up the Gunung Brinchang mountain, which sits 2000 metres above sea level, trek through the fairy-tale-like Mossy Forest, or pay a visit to the villages of the Orang Asli (indigenous Malaysians).
Tea Plantation Tours
The cool weather here facilitates the production of Boh tea, strawberries, lavender and honey, among other things and you can visit the farms where these items are produced. Many are located in the agricultural area of Kea Farm, north of the Brinchang district.
Tea and Scones
When you’re ready to retire indoors, satisfy your sweet tooth with freshly baked scones and jam at the Smokehouse Hotel and Restaurant, a colonial-era bungalow in Tanah Rata.
A History in Pictures
Alternatively, check out the Time Tunnel museum’s photographs and memorabilia collection to learn more about the history of the Cameron Highlands.
Best Time To Go
Weather in Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Highlands are generally cool and a little damp, but still enjoyable all year round. The dry season runs from February to April.
You may also want to coincide your visit with the Highlands Harmonica Festival in July, or the Flower Festival that runs in either August or September.
Where to Stay on Cameron Highlands:
There are budget accommodation choices on offer, such as the Twin Pines guesthouse; Strawberry Park Resort is a mid-range option; or for something more luxurious, try the Cameron Highlands Resort or the Lakehouse Cameron Highlands.
If you are looking to amp your holidays up a notch, Genting offers a little slice of Las Vegas on a mountain – albeit a paler version – only an hour away from Kuala Lumpur.
Resorts World Genting is an integrated resort 1800 metres above sea level with a casino, six hotels (including the First World Hotel, which until 2008 was the largest one in the world), theme parks, restaurants, shopping outlets and entertainment venues where legends such as Lionel Richie and Rod Stewart have performed.
But the Genting Highlands are not just about bright lights and high-rolling gambling. Descend the mountain and you’ll find other Genting attractions, too. If you’re looking for outdoor physical activities, the surrounding forests in Awana Eco Park offers trekking, mountain biking, horseback riding, abseiling and golfing.
Giant Buddha / CC by 3.0 / Carla Cometto
You can also visit the Chin Swee Cave Temple, which was built by the late Genting founder, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, and reportedly took almost two decades to complete.
If you’re interested in learning more about the man, there’s a memorial hall dedicated to him in Gohtong Jaya, a little town several kilometres away from the resort. The town also has restaurants and cheaper accommodation options, as well as a strawberry farm if you want to get a little slice of the Cameron Highlands here, too.
Genting Skyway Cable Car / CC by 3.0 / Source
To get to Gohtong Jaya from the resort, you can take the Genting Skyway cable car, which spans about 4km up and down the mountain slopes.
When to Visit Genting Highlands:
As with the Cameron Highlands, you can visit Genting all year round.
Where to stay in Genting
The Genting Group’s collection of resorts would be the obvious choice, such as Crockfords Hotel, First World Hotel or Genting Grand Hotel. However, if you’re looking for something more economical, try the HotelSeri MalaysiaGenting in Gohtong Jaya.
How to Get to Genting Highlands
Following a 1 hr 10 min direct flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL).
Driving to the Genting Highlands via the Karak Highway takes about an hour. Alternatively, take the Genting Express Bus Service.