And usually within walking distance to somewhere serving delicious Ipoh food!
It’s not a bad idea to book a hotel in this area too! That way, you can take the time to explore all corners of Ipoh Old Town! We’ll cover all that and more as you’ll see in this post!
Table of contents:
- Where Is Ipoh Old Town
- Ipoh Old Town Vs New Town
- Ipoh Old Town History
- Attractions Near Ipoh Old Town
- Ipoh Old Town White Coffee Shop
- Ipoh Old Town Café
- Hotels Near Ipoh Old Town
- Getting Around Ipoh Old Town
Where Is Ipoh Old Town
Ipoh Old Town sits on the west side of the Kinta River which flows through Ipoh. With its British-colonial shop lots, it looks similar to the Penang’s Georgetown.
The area on the opposite bank at the east side of the river, is Ipoh New Town.
It’s possible to walk to both areas via two bridges:
One at Jalan Sultan Idris Shah and another at Jalan Sultan Iskandar.
Ipoh Old Town Vs New Town
Kinta River divides the historic center of Ipoh into Ipoh Old Town and New Town. Where Ipoh New Town is on the east side. There are interesting places to visit at both areas. Both have many mural art and local food spots. Most of the famous eateries are at Ipoh New Town while Ipoh Old Town has more historical buildings.
At a glance:
|Attraction Type||Ipoh Old Town||Ipoh New Town|
|History||Kong Heng Square, Concubine Lane, Birch Memorial Clock Tower, Ipoh Padang, St. Michael’s Institution, Ipoh Train Station, Little India, Durbar (FMS)||Panglima Kinta Mosque, St Michael’s Church, Hugh Low Bridge, Ipoh Central Market (now UTC Perak), Yik Foong Complex, Guan Yin Temple|
|Food||Nam Heong White Coffee, Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong||Lou Wong Chicken Rice, Foh San, Tong Sui Kai, Kedai Kopi Yong Suan, Funny Mountain Soya Beancurd, Ayam Garam Aun Kheng Lim|
|Cafes||Plan B, Aud’s Cafe, Patisserie BoutiQue||Jln Theatre Coffee|
|Art, Museums And More||Funtasy House Trick Art, Ho Yan Hor Museum, Han Chin Pet Soo Museum, Time Tunnel Ipoh||Mural Art’s Lane, Gerbang Malam|
If you have your own transport (or don’t mind walking), there’s really no excuse not to see both sides of the Kinta river!
Ipoh Old Town History
At the start of the 19th century, Malaysia was under British Colonial rule with Ipoh as the second administrative city after Taiping.
Today, landmarks like the Ipoh Railway Station and Ipoh Town Hall symbolize that part in Ipoh’s history.
In 1892, a huge fire led to the city being rebuilt. And the grid-like structure of Ipoh Old Town (on the west side of Kinta River) is what remains today.
Ipoh’s rapid development during the early 1900s was a result of the tin rush that brought in many people. Particularly Chinese from Penang that were seeking their fortunes.
And Ipoh Old Town was the center of all this growth, starting with Panglima Street. And eventually spreading across the river to the east side (Ipoh New Town) under Chinese tycoon, Yau Tet Shin.
Even through till the 1930s, development continued due to the flourishing rubber plantations, in addition to the tin mines.
There are schools in this side of town that are still operating despite being over 100 years old, like the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Convent Ipoh (or simply just Main Convent Ipoh).
Ipoh Old Town Attractions
Tourism has taken a strong root in Ipoh:
Hence, there are always new places to explore in Ipoh Old Town! Many old shop lots are turned into trendy cafes, hotels, galleries, etc.
But despite this, you’ll realize that Ipoh still holds its small town charm!
1. Concubine Lane Ipoh
There’s a lot more to Ipoh’s most famous street!
Concubine Lane is akin to Malacca’s Jonker Street. But in a much smaller scale which makes it tremendously easy to wander through and worth a look!
Sample local delights like silky-smooth tau fu fah or have some cold treats while you browse through the various trinket stalls.
Look past the colorful shop decorations and try to imagine what Concubine Lane looked like back when these shop lots housed opium and gambling dens!
2. Ipoh Old Town Street Art
You’ll surely pass by some of the numerous wall murals in Ipoh Old Town.
These are some of the iconic ones:
- Old Town Relieves Nostalgia With Trishaw
- Hanging Kopi O Ikat Tepi
- A Yellow Hummingbird
- Kids Riding a Paper Plane
- An Old Uncle Drinking Coffee (Pictured below)
- Evolution (Tin mining Dredge)
Exposure to sunlight has faded the colors of many but there are new paintings coming up all the time!
If you really want to see a whole row of them, drop by Mural Arts Lane in Ipoh New Town!
3. Ipoh Heritage Walk
The classic Ipoh heritage walk takes you to multiple landmarks that have great historic significance!
You start at Ipoh Railway Station and other grand buildings like Ipoh Town Hall. Followed by the leading banks and other top companies in Ipoh back in the 19th century.
Don’t miss St Michael’s Institution! The impressive school building was formerly a base for the Japanese during the Japanese occupation.
Classes are still in session today in this exclusive all-boys school.
End your walk at Malaysia’s oldest restaurant, F.M.S (Now known as Durbar).
Or continue your journey to see Ipoh’s Little India and Dato’ Panglima Kinta’s Mosque – an enchanting blue mosque!
Download a map of the full Ipoh Heritage Walk.
Read more: 13 Things To Do In Ipoh At Night
4. Ipoh Booth Cart
If you have extra time or you just want to spend some time indoors (with air conditioning):
Visit this hidden mural gallery!
There are stalls upstairs selling artisan crafts, Ipoh coffee and other goodies in a hall. With attractive displays that have a retro feel to them!
5. Ipoh Upside Down World
If you can catch If you have kids with you, this place is sure to entertain them and besides, you can brush up on your photography skills while taking some memorable family snaps!
On weekdays, you can take your time (and enjoy the air-conditioning) as like many other attractions in Ipoh, this well-maintained gallery only really sees high traffic during the weekends and public holidays.
For MyKad holders, the entry fee is significantly cheaper at RM16 per adult, and RM10 per kid. Versus RM26 and RM18 for adults and kids without MyKad respectively.
6. Time Tunnel Ipoh
Just around the corner from Dream Big World, is another fascinating gallery! If you were born in the 90s or earlier, this will be a nostalgic throwback for you!
The small museum houses miscellaneous antique items like toys, kitchen ware, cassette tapes and photographs.
7. Ho Yan Hor Museum
It’s free to visit this museum dedicated to the history of the Ipoh-owned Hor Yan Hor herbal tea producer by Mr Ho Kai Cheong!
This museum is just next to Han Chin Pet Soo.
The friendly guides will walk you through the museum (tours available in English too) and you’ll get to sample 3 different types of herbal tea (free of charge).
8. Han Chin Pet Soo
Definitely a must-visit when you come to Ipoh! This is a former VIP Hakka miners’ club that is now a museum run by a non-profit organization (Ipoh World).
Tours (in Chinese or English) start at the exquisite lobby and work their way through the back of the building, ending with the top floors.
The tours usually take an hour.
Antiques, murals, a brief history video and detailed room set ups compliment the tours.
9. Yasmin at Kong Heng Newseum
In the basement of a chic bookstore (BookXcess), is a small gallery dedicated to Yasmin Ahmad. She brought out the best of Malaysian diversity through her heartwarming and relatable directed works.
There is a screen here where they play her most famous works:
Most notable are the Petronas commercials that were produced specifically for local celebrations like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Merdeka.
There are photos of her, and her memorable quotes as well!
10. 22 Hale Street Heritage Gallery
Downstairs has a café (now closed), a rather exquisite toilet, and a souvenir shop (with handcrafted goods from vulnerable communities). While the upstairs houses the gallery.
The gallery has beautiful arrangements of antiques and photographs showcasing Ipoh’s past. Including a setup for a Peranakan wedding!
There is staff to show you around the collection too.
11. Funtasy House Trick Art
At Funtasy House Trick Art gallery, you can take quirky photos at their 20 rooms of optical illusion and 3D art.
Don’t worry about how to pose as the helpful staff will be around to give you tips. Or you can examine the how-to guides in front of the murals.
Ipoh Old Town White Coffee Shop
Taste a real cup of Ipoh white coffee in between your sightseeing! You can find this unique drink at any local coffee shop (kopitiam as locals call them).
It can be served cold with ice or hot in the quintessential little cup that is synonymous with old school kopitiams!
The options listed here are frequently packed during lunch time and you’d best come early if you want to avoid long waiting times and a lack of parking slots!
1. Nam Heong White Coffee
Along with Sin Yoon Loong (next on the list), Nam Heong White Coffee is one of the first brewers of Ipoh white coffee!
Their freshly baked egg tarts are the perfect accompaniments to their fragrant and creamy hot coffees!
2. Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong
This humble coffee shop is the supposed birthplace of Ipoh white coffee:
Even after many years of being in business:
Local patrons still claim that the taste of the coffee (strong and slightly bitter) has not changed and it remains their favorite breakfast spot in Ipoh!
3. Yinzo Kopi 银州之香
A trendy new cafe close to Little India, Yinzo Kopi is quickly gaining traction for its cozy environment, excellent iced coffee and tasty food (nasi lemak with curry chicken)!
Polo bun is a must-try item on their menu!
4. Kedai Kopi Ah Chow
For an alcoholic twist to the Ipoh white coffee, you can head over to Kedai Kopi Ah Chow.
It might be the best coffee you’ve ever tasted! Affordably priced too!
5. Lim Ko Pi
Just beside Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Sultan Iskandar road), Lim Ko Pi serves a robust coffee and a variety of savory and spicy Malaysian dishes!
At the back of the shop, are some beautiful open seating areas! They have parking for their customers across the road!
Read more: 9 Best Chicken Rice In Ipoh
Ipoh Old Town Café
Ipoh clearly doesn’t have any shortage of cafes, especially within Ipoh Old Town!
They are just the thing if you want some respite from the overbearing heat!
1. Aud’s by JJ Cafe
Another gorgeous hipster cafe but with limited seating, Aud’s by JJ Cafe has sensational coffee and avocado smoothies!
They have a small but interesting menu with items like their pesto pork burger!
2. Patisserie BoutiQue
You might walk past this dainty cafe if you’re not looking for it specifically:
Cakes (e.g. Tiramisu or burnt cheesecake) and coffee are what they are known for, although they do have western mains too.
3. Plan B (Ipoh)
In contrast, it’s hard to miss this one. Particularly if you’re checking out Concubine Lane and Kong Heng Square!
The floor-to-ceiling windows all around the spacious cafe entice passersby to come in and enjoy the air conditioning and cold drinks, desserts and western/fusion food.
4. The Marketplace Waffle Bar & Cafe
You can try their coffee and trademark waffle sets that are either sweet or savory in a very pleasant environment.
They have some fascinating flavors of waffles – smoke duck, salmon, oreo, green tea, etc.
5. V-Nest Cafe 金星燕窝咖啡馆
This good-looking cafe has indoor and outdoor seating available. Their Western/fusion food is appetizing! Try their laksa!
Note: There is a lunch set too.
And if you’re into birdnest, they do have some special menu items that use birdnest. Like sweet soup desserts!
6. Girlie’s Café
Pop over here to this industrial-style cafe:
For a western-style brunch with their delectable coffee, exquisite croissants and cakes with unusual flavors (e.g. watermelon or musang king burnt cheesecake).
Read more: 17 Best Cozy Cafes In Ipoh – By Location! (Includes New Cafes)
Hotels Near Ipoh Old Town
Take your pick of hotels in Ipoh Old Town – the majority are affordable and walking distance to Ipoh food eateries!
1. Brick Box Hotel
Its central location in Ipoh Old Town makes Brick Box Hotel a popular choice among solo and couple travelers.
Plus, they offer free WiFi and bicycle rentals to their guests.
2. The Happy 8 Cafe & Retreat
Another centralized guest house that couples love to stay at is The Happy 8 Cafe & Retreat. They do have family rooms too. Although the narrow stairs are a bit difficult for elderly to navigate.
The inconspicuous hotel is walking distance from the train station and other attractions in Ipoh Old Town. And the staff is extremely helpful if you need any suggestion on where to go!
The air-conditioned rooms while not especially spacious, have ensuite bathrooms and are furnished with artistic wooden pieces that bring a rustic appeal. Every corner of the hotel is Instagram-worthy!
If you’re not a fan of hard mattress, you might find their beds uncomfortable. And you may want to bring along your own mosquito repellent too.
At the back of the building is the on-site cafe which while extremely convenient, can get noisy in the evening and morning if you plan on sleeping early or in.
Furthermore, if you have your own car, you should know that they don’t have dedicated parking for guests.
3. Sarang Paloh Heritage Stay & Event Hall
Just next to Lim Ko Pi, this hotel is housed in a refurbished historical Chinese bank. They have elegant and spacious rooms in many configurations.
The hotel is close to many Ipoh attractions too!
4. Dé Cafe & Rest House
Have a capsule hotel experience without sacrificing comfort! Solo travelerswho don’t mind sharing some facilities feel right at home here.
They have good modern facilities like their new showers, on-site cafe and bar, as well as a lockers!
5. Ban Loong Hotel
Spacious minimalist rooms with industrial-themed furnishings, air-conditioning, TVs and desks come in many different arrangements at Ban Loong Hotel.
You can walk to Ipoh Old Town and Ipoh New Town from here. Or drive since they have free parking for their guests too!
6. Cititel Express Ipoh
Contemporary rooms at Cititel Express Ipoh have everything you need for a short business or leisure stay. Including fast and reliable WiFI connection!
Depending on the room you get, you can drink in the views of Kinta River and limestone hills in the distance!
- 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
Getting Around Ipoh Old Town
Unless you are prepared to take on the heat and use your own feet to get around:
You can rely on the following modes of transport:
1. Private Tour Service
With RayTheTour private tour service, you can customize your itinerary and go where you want without having to wait for anyone!
And you’ll have an Ipoh-born guide to show you the sights!
2. Grab Or A Taxi
Call a Grab car using the App. Or get a taxi from the Ipoh airport, train station or from your hotel.
3. Self-drive/ Car Rental
Not recommended for anyone who’s never been to Ipoh before:
Because it can be highly congested in Ipoh Old Town! Especially during lunch time or any weekend (or public holiday)!
Moreover, finding parking is a real pain.
You can find car rental services available at the airport. Or you can check online.
4. Sightseeing Bus
Only operating on weekends, the bus can take you around 12 tourist spots.
Go on the official site to see the bus schedule and ticket price.
The birthplace of Ipoh White Coffee, Ipoh Old Town has similar traits to Penang’s Georgetown but with fewer tourists!
And it is here that you can truly appreciate Ipoh’s humble beginnings as a tin mining town and its evolution!
Your Ipoh itinerary would simply be incomplete without including Ipoh Old Town!
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