We booked our transport with the Guesthouse, 40RMB (£8) each, for a 4 hour bus ride from Panang to the Cameron Highlands in central Malaysia. We got picked up at 12.30 by a minibus and taken to the nearby bus station. Waited an hour, then got taken in another minibus to pick up more people and taken back to the nearby bus station and dropped off! Jumped on another minibus and taken to the proper coach station about ½ hr away. More waiting until 3pm to FINALLY get on our big coach. It was really nice and comfortable, had to change buses AGAIN in Ipoh as the bus driver said ours was broken?! Anyway we got there eventually at 8pm.
What we did:
It was so much cooler in the highlands! We had to put on socks, hoodies and coats to head out for some food as we weren’t used to it being only 20 degrees! A lovely break from the uncomfortable heat in Panang though.
The next day, we headed out on a tour organised by the guesthouse. We booked the ½ day tour for 50 RMB (£10) each. It was touristic, but we enjoyed it. We went to a butterfly farm, with the biggest butterflies I’ve ever seen. There were also snakes, rhino beetles, giant stick insects, scorpions, even rabbits and ducks there. Driving past tea plantations, we headed to the ‘Mossy Forest’. It was like something off ‘Lord of the Rings’, as the name suggests, all the trees and plants are covered in moss. It’s 2000m up and the moss is the main source of water for the town as it drips to make streams and eventually rivers. Back to the tea plantation for a cuppa. The ‘Boh’ plantations were started by a Scottish guy in 1929, who knocked down lots of forrest and importanted tea from China and India to grow it.
Our second day was a little slower. We slept in and walked to ‘Robinsons Falls’ 2.5km away. It was a nice waterfall, but as always there was some rubbish in it unfortunately. We ate some more noodle soup for lunch and had more Indian for dinner.
Hillview Inn is where we stayed. 85RMB (£17) for the two of us in a double room for one night. Prices of places to stay in the highlands are much higher than the rest of Malaysia. The guesthouse was lovely though, it looked like a classic English BnB and had the same feeling too, we even got tea and scones one afternoon! They organised a fantastic tour, rooms were huge and beds were super comfortable.
Pulau Perhentian Kecil
Looooooong day travelling. Minibus @8am for 125RM (£24) pp including the minibus from Cameron Highlands to Kuala Besut and a return boat ticket from there to the Perhentian Islands. Beautiful mountainous scenery on the drive, and then you see the incredible white beaches on the coast and turquoise sea on the Boat journey.
What we did:
It truly was a paradise island. The clearest water we’ve ever seen, no roads and cars, just jungle in the middle of the islands with places to stay dotted around on the beaches. Our first day, we were exhausted after so much travelling and trudging around the island trying to find somewhere to stay, so we dived into the sea for a swim on Long Beach and had a few beers at a tiny bamboo beach bar with giant speakers.
Our days were spent chilling out, reading, watching giant Monitor Lizards, and doing lots of sea swimming. The sea is so clear, every day we swam in Coral Bay with our goggles on watching all the tropical fish, jumping off the pontoon, and we even saw a turtle getting a clean by some fish when we were just swimming around the bay. We walked around the coast to Rainforest Beach and Mira Beach which were both really secluded and beautiful, where we even saw a ray.
We headed out on a ‘Long Trip’ snorkelling trip with ‘yellow tours’ for only 40RM (£8) each. It was a full day out at 5 different spots, with a stop off in between for lunch at the local fishing village. It was such a great day out, the weather was a bit overcast and the sea a little choppy at first so we didn’t think we’d see anything. However, we saw lots of coral and parrotfish, clownfish and swam with the biggest turtle! Apparently he’s 180yrs old. There was only 4 of us on our little tour which was great, so good that we decided to do another snorkelling trip to the ‘Rawa Islands’ the next day. They are inhabited and have the bluest water with incredible sealife.
We struggled to find any accommodation on the booking sites or online. Kat also read that a lot of places you can’t book in advance, you just have to turn up! So going on that, we arrived on the Island on a Friday night with nowhere to stay. Reading that Coral Bay was the best place to stay we tried everywhere there...all full. Hot, sweaty and tired, we walked towards Long Beach and stayed at the next place, Bintang Chalets for 100RMB (£20) a night for two of us in a basic hut, fan and bathroom. It seemed nice enough, however at night the generator for the hotel next door was SO loud and then we were being eaten alive by something biting us all night. We saw these little bugs crawling around in the morning and Jack was covered in bites (luckily I slept in my sleeping liner). We decided to leave there and they were very good at giving us a refund for the second night as we left early.
Walked to Coral Bay and to Butterfly Chalets. Right on the edge on the beach, secluded and set back onto the rocks. They’re a little old and very basic. But for 80RM (£16) for a double room, with fan, bathroom, balcony, and the most incredible views, per night. We loved staying there, it had all we needed and was so close to the sea. Bliss for 5 days :)