Episode 13: Simpang Pulai to Cameron Highlands
It’s the conclusion of the 5 part Episode series we did with the Peugeot 3008, Episode 13 is full of fragrant tea leaves, valleys, a view point and a relatively new road that cuts right across the spine of the Peninsular, the Titiwangsa mountain range.
Route: 181, A181
Nearest Towns: Ipoh, Brinchang, Tanah Rata
What to expect?
The best way to enjoy the Simpang Pulai road is to set up a base camp in Ipoh. Ipoh itself is a worthy weekend destination that’s full of wonderful sights and a legitimate Malaysian food destination. Ipoh is just 2 hours from Kuala Lumpur and Penang respectively, and its well linked to the East Coast too. Just outside Ipoh, as you’re approaching the Simpang Pulai toll plaza, is the entrance to the driving road, which begins past the Petronas station.
The actual driving road starts in a rather disappointing manner. Its bumpy, with bad surface conditions and has lots of sand and dirt on the road surface as it travels across a mining area. And then, you’re greeted with a rather hostile looking environment with the side guardrails and centre divider filled with scratches and signs of collision.
However just 2 corners from the first 3 minutes of the journey though, the altitude rapidly climbs and the road starts to become truly promising. Unlike other roads which travel alongside the Titiwangsa mountain range, the 181 cuts right across through it, resulting in an amazing road with spectacular views.
Unlike the Tapah road which is very narrow and twisty, and the Sungai Koyan road that is completely desolate and in some places lacking in curves, the Simpang Pulai road provides plenty of entertainment in terms of beautiful corners and amazing views. As the roads climb higher and higher, the road condition improves and there are plenty of overtaking zones which means your progress is unaffected.
On the Simpang Pulai road, the low down torque of the Peugeot 3008, its six speed automatic gearbox and the agile chassis was quite the experience the driver’s car. Hit the sports button, put the gearbox in manual and you can tackle the turns with absolute confidence. The power is plenty allowing for easy and safe overtakes, without feeling like the engine is strained.
All that heavy duty driving did raise the heat for both the driver and the Peugeot 3008. But since the end destination of this route is Malaysia’s favorite hill station, Cameron Highlands, it was a cooling payoff for us.
Cameron Highlands has never been this easy to access thanks to the Simpang Pulai road. Via here you will reach Brinchang first via Tringkap. We would recommend you to check out the Sg Palas tea estate as its easy access via this road. Once you’re on the access road, just roll down the window and let the highland breeze in, and get a whiff of that refreshing tea plantation scent.
Alongside the Sg Palas tea estate, there’s also the Kea Farm market, Rose Valley and a whole lot of strawberry picking farms you can go to.
On the weekends however, it’s no secret that traffic in Cameron Highlands comes to an absolute standstill. On days like those, we suggest that you chill at the Kafe Banjaran with a nice cup of tea, and soak in the amazing views the place has to offer. Built on the site of a landslide which had occurred around 2014, this lookout point offers an amazing view of the heart of the Titiwangsa mountain range. And the view varies according to weather, with some days having clear views like this and on some days it could be totally shrouded in mist.
However, for our crew who had been on the road for the last 5 episodes, it was the perfect place to reflect on what the Malaysian road trip meant. A cup of hot tea, an amazing view, your group of friends and a good car to drive in
As per protocol, there’s sand hazard since the road passes a quarry, so be cautious out here.
This road cuts right through a mountain range and rainforest. It rains a lot and the temperature can drop to 18 degrees on some days. That will make the driving conditions really slippery so be advised
Again the byproduct of cutting right across a mountain range, mist can be a romantic sight, very soothing to look at and utterly beautiful. However be advised that your visibility also will drop rapidly
There are some overzealous drivers who tend to misjudge their overtaking in a very bad way. So be defensive when on this road and anticipate that people might be overtaking around the corners.
Episode 13 is a reflection of why we love the concept of a Malaysian road trip.Very few places sport such varied scenery, topography, and weather in one road trip.
And with a car like the Peugeot 3008, you can trek into the Malaysian country roads with confidence, knowing that your time behind the wheel will be a good one!