Having researched the journey online as well as asking for advice from our guesthouse, we were given a lot of conflicting information about how to actually get to the highlands. We were told to leave from both bus stations (BTS and Pudu Sentral), to get certain buses because others were unreliable or dirty but then told not to get those buses either which meant that essentially we were very confused!
In the end we decided to use the online booking service and trust that the bus that we chose would leave at around the time we had booked from Pudu Sentral (most people seemed to say that the buses to Cameron all leave from this station and plus, it was right beside us so we figured we should at least try there first before trekking across the city).
We booked with Unititi and so on the morning of departure we headed into the bus station and began our search for this company's counter to pick up our pre-booked tickets. There were a couple of touts trying to ask where you were going and pushing bus tickets but it was nothing like it was described online and nothing compared to our experiences in Indonesia; they leave you alone if you say you already have a ticket.
The counters are all upstairs and relatively easy to find once you locate the escalators; you just need to follow the signs. After this it was a matter of locating our platform and heading down the stairs at the correct platform number where we found our bus.
It departed on time and is one of the comfiest buses I have ever been on. The seats were huge and there was so much leg room; the people who were complaining about this company elsewhere online have obviously never traveled on an Indonesian coach!
The journey took 3.5hrs and there was one rest stop in the middle for about 10 minutes. I thought our driver on the way there was quite safe and when we hit the mountains he did drive relatively carefully and I never felt in danger.
We chose to stay in Tanah Rata as it is a little bit easier to get to and had a load of accommodation and tour options. When we arrived we had a quick look online for recommended tour companies and then headed out to book a trip for the next day.
We chose TJ tours in the end as it had good reviews and they did a tour which encompassed what we wanted to see. It cost us 50 MYR each for a half day trip which included Gunang Birchang, Mossy Forest, tea plantation and factory tour, strawberry farm and the butterfly and insect farm.
We met at the office (which was just around the corner from our accommodation) the next morning at 8.30am and headed off as a group of four in a 4x4 with our guide.
Our first stop was to get a look at a tea plantation. We stopped the Landrover beside the road and hopped out to walk amongst the plants whilst our guide gave us a rundown of the tea making process which was pretty interesting; especially to us as massive tea drinkers!
After this we headed up the mountain to see if we would be lucky enough to get a view of the surrounding valleys.
Unfortunately the rain came on as we drove upwards and by the time we reached the top it was completely shrouded in cloud! We did climb up a rusty, rickety viewing tower to see if we could get any sort of view but sadly it was not to be.
Next stop was Mossy forest where you can walk on a boardwalk through a piece of the rainforest. It was still a bit wet and miserable but our guide was great and managed to hunt down some pitcher cup flowers for us to see and gave us some other interesting titbits of information about the flora and surrounding area.
After this we were off to the tea factory to see how the tea is processed. The place we visited was one of the Boh tea factories (one of the more famous ones in the Cameron Highlands). We had a quick walk through the working building and then went and had some tea in the cafe and Alistair also couldn't resist buying some tea in the shop there. The view from the cafe over the plantation is pretty spectacular and totally worth the trip just for that!
One of our last stops was the butterfly and insect farm. This is an additional 5MYR each to get into but has some pretty cool things to see if you are into creatures and critters. There are beautiful butterflies free to fly around you and you can hold snakes and see big beetles and cool leaf insects up close. I was a bit freaked out by the whole thing but Alistair seemed to enjoy it (he's the one holding and getting up close to everything in the pictures)!
En route back to the accommodation we popped into a Strawberry farm. It wasn't a very big one but you could see how the strawberries are grown and buy some strawberry based products (we got a small box of strawberries which were delicious). Then we were dropped back off at the office and the trip was over.
It was pretty good fun and I'm glad we decided to do it so that we could cover all the big sights with the limited time we had.
We weren't quite sure how to go about getting a bus back to Kuala Lumpar but our back-up was to go to the bus station and try to find a ticket there. Luckily we found one of the big travel agents in Tanah Rata advertising a coach for 35MYR so we booked with them.
It turned out to be a much smaller bus with a bit of a scarier driver so definitely not as comfortable as our journey to Tanah Rata but it equally wasn't completely horrendous. If I was to do it again however, I would probably go to the bus station and try to find a Unititi bus back to Kuala Lumpar because it was definitely a better experience!
Just in case you are in a rush - we normally can get back to you in less than a day!