Though Tanah Rata is the biggest town in the Cameron Highlands, it’s still a quaint outpost in the mountains. Comprised of a row of cafés, shophouses and rustic inns lining route 59, this town was once popular with British colonials due to its cool temperatures. It’s still a favorite getaway for residents of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore who need a break from the heat.
Development is on the rise in the Cameron Highlands, and hotels in Tanah Rata are bigger and more modern than ever before. Tourists who prefer the quaint atmosphere still find plenty of English-style pubs and rustic hotels in Tanah Rata. The lingering colonial atmosphere is a major draw for international tourists.
After the highlands were first surveyed in 1885, Chinese tea farmers moved in and established the first plantations. Today, this is Malaysia’s leading tea producer, and Tanah Rata’s Cameron Highlands Tea Field Observatory is the best place to explore this legacy. Tea shops in Tanah Rata invite visitors to sit down and sample locally grown teas.
Tanah Rata is about 215 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur, and it’s possible to get here by express bus or hire car. The drive is scenic, but visitors have little need of a car once they’ve settled into one of the atmospheric hotels in Tanah Rata. This compact town is easily seen on foot, though transportation is necessary to visit the Cameron Highlands Golf Course; hike to the summit of Gunung Brinchang; or see the set of butterfly, strawberry and rose gardens.