Concubine Lane Ipoh

Concubine Lane has evolved a lot ever since Ipoh was featured by Lonely Planet in July 2016 in their list of best Asian destinations to visit.

Charming souvenir shops, fashion outlets, cafes and dessert houses line this nostalgic street of Ipoh. The street literally comes to life during the weekends!

The atmosphere is like at Armenian Street in Georgetown, Penang or Jonker Street in Melaka. Touristy? Yes, but tourism helps preserve this part of Ipoh!

Table of contents:

Ipoh Concubine Lane

Although Concubine Lane is the most famous street in all of Ipoh:

There are 2 other historic lanes that were once concubine lanes too! Hale Lane and Market Lane.

Signage For Concubine Lane In Ipoh
Signage For Concubine Lane In Ipoh – Photo by Travelswithsun

All 3 of these lanes are in Ipoh Old Town and are walking distance from each other.

Which make them an easy item to check off the must-see list for any first-time visitors. And to include these places into their Ipoh itinerary too!

But neither lane is sheltered so make sure you take an umbrella and slap on some sunscreen before you go out to explore them!

New Signpost At Concubine Lane In Ipoh
New Signpost At Concubine Lane In Ipoh

Concubine Lane History

Despite the superficial touristy appearance that might be your first impression here:

Concubine Lane (Yee Lai Hong in Cantonese) off Jalan Bandar Timah (Leech Street) in Ipoh has more than a century’s worth of history to it:

Back before Malaysia’s independence as a British colony, there was a fire in 1892.

Lanes of shops were introduced into the new layout when the town was rebuilt.

Panglima Lane, Lane Of The Second Concubines At Ipoh
Panglima Lane, Lane Of The Second Concubines At Ipoh 1948s – photo credits to www.ipohworld.org

And the well-known mining tycoon (Yao Tet Shin) gifted 3 of these lanes to his 3 wives.

  1. Wife Lane — Lorong Hale (大奶巷)
  2. Concubine Lane — Lorong Panglima (二奶巷)
  3. Second Concubine Lane — Market Lane (三奶巷)
Colorful Banners At The Front Of Market Lane In Ipoh
Colorful Banners At The Front Of Market Lane In Ipoh

If the Chinese translation confuses you:

The “first” concubine implies the wife while the “second” wife refers to concubine. And of course, the “third” wife is the second concubine.

Concubine Lane was one of those lanes together with Hale Lane and Market Lane as they are known today.

It is said that this is where the rich Chinese tin mining tycoons and British officers kept their mistresses.

But looking at them today, you’d never guess that the lanes previously housed opium and gambling dens too!

1. Past: Wife Lane — Now: Lorong Hale (大奶巷)

Seeing that this is the lane that belongs to the wife, you might expect it to be the longest lane, or the most vibrant.

Hale Lane In Ipoh
Hale Lane In Ipoh

However, this lane is quieter than the other two lanes. The lane is not long and has a single mural of a fruit seller with his cart.

There is a small pet-friendly cafe (Eightpaws) in the middle of this lane too. Getting a coffee here gives you an opportunity to meet up with other pet owners.

It’s not much if you’re looking for anything more substantial than pastries or homemade cheesecake though.

2. Past: Concubine Lane — Now: Lorong Panglima (二奶巷)

Of the 3 lanes, Concubine Lane is the most lively with its myriad of colorful little shops and stalls. The oldest shop here is Restoran Wong Koh Kee.

Street Art Mural On Concubine Lane
Street Art Mural On Concubine Lane – Photo by Travelswithsun

Don’t forget to look up when you’re exploring the lane!

Some of the shop lots still retain a hint of their former appearance (e.g. the second level of a Chinese brothel).

Concubine Lane On A Non Peak Day
Concubine Lane On A Non Peak Day – Photo by Travelswithsun

Tip: Go on a weekday if you want to avoid the weekend crowd!

If you happen to come to Concubine Lane at night, the glow of the red lanterns will make it seem like you are in a red-light district!

Tourists Along Concubine Lane
Tourists Along Concubine Lane – Photo by Travelswithsun

3. Past: Second Concubine Lane — Now: Market Lane (三奶巷)

Market Lane looks great with colorful umbrellas strung up above the lane! Depending on when you visit however, the umbrellas do wear out quickly.

Signage For Market Lane In Ipoh
Signage For Market Lane In Ipoh – Photo by Travelswithsun

While there are no shops here, there is Nam Chau Coffee Shop. Stop by here for a cup of Ipoh white coffee.

Don’t forget to try their traditional pearl milk tea and dry curry noodles!

There are 3 Ipoh street art pieces in this lane as well so make sure you check them out:

  1. Coffee shop scene
  2. Kids jumping
  3. Tricycle by Ernest Zacharevic
Trishaw Mural Walking Distance From Concubine Lane
Trishaw Mural Walking Distance From Concubine Lane
Street Art Of A Hummingbird Walking Distance From Concubine Lane
Street Art Of A Hummingbird Walking Distance From Concubine Lane – Photo by Travelswithsun

Concubine Lane Opening Hours

Concubine Lane is open every day (some of the individual stalls may be closed depending on the day of the week) and it isn’t hard to find.

You may be able to walk there if your chosen hotel is in Ipoh Old Town. Else, the cheapest and most comfortable way to get there by booking a Grab.

Note: If you plan to drive, be aware that finding parking in this part of town is a real struggle!

Food Near Concubine Lane

Did you know you can find some Ipoh famous food right at Concubine Lane?

That’s right!

1. Thean Chun Restaurant

Famous for kai se hor fun (shredded chicken prawn noodles), this old-school coffee shop is usually full of tourists during brunch and lunch time.

Ipoh Thean Chun Coffee Shop
Ipoh Thean Chun Coffee Shop – Photo by Travelswithsun

Other must-tries include pork satay, egg custard, and curry chee cheong fun. Read more about dining at Thean Chun.

While you wait long for your food, you can order from next door too.

  • Address: 73, Jalan Panglima, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
  • Opening Hours: 7:30am–4:30pm (Closed on Thursdays)

2. Ding Feng Tau Fu Fa

This Ipoh famous tau fu fa shop is no longer in Concubine Lane. But it’s still within walking distance from Concubine Lane.

And the new location has more seating and air-conditioning!

Teow Chew Style and Classic Tau Fu Fa At Ding Feng Dessert Tau Fu Fa
Teow Chew Style and Classic Tau Fu Fa At Ding Feng Dessert Tau Fu Fa

Besides some local food, they have several flavors of tau fu fa available if you want to try something other than the original flavor:

  • Bird’s nest
  • Teochew style with brown sugar, ginger and black sesame seeds
  • Ginger

You can also buy bottled homemade soy milk – this is a bit sweet in our opinion.

  • Address: 11, Jalan Bijeh Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
  • Opening hours: 9:30am to 5pm

3. Restaurant Wong Koh Kee

An old-school restaurant that’s been around for many, many years. Restoran Wong Koh Kee serves many stir-fry dishes and others like steamed fish or roast pork. You’ll want to dine with a big group here so you can try more dishes.

Restaurant Wong Koh Kee At Concubine Lane In Ipoh
Restaurant Wong Koh Kee At Concubine Lane In Ipoh

Popular dishes include:

  • Stew with Chinese herbs and dates
  • Western style fried pork
  • Ginger steamed fish

Tip: Go before lunch time (i.e. 12:30pm) to avoid the crowds!

4. Nam Chau White Coffee

This one’s at Market Lane (Just a minutes’ walk from Concubine Lane) as we mentioned earlier in this post:

They are popular for their appetizing dry curry noodles and coffee! More on what to expect at Nam Chau White Coffee Shop.

Ipoh White Coffee And Curry Mee At Restoran Nam Chau In Ipoh
Ipoh White Coffee And Curry Mee At Restoran Nam Chau In Ipoh

By the way, there are some treats you can only find at Concubine Lane!

5. Concubine Lane Rainbow Cheese Toast (Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast)

Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast takes cheese toast to another level! Pull the toast slices apart to reveal the rainbow!

Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast Stall At Concubine Lane In Ipoh
Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast Stall At Concubine Lane In Ipoh

It may be a novelty snack but it is yummy too. As you would expect since it’s cheese toast!

Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast On Concubine Lane
Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast on Concubine Lane – photo credits to juneythefoodie (Instagram)
  • Address: 25, Panglima Ln, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
  • Opening hours: 10am to 7pm

Further reading:

Cafes Near Concubine Lane In Ipoh

There’s an entire row of Ipoh cafes just a stone’s throw from Concubine Lane.

Row of hidden Ipoh Cafes close to Concubine Lane
Row of hidden Ipoh Cafes close to Concubine Lane – Photo by Travelswithsun

Pop in for some western food, desserts, and coffee!

1. CHAKORI 二奶冰室

If the chic exterior and air-conditioned environment isn’t already tempting you to go in, CHAKORI offers cool desserts that will be just what you need on a really hot day.

Chakori Cafe In Ipoh Old Town
Chakori Cafe In Ipoh Old Town – Photo by Travelswithsun

For drinks, the matcha latte (more bitter than sweet), houjicha and genmaicha are all highly recommended if you don’t like sweet drinks. 

And while the menu does feature mains but these are only available after 11am. Prices are reasonable but portions are somewhat small:

Drinks And Dessert At Chakori
Drinks And Dessert At Chakori

Which does leave you plenty of room to try their gelato and waffles. Their ice cream selection has some interesting flavors like sour plum wine or black sesame. Fresh cakes are also for sale.

Lastly, you can’t fault their friendly and polite staff.

2. Platf9rm Coffee & Brew Café

Fans of the Harry Potter series or those who love taking pics for their Instagram may want to give this place a look-see. You can even rent robes (RM10 for 30 minutes) to fit in with the theme.

Platf9rm Coffee & Brew Cafe Ipoh
Platf9rm Coffee & Brew Cafe Ipoh – Photo credits to steinygirl_mom (Instagram)

Both the interior and exterior of this themed cafe is well done. Although it is an open-air environment, rather than an enclosed air-conditioned space.

They have drinks (including a very sweet butterbeer), coffee, cheesecake, brownies, etc.

It does get quite crowded on weekends!

Note: Each person must purchase either a food item or beverage; The drink Phoenix Tears is not recommended

3. Chloe.co

This is a relatively new cafe in Ipoh. It sports a French inspired theme starting with the sleek swivel doors at the front. Crowds are common during public holidays.

Make Your Orders And Payment Directly At The Counter In Chloe Co
Make Your Orders And Payment Directly At The Counter In Chloe Co

They have an assortment of pastries including Berliners, canele, fruit tarts, and croissants, decent beverages and the like. The cozy ambiance is the best thing about Chloe.co in our opinion.

  • Address: 55, Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
  • Opening Hours: 11:30am–10pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

Other cafes that you can visit:

  1. Patisserie BoutiQue
  2. Nelly’s Cafe
  3. Aud’s Cafe
  4. The Happy 8 Café
  5. Girlie’s Café

See more Ipoh cafe options.

Souvenir Shops Near Concubine Lane

Souvenirs can be pricey but this is to be expected in such a tourist hot spot!

Shops Along Concubine Lane
Shops Along Concubine Lane

Still, it’s possible to find some really nice handmade items if you look carefully.

Don’t forget to bring some snacks back home from Ipoh!

Some Of The Wares Sold On Concubine Lane
Some Of The Wares Sold On Concubine Lane – Photo by Travelswithsun

1. YG Homemade Biscuit

Open daily at Concubine Lane from 9am to 6:30pm, YG Homemade Biscuit sells freshly baked traditional pastries like salted egg yolk puffs or their signature kaya puffs and pandan kaya puffs.

YG Homemade Biscuit Stall At Concubine Lane
YG Homemade Biscuit Stall At Concubine Lane

They have sat kek ma, heong peah and sesame rolls too.

We witnessed the old couple running the stall winning over a family by interacting with their toddler.

2. Bam Choon Dong Tea Court

Bam Choon Dong Tea Court is open from 9am to 6pm. And you’ll likely smell the tea eggs that they brew here before you see them.

Bam Choon Dong Tea Court At Concubine Lane
Bam Choon Dong Tea Court At Concubine Lane

There are some seats inside if you want to sample different Chinese tea.

If the amiable boss is around, he will share more than just the history of the product!

3. Lim Heong Yuen

This biscuit shop is at the entrance to Concubine Lane, it is across the street from Thean Chun.

Lim Heong Yuen Shopfront Beside Concubine Lane
Lim Heong Yuen Shopfront Beside Concubine Lane

They have many packaged biscuits and snacks to browse through including 3-in-1 packets from local coffee manufacturer, Chang Jiang White Coffee.

Side Of Lim Heong Yuen Biscuit Shop
Side Of Lim Heong Yuen Biscuit Shop

4. GP Curry Bun

There’s one little stall at the side of Lim Heong Yuen and this is where you can pick up a signature GP Curry Bun. There are instructions for how to prepare your curry bun according to how you store it too.

GP Curry Bun Stall Close To Concubine Lane
GP Curry Bun Stall Close To Concubine Lane

The buns are very soft and the chicken curry filling is tasty.

If you prefer to dine in, the actual restaurant (GB Curry Bun) is on Jalan Sultan Iskandar. It’s 20 minutes to walk there, or a 7-minute drive.

5. Kong Heng Square Artisan Market

Old meets new at Kong Heng Square.

Kong Heng Flea Market
Kong Heng Flea Market – Photo by Travelswithsun

There’re a lot of cute knick-knacks you can pick up here!

Keychains, lanyards, wallets, porcelain saucers, etc.

Things To Do At Concubine Lane, Ipoh

1. Ho Yan Hor Museum

At the corner of Jalan Bijeh Timah, just a block away from Kong Heng Square is Ho Yan Hor Museum.

The blue building was once home to Dr. Ho Kai Cheong who is the founder of Ho Yan Hor (now Hovid Berhad) herbal tea.

Ho Yah Hor And Han Chin Pet Soo Museum Close To Concubine Lane
Ho Yan Hor And Han Chin Pet Soo Museum Close To Concubine Lane – Photo by Travelswithsun

It’s free to take the tour and learn about Dr. Ho’s journey to becoming a famous entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Free tea tasting too! Read more about Ho Yan Hor Museum.

  • Address: 1, Jalan Bijeh Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
  • Opening hours: 10am to 4pm (Closed on Mondays)
  • Contact: +605-241 2048
  • Entrance fee: Free

2. Han Chin Pet Soo

The building itself is a heritage treasure. Tours by the non-profit organization, Ipoh World allow you to see the inside of the building.

Display of a gambling den at Han Chin Pet Soo Museum
Display of a gambling den at Han Chin Pet Soo Museum – Photo by Travelswithsun

Inside, different levels have been turned into various exhibits related to the period when the former Hakka tin miners’ club was its peak glory.

Including a recreation of what the inside of an opium and gambling den would look like!

  • Address: 3, Jalan Bijeh Timah, 30100 Ipoh, Perak
  • Opening hours: 9:30am to 3:30pm (Closed on Mondays)
  • Contact: +605-241 4541
  • Remark: You have to book online through the Ipoh World Website.
  • Entrance fee: Recommended donation of at least RM10 per person.

3. Book Xcess Kong Heng (Yasmin Museum)

Book Xcess Kong Heng
Book Xcess Kong Heng – Photo by Travelswithsun

Ipoh’s first branch of this bookstore chain houses a small museum dedicated to the Malaysian film and commercial director, Yasmin Ahmad, and her works.

Yasmin Ahmad Museum at Book Xcess Kong Heng
Yasmin Ahmad Museum at Book Xcess Kong Heng – Photo by Travelswithsun

You’ll notice the bookstore is actually an old bank vault! They use the vault to creatively display the books in the basement of the bookstore!

4. Funtasy House Trick Art

Another curious museum/ gallery you can check out is Funtasy House Trick Art.

Funtasy Art Trick House
Funtasy Art Trick House – Photo by Travelswithsun

Taking photos at this 3D art gallery is good fun for any age! If you don’t know how to pose, the staff will be happy to guide you!

Funtasy House Trick Art At Ipoh
Funtasy House Trick Art At Ipoh – photo credits to larry273 (Instagram)

Tip: Don’t forget to bring your MyKad if you have one!

  • Address: 16, Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
  • Opening hours: 9am to 6pm (Closed on Wednesdays)
  • Contact: +605-255 0007
  • Entrance fee: RM15 (Malaysians), RM19 (Foreigners), RM10 (Kids/ students/ seniors)

Hotels Near Concubine Lane

Staying close to Concubine Lane is easy with these accommodation options:

1. Brick Box Hotel

Booking.com

Brick Box Hotel has a total of 27 rooms and is situated at a  very convenient location. It is walking distance to many attractions in Ipoh Old Town!

Brick Box Hotel Ipoh
Brick Box Hotel Ipoh

What you’ll like:

  • Desirable location
  • WiFi
  • 24-hour security
  • TV
  • Beautiful, spacious, and clean rooms

Good to know:

  • Bring earplugs if you’re a light sleeper! The clocktower is nearby and chimes every hour!

2. Cititel Express Ipoh

Booking.com

A great value-for-money stay that is close to attractions in Ipoh Old Town too!

Cititel Express Ipoh
Cititel Express Ipoh

What you’ll like:

  • Walking distance
  • Comfortable rooms
  • TV with HD movies
  • Very clean
  • WiFi
  • Friendly reception
  • Breakfast included

Good to know:

  • Parking is in the basement and limited. Try to check in early if you can!
  • If you have a lot of devices to charge, bring a multiple adapter

3. De Cafe & Rest House

Booking.com

As the name implies, this 3-storey building hosts a cafe and hotel in one! Aside from little parking opportunities here and the creakiness of the building at night, there’s a lot to like about this place:

De Cafe & Rest House At Ipoh

For starters, the lovely staff and ambiance of the cafe, but also the hidden Instagram spot behind it!

The cafe serves good coffee and tea. As well as western-style breakfast croissants and cakes – try the mille crepes!

Solo female travelers will appreciate that there are separate (and clean) dormitories for both genders. The hostel is designed for backpackers so most facilities (like bathrooms) are shared.

Note: You have to bring your own toiletries

4. Erica Underwood Homestay

Erica Underwood Homestay offers visitors a chance to stay right in the middle of Concubine Lane. There are double rooms as well as bunk bed setups.

Erica Underwood Homestay At Concubine Lane
Erica Underwood Homestay At Concubine Lane

Rooms are clean and comfortable but this homestay is most convenient for guests who don’t have their own cars. As no private parking is provided.


Read also:


Tips For Visiting Concubine Lane

  • If you go during Chinese New Year (January to February generally), the lanes may be decorated with red lanterns)
  • Escape the crowds by going on a Monday or Thursday rather than the weekend!
  • Bring a water bottle – you’re likely going to sweat during your walk

Ipoh Private Tour Service

Don’t want to suffer the heat to explore both Ipoh Old Town and Ipoh New Town?

Consider taking a private tour service instead:

It’s a quicker way to get around (especially for families) and you don’t have to worry about parking or driving!

Other benefits?

  • Local guides who can speak English, Chinese or Malay
  • Flexible hours between 8:30am and 8pm
  • Comfortable transport (MPVs or vans)
  • Tours include pick up and drop off anywhere in Ipoh
  • You can combine your Ipoh tour with a trip to Penang, Cameron Highlands or Taiping!

Inquire about their Ipoh tours via WhatsApp.

Conclusion

Do not be deterred by the touristy facade of the three concubine lanes in Ipoh:

You can still find old-world charm here among all the trendy stalls, and souvenir shops!

It doesn’t hurt to explore them too since they’re only a few steps away from Ipoh’s other heritage attractions and street murals!

Other articles you might like:

Similar Posts