When visiting Malaysia, it can be difficult to decide where to start your journey – there is just so much to do and see! This peninsular nation is full of incredible history and natural beauty, from thick jungle to sprawling cities that can keep you busy for months! However, you’d be remiss not to plan a visit to Ipoh. There are hundreds of interesting attractions in Ipoh that can be found nowhere else in the world – it’s only a question of where to start first!
Why Is Ipoh Great?
Many people head to the larger tourist locations of Penang and Kuala Lumpur, but Ipoh is the perfect place to visit for those looking to immerse themselves in Malaysian culture.
Located in the state of Perak, Ipoh is home to many interesting attractions that will fascinate even the most hard-to-please traveller! Starting off as a small village, Ipoh quickly grew in size and population due to the discovery of large tin reserves in the vicinity. By the late 19th century, Ipoh was the second-largest town in Malaysia and was officially declared a city in 1988. You can still see remnants of this mining past around the city, and some of the most amazing heritage sites are connected to the resource that made Ipoh what it is today.
Travellers interested in history should check out the Ipoh Old Town district – here, you’ll find museums, outdoor art exhibitions, and street-side glimpses of the past.
Ipoh’s gastronomical scene is unmatched, and visitors can experience some of the best fresh Malay cuisines at the plentiful dim sum and halal restaurants scattered around the city. If you need another reason to visit, this city is also home to the famous Ipoh white coffee! Hunting down a cup of this delicious brew is incredibly easy for caffeine fans, and you won’t easily forget the unique flavour profile.
If you want to escape the city, Ipoh is surrounded by beautiful countryside – you’ll love exploring the caves, limestone cliffs, and myriad of temples from an era past. Look out for curious wildlife like monkeys, who will take any chance to relieve you of your camera or phone if given the opportunity!
19 Best Attractions And Things To Do In Ipoh
If you’re wondering what to do in Ipoh, don’t stress! We’ve compiled a list of 19 Ipoh attractions to keep you busy– let’s go!
Marvel at Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple
Make no mistake; the Kek Lok Tong Cav temple is one of the best places to visit at Ipoh! Sprawling across a massive 12-acre area, this underground shrine is dedicated to Buddhism and Chinese deities, and has some of the most incredible designs in Malaysian temples.
First built in the early 19th century, this place of worship is critical to religious worship for Ipoh locals and travellers alike. Inside the cave complex, a massive altar is surrounded by idols, offerings, and religious symbology sure to awe and inspire those who see it.
Once you’re done with caves, there is also a beautiful Zen garden located near the entrance of Kek Lok Tong – take some time to wander along the famed reflexology path, or simply to absorb the beauty of the carefully curated flora.
Experience the Lost World Of Tambun
For anyone travelling with a family or young children, the Lost World of Tambun is a perfect attraction in Ipoh to entertain all ages!
This Ipoh theme park is home to many different areas designed to suit various interests. From the Lost World petting zoo to the ride-filled water park, it’s easy to spend an entire day getting lost in amongst exhibitions and attractions.
If you’re after a most immersive experience or simply want to stay a little longer, the main theme park also has a luxury resort attached that is home to some of the best dining in Ipoh!
Sample the White Coffee
You can’t go to Ipoh without sampling Ipoh white coffee! Malaysian breakfast culture is varied, but regardless of what you eat, nothing accompanies it better than this signature beverage.
The unique flavour profile of this Malaysian brew is created by roasting the beans with palm oil margarine, which removes much of the bitterness. The result is a creamy, semi-sweet drink that is a favourite amongst locals and visitors.
Ipoh Old Town is the best place to try white coffee, so make sure to add a cup to your day to soothe your caffeine addiction! If it’s a hot day, you can ask for yours over ice – it’s just as delicious, and perfect for an on-the-go boost.
Visit Gaharu Tea Valley
Sometimes, you just need to escape the city. The Gaharu Tea Valley is an agro-tourism destination located in Gopeng, and makes for an exciting and educational day trip for anyone looking for exciting things to do in Ipoh.
While this beautiful valley has been in operation for around two decades, it has only been open to the public for the last few. Home to over 200,000 Agarwood trees, Gaharu Tea Valley is an Ipoh attraction that you will not forget in a hurry.
During your visit, you can tour the plantation, learn more about tea making and drink in the spectacular views over the valley – perfect for those enviable Instagram shots!
Shop at Memory Lane
One of the most famous Malaysian flea markets, Memory Lane is a massive Ipoh attraction for anyone who loves to shop!
The market is open every Sunday, and visitors will find everything from trinkets and souvenirs to local antiques and Malaysian street food. If you aren’t familiar with Malaysian markets, the vendors will expect you to haggle – the listed prices are just a starting point.
Educate yourself at Ipoh World
Many places to visit at Ipoh are steeped in the city’s history. If you’re not sure where to start, Ipoh World is a great place to get a basic grasp on the events and culture that have led to the modern city you see today.
Founded in 2004, Ipoh World is a non-governmental organization that focuses on the history of the region, and ancient Malaysian customs and traditions. There are audio guides available for hire, and you can also ask one of the knowledgeable museum attendants if you’d like more information on one of the exhibits.
See the Birch Memorial Clock Tower
Built in 1909, the Birch Memorial Clock Tower is one of the most famous buildings in Ipoh. With stark black-and-white walls, this structure is impossible to miss if you’re walking around the Old Town!
The Birch Memorial Clock Tower was built as a tribute to J.W.W. Birch, a British colonial officer who was assassinated in 1875. This event lead to the Perak War, and eventually to Britain extending its political influence over the entire Malay peninsula for the next 82 years. If you climb to the top of this Ipoh attraction, you’ll see four statues depicting the virtues of the British government. Underneath the looming tower, there is a striking mural of 44 famous historical figures, including William Shakespeare and Charles Darwin.
While the history behind this tower is sobering, the attraction remains one of the best things to do in Ipoh during your visit.
Visit Perak Tong Cave
Perak Tong Cave is one of the most famous attractions in Ipoh and regularly draws thousands of visitors from all over the globe!
Upon entering the cave, you’ll see four smaller temples off-shooting the main cavern, paying tribute to old Chinese deities and religious customs. This will likely be overshadowed by the main attraction – a 35-foot statue of Buddha that takes up most of the cave! The walls are covered in vibrant murals, and you’ll be treated to historical scenes, Chinese artwork, and elegant traditional calligraphy.
One thing to be mindful of when visiting Perak Tong – while the cave is beautiful, it is also a place of worship for many Buddhists living in Ipoh. Therefore, be respectful, and avoid making too much noise as it may disturb those in reverence.
Relax at D.R. Seenivasagam Park
When it comes to places to visit, Ipoh is unmatched across Malaysia. Inner-city reserves like D.R. Sennivasagam Park create the perfect escape for those looking for a moment of peace amid the hustle and bustle.
The park is named for an Ipoh politician, and you can take part in many outdoor activities during your visit. Hire a bike and cycle around the many different gardens, or take a moment of tranquillity in the Japanese Zen Garden on the west side. There are many pavilions and bridges that overlook the Kinta River, and plenty of large, shady trees to have a picnic or read a book under!
Experience The Han Chin Pet Soo Museum
The Han Chin Pet Soo Museum is the best place in Ipoh to learn more about the tin mining industry that made the city what it is today. The tin rush began in Ipoh in the mid 19th century, and the city soon became known as the ‘City of Millionaires’ as Malaysians and foreigners alike made their fortune.
The Han Chin Pet Soo Museum celebrates Ipoh’s Hakka culture, and aims to educate locals and tourists about the industrial success of the region. While you’ll need to become a member and make an appointment to visit, the exhibits are incredibly comprehensive, and take you from the beginning of the rush through to the present-day industry.
If you want something outdoors, consider following Han Chin Pet Soo with a visit to the TT5 Tanjung Tualung Tin Dredge. This heritage-listed site was closed down after it began to sink, but has recently reopened to the public for the fully-guided Dredge Tour. TT5 is the last of its kind in Malaysia and is the perfect place to learn firsthand about the mining and panning practices of the industry.
Walk around Gunung Lang Recreational Park
When it comes to Ipoh, visit places that make you feel tranquil and immersed in the area’s natural beauty. Just 5 minutes from the city, Gunung Lang Recreational Park is one of the most beautiful reserves open to the public – perfect for spending an afternoon in the sun!
Known for its limestone formations and wild native flora, Gunung Lang covers 30 hectares, almost half of which is a spectacular lake that draws thousands of visitors every year.
If you want to experience the park fully, take a boat trip across the lake for the best view of the area. Once you’re across, make sure to visit the Gunung Lang Zoo, or climb the observation tower for panoramic views from the top.
Visit the Enlightened Heart Tibetan Temple
While Ipoh is known for its cave systems, the Enlightened Heart Tibetan Temple is a different kind of religious sanctum for you to see. With a massive 13-story pagoda at its centre, the temple is often overlooked by tourists and is much quieter than well-known cave temples like Perak Tong and Kek Lok Tong.
Sprawling across 12 acres, the massive temple is home to over 200 different statues depicting aspects of Tibetan artwork and Taoist spiritual beliefs. The biggest draw for Enlightened Heart is the largest Buddhist statue in Ipoh, whose golden arms stretch from the pagoda’s 8th floor to the 11th towards Ipoh city.
Explore the Ipoh Heritage Trail
Ipoh is a unique combination of new and old architecture, and there is no better way to experience it than on the Ipoh Heritage Trail. This winding path through the city will take you past some of the oldest buildings in the city in Ipoh Old Town, as well as some traditional colonial architecture and World War II-era shopfronts.
If you’d like more information as you walk, there are guided tours available – however, the best way is just to wander along and take in the historical sights on your own terms.
Visit the Geological Museum
Calling all science fans – this is the best thing to do in Ipoh!
The Ipoh Geological Museum is home to seven different zones, each focused on a new aspect of geology. From archaeology and dinosaur fossils through to geological hazards and quarries, no part of the science isn’t covered at this Ipoh attraction!
You’ll find over 600 minerals, 200 gemstones, and 150 rock specimens behind the doors of this museum, and it’s easy to spend an entire day wandering the halls learning about geology and how it affects the region’s agriculture and industry pursuits.
Of particular note is Zone B: there are dinosaur fossils, skeletons, and massive murals showing different geological structures and how they are formed. There is also a very detailed history of the mining in Ipoh, and various uses for tin across different industries.
See the Ipoh Railway Station
Colonial architecture is a huge feature of Ipoh, and none more so than the Ipoh Railway Station. First constructed in 1935, this unique building is a mix of Victorian and Moorish architectural styles, and showcases the aesthetic of eras past.
Because of its distinctive whitewashed exterior and towering domes, the Ipoh Railway Station is often referred to as the ‘Taj Mahal of Ipoh’ and is a popular location for tourists looking to take enviable holiday snaps.
Go caving at Gua Tempurung
For those looking for more adventurous places to visit, Ipoh doesn’t disappoint! Located about 16 miles out of the city, Gua Tempurung allows visitors and adrenaline junkies to explore the world beneath Ipoh, and is one of the most unique things to do within the area.
Stretching for just over 3 miles, the central cave of Gua Tempurung is one of the longest in Malaysia. Spelunkers can descend into the depths of this natural geological formation under the watchful eye of an experienced local guide, and marvel at the thousands of stalactites and stalagmites that cover the walls of the cavern.
There are also hidden treasures like underground streams, waterfalls, and mighty rock formations to be seen during your visit – keep an eye out for the Golden Flowstone, which stretches from floor to ceiling and glows a gentle gold when illuminated.
Visit Funtasy House Trick Art
Want something a little more unique? Funtasy House Trick Art Gallery is a haven for those who love to be challenged, and the art here will stimulate your mind and leave you questioning everything! Inside, the murals have been specially constructed to appear three-dimensional and create a feeling of depth that is both unsettling and fascinating.
Funtasy House Trick Art opened in 2015, and quickly became one of the best places in Ipoh for tourists looking for a mind-bending experience. There are around 25 works of art that create the illusion of another world, each one different from the last. For those travelling with young families, or who simply want to get inside on a rainy day, this unique art gallery makes the perfect half-day activity.
See the street art in Ipoh Old Town
The locals are incredibly proud of their city, which is most apparent in Ipoh Old Town! While cities like Bogota in Peru and Melbourne in Australia are famous for their street art, the historic centre of Ipoh is home to eight beautiful murals paying tribute to Ipoh’s rich history.
The street art was initially commissioned by Oldtown White Coffee, an Ipoh Old Town institution known for some of the best brews in the city. Ernest Zacharevic, a famous Lithuanian street artist, created the most famous murals, but there are isolated and hidden pockets of vibrant art made by creatives from all over the world.
When you arrive in Ipoh, take half a day to experience the designated walking tour that takes you through the old streets of the city. While this may not be the kind of exhibition you expected, it’s definitely the most fun way to learn about the history of Ipoh – and take some great photos on the way!
Complete the Kinta Riverfront Walk
The city of Ipoh sits on the Kinta River, and there is no better way to spend a leisurely afternoon than with a walk along the Kinta Riverfront. This iconic Ipoh attraction is lined with beautiful trees and classic Malaysian restaurants and is just as fantastic at night.
Visit one of the vibrant Ipoh bars that line the river for a cool drink, then continue on your way to one of the many gardens Ipoh is known for. If you’re over walking, you can hire a bike or a scooter, and pedal your way along the LED-lit waterfront that will dazzle you once the sun sets.
19 of the best reasons to visit Ipoh!
There are so many things to see and do in Ipoh; it would be impossible to contain them all in one list! From incredible breakfast spots to bustling markets with traditional food, there is something for everyone to enjoy during their visit.