Things To Do in Ipoh
Always in the shadow of Penang, Ipoh is underestimated for many things. For instance, Ipoh is known in Malaysia for its terrific food and is worth visiting for this alone! Spend one or two days, but only if it fits in your itinerary.
1. Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple
A short 10-minute drive from the town is the extraordinary Gunung Rapat Limestone Hills, which are home to many temples. One of the most interesting is the Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple, a beautiful Chinese Buddhist temple built into the limestone.
The temple is picture-perfect, set amongst beautiful gardens and pools. The entryway leading through a cave comes out into an open space in between the limestone.
A stunning temple painted in reds and oranges touched by the rays of the sun. It is believed to be the biggest cave temple in the country and a great thing to do in Ipoh.
There are plenty of other temples to see in the area such as:
- Ling Sen Tong Temple
- Kwan Yin Tong Temple
- Kek Look Tong Cave Temple
2. Walk down Concubine Lane
Concubine Lane is a cute narrow lane flanked by old-style Chinese shop houses, complete with shutters and beautiful tiles. You can find trendy boutiques, fascinating antique shops, and countless cafes selling Ipoh’s traditional white coffee.
Great from Ipoh: Do a day trip to the Cameron Highlands
The lane is less crowded during the week but most fun to visit at the weekend when stalls are set up selling souvenirs and typical foods of the area. The old charm and vibrant history of this area are not to be missed!
Tip: Once you’ve wandered down Concubine Lane, make sure to see Wife Lane and Market Lane. Market Lane is decorated with beautiful hanging umbrellas and red lanterns that light up the area at night.
3. Tasik Cermin (‘Mirror Lake’)
Experience Ipoh’s best-hidden gems: a secret lake named Tasik Cermin. The lake’s setting, surrounded by limestone karsts, is truly unique and has been given the nickname ‘Mirror Lake’.
Update: Due to increasing popularity, there’s now an official entrance building selling tickets at 4 RM per person. Open daily from 9 AM-6 PM.
It is located close to the Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple. To enter the cave, you have to pass an abandoned house and follow a narrow path until you see your right cave entrance. Walkthrough the limestone rock tunnel that brings you out on the edge of this exceptionally peaceful part of nature.
Discover: Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur
We spotted a group of wild beavers swimming around and making noises that echo through the entire nirvana. Sadly, despite the peace here, the lake is under threat from the extraction of limestone, which is slowly getting closer to its boundaries.
To get out to the temples and the limestone hills, it is best to take a ‘Grab’ taxi and ask/pay him to wait.
See the 2-week Malaysia Travel Route
4. Kong Heng Flea Market
The Kong Heng Square market is a small crafts bazaar and flea market in the city center. This space is creatively decorated and has a fun walk-through. The market is located behind the Plan B restaurant and is open daily between 10 AM and 5 PM.
5. Ipoh Railway Station
The Ipoh railway station, built in the typical colonial-style architecture of the time, opened in 1917 and still stands out over 100 years later! It is a fully functioning station, with many trains running daily to numerous destinations throughout Malaysia. If you’re planning on visiting Penang, Ipoh Railway Station has fast trains to Butterworth throughout the day (once you’re at Butterworth, change onto a ferry for Penang).
Tip: If you are interested in the history of Ipoh, the Heritage Trail (a short walk designed to encounter all the key sites of the old town) starts here at Ipoh Railway Station. (MAP)
6. Street Art (Mural Art’s Lane)
If the street art around Concubine Lane left you wanting more, then Mural Art’s Lane should be your next stop! The lane, running between the main roads Jalan Sultan Iskandar and Jalan Masjid, is home to dozens of murals that brighten up the houses’ walls. Most are painted by Ernest Zacharevic, who has had many successes as a street artist in Penang.
Tip: Follow the Mural Art trail (get a map at Ipoh Tourist Information Centre) to find the locations of various works of art throughout town.
7. Memory Lane Flea Market (Sundays only)
If possible, plan your itinerary so that your time in Ipoh falls over a weekend. Although the streets will be busier, you’ll get the opportunity to see the renowned Memory Lane Flea Market, which only takes place on Sundays.
The market takes up the entire street’s entire length, with vendors laying out endless treasures from vintage records to antique typewriters. Have fun trying to drive a hard bargain here and leave Malaysia with some amazing artifacts and memoirs.
8. 22 Hale Street
The 22 Hale Street buildings are two old shops transformed into a museum and cafe. The heritage gallery displays the Ipoh lifestyles over time, including a lot of retro items.
There is an entrance fee with a ticket, but this seems to change depending on the exhibition.
9. Climb to the viewpoint of the Perak Tong Cave Temple
Enter the small passage between the limestone of the Perak Tong Cave Temple. Inside opens up into an enormous space with a 12 meter high Buddha statue.
In the back of the cave, you will find steps that lead to the top of the limestone rock. It is a walk of 10-15 minutes to the top, with the last steps being quite challenging. On top, you will have a view over the surrounding area.
Getting to Ipoh
As a stopover before the Cameron Highlands or Penang, Ipoh is simply perfectly located. Both buses and trains run regularly to Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur and take 2.5-3 hours.
From Ipoh, you can take a bus to the Cameron Highlands, a bus to Penang, or a 2-hour train to Butterworth (for a ferry connection to Penang). Book all your bus or train tickets easily online
If you’re planning to rent a car in Malaysia we recommend Sunny Cars. They work with local car rental companies and the price already includes all insurances. Book your rental car here.
How to get around Ipoh
Ipoh may technically be a city, but its size and atmosphere make it feel more like a town. As a result, it is very easy to see the old town and many of the key sights on foot or bike.
Where to eat in Ipoh
Many specialties exist in Ipoh, such as its sweet white coffee, varieties of dim sum, and famed egg custard tarts, yes, the same one as the Pasteis de Belem from Lisbon!
Here are our favorite places to eat in Ipoh:
- Vegan Delights Cafe
- Lodge 163 Cafe
- Old Town Kopitiam
- Nam Chau
- Plan B
Vegan Delights has delicious plant-based dishes, but the impressive part is that you’re served by incredibly friendly people, who are either deaf or mute. A must-visit!
Where to stay in Ipoh
There is a diverse range of budget hostels to luxury resorts within Ipoh, set within the town’s bustling center, or set amongst the serene nature. As a recommended stay in Ipoh is around 2 days, it’s best to situate yourself in one of the many good quality guest houses, within the old town, as a base to explore.
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- Find Hotels via Booking.com
- Find a Rental Car via Sunny Cars
- Find Cheap Flights via Skyscanner
- Get a Travel Insurance via Heymondo
- Book Tours & Attractions via Viator
- Book a Bus/Train/Transfer via 12Go
Looking for more travel information? Plan a chat with us for personalised travel advice or get an answer from the Salt in our Hair Travel Community on Facebook.
Great recommendations, we enjoyed our time in Ipoh following them.
An update on the “Mirror Lake”: it’s no longer a hidden gem. They’ve built a parking lot, public toilets and entrance building where you have to buy tickets to go to the lake. 4 RM per person, and opening times are Mon-Sun 9-18.
Thank you so much for the update! We will update the guide right away.