Posted in Travel in Malaysia

Visiting Ipoh: A City That Has A Lot to Offer

  1. Intro
  2. Ipoh Food
  3. Things We Did in Ipoh
    1. Walk
    2. Sam Poh Tong Temple
    3. Mirror Lake (Tasik Cermin)
    4. Mirror Lake (Tasik Cermin): download map
    5. Ipoh Heritage Trail
    6. Kong Heng Flea Market
    7. Concubine Lane
    8. Market Lane
    9. Street Art – Mural Art’s Lane
    10. Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Long  
    11. Ipoh Railway Station
    12. Kinta Riverfront Walk
    13. Shopping Malls
    14. Little India
    15. Lost World of Tambun Theme Park
    16. Kellie’s Castle
    17. Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniyar Temple (Kallumalai Murugan),Ipoh
    18. Durbar at FMS, Ipoh
  4. Where to Stay

Intro

You might think of Ipoh as just a mid way point between Kuala Lumpur and Penang… a place to break your journey by stopping at one of the many yummy restaurants, filling up on Ipoh’s famous chicken rice followed by a delicious ice kacang before you continue back onto the highway.

But we love coming here. And you will be surprised to find that there is a lot to see and do.

Located at D R Seenivasagam Recreational Park

This year, in July, we came to Malaysia as our first destination after the Covid travel restrictions were lifted. Basker was born in Ipoh and we wanted to visit his parents, spend some time with them and at the same time add on a trip or two to some other locations within the country for a long awaited adventure holiday.

It certainly didn’t disappoint.

I will post other blogs to follow this one detailing our visits to Penang, KL and East Malaysia but for now we’ll take a closer look at our time in Ipoh.

It seemed strange to be travelling again after such a long time being stuck at home but Malaysian Airlines was good and all we had to do was wear a mask. We were well fed and looked after and arrived without the need to quarantine but of course we needed to download the MySejahtera app with details of all our vaccinations.

Ipoh Railway Station

Ipoh is just a 3 hour train journey from Kuala Lumpur through urban areas and alongside rural plantations. The first thing you notice when you arrive is the grand railway station (photo above) which sets the scene for beautiful old architecture, carefully restored and well maintained. You will find other examples of well preserved old town buildings in the town centre of Ipoh.

But firstly we head for home where a delicious home cooked meal is waiting.

Ipoh Food

Ipoh is famous for good food including Taugeh (Beansprout) Chicken Rice, Ipoh white coffee, hakka mee, assam laksa, satay, rojak, char kway teow, chendol… Ipoh is best known for hawker food and you are spoilt for choice. You only need to head in the direction of Ipoh Old Town and take a casual walk around to find many good restaurants. They tend to spill out onto the street where alfresco dining in the warm evening is such an enjoyable experience. Don’t forget to order a frozen Tiger beer as a great start to your evening. Great foodie info here.

We also love to cook at home and there are lots of local markets dotted around in the neighbourhoods. For us the local Buntong Wet Market is nearby. Here you will find a vast array of fresh fruit and veg, meat, fish, poultry and sundry items.

I love the huge variety of fresh tropical fruit which is my fave go-to breakfast. As a special treat we like to have Chinese donuts (Youtiao / Dầu Cháo Quẩy) which are delish and made fresh each day at this market… great for dunking.

See Basker on a shopping expedition at the market, Ipoh

The market has changed a lot over the years and the standards have greatly improved. It is still an old building but the produce is fresh and clean and there doesn’t appear to be any offensive odor. The rubbish is removed from the street outside each day followed by a thorough hosing down of the area. The food court part of the market appeared dry and clean. One of the great things about the market is the dependence on regular customers so the vendors are friendly and like to get to know you… Basker had many questions directed to him about me following him around filming… and he answered them all of them in a loud jovial voice! Lots of smiles all around 🙂

Things We Did in Ipoh

Walk

Just getting out and walking is one great way to get to know this city. Walking around the city is very enjoyable and interesting with lots to look at along the way. However the pathways are not always easily transversed. Be sure to look out for uneven surfaces and a lot of curbs that create a slight obstacle course as you bump along, up and down. Also wait for the traffic to actually stop at pedestrian crossings because in my experience some cars don’t stop… and some of them run red lights.

Yes, you will see rubbish piled up along the way but Ipoh is much cleaner now than when we visited in the past so it is encouraging to see progress. Watch where you step.

Try to keep away from dogs and any wandering cows you might see.

There is still a propensity to use plastic bags so where ever you can please encourage the use of re-usable bags. Also think about the use of plastic bottles and try to bring a re-fillable water bottle, see great article on this topic here, it’s about India but still relevant.

Water in Malaysia should be boiled or filtered before drinking. This is true for everyone here so you can be assured that the filtered water offered to you at the restaurant is okay to drink. It’s free so take this opportunity to fill up your water bottle.

At the time of writing this article Covid was still a reality in Ipoh and not all of the shops and businesses were fully operational. I would think that all countries are in a similar position to a certain extent so my suggestion to you is to be patient. If the restaurant you have planned on visiting is closed move on to find another one. It is evident that everyone is trying hard to encourage tourists but it is damn difficult. Try to understand.

Sam Poh Tong Temple

A beautiful Buddist cave temple which is lovely to wander around to enjoy the colourful atmosphere. Also walk through the interesting ornamental gardens.

Mirror Lake (Tasik Cermin)

This lake is located in amongst the mountains and limestone caves of Ipoh. It is accessed via a dark tunnel which leads to a stunning reveal of natural beauty.

Mirror Lake (Tasik Cermin): download map

Ipoh Heritage Trail

  • see map here
  • see details of Ipoh’s heritage places here

Kong Heng Flea Market

A pretty location, see photo below, near Plan B Bar and restaurant. You will find handcrafted gifts and art work, great for browsing.

Concubine Lane

This is the most famous street in Ipoh and is steeped in history. It is a narrow lane with interesting artisan shops and tiny restaurants on either side. The freshly made kaya puffs are just devine… and taste even better when eaten in amongst the hustle and bustle of this dynamic and colourful lane. Always crowded and always interesting.

Market Lane

Pretty, colourful, historic. Great restaurants in this locale.

Street Art – Mural Art’s Lane

Here we had great fun exploring the Old Town street art, to appreciate the murals, soak up the historical atmosphere and take lots of fun photos.

See the fascinating behind-the-scenes progress of the Art of OLDTOWN project here.

Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Long  

Sin Yoon Long is the pioneer of Ipoh White Coffee. It has a unique taste and has become hugely popular. Be sure to try the coffee with the shop’s own brand of kaya on toast, yum!

Ipoh Railway Station

The station is one of the main heritage buildings of Ipoh and serves as an iconic landmark. It is designed in the beautiful Mogul style with segmental pediments and spherical domes.

Kinta Riverfront Walk

Relaxing walk along the river but best at night.

Shopping Malls

There are several good shopping malls in Ipoh and Parkson Ipoh Parade Mall is one of the most popular. You will find many good shops including the large department store, Parkson. Also Starbucks, restaurants, UNIQLO clothing, cinemas and surprisingly there’s a pretty good rooftop bar in the attached Weil Hotel. Walk through from the mall to the lift lobby and take a lift to the top floor where you can sip a cold drink by the pool and take in the most beautiful views of Ipoh and the surrounding hills.

Little India

This area is famous for Malaysian Indian cuisine and serves as the hubb for Indian shopping. It is also a great place to pick up trinkets, grocery items and desi clothing.

Lost World of Tambun Theme Park

I haven’t visited here however my children went along with a group of people on one of our previous visits and swam the whole day, great fun for the kids.

Kellie’s Castle

We have been here in the past but didn’t visit on this recent trip. I recall thinking it was slightly meh, nothing like Larnoch Castle in Dunedin, however I think it is worth a visit to see such a crazy enterprise in a tropical setting… if you have a spare afternoon.

Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniyar Temple (Kallumalai Murugan),Ipoh

A beautiful temple located close to pretty limestone mountains. A calming, peaceful environment to wander around and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the colourful architecture. Photos are okay, just be respectful so don’t take photos of people unless you ask first. Give a small donation to the priest and you just might be mentioned in a prayer.

Durbar at FMS, Ipoh

Old world charm.

Where to Stay

On this trip we stayed with family but there are many good hotels in Ipoh and we have stayed in several of them over the years.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Ka kite anō.

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