You can book a ‘country tour’ of the Cameron Highlands at any of the many tour agents on the high street in Tanah Rata. In fact, it is probably the only way to see the sweeping vistas you will have seen on the internet as the tea plantations are all on private land (although you can do the tour yourself by hiring a driver). Our shared tour cost 25 MYR per person (£4.69) which seemed pretty good value for money.
Our first stop was the Cameron Highlands Butterfly Farm, which had a small collection of butterflies, insects, small animals (e.g. chipmunks and racoons) and reptiles.
From there we went to the BOH (Best of Highlands) tea plantation, which is set in stunning scenery. The guide stopped on the way in so that we could take pictures but there were many photo opportunities within the visitor centre, which also has a café. The plantation is run by a Scottish family and the guide explained how the tea was picked and processed as he showed us around the rather old-fashioned factory. Much of the picking is done by hand as you only need the green leaves.
BOH makes black tea, although green, white and oolong can all be made from the same plant. It is the processing that determines the flavour. There was a gift shop where you could buy multipacks of tea and a café where you could sample the different flavours. I had vanilla tea which was delicious, but also bought a selection pack so that I could try them all! The highlight of the visit however has to be the views. Find out more at: www.boh.com.my
Our next stop was a honey farm which was basically just a pleasant garden with a few bee hives. There was no real explanation of how the honey was made or collected, but plenty of opportunities to buy honey products. A bit of a tourist trap, but we love honey, so we didn’t really mind. The passionfruit honey was delicious, but the mint honey was definitely an acquired taste!
Next came a wild orchid and rose garden, which wasn’t of much interest to us. It contained a ‘jungle walk’ (not really in the jungle) and we got quite wet from the overhanging trees and puddles.
Another stop was Raju Hill Strawberry Farm. Again, there was little explanation and it probably wasn’t very exciting for people from England where we see strawberries growing every summer. I tried dried strawberries which I quite liked (this was a big achievement as I dislike almost all dried fruits) and strawberries and ice cream, which was delicious. The strawberry farm was followed by a trip to a produce market which was much more interesting. We bought freshly cooked sweetcorn and chunks of steamed sweet potato chunks to munch on as we walked around.
Our final stop was a Buddhist temple in the hillside. It was a good example of Chinese architecture, but very similar to what we had seen elsewhere in Asia.