Ipoh, in the state of Perak, is one of the less explored cities in the region despite having a huge number of interesting attractions to offer visitors. Ipoh is known in Malaysia for its old town where you can discover a wealth of interesting history as well as its gorgeous street murals and museums. The big draw here however is that as well as enjoying the city, you can also get out into the countryside, and enjoy a range of engaging venues like cave temples and towering limestone cliffs.
When it comes to its dining scene, then Ipoh is also no slouch and is known for its dim sum as well as a range of dishes that are strongly influenced by its large Chinese community. As if that wasn’t enough, it is also the home of the toothsome Ipoh White Coffee which any bean enthusiasts need to try when they are on a trip here.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Ipoh:
1. Visit the Kok Lok Tong Cave Temple
The Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple is one of the jewels in Ipoh’s crown and sprawls across a large complex that covers 12 acres of land.
It has been in situ for around 100 years and is used as an important place of worship in Ipoh.
Inside the stunning cave you will find an amazing altar which is surrounded by Buddhist and Chinese deities and you will find some pretty trails that take you past two glassy lakes.
There is also a Zen Garden here where you can relax and unwind and go for a wander along the reflexology footpath which has the claim to fame of being the longest of its kind in the city.
2. Explore the Lost World of Tambun
If you are travelling with a family then the Lost World of Tambun is a great pick on a visit to Ipoh.
This theme park is known as one of the biggest and best attractions in the area and you will find a vast complex that has a range of interesting sections.
Some of these include a tiger valley as well as a water park, and if you love animals you can also visit the Lost World Petting Zoo or the Lost World Hot Springs.
In addition to all these attractions you will also find the main theme park itself which has a range of rides for all different age groups.
If you want to stay a little longer at the Lost World of Tambun then there is also a resort here.
3. Check out the Birch Memorial Clock Tower
The Birch Memorial Clock Tower is a famous black and white building in Ipoh that dates from 1909. It was built in tribute to J.W.W Birch who was one of the first inhabitants of the city who was assassinated in 1875. The tower is an ode to British symbolism and at the top you will find four figures who are meant to depict the four virtues of the British government.
Underneath these you will find a mural which has forty four famous historical figures which include Darwin, Shakespeare, and Buddha and there is a large bell here that measures six feet in size.
4. Take a trip to the Gaharu Tea Valley
The Gaharu Tea Valley is located in Gopeng outside of Ipoh and makes an engaging day trip if you want to get out of the city proper.
The tea valley has been in operation for some 20 years and stretches for 300 acres and includes some 200,000 Gaharu trees.
At the tea valley you can tour the plantation and take in the views which include acres of Agarwood trees.
Make sure not to miss the most famous tree in the valley which is 20 years old and legend has it that if you hug the tree you will be blessed with good luck.
5. Tour the Ling Sen Tong Temple
If you like religious architecture the make sure not to miss a trip to Long Sen Tong Temple which is a Taoist temple located in a cave.
Here you will find a number of Chinese deities including animals and figures that belong to Chinese legends and you can also take in the amazing stalagmites and stalactites that adorn the rest of the temple.
As you walk around the cave you will find different altars dotted around and make sure to look out for the statues of the four heavenly kings which sit on the roof of the structure.
Also take the time to check out the rest of the temple complex as you will find a manicured garden here as well as a delightful pond that has an air of tranquility and calm that is perfect if you are looking to relax as part of your trip to Ipoh.
6. Trek the Ulu Geroh Rafflesia Trail
The Ulu Geroh Rafflesia Trail is located a little way outside of Ipoh in the village of Ulu Geroh in Gopeng.
As such, if you are looking to see the area around the city then this is a great spot and you can check out the rubber plantations, durian orchards, and little local villages here.
Rafflesia is known for being the largest flower in the world and thrives in Malaysia’s hot and humid climate although beware the smell as it is known as the Corpse Plant thanks to its pungent odor.
To trek along the trail you will need to get a Semai Orang Asil guide from the village.
7. Go shopping at Memory Lane
Memory Lane is the name of a famous flea market in Ipoh which is located on Jalan Lim Bo Seng.
The market pops up every Sunday and starts in the morning and you will find a huge number of goods here including local antiques as well as souvenirs and gifts.
Haggling is expected in the market so don’t be afraid to bargain and this is a wonderful stop off in you are in town at the right time and want a memento of your trip to Ipoh.
8. Discover Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple
Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple is perhaps the most famous temple of its kind both in Ipoh and in wider Malaysia.
The reason for this is that the temple is thought to be the biggest in the country and you will find a range of Buddha statues here as well as other famous deities associated with Chinese folklore.
The temple is flanked by a delightful garden with a pond and you will find charming pagoda here which are speckled with ancient stone lanterns.
Make sure not to miss the turtle pond as locals believe that if they release a turtle into the waters here it will neutralize their karma.
9. Visit Ipoh World
Anyone visiting Ipoh who wants to know more about the history and culture of this amazing city should head to Ipoh World to learn about its complex heritage.
Ipoh World is actually an NGO which was founded in 2004 and will fill you in on all the history of Perak and explain how Ipoh came to be founded.
You will also learn about the history of the Kinta Valley that Ipoh sits in and there are a number of both static and rotating exhibitions here that spread across a number of venues.
10. Explore Perak Tong Cave
Perak Tong Cave is one of the most famous caves in Ipoh and dates from 1926. The cave is best known for its statue of the Buddha that sits inside and soars to a height of 40 feet.
You will also find four small temple deities in the cave as well as gorgeous colorful murals on the walls which are also adorned with intricate Chinese calligraphy.
You can also explore temple pavilions dotted around the complex that offer amazing vistas over the surrounding countryside which includes rolling limestone hills.
11. Try the dim sum
Many visitors to Ipoh may not realize that it is famous for its dim sum.
The most famous street in the city to sample these toothsome little dumplings is Jalan Leong Sin Nam which is also known by its local nickname of ‘Dim Sum Street’. Some of the most famous dim sum restaurants on the street include Foh San Restaurant, Ming Court Restaurant, and Restoran Yoke Fook Moon.
12. Wander around D.R. Sennivasagam Park
If you are looking for a piece of greenery in the city then consider a visit to the D.R. Seenivasagam Park.
The facility takes its name from a famous politician from Ipoh and first opened its gates in 1960. At the park you will find a pretty nursery as well as a biking area and you can rent a bike at the park so that you can take in the views by cycling around.
There is also a lush Japanese Zen Garden and this is a popular spot if you want to bring a picnic.
13. Learn some history at the Han Chin Pet Soo Museum
Ipoh is known for its Hakka culture and there is no better place to learn all about it than at this Hakka museum that will teach you all about the tin mining industry in this part of Malaysia.
You will need to become a member and make an appointment online in order to sign up for a tour of the museum and the galleries here will take you though the history of tin mining from the days of old until the present.
Some of the highlights include the legend of the Four Evils who were known for their unethical treatments of tin miners in the region.
14. Visit Kellie’s Castle
Kellie’s Castle gets its name from William Kellie Smith who was a colonialist who built the home to resemble his former house in his native Scotland.
The castle lies on what used to be a rubber estate and is surrounded by lush forests.
The building itself resembles a massive ancient castle and locals claim that it is haunted.
It is also a place where legends abound and it is said that the castle sits atop a series of underground tunnels.
You will also find a large statue of William Kellie Smith here dressed in a suit and hat as well as aristocratic furniture and intricate ceilings that were crafted in the 17th century and are adorned with plaster motifs.
15. Explore Kwan Yin Tong Temple
Another of Ipoh’s famous temple caves is Kwan Yin Tong Temple which sits atop a limestone cliff which is part of Gunung Rapat.
The temple is famous for having some 75 statues of Kwan Yin who is the Goddess of Mercy.
There is also a large mural here that tells the story of Buddha sitting under a Bodhi tree and locals flock here to leave wishes in one of the auspicious sections of the temple complex.
To get to the temple you will need to follow a short trek up the hillside but it is more than worth it for the views here.
16. Walk along the Ipoh Heritage Trail
Ipoh is known for its heritage and its high concentration of ancient buildings and with that in mind you can check out all the history with a walk along the Ipoh Heritage Trail.
The trail takes around two or three hours and will take you past all the most famous colonial buildings in the city as well as a number of shop houses that date from the Second World War.
You can either take a guided tour of the trail or there is a self-guided version available.
17. Visit the Geological Museum
The Geological Museum in Ipoh first opened its doors in 1957 and is known for having a huge number of exhibits.
These include over 600 minerals and 150 specimens of different rocks, as well as some 200 kinds of gemstones.
You will also find 200 fossils here and the museum stretches across 343 square meters and is separated into seven different zones, all of which have a different theme.
You can expect to find large murals that show you how different geological structures are formed as well as dinosaur fossils and a gallery dedicated to the history of mining in Ipoh.
There are guided tours offered here if you want to know more about the artifacts or you can go it alone and wander around at your leisure.
18. Take a trip to Ipoh Railway Station
If you want to see a beautiful example of colonial architecture in Ipoh, then head to the Ipoh Railway Station.
The building was constructed using a mix of Moorish and Victorian styles and you will find a large whitewashed exterior that is a throwback to how buildings would have looked here years ago.
The railways station was built in 1935 and designed by Arthur Benison Hubback and it is affectionately known as the ‘Taj Mahal of Ipoh’ thanks to its amazing Mughal design features.
19. Go spelunking at Gua Tempurung
Gua Tempurung is a cave that is one of the best places to visit if you want to explore beneath the surface of Ipoh.
The cave has a central chamber that stretches for 4.5 kilometers which means that it is one of the longest of its kind in Malaysia and you will find a pretty collection of stalagmite and stalactites here.
As you explore the cave make sure to look out for the underground streams and waterfalls and the huge natural domes in the roof of the cave.
20. Walk around Gunung Lang Recreational Park
One of the things that makes Gunung Lang Recreational Park so special is that it is located between the mighty Gunung Lang and Gunung Bilike, making it one of the best places to come in Ipoh if you want to check out the gorgeous limestone scenery.
The park sprawls for 30 hectares and around half of this area is dedicated to a spectacular lake.
The journey to the park is as stunning as the park itself as you will need to take a boat ride across the lake which affords you the best views of the area.
At the park itself you will find gardens, an observation tower, and a small zoo.
If you want to stay a little longer then there is also a campsite here.
21. Enjoy the paintings at Funtasy House Trick Art
Funtasy House Trick Art is a gallery in Ipoh which is dedicated to spectacular paintings and murals which look as if they are three dimensional.
The gallery is one of the newer attractions in Ipoh and opened in 2015 and you will find around 20 different works of art here that trick viewers into thinking that they have stepped into a magical three dimensional world.
There are guides who will take you around each exhibit and this makes a great rainy day activity especially for anyone travelling with a family.
22. Check out the art in Oldtown Ipoh
You may not be expecting a huge amount of street art in Ipoh but that it exactly what you will find in Oldtown Ipoh.
The murals here were commissioned by Oldtown White Coffee as a way to honor the heritage of the city and the eight murals on show were created by Ernest Zacharevic who is a famous street artist from Lithuania.
There is a designated walking tour that you can follow here to check out all eight of the murals and this is one of the quirkier but most interesting ways of learning more about the history of the city.
23. Sample the White Coffee
Ipoh is famous for having invented Ipoh White Coffee which is made by roasting the beans with palm oil margarine to make them less bitter.
As such this is one treat not to miss when you are in town and the most well known place to try this signature brew is at Old Town White Coffee.
The taste of the coffee is lighter than many other kinds but it is well worth trying when you are in Ipoh.
24. Visit the Enlightened Heart Tibetan Temple
The Enlightened Heart Tibetan Temple makes a nice change of pace in Ipoh if you want to check out a different kind of religious building to the myriad cave temples in the area.
The temple is also called Jingan Jing She and was built in 1976 and now sprawls across some 12 acres of land.
The largest Buddhist statue in Ipoh stands here as well as a pagoda that soars to a height of 13 stories.
There are some 200 different statues here which differ from the usual Buddhist and Taoist temples in the area and give you an interesting insight into Tibetan art work.
25. Walk along the Kinta RiverFront Walk
Ipoh sits on the river and with that in mind no trip here is complete without a leisurely walk along the Kinta RiverFront Walk.
The walk is lined with pretty trees that are illuminated in the evenings with LED lights and you can take in the views over the water as well as dine at the many restaurants that also line the riverfront promenade.
There are also riverfront cafes here and a shopping mall that backs on to the water.