Most visitors who come to Malaysia only stay in Kuala Lumpur.
If they do have time to go out of the city, they either go to Melaka in the south, or Penang, Langkawi, and Cameron Highlands in the north.
Ipoh, the small capital of Perak state, usually gets passed over in favor of these more popular cities.
If you are wondering what to do in Ipoh, there are surprisingly a lot of things that will occupy your time when you’re there. More than its white coffee and tin mining, there’s a host of activities that can fit all types of travelers, from the foodie to the adrenaline junkie.
If you have two days free, make sure to take the time to visit the Hill City in the north. Here are some of the things you can do there.
Go on a food trip.
More than anything else, Ipoh is known for its food and drink. From street hawkers to swanky restaurants, any Ipoh meal is sure to make you want for more. Some of the dishes we tried which we highly recommend is the nasi ayam (chicken with rice), paired with taugue (bean sprouts) and local spices.
You can also do no wrong by having dim sum, satay, and kway teow (noodles). For drinks, have iced white coffee, or barley if it’s available.
Take the Old Heritage Trail.
Ipoh is also well known for its heritage houses. From the lovely railway station to mosques, warehouses, commercial centers, and old mansions, following the heritage trail of this small town will make you appreciate the history of the town built on tin.
Wherever you may be staying in Ipoh, make sure to visit the Tourism Center to get a copy of the town map as well as the two maps of the heritage trail.
Pay respect to its temples.
There are some wonderful temples in Ipoh. One of the most popular is the Kek Look Tong located inside a huge cave. It’s around 20 minutes from Ipoh, and aside from the huge Buddhas and the numerous stone sculptures, you can also go there to have a picnic, run around the lake, or just spend time relaxing in its serene surroundings. There is no entrance fee, but to go there, you would have to take a taxi which can charge around 12MYR from the town.
Another alternative is the Sam Poh Tong, the biggest cave temple in Malaysia set within a limestone cave. There are a lot of Buddhas scattered around, as well as various stone statues of monkeys and warriors.
When we arrived there around 5pm, it was already closed, and the whole compound gave an effect of being a ghost town, with only the monkeys greeting us and dogs of various sizes watching us from where they were sitting.
Go to the night market (gerbang malam).
Flea markets are common in Malaysia (and SEAsia in general). In the Ipoh night market, they offer the same range of products too, from household items, and toys, to clothing and accessories, mobile gadgets, and (faux) leather goods. Try to haggle and maybe you will get the price you want.
Enjoy the hot springs in the Lost World.
The hot springs are part of the Sunway Lost World of Tambun, a water theme park that’s located around 20 minutes from the center of Ipoh town. It’s only open from 6pm until 9pm, but with the entrance fee of 15MYR, it’s more than worth it. There are several pools inside, and the temperature varies from 35 to 43 deg Celsius. Tired from the whole day of walking, we decided to come here, and it was a decision we were very happy to make.
To go to the Lost World Hot Springs and Spa, take a cab from the center of Ipoh for around 20MYR, one way. Don’t forget to bring your own towel as they don’t provide any.
If you have been to Ipoh, what other things can you suggest to do there? Do share in the comments!
My trip to Ipoh has been made possible through the sponsorship of Tourism Malaysia and ZestAir.