Cameron Highlands, Malaysia: How to get there, where to stay, what to do and where to eat

I think I spotted pictures of the Cameron Highlands on Instagram and immediately fell hard for it. And I fell even harder for it when I saw it in real life. The scenery is just mind blowing and so unlike anything we have here in the U.K. I honestly had no idea that a tea plantations could be so impressive. The towns in Cameron Highlands are very touristy and don't get me started on the sheer amount of traffic. But if you can look past the mock-tutor hotels, giant strawberry statues advertising farms and an incredible amount of people then you're in for a treat if you make it to this part of the world. We were only there for 24 hours but I think we saw the best bits!

How to get there
We visited during our Malaysian road trip so drove here from Ipoh. It was a pretty simple route and took us around 3 hours, do keep in mind that you'll have to schedule in time for traffic as it seems to be notorious in Malaysia. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous as we kept climbing higher and higher above sea level. Definitely one of the prettiest drives we took over the week. 

Where to stay
Address: Father's Guest House, 2000, Jalan Mentigi Utama, Tanah Rata, 39000 Tanah Rata, Pahang, Malaysia

Cost per night: Just under £20 for a private double room with an en-suite bathroom 

Father's Guesthouse was basic but it was perfect for one night. The staff couldn't be more helpful, it was within walking distance of restaurants and bars, the rooms were clean, the shower was great and they offer free tea and coffee. If you really don't fancy venturing far then they have a restaurant on site when you can feed your hunger. We didn't use them but they also offer nature tours around the area which I've read great things about.

What to do

You can't make a trip to the Cameron Highlands without visiting a tea plantation - after all, it's what the area is famous for! We took a tour with Eco Cameron (we did something else too which I'll talk about in a minute) as I wanted to use an organisation that promotes ethical and responsible tourism. We've gotta save the planet we live on! The tour picked us up in a minibus at 8.45am sharp from our guesthouse before driving us to the tea plantation. Our very knowledgable guide gave us the background information of tea plantations in Malaysia and what the future means for them. He showed us all the best spots to get that ideal Instagram shot! After our tour we had some spare time to enjoy a cup of tea in the cafe, browse the shop and take a quick guided tour of the factory. It was really cool and definitely something I'd recommend. 

Take a tour of the Mossy Forest
The second part of our tour with Eco Cameron was a trip to the Mossy Forest. After hopping in  a Land Rover, the guide drives you 6,666 feet above sea level - make sure you keep looking out to the window for the views. The Mossy Forest is a type of environment which only exists in the Cameron Highlands and across Malaysia. The eco system is perfect for moss, orchids, ferns and lichen. Our guide took us on a walk to explain all the different types of plants. It was sobering to hear what will happen to this beautiful eco-system if we don't look after it and treat it with the respect it deserves. Then we got to go on a specially designed walk through the forest and up to a cracking viewpoint with views for miles. It was stunning. 

Where to eat

Sri Brinchang
Indian food was our favourite cuisine while we were in Malaysia and we had some great dishes in Cameron Highlands. Before we checked into our guesthouse we went to Sri Brinchang to help satisfy our rumbling tummies. It doesn't look to much from the outside but in my experience that always means it will be pretty special. And I was right! We opted to have a variety of dishes to share between us. I highly rate the tandoori chicken, the roti canai and the vegetarian-friendly banana leaf meal. Service was really helpful, the food came out pretty quick and it was ridiculously cheap - even by Malaysian standards! If you've enjoyed your meal on the banana leaf be sure to forward it in half towards you to show your appreciation to the chef. 

Our guide from the Mossy Forrest recommended Kumars, which is another Indian restaurant. Next door to Sri Brinchang! This was so delicious as well and again we had the roti canai with the vetegarian-friendly banana leaf because we couldn't get enough of it in Malaysia. I also recommend the Murtabak which was incredibly tasty. It was a thick roti filled with egg, meat, spices and onion. The curry which came with the banana leaf was gorgeous, I really didn't want to share it.

Travellers bar
We only shared a bowl of chips here as we were craving some Western food but it's a great little bar to have a few drinks in the evening. Travellers Bar was recommended by our guesthouse as a place to chill out. It wasn't too far a walk and prices were pretty reasonable.

Five things to do in and around Las Vegas that doesn't include gambling

Las Vegas is famous for it's endless casinos but if you fancy a break from the all-consuming strip then are lots of other activities to do apart from gambling. In fact, getting off the strip was one of my favourite things to do. There's so much more to the city then sitting at a slot machine!

Container Park 
Located in Downtown Las Vegas, Container Park is about a 5-10 minute walk past Fremont Street. Built entirely from shipping containers, it's full of restaurants, shops and bars. We stopped for a pint of craft beer in the shade and had a lovely chilled few hours. It's a great place to get away from the madness of the strip and had a real local vibe. They had a cool market on whilst we were there which was fun to wander around to find unique souvenirs to take home.

Hoover Dam
It's possible to do a guided tour of the Dam but I've heard that it sells out pretty fast due to limited numbers and you have to get to the Dam pretty close to the opening time to snag a spot. We didn't make it but I don't think you need it to appreciate the attraction. Schedule time in the morning to see everything, in fact you probably won't need more than an hour there. There are various plaques dotted around to give you information so make sure you give them a read. Just take your time soaking up the  surroundings. It's a very photogenic place!

Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is located around around 30 minutes outside the city but you could be anywhere! We decided to book ourselves on an electric bike tour with Red Bike Tours which was 100% worth the money. Consisting of around 15 people, we were taken on a guided tour for around three hours with the most knowledgable guide. It ended at a really cool visitor's centre - voted the best in the country apparently - which was home to a turtle sanctuary.

Fremont Street
Well Fremont Street is an experience! Situated about a 10 minutes drive from the strip, Fremont Street is the original strip and home to the Golden Nugget which was the first ever casino in Las Vegas. It's an explosion of garish neon tights, hundreds of jostling people and endless bars and restaurants. It's a fantastic place to people watch. If you're brace enough, make sure you try the biplane. I did and it was the worst experience of my life - but I'm a massive wimp!

The Neon Museum 
When I started planning my trip to Vegas, a visit to The Neon Museum was top of my list and it was everything I expected it to be. Located near to Fremont Street with entry priced at $22, the museum is home to funky old neon signs from various Vegas casinos and businesses from the last decades. It's really fun to wander around and spot the ones you've seen in films. I'd recommend picking up the leaflet and taking yourself on a self-guided tour because it really does help you make the most of it.

How to take a day trip to Hoover Dam from Las Vegas independently

As soon as you mention you're heading off to Vegas one of the things most people ask is 'Are you going to see the Hoover Dam?'. Now you can do a tour and you'll lots of tours being offered along the strip but you'll get a lot more freedom if you choose to do it independently.

Where to hire a car
We did a comparison of car hire places online before we left. We found that Avis was the cheapest. You can choose what hotel to pick up the car from, we decided to go for the Luxor. It is located at the far end of the strip, not too far from the famous Las Vegas sign. This way you'll miss all the traffic and won't have to navigate through the madness of the strip. The desk opens about 7am and the collection was fairly pain-free. For two days hire with extra insurances and two people on the driving list, it cost us around £200 for a giant seven seater car.

What to do when you get to the Hoover Dam
It's possible to do a guided tour of the Dam but I've heard that it sells out pretty fast due to limited numbers and you have to get to the Dam pretty close to the opening time to snag a spot. We didn't make it but I don't think you need it to appreciate the attraction. Schedule time in the morning to see everything, in fact you probably won't need more than an hour there. There are various plaques dotted around to give you information so make sure you give them a read. Just take your time soaking up the  surroundings. It's a very photogenic place!

Where to stop for a bite to eat
There is a cafe inside the Hoover Dam but I recommend jumping back into the car and driving the short distance to Boulder City. Built especially for the workers of Hoover Dam, Boulder City is the only town in Nevada where gambling is illegal. This is because they didn't want the works to get distracted! We had originally planned on hitting up The Coffee Cup, which has been featured on Guy Fieri's Diner, Drive-ins and Dives but sadly we didn't make it in time as it closes at 2pm. Instead we headed to Boulder Dam Brewery Co as I noticed it had pretty good reviews on Tripadviser and it had a pretty good garden to enjoy some food. Based on an English pub, the brewery offers around seven different types of beer - all brewed by themselves. I highly recommend the Powder Monkey Pilsner which was incredibly refreshing on a hot summers day. The menu is typically 'pub grub'. Lots of burgers, sandwiches and wraps, exactly what you need to hit the spot. I had the pub's version of a German Bratwurst which was delicious. The portion size was normal which is what I'd been craving in Vegas where everything is so big! We all agreed the late lunch here was one of the best of our whole trip! Boulder City is a great little town to have a wander around. It just feels so 'American'. Cute little single storey houses, antique shops and flags fluttering in the wind. It's definitely worth a few hours of your time.


Exploring Asia: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Address: Concourse Level, Lower Ground, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088
Opening times: 9am-9pm Tuesday - Sunday
Admission price: Around £15

During our Malaysian adventure in February we only had a flying visit to Kuala Lumpur as we had so much more to fit in. Our friend lives in a KL suburb so very kindly drove us into the city so we could tick the Petronas Towers off our list. We booked tickets before we left online as you got a slight discount - I'd really recommend this. Tickets can sell out really quickly on the day and are sold on a first come, first serve basis.

Whenever I visit a new city, climbing to the top of one of the biggest viewpoints is always top of my list of things to do. There's just something about seeing an incredible view. The Petronas Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world and tallest buildings until 2004, when the Taipai 101 took over in Taiwan.

When you first get the lift up to the towers, your first stop will be to the Sky Bridge connecting the two towers together. This was too cool! You get around 10-15 minutes to hang our here, take some pictures and appreciate the view. I really liked the fact they send you up in small groups so there are never too many people.

Next up is the main event to the second observation deck on the 86th floor. This is the highest you can go. What a view you'll be treated too! I'd really recommend grabbing one of the many seat scattered around the edge and sitting down for a few minutes, it helps you to really soak up the 360 degree view. There are various interactive games to play and lots of information about the towers to read up on.

Definitely don't miss out on the towers if you find yourself in the city!


Why the Grand Canyon is the most beautiful thing I've seen

When we started planning a trip to Las Vegas, I really pushed for an overnight stay at the Grand Canyon. The helicopter seemed super glamorous but I'd read on forums that it landed in an Native American reservation within the national park as the Grand Canyon was sacred ground. I wanted to experience the national park. The West Rim of the Grand Canyon was home to the famous Skywalk but being the travel snob I am I wanted to go to a part that not many people travelling from Vegas make it too. I'd kept reading about the South Rim so I made the executive decision that this was the section I NEEDED to visit. But the only problem was it was a five and a half hour drive from Last Vegas. Luckily my wonderful boyfriend took the load and agreed to be the designated driver.

We picked up our hire car at 7am, after a hairy moment of being stuck in the lift, swung by the very underwhelming Las Vegas sign and began our drive into Arizona. It was pouring with rain when we finally arrived much to our disappointment after a long journey. After checking in at Yavapai Lodge - which I thoroughly recommend as there's nothing better than being based in the park, we decided to brave the torrential rain and go seek out the canyon anyway.

Dripping wet and still in summer clothes, we parked up our car and wandered over to one of the viewpoints. I'd seen numerous amounts of pictures of the Grand Canyon over the years and it's been on my bucket list for what feels like forever. But nothing in the world could prepare me for the view. Even in the rain, it was absolutely stunning. Every single one of us just stared in awe at the sight before us. It was the most incredible sight I had seen. Pictures really don't do it justice at all. In fact looking back at the pictures disappoint me because they just don't convey it's beauty. The sheer size of it is so overwhelming, I don't think I have ever seen anything so big. We didn't stay too long in the rain, instead heading back to the lodge for pizza and an early night in the hope we would have the weather on our side the following day.

We woke up bright and early at 4.45am keen to catch the sun rise over the canyon, after a few minutes drive to Yavapai Point we took our place among the crowds. Despite the disappointment of it being cloudy it really was amazing to see the sun slowly rise. It didn't quite feel real. Once the sun had fully risen, we took a slow wander and the canyon was glowing orange in all its glory. After about an hour staring aimlessly out at the wonder before us we decided to jump back into the car to drive to a few other viewpoints before we heading off back to Vegas. There is actually a shuttle bus which ferries tourists around which I would totally have used if we had longer, the routes sounded fab when I was reading about them.

The great thing about being based inside the National Park was that you could beat the crowds if you had an early start. We drove to quite a few different viewpoints and had them mostly to ourselves. It makes you feel quite insignificant surrounded by such incredible nature. I remember just sitting in awe on a rock staring at something millions of years old. Now I'm home, I've realised it's honestly the best thing I've ever done in my life.

One thing I did notice though was litter - just keep your rubbish to yourself guys! Don't spoil it by throwing away plastic.


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