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 akin to the Armenian Street in Georgetown, Penang or Jonker Street in Melaka. Touristy? Yes, but tourism helps preserve this part of Ipoh!
Table of contents:
- Concubine Lane Ipoh
- Opening Hours
- Concubine Lane Ipoh Food
- Cafes Near Concubine Lane Ipoh
- Hotels Near Concubine Lane Ipoh
- Souvenirs From Ipoh
- Things To Do At Concubine Lane Ipoh
- Tips For Visiting Concubine Lane
Concubine Lane Ipoh
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.
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!
However, neither lane is sheltered so make sure you take an umbrella and slap on some sunscreen before you go out to explore them!
Concubine Lane Ipoh 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.
And the well-known mining tycoon (Yao Tet Shin) gifted 3 of these lanes to his 3 wives.
- Wife Lane — Lorong Hale (大奶巷)
- Concubine Lane — Lorong Panglima (二奶巷)
- Second Concubine Lane — Market Lane (三奶巷)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
3. Past: Second Concubine Lane — Now: Market Lane (三奶巷)
You know you’re in Market Lane when you see the colorful umbrellas strung up above the lane!
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 so make sure you check them out:
- Coffee shop scene outside Nam Chau Coffee Shop
- Kids jumping
- Tricycle by Ernest Zacharevic
Concubine Lane Ipoh Opening Hours
Concubine Lane is open every day 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.
Concubine Lane Ipoh Food
Did you know you can find some Ipoh famous food right at Concubine Lane?
1. Concubine Lane Ipoh Tau Fu Fa
On a weekend, you can expect a queue for this Ipoh famous tau fu fa (and seats)!
They have several flavors available if you want to try something other than the original:
- Bird’s nest
- Teochew style with brown sugar, ginger and black sesame seeds
2. Restoran Wong Koh Khee
An old-school restaurant that’s been around for many, many years.
Popular dishes include:
- Stew with Chinese herbs and dates
- Western style fried pork
- Ginger steamed fish
3. 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!
4. Restoran Li Heng Fatt 利興發茶室
Horhee sells out fast at Restoran Li Heng Fatt. Their chili sauce perfectly pairs with their bouncy homemade fishballs and yong tau fu too.
Another commendable dish that they sell here is kuay teow.
What’s unusual about this kopitiam is that it stays open for dinner too!
By the way, there are some treats you can only find at Concubine Lane!
5. Concubine Lane Rainbow Cheese Toast
Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast takes cheese toast to another level! Pull the toast slices apart to reveal the rainbow!
It may be a novelty snack but it is yummy too! As you would expect since it’s cheese toast!
- 13 Best Chinese Restaurants In Ipoh
- 9 Best Chicken Rice In Ipoh
- 15 Best Breakfast Spots In Ipoh: Recommended By A Local!
Cafes Near Concubine Lane Ipoh
There’s an entire row of Ipoh cafes just a stone’s throw from Concubine Lane.
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.
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:
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.
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
Other cafes that you can visit:
- Patisserie BoutiQue
- Nelly’s Cafe
- Aud’s Cafe
- The Happy 8 Café
- Girlie’s Café
See more Ipoh cafe options.
Hotels Near Concubine Lane Ipoh
Staying close to Concubine Lane is easy with these accommodation options:
1. Brick Box Hotel
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!
What you’ll like:
- Desirable location
- 24-hour security
- 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
A great value-for-money stay that is close to attractions in Ipoh Old Town too!
What you’ll like:
- Walking distance
- Comfortable rooms
- TV with HD movies
- Very clean
- 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
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:
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. Belakang Kong Heng By Dreamscape
Belakang Kong Heng directly translates to Behind Kong Heng.
And it is indeed its prime location for food (it’s literally beside Plan B) and convenience for those without their own transport that makes hotel is highly sought after.
The interior is clean, spacious, and incredibly stylish with balconies too. Plus, there is a functional kitchenette.
However, you might not want to stay here during peak season or the weekends, as it can be noisy at night.
Moreover, getting up to the rooms may prove a challenge for the elderly and little ones (I.e. steep stairs).
Read More Reviews:
- Weil Hotel Ipoh Review: Check This 4-star Hotel When You’re In Ipoh
- Hotel Excelsior Ipoh Review: Why This Classic Ipoh Hotel Is Still Thriving
- Ipoh Bali Hotel Review: Discover This Unique Bali-style Boutique Hotel With Spa
5. 27 Concubine Lane – Guesthouse
Set in a heritage house, this makes for a unique accommodation. It is also not far from the Ipoh Railway Station!
What you’ll like:
- Vintage decor
- Fantastic location
- Great for couples
- Pets allowed
- Airport shuttle
- Warm welcome
Good to know:
- No private parking
- Bring earplugs if you are sensitive to noise!
- 19 Best Hotels In Ipoh
- Top 7 Budget Hotels In Ipoh
- Best Ipoh Homestay – 11 Exceptional Homestay In Ipoh
Souvenirs From Ipoh
Souvenirs can be pricey but this is to be expected in such a tourist hot spot!
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!
1. Dreamland at Concubine Lane
A cute shop with retro decor. Not a bad place for a photo too!
2. Ipoh Old Town Tart King
They sell good BBQ chicken pastry buns here as well as egg tarts – original and pandan flavor.
3. Kristy Collection Boutique
Close to Kong Heng Square, this small boutique sells jewelry pieces from Korea.
4. Kong Heng Square Artisan Market
Old meets new at Kong Heng Square.
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 happens to be the founder of Ho Yan Hor (now Hovid Berhad) herbal tea.
It’s free to take the tour and learn about how Dr. Ho’s journey to becoming a famous entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Free tea tasting too!
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.
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!
3. Book Xcess Kong Heng (Yasmin Museum)
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.
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.
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!
- Top 27 Things To Do In Ipoh
- 9 Top Ipoh Limestone Caves & Ipoh Cave Temples That You Should See
- 13 Fun Places To Visit In Ipoh At Night
- HOGA Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng: Another Place To Try Tea For Tea Lovers + What To Do
- Qing Xin Ling Leisure & Cultural Village: Includes How To Buy Tickets & Things To Do
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!
- 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!
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!
Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.