You must make it a point to travel to Ipoh if you want to see another side of Malaysia!
Ipoh, Perak’s capital city may not be as famous as its “neighbors”, Kuala Lumpur, Penang or Cameron Highlands:
But as one of the most populated cities in Malaysia, Ipoh has a lot to be proud of!
There are a lot of Ipoh attractions to be explored, especially if it’s your first trip to Ipoh!
Table of contents:
Back in the late 19th century, the discovery of bountiful tin deposits in Ipoh let to the city’s rapid development!
Eventually even overtaking Taiping as the capital of Perak (often known as the silver state).
Chinese immigrants came over to seek their fortune and their influence and descendants can be found all over the city, even until today!
Within a century though, tin mining was no longer profitable as the value of tin went down:
And that in turn, caused many former tin miners to flee the city for better work prospects.
However, retirees and their descendants are now returning to open hawker stalls, cafes and all manners of food and hotel businesses in Ipoh!
Ipoh is essentially split into two by the Kinta River.
There’s the Old Town on the West, and the New Town on the East side.
Ipoh Old Town
The British previously had a strong influence in Ipoh too and you can see their mark in the colonial-style buildings left behind in Old Town.
Some notable landmarks and attractions on this side of Ipoh include:
- Ipoh Railway Station
- Town Hall
- Birch Memorial Clock Tower
- St Michael’s Institution
It’s possible to walk to all of these spots in a day if you take on the Ipoh heritage walk:
You can get a map from the Ipoh World website (a volunteer organization that aims to preserve Ipoh’s heritage).
Don’t forget to include these places into your walk:
- Concubine lane Ipoh
- Han Chin Pet Soo Museum
Other old buildings have been refurbished anew for the younger generations to enjoy and the older to reminisce.
Take the time to admire the transition as you explore Ipoh Old Town and Ipoh New Town!
Ipoh New Town
Way back in the early 1930’s (tin mining period), the wealthy Hakka miner, Yau Tet Shin developed the other side of Kinta river.
Dubbed New Town, this part of the city stretches from the east side of the river all the way to Ipoh Greentown.
Notable landmarks include:
- The Octagon serviced apartments
- Lou Wong Chicken Rice restaurant
- Ipoh Parade shopping mall
- Tong Sui Kai (Dessert street)
It’s clear that tourism and not tin, is now the main driver of Ipoh’s development!
Now, let’s move on to what people normally travel to Ipoh for:
Make sure to include some of these into your itinerary for Ipoh!
Ipoh White Coffee
Firstly, we have to talk about the coffee that has made Ipoh world-famous!
Try a cup of authentic Ipoh white coffee at any of these Ipoh kopitiams!
Have it served cold or hot:
1. Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong
A favorite among locals and tourists, they’re supposedly the founder of Ipoh White Coffee!
It is very busy here in the morning!
2. Kedai Kopi Nam Heong
Another renown stop for Ipoh white coffee, Nam Heong has been in business for many years too!
3. Chang Jiang White Coffee
In contrast to the other two white coffee spots, this one resembles a hipster cafe more than a typical Ipoh kopitiam:
And now, the highlight of any Ipoh trip!
Secondly, there’s the food – bean sprout chicken, kai se hor fun, and salted herbal chicken are food that Ipoh is famous for!
1. Ipoh Taugeh (Beansprout) Chicken Rice (nga choi kai in cantonese)
To go with the poached free-range chicken, are short and crunchy bean sprouts which owe their texture to the limestone-rich water around Ipoh!
Silky hor fun (long flat white rice noodles) instead of rice will accompany the chicken and sprouts!
These two are the most famous chicken rice outlets in Ipoh new town:
1.1. Ong Kee Bean Sprouts Chicken Restaurant
1.2. Restoran Tauge Ayam Lou Wong
There are other places to have chicken rice that are less touristy. See our guide on Ipoh chicken rice.
2. Salted Chicken by Aun Kheng Lim
Delicious juicy salted chicken with a slight herbal flavor. They are packed ready to takeaway for dinner after your Ipoh trip or you can get the frozen version if you wish!
There are other places to get the famous Ipoh salted chicken if you want more options!
3. Shredded Chicken Ho Fun (Gai Se Hor Fun)
Ipoh’s ubiquitous staple and food icon – gai se hor fun!
This is a broth with hor fun noodles typically made from chicken soup and some prawn oil on top.
Other common ingredients include:
- shredded bits of chicken meat
- a couple of small prawns
- some beansprouts thrown in
- chopped spring onions as garnish.
3.1. Restoran Thean Chun
Parking is extremely difficult to find here and you will have to wait for a table and the food.
Crowded but you will not be disappointed once you taste the food!
Get a caramel custard and pork satay to go with your gai se hor fun too!
3.2. Restaurant Moon De Moon
Usually packed with customers going for the gai se hor fun and curry mee! The iced Ipoh white coffee here is worth a try too!
Come early in the morning and enjoy a hearty local breakfast in Ipoh!
Other Ipoh Food Related Articles To Read:
- 13 Best Chinese Restaurants In Ipoh
- 15 Best Vegetarian Restaurants In Ipoh
- 15 Best Western Restaurants In Ipoh
Ipoh Dim Sum
You can try some on the last day of your Ipoh trip if you wake up early enough!
It’s excellent motivation to start the day early!
There are dozens of dim sum restaurants in Ipoh!
So, if you want to have dim sum for dinner or pork-free dim sum, that will not be an issue at all!
Take biscuits, coffee powder or handmade crafts back home to remember your amazing travel to Ipoh!
These souvenirs from Ipoh are bound to delight the receiver!
1. Hiong Peah
A crispy and flaky outer shell hides a sweet and sticky filling inside.
Get them fresh out of the oven at Ipoh!
1.1. Yee Hup Hiong Peah
Yee Hup’s sealed packets of hiong peah can be bought mostly anywhere in Malaysia now but:
You can get a fresh packet straight from the main branch in Ipoh!
2. Meat Floss Biscuits
There are two places in Ipoh that do justice to this type of pastry:
2.1. Guan Heong Biscuit Shop
Get your hands on the freshly baked pastries from Guan Heong!
Their must-try flaky meat floss biscuits are almost-spherical and have a lotus paste filling with meat floss.
2.2. Ching Han Guan Biscuit Shop (钟汉元饼铺)
Biscuits here are also made right at the shop!
The star in their Chinese pastry selection are the meat floss biscuits with lotus paste!
3. Kaya Puffs
Kaya puffs are a local favorite all over Malaysia.
The flaky triangular pastries containing kaya (sweet coconut jam made with eggs and pandan leaves) are baked to perfection at these locations!.
3.1. Sin Eng Heong
On weekends and public holidays, you must ready yourself for the long queues!
People come for their homemade kaya puffs which is their signature pastry!
3.2. QunKee Biscuits or 权记饼家 or Khuen Kee
You’ll have the opportunity to sample a good egg tart as well as kaya puff here!
Note: The kaya puffs here are drier and flakier than the ones at Sin Eng Heong.
4. Ipoh Peanut Candy
Ipoh peanut candy is slightly salted. Many souvenir shops in Ipoh now stock these highly addictive treats!
Hipster Ipoh Cafe
Cafe culture is just as prevalent in Ipoh as it is in Penang or Kuala Lumpur.
In fact, close to Kong Heng Square is an entire street with excellent Western cafes in a row:
1. Patisserie BoutiQue
Charming French-themed cafe that sells Western, Local and Italian food as well as French pastries.
Try their Dutch baby pancakes!
- Dutch baby pancake
- Duck alfredo
- Matcha cake
- Lychee cheesecake
- Salted egg croissant
- Sea salt chocolate lava cake
2. Aud’s by JJ Cafe
The interior may come off as shabby chic which doesn’t appeal to everyone:
But they have some really creative beverages and tasty food here!
- Pesto pork burger
- Brownie with ice cream
- Avocado smoothie – they have a few types
- Avocado coffee
- Ice cube coffee
- Eggs Benedict
- Pulled pork sandwich
The definition of a hipster cafe the moment you walk in:
3. Burps & Giggles
Burps & Giggles is perfect for catching up with an old friend or just getting away from the bustle of Ipoh Old Town!
They serve Western and Asian food here.
- Fish and chips
- Smoked duck aglio olio
A few blocks further, is this cozy cafe with exceptional Western food:
4. Artisan Handmade Bread
The owner is the chef and they will happily customize your meals for you to suit your dietary needs!
Their Western meals have a very authentic taste!
They do have some local food options too!
- Beef brisket
- Handmade bread
- Lemon ice tea (homemade)
- Sloppy Joe
- Sunday Roast
- Croque Madam
Other worthy hipster Ipoh cafes scattered across Ipoh.
Best Things To Do In Ipoh
Food is not the only Ipoh attraction!
Ipoh is surrounded by gorgeous limestone hills and you probably won’t fail to notice them (unless it’s a particularly hazy day):
This unique geographical feature is the backdrop for many cave temples and recreational parks!
And even a couple of five-star resorts!
1. Perak Cave Temple (霹雳洞)
Perak Cave Temple is an impressive Buddhist temple set against some limestone hills.
The cavernous main hall is cool to walk in with a large Buddha statue that you will not fail to notice!
If you’re fit enough:
You can take on the staircase that takes you to the top of the hill for a rewarding view of the surroundings!
2. Sam Poh Tong
Sam Poh Tong will entrance you with its beauty and tranquil atmosphere.
Admire the garden, exquisite temple architecture and feed some fruit to the tortoises kept at the back of Ipoh’s oldest Buddhist temple!
3. Kek Lok Tong
Like Sam Poh Tong and other cave temples in Ipoh:
Kek Lok Tong makes use of the natural limestone formations in its architecture.
For a breath of greenery, head outside to the vast garden at the back of the temple.
Best to go in the morning when it’s cooler!
4. The Haven
It’s hard to imagine that there’s a luxurious 5-star resort right in Ipoh! 20 minutes away from Ipoh city center.
You will certainly not regret a night’s stay here.
5. Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat
Another luxury resort that has its own on-site massage and spa center coupled with some hot pools in a beautiful setting:
Read more: HOGA Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng: Another Place To Try Tea For Tea Lovers + What To Do
6. Sunway’s Lost World of Tambun
A smaller but equally fun version of Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur:
Lost World of Tambun packs a lot into their theme park!
- Miniature Zoo
- Night park
- Hot springs
- Water slides and a large wave pool
- Fun fair rides
In Tambun, you can also find a certain citrus fruit:
7. Tambun Pomelo
Called pomelo, this local fruit grows exceptionally well here because of the limestone hills!
The best place to buy them is closer to the actual plantations – Tambun and Ampang.
If you want to learn more about how they are grown as well as their many uses:
You can take a tour at a plantation:
Ladang Limau Tambun GOChin
And not to forget Ipoh’s rich tin mining history! And by rich, we mean literally.
8. Heritage Museums And Galleries
Back in the 90s, Ipoh grew by leaps and bounds owing to the its huge tin deposits.
Until today, you can still see relics of that past in museums and galleries around Ipoh Old Town:
8.1. Han Chin Pet Soo
Tours are free with an expected donation of RM10 per person goes towards maintaining the building.
The interesting tours are run by a non-profit volunteer group called Ipoh World.
You cannot go in without first booking a tour online with Ipoh World.
Next to Han Chin Pet Soo is another museum that’s worth a look:
8.2. Ho Yan Hor Museum
Get a free tour to learn more about the man behind Ho Yan Hor – a well-known herbal drink that is famous in Ipoh.
Tastings are available too.
Street murals pay homage to Ipoh’s history as well:
9. Ipoh Street Murals
If you just walk around Ipoh Old Town, you’re bound to bump into street art sooner or later.
Get a detailed map of all the murals from the Ipoh Tourists Information Center in Ipoh.
Some of which were painted by Ernest Zacharevic who also painted the wall murals in Penang’s Georgetown.
Here’s some of them:
- 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)
And you can also find plenty of murals in this particular lane, aptly named:
Mural Art’s Lane
Address: Jalan Masjid, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh, Perak
And not to mention, there is actually a surviving tin mining dredge, TT5 right outside the city!
10. TT5 Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge
Come see a surviving tin mining dredge from Ipoh’s tin mining past!
Proceeds from the informative tours (in Malay) go to repairs of the dredge which is sinking slowly every year!
See the full list of Ipoh attractions and why it’s worth your while to make a trip to Ipoh!
Read more about what to do in Ipoh:
- 5 Best Hot Spring In Ipoh
- Qing Xin Ling Leisure & Cultural Village: Includes How To Buy Tickets & Things To Do
If you like photography:
There are some excellent Instagram-worthy spots that make capturing those Instagram shots all too easy!
Massage and Spa
After a long day, Treat your aching body to a relaxing massage at a massage parlor or spa in Ipoh!
- Thai Oasis (ICC Club)
- Ipoh Bali Hotel
- The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat
Where To Stay In Ipoh
If you’ve got a big travel group, it’s more affordable to book a homestay in Ipoh rather than a hotel.
- Pause Ipoh – Beautifully renovated old single-story house:
- Jomstay – Octagon Suite 1 (Ipoh Town) – Well-equipped cozy apartment suite all to yourself!
Ipoh Boutique Hotels
Alternatively, stay at a boutique hotel in Ipoh – a fantastic start for your Instagram feed!
- M Boutique Hotel – good taste in decor!
- Bedrock Hotel – Extremely comfortable family suites!
Read Our Hotel Reviews:
- Hotel Excelsior Ipoh Review: Why This Classic Ipoh Hotel Is Still Thriving
- The Haven Resort Ipoh Review: Is This 5-star Hotel Worth Your Money?
- Ipoh Bali Hotel Review: Discover This Unique Bali-style Boutique Hotel With Spa
- Weil Hotel Ipoh Review: Check Out This 4-star Hotel When You’re In Ipoh
- MU Hotel Ipoh Review: Why You Should Consider This Hotel?
Ipoh Shopping Malls
Ipoh has more than enough shopping malls to explore.
- Ipoh Parade Mall – attached to Weil hotel
- Aeon Kinta City – local favorite!
Ipoh does surprisingly have a nightlife albeit not as lively as in Penang or Kuala Lumpur!
A couple of night clubs come to life in the night:
1. Vibes Club Ipoh
Just barely a year old, Vibes Club is fast making a reputation for itself as the best club in Ipoh!
Special guests DJs occasionally feature here!
And if dancing’s not your thing:
2. Atas Speakeasy
There are hidden elegant cocktail bars around Ipoh:
And bountiful Western-style pubs to have a beer!
3. Bricks & Barrels
At this popular gastrobar, you can come early for a hearty Western meal and cheap beer during the happy hour!
Stay on for the live band and rowdy atmosphere if you wish!
This is one of the liveliest places in Ipoh after sunset!
Or if you prefer:
4. Fei Bo Snow Beer
You can have a beer by the roadside as the locals do!
This restaurant serves Chinese meals with large portions.
But their specialty are the chilled glasses with which they serve their smooth beer!
Finally, here’s how you can get your own Ipoh trip started!
How To Go To Ipoh
Ipoh’s small airport has limited flights but the main link into and out of Ipoh is the North-South highway.
And there is the ETS train as well.
Unless you have time to make stops:
How To Get To Ipoh From Singapore
Driving from Singapore to Ipoh will take you from the south to north of West Malaysia.
Just do yourself a favor and take a flight!
- Bus – ~9 hours’ journey
- Flight – Shortest duration (1 hour) and most convenient
- Train – No direct trains (Woodlands > Johor Bahru Sentral > Gemas > Ipoh) and >10 hours
- Self-drive – 6 to 9 hours journey
If it’s not a weekend or public holiday:
How To Get To Ipoh From Kuala Lumpur
Driving is the quickest way to get to Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur.
Else, taking the train will let you avoid getting stuck in a jam!
- Bus – Doesn’t stop close to Ipoh town.
- Flight – None
- Train – 3 hours by ETS from KL Sentral station. Most convenient way to avoid traffic!
- Private car – ~RM200+ for a one-way trip
- Self-drive – If there’s no traffic, it can take a little bit more than 2.5 hours. If there is traffic, then up to 4 hours+.
How To Get To Ipoh From Penang
Driving from Penang to Ipoh is the easiest way especially if you stay on Penang island and not the mainland.
- Bus – Final stop is at Ipoh AmanJaya bus terminal (20 minutes’ drive from town)
- Flight – None
- Train – ETS takes 2 hours from Butterworth Penang. Convenient if you live in Butterworth.
- Private car – ~RM200+ for a one-way trip
- Self-drive – 2 hours with no traffic. Most convenient way to get to Ipoh from Penang Island.
How To Get To Ipoh From Cameron Highlands
Windy roads are inevitable if you want to get up to Cameron Highlands.
If you don’t want to drive, you can take the bus or a private car service.
- Bus – Buses depart from Tanah Rata bus terminal to Ipoh AmanJaya bus terminal. Duration of 2 hours. Cheap fares.
- Flight – None
- Train – None
- Private car – Most convenient way if you have the budget for it.
- Self-drive – 2 hours with no traffic. Most convenient way if you have your own car!
When you finally find yourself in Ipoh:
Getting Around Ipoh
You can choose any of the following methods to explore Ipoh!
1. Hop off/ hop on bus
Only available on weekends, these buses have two routes called out-circuit & in-circuit. With Ipoh old town as the interchange stop between both circuits/routes.
- Ipoh Old Town (Interchange Station)
- Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS)/ Terminal Meru
- Ipoh Town Hall
- Ipoh Parade
- Lost World Of Tambun
- Pomelo Orchard Farm
- Sam Poh Tong
- Gopeng Town
- Kellie’s Castle
- Silveritage Medan Gopeng
- Panglima Kinta Mosque
- Ipoh Old Town (Interchange Station)
- Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) / Terminal Meru
- Ipoh Town Hall
- Little India
- Telekom Malaysia
- Gerbang Malam (Night Market)
- Ipoh Parade
- Gerbang Malam Near Purple Cane
- Octagon Shopping Centre (Yao Tet Shin Market)
- Tai Wah / One Stop Accessories
- Panglima Kinta Mosque
More details about the bus schedule and ticket price.
2. Self drive
This has the most flexibility but if you are coming during a public holiday, getting parking in old town can be a nightmare!
3. Car rental
It is possible to rent a car from the airport these days.
Car rental companies are on the rise in Ipoh!
Which makes the prices more competitive!
4. Taxi or Grab
Taxis are readily available at the airport, some hotels and shopping malls.
If you have the Grab App, getting a Grab car in Ipoh is pretty affordable and easy now!
This is only okay if you are starting your exploration from Ipoh Railway Station!
Otherwise you will suffer the heat!
6. Private Tour
If you don’t want to:
- Deal with parking
- Drive in an unfamiliar place
- Walk around in the heat
- Wait around for a taxi or bus
Then, hire a Ipoh day tour with RayTheTour.
This way, you get transport around Ipoh as well as a personal local guide to show you around!
Ipoh trip just about over?
Road Trips From Ipoh
There are so many places to explore in and around Ipoh!
It would be a shame not to include at least one on your way out of Ipoh:
Detour to the forgotten Scottish castle, Kellie’s Castle before you make your way up to Cameron highlands!
1. Kellie’s Castle
30 minutes out of Ipoh city is a gorgeous mansion that once belonged to a Scottish planter:
The unique architecture is reason enough to visit but besides this:
You will learn the story behind the incomplete construction!
Also not far from Ipoh is Gopeng:
Where you can try something a little more fast-paced – like white water rafting or caving!
2. Gua Tempurung
Approximately 40 minutes’ drive away from Ipoh:
Is the entrance to a magnificent cave system that is accessible to the public for an affordable entrance fee.
Gua Tempurung is a great jumping off point if you’ve never been caving before!
There are 4 different tours of various difficulty and duration that you can choose.
The longer tours will involve wading in the underground river in the dark inside the cave!
Truly an exciting and unique experience!
A popular extension to any Ipoh trip itinerary:
3. Cameron Highlands
It takes roughly 2 hours to drive from Ipoh to Cameron Highlands!
You will have little excuse to stay indoors as Cameron Highlands has plenty to offer for nature lovers:
Hiking, BOH tea plantations, farms, gardens, the mossy forest, etc.
You can also try having a typical steamboat Asian-style while in cooler temperatures!
Or you can explore the enchanting town of Taiping:
With its natural wonders like the mangroves and Bukit Larut!
Perak’s former capital is roughly an hour’s drive away from Ipoh and not short of its own attractions!
You can spend half the day at Bukit Larut, otherwise known as Maxwell hill.
The highlight is the cooler temperature while being surrounded by nature!
- Kuala Sepetang Ultimate Guide – (Includes Attractions, Seafood & Homestay)
- Bukit Merah Laketown Resort – Affordable Family Fun Theme Park
You seriously get the best of both worlds in Ipoh with a good balance of urban and natural attractions!
Come for the food and stay for the natural beauty, laid back atmosphere and rich history!
It will certainly be a mistake to exclude time to travel to Ipoh from your Malaysia trip plans!