Ipoh, Perak’s capital, features magical temples, incredible scenery and colonial architecture and is regarded as the lesser-known food capital of Malaysia. The city of Ipoh is well-known for its tropical rainforest climate, delicious local food and an abundance of cave artwork and temples. This has made it one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Some of the best things to do in Ipoh, Malaysia are:
Take a tour of Ipoh’s British colonial architecture
In the late 19th century, the tin mining boom in Perak transformed Ipoh. Chinese miners and wealthy British residents commissioned grand offices and houses. You can see the best of this magnificent architecture at the Ipoh Heritage Walk. The walk covers about 6.5 kilometers and passes through old Ipoh to restored Chinese shophouses, different colonial buildings and the Birch Memorial Clock Tower. You can learn some fascinating facts and historical context from the information boards that are posted near every monument.
Take pictures of Perak’s largest mosque
Opposite Ipoh Railway Station, the colossal mosque has two-floors, 44 orange domes and a 38 metre minaret. The mosque first opened in the 1960s and became a state landmark. Its official name is Sultan Idris Shah II and it is now considered a symbol of Ipoh. The white-washed façade is decorated with a horde of shiny mosaic tiles and U-shaped patterns above which there are crisscrossing air vents. The inside space comprises of a wedding venue, an Islamic library and a conference center.
Visit mystical Buddhist temples inside the caves
Ipoh is surrounded by limestone caves. Some are penetrated by mystical Buddhist temples, which means the cave systems are transformed into prayer halls filled with incense. You will be able to see Chinese calligraphy and characteristic red colors next to peaceful and beautiful gardens. Once you ste inside, you will find religious images and bronze status on shelves that are carved into the limestone. The walls are decorated by murals and rickety metal staircases take you to viewing platforms that give you gorgeous views of Ipoh. Some of the cave temples that you should check out include Sam Poh Tong Temple, Perak Tong Cave Temple and Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple.
Have a unique experience in Ipoh’s museums
The specialty museums in Ipoh range from covering the tin mining boom and history of Perak to one that’s entirely dedicated to tea like the Ho Yan Har Museum. Some of the others include the Miniature Wonders Art Gallery that displays tiny figurines, which have been crafted painstakingly and arranged into scenes depicting ancient China. There is also the largest geological museum in Malaysia that you can visit. It is one of the best things to do in Ipoh because the museums are not very crowded and also have low entrance fees.
Uncover the street art and murals
When you talk about street art in Malaysia, everyone immediately jumps to George Town in Penang. Very few people know about the famous Mural Art’s Lane in Ipoh, which is located near Jalan Masjid, and also Panglima Street, which shows some of the best Penang’s street art. You can see scenes from Perak’s lifestyle in the cartoony images and they promote multiculturalism.
Savor the taste of Malaysia’s second food capital
Unlike Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Ipoh is sort of a secret foodie destination in the country. Kopitiams (Malaysian-style coffee shops) and food courts in the city serve absolutely mouth-watering foods for a handful of ringgits. You should try an Ipoh white coffee with gai si hor fun (shredded chicken noodles).
Learn about the controversial Birch Memorial Clock Tower
Situated in front of Ipoh State Mosque, the Birch Memorial Clock Tower first opened in 1909. This white-washed structure serves as a memorial for the first British resident of Perak, James Birch. He was murdered in 1875 by local Malay chiefs. The ironic part is that the street directly to the north is named after Dato Maharajalela, who killed James Birch yet is regarded as a local hero. This historic landmark should definitely be visited.
These are some of the best things that you must do in Ipoh in order to get a real taste of the city.