Fraser's Hill is named after Louis James Fraser, a Scotsman who prospected for gold in Australia but eventually struck tin here instead in the 1890s. Employing Chinese miners to do the hard work for him and earning his keep by operating mule trains down the mountain, Fraser set up opium and gambling dens to increase his profits, which may have had something to do with his subsequent mysterious disappearance. The tin ran out in 1913, but the lush valley within was rediscovered as a colonial hill resort that, thanks to its 1524 m elevation, enjoys considerably cooler temperatures than Kuala Lumpur. By 1922 a road had been cut through the mountains to the valley, which soon sprouted bungalows and even one of Malaya's first golf courses.
Not much has changed since, and Fraser's Hill retains a wonderfully weird mixed-up character, where locals eat curries off banana leaves in a English cottage next to a golf course while the call to prayer sounds from the mosque.
Orienting yourself in Fraser's Hill is easy enough: the entrance via the Gap is at the southwest corner of the valley and the "center" as such is at the intersection of Jalan Genting and Jalan Lady Guillemard, with the much-photographed clock tower marking the spot. Most restaurants and shops are clustered here, while the golf course takes up the bottom of the valley and bungalows and swanky residences dot the hills all around.
Public transport on the Hill is non-existent (the bus from Kuala Kubu Bharu no longer runs) and you'll have to arrange your own wheels in some form or another.
Fraser's Hill is located 105 km north of Kuala Lumpur, around 2 hours by car. For a long time, access to Fraser's Hill was possible only via a 8 km one-lane road known as the The Gap, used by uphill and downhill traffic in turns. A new road was completed in 2001, but it has been plagued by repeated landslides, and is frequently closed for repairs.
When the new road is open: All downward traffic uses the new road, while the old Gap road is designated for upward traffic, with no time restrictions round the clock.
When the Gap is the only option: Traffic control effective 7AM to 7PM. Odd hours for going up to Fraser's Hill and even hours for descending traffic.
The KTM Komuter's northern run from Kuala Lumpur now reaches Kuala Kubu Baru, although you'll need to switch trains in Rawang (platform 2 for trains to KKB). From Kuala Kubu Baru, you can hire a taxi or local driver for the going rate of RM80 one way.
Apart from your own car, the easiest way is by using taxi from Kuala Lumpur. Normal KL taxis can't do the trip, but you can arrange one from the Puduraya bus station, or call up Selangor Radio Taxi (tel. 03-2936213) or Comfort Taxi (tel. 03-7330495). You can expect to be quoted around RM200 for a one-way transfer, but this can be negotiated down, even more so for a return trip.
For getting around Fraser's Hill, your own car is the best option. However there is no petrol station up in Fraser's Hill so remember to fill your tank before going uphill. Should you get caught without sufficient petrol in Fraser's Hill, ask the locals and they may sell some petrol to you in 1 litre bottles.
Most distances are, however, walkable if you're not in hurry and don't mind going up/downhill or taking the trails through the jungle.
Fraser's Hill is famed worldwide as a birdwatching destination, with over 250 species recorded. Winners during the annual Bird Race have spotted as many as 70 species within 24 hours!
The top activities in Fraser's Hill are hiking, golf and birdwatching.
One of the most popular activities in Fraser's Hill is bird watching given the many different species of birds in the locality, particularly in June when the International Bird Race event is held here due to many migratory species passing through.
There are eight signposted trails around Fraser's Hill (map), although some have been closed at least temporarily after a well-publicized incident in 2005 when three young boys got lost in the jungle. Watch out for leeches.
With such a delightful climate, Fraser's Hill ought to be perfect for tennis. Unfortunately, the courts have been neglected. Both Pines Resorts and SilverPark have courts, but they have fallen into disrepair. There are two public courts on the Pines Road (next to the Pahang Instana), but they are barely playable. The courts are filthy, so be prepared to discard your balls after a few plays (they turn from yellow to black).
While you can get your fill of Fraser's Hill T-shirts and fridge magnets from the souvenir shops around the clock tower, the most useful local fashion accessory in these parts is a pair of leech socks. Baggy stockings of unbleached cotton worn over your pants, these not only prevent unwanted blood transfusions, but also double as handy Christmas decorations if you paint on a reindeer or two.
Nightlife in Fraser's Hill is basically nonexistent, but the Smokehouse can serve you a pint of Guinness.
Most visitors come during the weekend, so it's not unusual for rates to be discounted as much as 50% on weekdays.
The best way to splurge on Fraser's Hill is to rent a private bungalow. Rates vary widely, from under RM300/day for a small, crumbling bungalow to RM1500/day for a top-of-the-line outfit complete with housekeeper. All bungalow have multiple bedrooms and can easily fit 4 or more people. Book directly with the Fraser's Hill Development Corporation/Information Counter /Puncak Inn, tel. +60-9-36220007.
Start your visit by dropping into the Fraser's Hill Tourist Information Centre on Jalan Genting, to your left past the top gate of the Gap. They hand out a useful (albeit scaleless) map and can advise on trails and such.
The trails are fairly well marked but not trivial, so register your intentions with the Tourist Information Centre ( 09 3622007 )if you plan on tackling the longer ones. Watch out for muddy trails after rain and take precautions against leeches. Malayan tigers have been spotted very occasionally, but they shy away from humans.
Be careful not to leave anything of value in your car or trunk of value when you are visiting places like the waterfall, as there have been cases of cars being burgled.