Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple is one of the top Ipoh cave temples to visit. And besides Sam Poh Tong cave temple, there are two other temples you can visit right next to it!
But back to Sam Poh Tong, this is the oldest cave temple in Ipoh! The humble Buddhist temple has been welcoming worshipers and visitors for many years.
Highlights of this temple are the elegant front garden and entrance way. As well as a secret pagoda at the back of the temple!
Table of contents:
Sam Poh Tong Temple History
Legend has it that a Buddhist monk from China made a discovery of the cave back in 1890 while passing through Ipoh.
It became his home for the next 20 years until he passed away. And ever since then, Buddhist nuns and monks live at Sam Poh Tong.
Sam Poh Tong translates to the three jewels of Buddhism:
- Buddha (Teacher)
- Dharma (The Teaching)
- Sangha (The Buddhist Community)
Although the temple was built in 1912, the present exterior dates to 1950.
There was a time that visitors could go up the staircase with 246 steps to the top for commanding views of Ipoh! However, the staircase is locked to visitors today.
The temple is busiest during the annual Chinese festival, Ching Ming (Tomb-Sweeping Day).
Relatives will come to the temple’s columbarium to pay respects to their ancestors. By clearing the graves, lighting incense, and leaving offerings of food. In addition to prayers of course.
Note: A columbarium is a place where ashes of the dead are stored.
Sam Poh Tong Temple Opening Hours
It costs nothing to enter the temple (or the neighboring temples) although visitors are welcome to leave a donation behind in the respective donation boxes!
Sam Poh Tong tends to close earlier than its neighbors. Usually at 2:30pm.
- Address: Kampung Gunung Rapat, 31350 Ipoh, Perak
- Opening Hours: 9am – 4pm
- Contact: +605-255 2772
- Entrance Fee: Free
What To Do In Sam Poh Tong
1. Stroll The Ornamental garden
You’ll definitely not want to miss this!
To the side of the main entrance into Sam Poh Tong:
Is a small delicate garden with a sizable fish pond decorated with bonsai trees and miniature Chinese figures (if you look closely)!
Though the garden has an award for the Best Landscaped Garden in Malaysia that dates back all the way to 1993:
It’s still a pleasure to admire!
2. Take A Step Back To Admire The Archway
Before you go into the temple, take some time to notice the intricate white marble carvings of the steps leading up to the temple entrance.
The entrance is framed by an elaborate archway and the face of a limestone hill!
3. Go Inside The Temple Cave
Your first impression of the cave may not be as you expect:
The main chamber is not very big and much of the floor is tiled up. However, there are many wonderfully carved statues of Buddha and other deities among the stone formations.
Note: In a dark corner lies a locked staircase that leads up to the hillside. This path has long been closed off to visitors.
4. Find The Hidden Pagoda
If you go past the altar, there is a cool cave tunnel that leads out to a back entrance.
Signs for a tortoise pond and natural light will guide you out easily enough.
On your left, is an incredible sight of a red pagoda surrounded by towering limestone.
You cannot go into the pagoda as it is behind a fence and a locked gate. But with the sunlight streaming in, it is enchanting!
Note: Good to have some mosquito repellent on hand!
5. Feed Turtles And Tortoises
It is local belief that releasing a turtle at the temple can balance bad karma. Maybe that’s why the temple has hundreds of tortoises and turtles at their enclosure!
A study by turtle conservation volunteers in 2009 found more than 200 turtles here! With 5 different native species.
Except for the red-eared slider which is a common household pet in Malaysia.
Note: The turtle pond and enclosure is off to the right when you exit the cave tunnel from the temple.
Visitors can feed the turtles and tortoises fresh produce sold by one of the temple keepers inside the temple.
Our Experience At Sam Poh Tong Temple
What You’ll Like:
- The “secret” garden
- Intricate details inside the temple!
- Decorative fishpond and small garden at the front
- Little to no climbing required
- You can feed tortoises and fish here
- Kind temple guardians
- Sometimes, there is a mobile fruit stall at the entrance to the temple
What You Will Not Like:
- No shade at the front of the temple
- Cave is not very big
- Not open in the evening
- Visitors can no longer climb up to the top
- Turtle pond looks unsanitary
Tips For Visiting Sam Poh Tong
- The car park can be a little muddy after rain
- It costs 20 sen to use the toilet. Bring your own toilet paper! Toilets are not that clean.
- Stay clear of the monkeys!
- See this temple first before Perak Cave temple or Kek Lok Tong
- Make sure to go through the tunnel to the back garden.
- Sometimes, there are beggars outside the temple. Be aware that giving to one will prompt the others to beg you as well.
- Ipoh Travel Guide – What Makes Ipoh A Must-Visit City In Malaysia
- 13 Things To Do In Ipoh At Night
- 27 Best Things To Do In Ipoh
Getting To Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple
Sam Poh Tong cave temple is at the base of a limestone range in Gunung Rapat. It is in the same row as other temples. These include Nam Tian Tong and the colorful Ling Sen Tong!
You’ll see the turning for the slip road opposite of Hillcity Hotel if you go south from Ipoh via Jalan Gopeng to Simpang Pulai!
It’s not too difficult to get a taxi or Grab driver to take you to these temples. But why not include this place as part of a private day tour in Ipoh?
RayTheTour offers a flexible itinerary from morning to evening. As well as an experienced local guide to show you around Ipoh and more!
Drop RayTheTour a message on WhatsApp to book a tour!
Frequently Asked Questions For Visiting Sam Poh Tong
Q1: Is it convenient for elders to visit Sam Poh Tong?
A1: In comparison to other cave temples around Ipoh, Sam Poh Tong is relatively level with few steps.
Q2: When is the best time to visit Sam Poh Tong?
A2: The opening hours are irregular. It’s advisable to visit in the morning when it is most likely open.
Q3: How far is Sam Poh Tong from Ipoh town?
A3: 10 minutes’ drive.
Q4: Is there an entrance fee to visit Sam Poh Tong?
Q5: What is the average duration to visit Sam Poh Tong?
A5: ~30 minutes.
If you do not have much time in Ipoh, Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple may not be worth your while. Kek Lok Tong and Perak Cave are more impressive in terms of size and grandeur.
But Sam Poh Tong is not without its charms! So, if you do have some time in Ipoh, it’s worth checking it out!
And if caves really interest you, you should definitely check out Gua Tempurung further in Gopeng.