Kuala Sepetang charcoal factory - more on www.travelswithsun.com

Here’s something you don’t see every day! The 80+ year old Kuala Sepetang charcoal factory! It’s a famous Kuala Sepetang Attraction.

Have you ever been to a charcoal factory before? And a sustainable one, at that!

The next time you are in Perak, come see this unusual place while it is still around!

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Some Background On Charcoal Factories In Malaysia

There are actually around 20 or so charcoal factories in Malaysia. The traditional charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang is one of the largest!

3 generations of the same family have been running the charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang. And without the use of any machinery!

What Is Charcoal Used For?

But what is all the charcoal (a.k.a. black gold) for?

In Malaysia, charcoal is used for baking traditional food (biscuits or dumplings) or even to boil soup over! But that’s the older Chinese generation. Apparently, it’s tastier.

Activated charcoal (charcoal with added oxygen) is commonly used as air purifiers, teeth whiteners, remedies for an upset stomach. As well as for barbecues and steamboats.

And there’s a pretty big demand for charcoal overseas too. In fact, 60% of the charcoal produced at the Kuala Sepetang charcoal factory is exported to Japan.

The Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory

You wouldn’t think so but:

It’s quite beautiful at this charcoal factory.

The river is used for transporting chopped mangrove wood to the charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang
The river is used for transporting chopped mangrove wood to the charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang. – photo by Travelswithsun

With all those textures and its proximity to nature, it is a photographer’s playground!

Close-up shot of the mangrove wood at Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory
Close-up shot of the mangrove wood, all cut up and ready to be burned into charcoal. – photo by Travelswithsun
Monitor lizard spotted at the river near the charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang
Monitor lizard spotted at the river near the charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang. – photo by Travelswithsun

Besides this, you can see how charcoal is mass-produced:

Tours For Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory

The owner, Mr Chuah offers guided tours (less than an hour for RM5 per person) where you can learn about the whole traditional charcoal-making process.

He speaks several languages too – English, Mandarin, Malay, Cantonese, Hokkien, etc.

You can contact him on Facebook here. Or call +6012-4286098. You need to make a booking in advance.

Or you can skip the tour – free admission, and just explore on your own.

stacked bundles of chopped mangrove wood at kuala sepetang charcoal factory
Tourists entering the charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang. Along the main walkway are stacked bundles of chopped mangrove wood, prior to burning. – photo by Travelswithsun

Here are some shots of the inside of the factory. Or at least one of the sheds.

It was quite small (and hot!) inside the warehouse where they keep the wood and kilns so you’ll probably be done sooner than you think.

Large kilns inside kuala sepetang charcoal factory
Large kilns inside the charcoal factory – these are used to burn the mangrove wood – photo by Travelswithsun

The factory had two kilns running on the day that we went.

There were no workers in sight during our visit. But they do have to keep an eye on the progress while the wood is left to burn for up to a month.

They have a schedule on the wall to mark and monitor the progress. This is crucial to prevent all the charcoal from burning completely.

Read also: Orangutan Island: A Hidden Orangutan Sanctuary In West Malaysia

Allocate around 1 hour to explore the factory.

Especially if photography is your thing. Stay longer if you can stand the heat!

Souvenirs/ Things To Buy At The Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory

There are charcoal products for sale right outside the factory:

  • charcoal vinegar spray (insect repellent)
  • charcoal shampoo or soap
  • activated charcoal

Read also: Taiping Lake Gardens & Other Must-see Taiping Attractions

Convinced that you should visit the charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang? Then you’ll need to know this:

How To Get To The  Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory

The charcoal factory is about 30 minutes’ drive from Taiping town.

And an hour’s drive from Ipoh. Quite a scenic drive too.

You can drive down from Penang too (~2 hours’ drive):

Or, you can take the public bus from Taiping which is considerably slower.

What about a taxi?

A taxi from Taiping to the factory will cost around RM30.

The road into the Kuala Sepetang charcoal factory passes along mangrove groves.

Caution: The water comes up quite high during rainy season.

Road Trips
En route to charcoal factory (flooded road). – photo by Travelswithsun

Make This A Day Trip From Ipoh To Taiping

Here is our suggested itinerary for a one-day visit to the Kuala Sepetang charcoal factory:

Ipoh ⇒ Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory  ⇒ Taiping for the Taiping Lake Gardens, a Taiping café, and maybe Taiping Zoo in the evening.

For places to stay in Ipoh, check out Ipoh hotel list here.

Or stay longer:

Where To Stay In Kuala Sepetang

Kuala Sepetang Love You You Homestay (十八丁乐悠悠民宿)

  • Address: 64 Kampung Baru Kuala Sepetang, Kuala Sepetang, 34650 Kuala Sepetang, Negeri Perak
  • Phone:  012-429 3786
  • Price: RM 588 a night (up to 6 guests)
  • Remark: Free WiFi, Clean, modern & new homestay right in the fishing village, good location.

Kuala Sepetang CK Homestay

  • Address: Kuala Sepetang, Kampung Baru, 34650, Perak
  • Phone: 011-2955 8118
  • Price: Rm 118 per night
  • Remark: Building is new. Facilities are in very good condition and room is cozy. Location is very near to food outlets. The host can arrange boat tours if required. They have motorcycles and bicycles you can use. They have single beds and double beds – please specify.

Accommodation in Taiping

In addition to these 7 best homestays in Taiping:

Raintown Inn

  • Address: 199, Jalan Simpang, Kampung Bengali, 34000 Taiping, Negeri Perak
  • Phone: 05-801 2966
  • Price: RM 78 for a double room with a private bathroom.
  • Remark: Quite inconvenient if you don’t have a car as it is not in Taiping town area. Spacious and clean rooms with comfortable beds. Good for a family. Some noise from the main road. Flexible management.

Louis Hotel

  • Address: 129-131, Jalan Pasar, 34000 Taiping, Negeri Perak
  • Phone: 05-808 2333
  • Price: Standard room is ~RM100 a night
  • Remark: Close to Restoran Kakak, Lake Gardens and Perak Museum. I believe Wifi is free but don’t quote me on that ;). Great for value and location. Unfortunately, the smell of the neighboring wet market can seep in through the windows. We noticed it in the early morning but it’s more of a hint and not overpowering. Do consider another place if you have a sensitive nose or an aversion to wet markets. Rooms are clean and spacious enough though.

Sojourn Beds & Cafe

  • Address: 54, Jalan Kota, 34000 Taiping, Negeri Perak
  • Phone: 05-805 4048
  • Price: Around RM80 for a double room
  • Remark: Kind and helpful staff. Simple breakfast is provided. Central location. Many nearby eateries. Clean and comfortable rooms. Free WiFi.

Novotel Taiping

  • Address: No 1, Jalan Tupai, 34000 Taiping, Negeri Perak
  • Phone: 05-820 8288
  • Price: Double rooms cost about RM280 per night
  • Remark: Free parking, breakfast (good too) and Wifi. This hotel has a pool and gym and overlooks the Lake Gardens. Can be very crowded during long weekends. Hotel is attached to Taiping mall (which is not that exciting but there is a food court). Comfortable rooms. Walking distance to the Lake Gardens.

Hermitage Boutique House

  • Address: 30, Jalan Lim Sam Kip, Taman Tupai Mas, 34000 Taiping, Negeri Perak
  • Phone: 011-5109 9550
  • Price: Can be more than RM180 for a double room per night
  • Remark: Delicious breakfast. The suite is modern, clean and spacious. This one is also close to the Lake Gardens. Rooms are in modern apartments overlooking the pool.

Zen Retreat Taiping

  • Address: 12A, Jalan Taman Suria, Damai, 34000 Taiping, Negeri Perak
  • Phone: 012-392 7220
  • Price: RM 430 per night (up to 8 guests)
  • Remark: Absolutely gorgeous place to stay if you crave some affordable luxury (they’ve even got Netflix and hot tubs). Beautiful, spacious and modern home fringed by a forest. DO NOT follow the route provided by Google Maps. You will just end up nowhere. Go in via Taman Suria.

For even more options, check out our post on the top places to stay in Taiping.


Visit the Kuala Sepetang charocal factory as soon as you can to appreciate the work that goes into making a very useful but unassuming product. Traditional charcoal making is a dying art/process.

There’s plenty to see in this area of Perak too. But is best if you have your own car though. Do mind the weather too as the road into the factory floods after a heavy rain.

Are you interested in seeing the largest traditional charcoal-making factory in Malaysia? What about Bukit Larut or Maxwell hill – Taiping’s answer to Cameron Highlands?

Done with seeing Perak? Try a road trip to the neighboring state, Pahang. Or spend more time in Ipoh, see our list on Ipoh Road trips.

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