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Cameron Highlands

Coordinates: 4°30′N 101°30′E / 4.500°N 101.500°E / 4.500; 101.500
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Cameron Highlands District
Daerah Cameron Highlands
Other transcription(s)
 • MalayTanah Tinggi Cameron (Rumi)
تانه تيڠڬي كاميرون (Jawi)
 • Chinese金马仑高原县 (Simplified)
金馬崙高原縣 (Traditional)
Jīnmǎlún Gāoyuán xiàn (Hanyu Pinyin)
 • Tamilகேமரன் மலை மாவட்டம்
Kēmaraṉ Malai māvaṭṭam (Transliteration)
Top down: Tea plantation • Rafflesia plant • Strawberries • Black-throated sunbird
Official seal of Cameron Highlands District
Etymology: Named after William Cameron, a British explorer and geologist.
Location of Cameron Highlands District in Pahang
Location of Cameron Highlands District in Pahang
Cameron Highlands is located in Peninsular Malaysia
Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands
Location of Cameron Highlands District in Peninsular Malaysia
Cameron Highlands is located in Malaysia
Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands
Location of Cameron Highlands District in Malaysia
Coordinates: 4°30′N 101°30′E / 4.500°N 101.500°E / 4.500; 101.500
Country Malaysia
State Pahang
Surveyed1885 by William Cameron
SeatTanah Rata
Local area government(s)Cameron Highlands District Council
 • PresidentZainal-Abidin Amin[1]
(MDCH operation area)[2]
 • Total275.36 km2 (106.32 sq mi)
 • Total43,700
 • Density160/km2 (410/sq mi)
 • Demonym
Cameron Highlander
Time zoneUTC+08:00 (MST)
Calling code+6-05
Vehicle registration platesC

The Cameron Highlands (Malay: Tanah Tinggi Cameron, Chinese: 金馬崙高原, Tamil: கேமரன் மலை) is a district in Pahang, Malaysia, occupying an area of 712.18 square kilometres (274.97 sq mi). To the north, its boundary touches that of Kelantan; to the west, it shares part of its border with Perak. Situated at the northwestern tip of Pahang, Cameron Highlands is approximately 90 kilometres (56 mi) east from Ipoh, roughly 200 kilometres (120 mi) north from Kuala Lumpur or about 355 kilometres (221 mi) from Kuantan, the capital of Pahang. It is the smallest municipality in the state.

Surveyed by the government geologist and explorer William Cameron[4][5] in 1885, the outpost consists of three mukims (subdistricts), namely Ringlet, Tanah Rata and Ulu Telom.[6] Its eight settlements are Ringlet, Tanah Rata (the administrative centre), Brinchang, the Bertam Valley, Kea Farm, Tringkap, Kampung Kuala Terla, Kampung Raja and Blue Valley. All are nestled at elevations ranging from 800 metres (2,600 ft) to 1,603 metres (5,259 ft) above sea level.[7]

Developed in the 1930s, the tableland is one of the oldest tourist spots in Malaysia. Apart from its tea estates,[8] the plateau is noted for its cool weather, orchards, nurseries, farmlands, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, wildlife, mossy forest, golf course, hotels, places of worship, bungalows, Land Rovers, museum and native inhabitants (Orang Asli).



The Cameron Highlands were named after William Cameron, a British explorer and geologist [4] who was commissioned by the then colonial government to map out the Pahang-Perak border area in 1885.[5][8][9]

In a statement concerning his mapping expedition, Cameron mentioned he saw "a sort of vortex on the mountains, while for a (reasonably) wide area we have gentle slopes and plateau land."[9] When approached, Sir Hugh Low, the Resident of Perak (1887–1889), expressed the wish of developing the region into a "sanatorium, health resort and open farmland." A narrow path to Cameron Highlands was then carved through the jungle. Nothing much happened after that.[10]: 18 

Forty years later, the tableland was given another review when Sir George Maxwell (1871–1959) visited the locale to see if it could be turned into a resort. He spent about nine days surveying the territory. Maxwell described the terrain as being "somewhat oval in shape on his return from the highlands." After comparing it with Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka and Baguio in the Philippines,[11] he decreed that the site should be developed into a hill station.[12]

Township of Brinchang (c. 2012).

In mid-1925, an Agricultural Experiment Station was set up to confirm if cinchona, tea, coffee, fruits and vegetables could be grown at the district. In December 1925, a superintendent was appointed to supervise the 200-acre (81-ha) plantation on Mount Beremban.[13] While research at the station was being carried out, the colonial office assigned Captain C.C. Best, a surveyor from the Federated Malay States to trace the Telom River (Malay: Sungei Telom). The Annual Report of the Survey Department (1925) states he explored "the Ulu of the Telom which was the actual area traversed by Cameron" and "he went first to what is known as Cameron Highlands to obtain a basis of comparison and from there crossed over into the Telom Valley. He made a reconnaissance map of the headwaters of the Telom and his exploration has established definitely that the area at the Ulu of the Bertang (Bertam?) is incomparably the most suitable for development."[14] This report, coupled with the confirmation that tea could also be grown, gave the British the motivation to develop the place.

In 1926,[14] a development committee was formed to zone off the moorlands agriculture, defense, administration, housing, and recreation. Later, a three-million-dollar road was constructed from Tapah to the highlands. It started from the 19th mile Tapah-Pahang Road and ended at Ginting "B" (Tanah Rata).[15] The three-year contract was awarded to Messrs. Fogden, Brisbane and Company.[15] The first installment of $250,000 was made in 1926.[13] The project commenced on 1 January 1928; it was completed on Friday, 14 November 1930 – 47 days ahead of schedule.[15] The building of the road was a challenge: the crew not only had to deal with the weather; they also had to cope with the risk of being struck down with malaria. The manning level varied from 500 to 3,000 workers during the construction stage. Throughout the contract, 375 employees were hospitalized for fever.[15] The biggest problem faced by the contractor was the haulage of heavy equipment from the lowlands to the upper reaches. This setback was overcome with the use of steam-driven locomotives which were designed for work on steep gradients.[8][16]

When the road was opened in 1931,[17] the British and the locals moved in to settle on the slopes of the mountain. They were soon followed by tea planters and vegetable growers who found the climate to be suitable for the growth of their crops. On 1 July 1931, Cameron Highlands was made an autonomous sub-district under Kuala Lipis, with its own Deputy District Officer subordinate to the Lipis District Officer.[18] By the mid-1930s, there was a notable improvement in the constituency: it now had a six-hole golf course,[19] several cottages, three inns, a police post, two boarding schools, a military camp, a dairy, a horse spelling ranch, nurseries, vegetable farms, tea plantations, a Government Rest House and an Agricultural Experiment Station. The domain continued to grow until the outbreak of the Second World War. During the Japanese Occupation of the Malay Peninsula (1942–1945), there was hardly any development in the area. When the Japanese withdrew in August 1945, the place transformed. This, however, came to a halt during the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960). When the conflict ended, Cameron Highlands" experienced a constant change in its landscape. Today, the haven is not only the biggest and best known of Malaysia's hill stations; it is also the highest point in Peninsular Malaysia accessible by car.[20]


Historical population
1991 25,555—    
2000 28,077+9.9%
2010 36,978+31.7%
2020 39,004+5.5%
Source: Department of Statistics, Malaysia [21]
Ethnic groups in Cameron Highlands District (2010 census)
Ethnicity Population Percentage
Chinese 13,099 39.4%
Bumiputera 12,989 39.0%
Indian 6,988 21.0%
Others 202 0.6%
Total 33,278 100%

The district has a diverse population of 33,278 people. It comprises Chinese (13,099), Bumiputeras (12,989) — Malays (7,321); others (mainly Orang Aslis (5,688) — Indians (6,988), non-Malaysian citizens (5,193), and other nationalities (202).[22] Most of the residents are entrepreneurs, service industry employees, farm workers, retirees or government servants.



Previously contested as part of Kuala Lipis, parliamentary representation for Cameron Highlands was granted in 2004. Though named as such, the Cameron Highlands also covers a few areas that are outside the ward. For instance, the FELDA settlement of Sungai Koyan, which is represented by the Cameron Highlands in the federal parliament, is located in the district of Kuala Lipis. The Cameron Highlands itself contributes two seats to the Pahang State Legislative AssemblyTanah Rata and Jelai. The Tanah Rata constituency covers the entire district of the Cameron Highlands; the Jelai constituency covers the western part of Kuala Lipis which includes Sungai Koyan and some other FELDA settlements.


Map of Cameron Highlands district.
The Titiwangsa Mountains rises over Kampung Raja in the northern part of the highlands.

The Cameron Highlands is one of the 11 districts of Pahang. Occupying an area of 712 square kilometres (275 sq mi), the district comprises three townships and five settlements.[23] Tucked up high in the Pahangese and Perakian sections of the Titiwangsa Mountains, the mountainous spine of Peninsular Malaysia, it owes its present standing to its location at a high altitude (generally between 800 metres (2,600 ft) to 1,603 metres (5,259 ft) above sea level).[24] There are eight mountains (gunung in Malay) at the retreat. They are Mts. Brinchang (2,031 metres (6,663 ft)), Berembun (1,840 metres (6,040 ft)), Irau (2,091 metres (6,860 ft)), Jasar (1,696 metres (5,564 ft)), Mentigi (1,563 metres (5,128 ft)), Perdah (1,576 metres (5,171 ft)) and Siku (1,916 metres (6,286 ft)).[25] Mount Swettenham (1,961 metres (6,434 ft)) is located on its border with Kelantan. At the top of Mount Brinchang is a radio and television station. It was constructed by the British in the early 1950s. Close to it is the famed mossy forest. The trail to the forest starts from the BOH Sungei Palas Tea Plantation. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the cloud forest by road.

Cameron Highlands is unique compared to the other hill stations in Malaysia — three river systems drain it with numerous tributaries (totaling 123).[26] Their high points serve as the water catchment for the Pahang and Perak rivers (Malay: Sungai Pahang and Sungai Perak).[25]

Overall, much of the retreat is still forested (estimated at 71%). Jungle trails lead visitors to tranquil spots, waterfalls, and aboriginal villages.[27] Most of the tracks begin at Tanah Rata. There are more than ten paths to pick and choose from. Depending on its distance, some routes can take as long as five hours to cover. Apart from its numerous walks,[28] the sanctuary is also known for its native inhabitants, the Orang Asli, who rely on the land for subsistence farming, hunting, and fishing. Many have left to take up residence in the nearby towns. There are still some who prefer to treat the woods as their home.[10]: 20  To date, there have been many changes at the resort. During the colonial era, the county was developed to be "a healthy hill station similar to Nuwara Eliya."[13] Today, it is different. During the Post-Independence Period (1957–1973), vast tracts of land were cleared for agriculture and infrastructure development. After 1974, more land was cleared for agriculture, housing projects, power plants, logging activities, livestock farming, hotel construction, small-scale industries, human resettlement, and road building.[25] There is no doubt that some advances have brought economic benefits. This, however, has come with a price. Over the years, the "development (in this area) has been at the expense of the weather and the environment," as well as the indigenous communities' consent.[29]


A Malaysian mountain peacock-pheasant. It is listed in the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Cameron Highlands is one of the few places in Malaysia that serves as a habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as hosting a totally different ecosystem. There are more than 700 species of plants that grow here.[25] The vegetation changes as one ascends the mountain. The ward is known for its tea growing, vegetable farms and flower nurseries.[30] Its woodlands form the prevailing natural ecosystem within and around the prefecture. Of the fauna, the Sumatran serow, mountain peacock-pheasant and Malayan whistling-thrush are listed in the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.[25] In 1958, the outpost was declared as deer reserve. Four years later, it became a venue affording protection to animals and birds.

Mossy forest on Mount Irau, is one of the highest peaks in the Cameron Highlands



The climate of the Cameron Highlands is on the border between a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification: Af) and a subtropical highland climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb). Its mean annual temperature is 18 °C (64 °F). During the day, the temperature seldom rises over 25 °C (77 °F); at night, it can drop to as low as 9 °C (48 °F) at the higher reaches.[10]: 19  Its yearly precipitation is more than 2,700 mm (110 in). The lowest temperature recorded was on Wednesday, 1 February 1978 – the temperature dropped to 7.8 °C (46.0 °F) at an altitude of 1,471.6 metres above sea level.[31]

Climate data for Cameron Highlands
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.7
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 21.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.2
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 14.6
Record low °C (°F) 10.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 109.5
Average rainy days 14 12 17 20 21 15 16 18 22 25 24 20 224
Average relative humidity (%) 84 83 84 91 92 90 90 91 92 93 93 92 90
Source: Malaysian Meteorological Department[32]



The Cameron Highlands can be accessed by road via Tapah, Simpang Pulai, Gua Musang or Sungai Koyan.[33] Tapah and Simpang Pulai are the two approaches from Perak. Gua Musang and Sungai Koyan are the entryways from Kelantan and Pahang, respectively.



Until the 1990s the only access road to the Cameron Highlands was by Federal Route 59 which begins in Tapah, Perak.[34] In 2004, a new access road was opened — Federal Route 185 — connecting Simpang Pulai (about a kilometre south of Ipoh, Perak) through the northern part of the Highlands and Gua Musang in southern Kelantan before terminating in Kampung Kuala Jenderis in Hulu Terengganu, Terengganu.

By 2010 a third access route was opened — Federal Route 102 — connecting Ringlet to FELDA Sungai Koyan, near Kuala Lipis. With the opening of this route, motorists from the other parts of Pahang (especially Kuantan) are now able to access the district of Cameron Highlands without having to leave the state.[34] There is another route to the hill station — the Pahang State Route (C5). It links Sungai Koyan to Raub which is the gateway to Fraser's Hill.

Public transportation


As with most of western Pahang, the Cameron Highlands is not served by any KTM railway station, the closest being in Kuala Lipis and Tapah Road. Nevertheless, several bus services connect the Highlands to the cities and towns, such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang and Tapah.

Federal Parliament and State Assembly Seats


List of Cameron Highlands district representatives in the Federal Parliament (Dewan Rakyat)

Parliament Seat Name Member of Parliament Party
P78 Cameron Highlands Ramli Mohd. Nor Barisan Nasional (UMNO)

List of Cameron Highlands district representatives in the State Legislative Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri)

Parliament State Seat Name State Assemblyman Party
P78 N1 Tanah Rata Ho Chi Yang Pakatan Harapan (DAP)

See also





  1. ^ primuscoreadmin (16 October 2015). "Profil YDP".
  2. ^ primuscoreadmin (16 October 2015). "Latar Belakang".
  3. ^ Based on the data from the Department of Statistics
  4. ^ a b Straits Times Weekly Issue, 22 November 1886, Page 1
  5. ^ a b Barr, Pat (1977). Taming the jungle. Martin Secker & Warburg Limited. p. 72. ISBN 0-436-03365-8.
  6. ^ "Ringkasan Eksekutif RT Cameron Highlands 2030" (PDF) (in Malay). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  7. ^ "Geological terrain mapping in Cameron Highlands district, Pahang 2003" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-03-30. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  8. ^ a b c Moore, Wendy Khadijah (2004). Malaysia: A Pictorial History 1400–2004. Archipelago Press. p. 182. ISBN 981-4068-77-2.
  9. ^ a b "HISTORY OF CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Need For Continuity Of A Declared Government Policy". National Library, Singapore: The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942). 23 September 1935. p. 3 (Microfilm reel no. NL 3569).
  10. ^ a b c De Souza, Edward Roy (2010). SOLVED! The "Mysterious" Disappearance of Jim Thompson, the Legendary Thai Silk King (2nd ed). Word Association Publishers. pp. 18–20. ISBN 978-1-59571-505-0. LCCN 2009944204. Archived from the original on 2017-09-15. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
  11. ^ "CAMERON'S (?) HIGHLANDS. COMPARISONS WITH OTHER STATIONS., The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), Tuesday, 19 May 1925". p. 11.
  12. ^ "Cameron Highlands: Malaysia's enduring 'Little England', CNN Travel, Thursday, 27 June 2013".
  13. ^ a b c "CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Government Statement". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942). 10 June 1927. p. 7.
  14. ^ a b "IN QUEST OF CAMERON'S PLATEAU, The Straits Times, 24 March 1949". p. 8.
  15. ^ a b c d "ROAD TO CAMERON'S HIGHLANDS, The Straits Times, Tuesday, 3 March 1931". p. 12.
  16. ^ "ROAD TO CAMERON'S HIGHLANDS: $3,000,000 Expended, The Straits Times, Wednesday, 26 November 1930". p. 12.
  17. ^ Shennan, Margaret (2000). Out in the Midday Sun: The British in Malaya 1880–1960. John Murray (Publishers) Ltd. p. 128. ISBN 0-7195-5716-X.
  18. ^ "Sejarah Cameron Highlands". Pejabat Daerah dan Tanah Cameron Highlands. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Cameron Highlands Golf, The Straits Times, Friday, 13 September 1935". p. 14.
  20. ^ Day, J. David (1990). Malaysia: Gemstone of Southeast Asia. Tropical Press Sdn. Bhd. pp. 69. ISBN 967-73-0042-3.
  21. ^ "Key Findings of Population and Housing Census of Malaysia 2020" (pdf) (in Malay and English). Department of Statistics, Malaysia. ISBN 978-967-2000-85-3.
  22. ^ "Population Distribution and Basic Demographic Characteristics, 2010" (PDF). Department of Statistics, Malaysia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 May 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  23. ^ "Ringkasan Eksekutif RT Cameron Highlands 2030" (PDF) (in Malay). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  24. ^ "Geological terrain mapping in Cameron Highlands district, Pahang 2003" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-03-30. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  26. ^ Razali, Azlini; Syed Ismail, Sharifah Norkhadijah; Awang, Suriyani; Praveena, Sarva Mangala; Zainal Abidin, Emilia (2018). "Land use change in highland area and its impact on river water quality: a review of case studies in Malaysia". Ecological Processes. 7. doi:10.1186/s13717-018-0126-8. S2CID 133905761.
  27. ^ Rodrigo, Jennifer (1996). Malaysia: The Beautiful. New Holland (Publishers) Ltd. p. 19. ISBN 1-85368-744-8.
  28. ^ "A Cool Respite in Highlands Of Malaysia, The New York Times (online), Sunday, 15 July 1990".
  29. ^ "Muddy teh tarik, anyone?". The New Paper. 15 December 2012. p. 20.
  30. ^ A.Knopf, Alfred (1994). Singapore and Malaysia Archipelago Guides. KNOPF. p. 221. ISBN 981-3018-25-9.
  31. ^ "General Climate Information, Malaysian Meteorological Department". Archived from the original on 2017-06-09. Retrieved 2017-06-03.
  32. ^ "Climate Of Tourist Places In Malaysia: Cameron Highlands". Malaysian Meteorological Department. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  33. ^ "Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia Google map". Google Inc. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  34. ^ a b "Statistik Jalan (Edisi 2013)". Statistik Jalan. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Public Works Department: 16–64. 2013. ISSN 1985-9619.



Cameron Highlands travel guide from Wikivoyage