Ipoh is located in the Malaysian state of Perak but is surprisingly still under the radar as most people tend to overlook the city for Penang or Melaka. Famous for its old town covered with street arts, traditional shophouses, cave temples at literally every corner and the iconic white coffee, Ipoh should definitely rank high on your bucket list! If you’re wondering what to do in Ipoh, then you’re in the right place!
Ipoh is the perfect off-beat destination to add to your Malaysia itinerary! So, whether you want to break up your journey between Kuala Lumpur and Penang or just looking for an underrated weekend getaway in Malaysia, this Ipoh travel guide will show you 10 best things to do in Ipoh Malaysia!
Need more help to plan your trip to Malaysia? Check out these posts:
- Top things to do in Kuala Lumpur
- Best things to do in Melaka
- Penang itinerary for 3 days
- Malaysia itinerary for two weeks on a budget
- How to plan an epic Singapore Malaysia Itinerary?
- Ultimate guide to Seven Wells in Langkawi
- 20 short trips in Malaysia
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HOW TO GET TO IPOH MALAYSIA?
One of the best ways to travel around Malaysia is by bus. I recommend taking the bus from the Sri Maju Group since they are cheap and reliable.
Most buses will drop you off at Ipoh Amanjaya which is found about 20 minutes from the center. From there, take a Grab for about RM 15 (US$ 3.45).
Some buses may drop you off at Jalan Bendahara or the Sri Maju Group bus station, both of which are located within Ipoh center.
Trains are available from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, usually taking about 3 hours. You can get tickets on Easybook which cost about US$ 9. The train station is located less than 5 minutes from Ipoh Old Town.
Scoot Airlines and Air Asia have flights from Singapore to Ipoh. Tickets for both airlines cost about US$ 60 one way without checked luggage. You can also get flights from Johor Bahru to Ipoh through Air Asia.
BEST TIME TO VISIT IPOH MALAYSIA
Ipoh is usually hot and humid year-round with the occasional rainfall and temperatures going up to 32 degree Celsius. The wet season is from April to October, while November to February is usually the driest.
Although you might want to travel during Chinese New Year, traffic will be a nightmare (the bus ride took more than 6 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh instead of 3-4 hours, even one week before the festivities). In addition, most shops will be closed and hotel prices tend to be higher.
WHERE TO STAY IN IPOH?
IPOH OLD TOWN
27 Concubine Lane – A beautiful Chinese shophouse that has been converted into a homestay. Because it’s found right in the heart of Concubine Lane, it can be a bit loud during the day but it’s mostly quiet at night. Prices start from US$ 25 for a double room with a shared bathroom.
Dé Cafe & Rest House: This hostel offers separate dormitories for male and female and costs only about US$ 10. The hostel is found just a few meters from some of the most popular Ipoh attractions such as Market Lane and Concubine Lane.
IPOH NEW TOWN
Hotel Pi: The hotel is located in the center of New Town, right opposite Memory Lane and less than a 15 minutes’ walk from the Old Town. Each room has a private bathroom and wifi. The price for a queen room costs about US$ 27.
Grayhaus Soho Ipoh: Grayhaus Soho offers single and queen rooms with private bathroom at about US$ 12 and US$ 16 respectively. Coffee and toast are available anytime during the day and night and laundry will set you back RM 15 (US$ 3.45) per load.
Abby by the River: The hotel is located along Kinta River and costs about RM 90 (US$ 22) for a superior double room with private bathroom. Breakfast is also included in the price.
HOW TO GET AROUND IPOH?
Ipoh is a fairly walkable city, but keep in mind that it’s very hot during the day. If you want to visit farther out to the cave temples you can take a Grab for less than RM 10 (US$ 2.30). Buses are also available, though not quite frequent.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN IPOH MALAYSIA
SCOUT OUT THE FAMOUS IPOH STREET ARTS
One of the most popular attractions in Ipoh is hunting for street arts. The Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic who is famous for his murals in Penang and other parts of Malaysia, was appointed to paint the streets of Ipoh Old Town.
His paintings are reminiscing of the old days and provide an insight into the history and cultural heritage of Ipoh.
More of the street arts can be found along Mural Art’s Lane, behind Jalan Sultan Iskandar. Here, you’ll come across a whole lane covered with murals of kids playing, traditional lion and Indian dance, which show the different cultures of Malaysia.
Unlike in Penang, the streets will be completely deserted, even in the middle of the day, so no waiting in line to get a picture!
Ipoh Travel Tip: You can find some colorful buildings just opposite Mural Art’s Lane.
CONCUBINE LANE AND MARKET LANE
Concubine Lane is where the action happens! During the weekend, shop owners set out their stalls on the street and sell everything from souvenirs to jewelry and delicious food. You can also find a few street arts around here as well.
Market Lane is another little back road where the rainbow umbrellas are located together with a few interactive street arts.
This is where the painting of Ernest Zacharevic, “Old Town Relieves Nostalgia with Trishaw”, is found.
KONG HENG SQUARE
Kong Heng Square is another shopping spot and an interesting place to visit in Ipoh. Located just a few meters from Concubine Lane, the buildings of Kong Heng Square have an industrial and almost run-down feel which gives a certain charm to the area.
GET A TASTE OF IPOH WHITE COFFEE
Have you been to Ipoh if you didn’t taste the original Ipoh white coffee!? The drink is made from coffee beans roasted with palm oil and served with sweetened condensed milk.
It’s available either hot or cold and is bound to give you a major sugar rush (although, I much prefer the cold one which tastes less sweet).
Nam Heong White Coffee and Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong, two of the most popular cafes in Ipoh, are said to serve the original Ipoh white coffee. Both are located opposite each other along Jalan Bandar Timah.
Make sure to get there early as they are always very crowded and don’t forget to taste the egg tarts, dim sums, and other traditional Hainanese dishes.
PERAK TONG (PERAK TEMPLE)
Perak Tong is by far the most visited cave temple in Ipoh. The walls are decorated with paintings of Chinese deities and mythical creatures and house several golden Buddha statues.
You can even climb up the 450 stairs for a breathtaking view of Ipoh! So, if you’re wondering what to do in Ipoh, make sure to visit Perak Cave Temple!
KEK LOK TONG
Kek Lok Tong is another beautiful cave temple found in one of the most picturesque settings. The temple ground comprises of Buddha statues on the inside, while the outside features a beautiful lake garden which is perfect for a nature stroll.
You’ll also find a reflexology footpath and even encounter swans wandering around the garden.
SAM POH TONG
Just a few minutes’ drive away is Sam Poh Tong temple which was founded by a Chinese monk in the 1800s. Though smaller than the other two, the entrance features a beautiful garden and fish pond.
There are stairs leading to the upper floor but they seemed to be closed off at the time of my visit. There’s also a passageway leading to quite an impressive pagoda and a tortoise pond but unfortunately, they didn’t seem well maintained. So, if you’re on a tight schedule, you may skip this one.
WALK THE HERITAGE TRAIL
One of the most popular things to do in Ipoh is walking the Heritage Trail. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of what Ipoh looked like back in the days and witness the beautiful colonial buildings and historical landmarks.
The trail starts at the Railway Station and includes some notable stops such as the Birch Memorial Clock Tower, Town Hall and Old Post Office.
RELAX AT GUNUNG LANG RECREATIONAL PARK
Gunung Lang Lake was actually tin mining site back in the days but has now been transformed into a recreational park. The lake is very busy during the weekend and seems to be a very popular attraction in Ipoh, especially among locals.
At the entrance, you’ll see an artificial waterfall made by hydraulic pumps with the beautiful limestone cliffs as backdrop.
You can also take a boat to the other side of the lake for RM 3 (US$ 0.70) for adults and RM 1.50 (US$ 0.35) for children.
EXPLORE THE MARKETS
MEMORY LANE FLEA MARKET
Every Sunday, Memory Lane comes alive during the early hours where locals sell everything from antiques to the usual knick-knacks found at flea markets.
GERBANG MALAM NIGHT MARKET
Gerbang Malam is open every night from 9 p.m. You won’t find much food here but rather a mix of clothes, accessories and other random items for sale. If you’re hungry, I recommend heading to Hangout @ Ipoh for some delicious street food.
If you’re not eating out and thinking of cooking your own food, UTC market is where you’ll find fresh produce from 7 a.m to 10 p.m.
It can be quite overwhelming when you first enter the market since everything seems to be all stacked together. The vegetable stalls are located near the entrance while the fruit stalls are found upstairs, all the way back.
OTHER IPOH ATTRACTIONS
- Ipoh Parade: Shopping mall found in Ipoh New Town.
- Kellie’s Castle: An abandoned castle that’s supposedly haunted!
Funtasyhouse: Trick-eye museum near concubine lane (entrance is RM 19 (US$ 5) for adults and RM 10 (US$ 2.5) for children).
- Restoran New Hollywood: A popular local food spot located about a 10 minutes’ ride from Ipoh Old Town.
- Birch Memorial Clock Tower: Historical landmark in Ipoh (Apparently where most locals have their wedding photoshoot)!
- Lost World of Tambun: Family-theme park
I hope that this guide to the best things to do in Ipoh has given you some inspiration for your next trip. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to answer them!