Ipoh is the capital of Perak in Malaysia.
The name Ipoh originated from a local tree known as the pokok ipoh. This particular plant is known for its tree sap which is poisonous and is used by the orang asli in their blowdarts. Ipoh is also known as san seng which means "city surrounded by mountains" in Cantonese. Ipoh is located in the rich tin bearing valley of the Kinta river. It grew up as a mining town. For that reason, Ipoh's growth has stagnated ever since the development of the country and the closure of the tin mines, causing emigration to other parts of Malaysia, particularly Kuala Lumpur. Ipoh has since been called a dead city and a good retirement city.In spite of this, Ipoh still remains one of Malaysia's largest cities, with a population of 637,200 (2004) and urban area population of 798,800 (2004), placing it in the top five cities in Malaysia by population. Ipoh's food is famous, and comparable to that from Penang. Many people ,some even from Singapore, actually travel to this city just to taste its variety of great food. There are numerous dishes worthy of gluttons but visitors to Ipoh should make it a point to taste the local fare. Chances are the cuisine here is more varied and likely to be tastier than many other places in Malaysia.
The bus fare from Puduraya bus station in Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh is RM 13.40. The bus fare from Penang bus station in Penang to Ipoh is RM 13.50. The Ipoh bus station is located at Medan Gopeng near Gunung Rapat.
There are also two express bus services run by two different companies called YoYo and Triton direct from KLIA to Ipoh and back, six times daily. In Ipoh the terminal for YoYo is on Jalan Bercham, while the Triton bus station is located at the new bus station in Medan Gopeng.
If you will be ariving very early in Ipoh (say 5am), it might be better to get the bus to drop you off at Hotel Excelsior or Jalan Abdul Jalil in the middle of town. It is then a short walk to the famous Foh San Restaurant that sells Dim Sum, which opens early in the morning.
There is one domestic flight per day to Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Kuala Lumpur. Merpati Nusantara Airlines flies three times weekly from Medan to Ipoh.
Ipoh is located on the North-South Highway, to the north of Kuala Lumpur. If you drive by car, you can exit from the Ipoh South Exit if you come from Penang or exit from the Simpang Pulai Exit if you come from Kuala Lumpur.
A daily train from Ipoh is going from KL (8.45pm) to Ipoh (1.05am), then via Butterworth (6.05am)to Hat Yai (10.15am Thai time) . Price to Hat Yai is 43RM for Bed and 30RM for seat.
Detour from Hat Yai, the train is leaving at 2.50pm via Butterworth (9.30pm)to Ipoh (2.15am) an going on to KL (6.35am). Price is 31RM for Bed and 18RM for Seat.
Schedule under www.ktmb.com.my
Ipoh's traffic is not as congested as other cities such as Kuala Lumpur. However, during heavy traffic such as the morning drive to work (around 8-9am) and late evening return from work (around 5-6pm), minor jams may occur. Parking spaces are adequate, but not too abundant. Note that the Ipoh town center has many one-way streets.
Ipoh is a rather pedestrian-hostile city. Walking within Ipoh city centre and Ipoh Old Town are feasible but walking long distance generally is not.
There is no hard and fast rules for cyclist, but you are expected to observe road rules at all times. Cyclists cannot ride on the footpath, but is commonly practised in the city. Helmets are optional but not common.
- Kellie's Castle which is the deserted mansion of an eccentric English planter,in Batu Gajah, half an hour's drive from Ipoh city centre. Its main appeal lies in the belief that it is haunted and that secret passages leading to hidden chambers exist.
- Sam Poh Tong (Cavern of Triple Gems) which is a Chinese temple is located at Gunung Rapat, built within a gigantic limestone cave. It has a popular attraction, a gigantic tortoise pond where it houses hundreds of tortoises (a symbol of longevity) of various sizes (a few giant tortoises too).
- Kek Lok Tong (Cavern of Ultimate Bliss) a cave temple that lies on the other side of the same range of limestone hills as Sam Po Tong but only accessible through Gunung Rapat housing area. Hence, Kek Lok Tong has a cleaner, quieter and more cooling environment and has the best scenic cave view.
- Perak Tong (Perak Cave) is located at Gunung Tasek and houses over 40 Buddha statues, has a steep, tall staircase in the interior of the cave rising up to the top of its hill where one is greeted by a beautiful and panoramic view of Ipoh and its surroundings. The statue of Buddha in Perak Tong is the tallest and largest of its kind in Malaysia. Both Perak Tong and Sam Po Tong temples have decent vegetarian food. Perak Tong was built in 1926 by a Buddhist priest from China.
- Pasar Malam (Night markets). One of the favourite activities by local people is to visit wet market. There are many stalls that sell food and groceries. There are many wet market locations around the city, depending on the day of the week...
- Monday: Taman Menglembu, Taman Ipoh Jaya (near Gunung Rapat)
- Tuesday: Ipoh Garden East;
- Wednesday: Ipoh Garden(near Perak stadium);
- Thursday: Taman SPPK;
- Friday: Taman Pertama; Pekan Razaki (near Taman Ipoh Jaya)
- Saturday: Taman Rasi;
- Sunday: Taman Cempaka. (Open 6pm-10pm only)
- Natural hotspring. There is one natural hotspring located at tambun and is just 10 minutes drive from Ipoh. One can enjoy and relax while soaking in the hotspring. It is believed that it will give your body a good health treatment. The water there is so hot that it can even boil an egg.
- Hill climbing. One can climb the Menglembu Hill in Menglembu, near Ipoh. Once in the half way climbing to the top, you can see the awe-inspiring limestone outcrops and caves that surround Ipoh.
Restaurants often do not display prices. Tipping is uncommon in Ipoh and even taxis will usually return your change to the last cent.
Ipoh is inexpensive by Malaysian standards, and even more so for visitors from most industrialized countries: RM50 is a perfectly serviceable daily backpacker budget. Food in particular is a steal, with excellent local hawker fare available for less than RM4 per generous serving. Accommodation is also inexpensive by international standards, with a bed in most hotels below RM100. Top hotels offer rooms at around RM100 to RM200.
- Ipoh Fragrant Biscuit (Heong Peang). The recommended brand is Yee Hup. Originally produced in a village house in Gunung Rapat, it has been recommended to buy it at the Gunung Rapat Jalan Sri Ampang, Taman Ipoh Jaya store (or a branch in Jalan Sultan Iskandar, near Lou Wong restaurant) as you can get it freshly hot baked from there. You can also buy Chinese biscuits and Tambun Pomelo at many shops near Low Wong restaurant. These are the must-buy souvenirs to bring home to.
- Kacang Puteh. This a very delicious Indian snacks with a variety of choices. There is one factory located in Buntong, Ipoh where it manufactures and distributes to all sellers around the country.
- Pomelo. Perak's most famous fruit, a large juicy citrus fruit. The best pomelos are reputed to be from Tambun, about 10 minutes drive east of Ipoh. There are stalls selling pomelos in front of the Sam Po Tong temple.
- Curry Bread. This a bread with delicious curry chicken fillings inside. The demand for this bread from locals is more than the supply and it is sold out quickly. This Kampar Garden Bakery Shop is located at Jalan Beh Kee Koh, off Jalan Kampar. Also must try tuna bread and wholemeal mixed bread. It is better to go there during morning to buy those breads as it can be sold out very quickly. (Opens morning until evening)
- Pottery. Often missed by most visitors is the fact that Ipoh produced potteries for export. A good place to shop is along Jalan Kuala Kangsar which offers ample range for selection.
- Ipoh White Coffee. If you have to get the sachet-packed type, try the brand 'Old Town'.
Ipoh is famous for its Chinese food.
- Tauge ayam or Ipoh beansprouts chicken, which consists of chicken meat, assorted chicken innards and beansprouts boiled in hard water and served with soy sauce and sesame oil; and Ipoh Sar Hor Fun, which are rice flat noodles prepared in the hard water and served in a clear chicken and prawn soup with chicken shreds, prawns and spring onions. The most famous tauge ayam restaurant in Ipoh is Low Wong restaurant and Onn Kei restaurant (Open nights only), both located near the Restoran Foh San in city centre. The other one is the Bak Gong restaurant, located near the Foh San restaurant in city centre, that sells delicious chicken rice (Open afternoon only). The most delicious Ipoh Sar Hor Fun can be found in Kong Heng restaurant and Thean Chun Restaurant (Also try caramel custard pudding in this restaurant) in Ipoh old town (Open mornings and afternoons only).
- Dim sum (fish balls, fried stuff, dumplings, buns, served in small quantities). Foh San restaurant, located nearby the tauge ayam outlets, is a famous. It has a branch in SS2 Petaling Jaya, the satellite town of Kuala Lumpur. Yuk Fook Moon Lau (Opens in the morning and also at night), located behind Excelsior Hotel, sells excellent dim sum too. Ming Kok which is just opposite is the best dim sum restaurant in Ipoh. Also try out or take away the Cha Siew Bao", Chinese pork pao sold in Yuk Fook Moon Lau. Be warned, must go there around early in the morning about 6am-7am because it is quite difficult getting a table at a later time.
- Beef noodles. There is one famous beef noodles restaurant called Buntong beef noodles restaurant, sells very delicious beef noodles, beef balls and yong tau foo. There are three restaurants in Ipoh famous of its Beef Noddles, run by three brothers originally from the Buntong Village of Ipoh. The restaurants are located at 1) Kong Heng Restaurant in Old Town Ipoh (morning til noon); 2) Taman Rishah Restaurant, between First Garden and Menglembu (noon til evening); 3) Jalan Theatre, near the Rainbow food court, in the Ipoh city. (evening til night).
- Banquet dining restaurants (usually for holding Chinese wedding dinners) which serve excellent seafood and meat. The famous ones among Ipoh natives are Overseas restaurant opposite Excelsior hotel, Mun Zhong restaurant in Jalan Pasir Puteh, Pusing Mun Zhong restaurant (Remember to try their signature prawn dish known as the Kou Hai) in Ipoh town, Wah Chai restaurant in Menglembu, Tung Hoi restaurant in Menglembu & branch in Ipoh Garden South, Lee How Fook restaurant in Jalan Kampar. Two restaurant that serves very good Nyonya cuisine are Yum Yum restaurant at Persiaran Greenhill near Excelsior hotel and also A-Ssam House restaurant near Jalan Yang Kalsom.
- Fish ball noodles/yong tau foo. Some of the recommended outlets are Nam Fatt in Jalan Kampar, Tai Kar Lok the best one in Jalan Pasir Puteh (Open mornings and nights) with branches in Greentown and Ipoh Garden South, one stall located in Pasar Pasir Pinji (Open nights only).
- Popiah. The best and most delicious popiah, arguably in the whole of Malaysia, is sold in Kwong Heng restaurant, in Ipoh Old Town. This is a food where fried shrimp, beansprouts, vegetables and some sweet sauce are wrapped up inside a paper-thin flour-made skin.
- Chow hor fun or Kueh teow basah, rice noodles fried in such a way that it is a little wet with dark gravy (as opposed to the Penang char kueh teow which has no gravy but fried with egg, prawns or cockles and the Cantonese-style wat tan hor which is completely immersed in clear, egg gravy). You can get chow hor fun in all Chinese restaurants in Ipoh. The best chow hor fun can be found at a street stall in the Mengelembu town area (Only opens at night).
- Hakka noodles. There a few restaurant around the city sells delicious Hakka noodles with yong tau foo. There is one near the Mun Zhong restaurant in Jalan Pasir Puteh (Only opens in the morning), one in a food court behind the Olympia college or Jalan Yang Kalsom (Only opens in the morning) and Restaurant Yin Yau Kui at Jalan Sultan Iskandar, city centre (Only opens in the morning).
- Hor Hee noodles. This is also a very delicious kuey teow noodles with fish balls and fish pastes. The most famous stalls selling Hor Hee including those located in Heng Heung restaurant besides restaurant Sin Yean Lee in Ipoh Old Town (Opens only at night), and also the "Gao Peng" restaurant at Charmberlain Road in Ipoh New Town (again, night only).
- Salted chicken or Yim Kok Kai. The chicken is baked in salt in such a way the skin and meat is so delicious when you eat it and you will finished it all. Whole chicken are wrapped in "oil paper" amd then baked in large woks filled with heated salt. The restaurant that sells salted chicken is Aun Kheng Lim Restaurant, located at Jalan Theatre, opposite Martell house or near Bak Gong restaurant in the city centre. It is so popular that you must call to order before you drop in. Tel: 05-254 2998.
- Roasted duck. The duck is roasted in such a way the skin of the duck is so crispy, smells great when you eat it and the meat is delicious to be eaten. Recommended restaurants that sell roasted duck: Yeong Wai restaurant in Greentown Business Area and Tuck Kee restaurant in Pasir Pinji, Ipoh.
- Curry noodle. There is one restaurant in old town Ipoh, called Sin Seng Fatt,which is located near Kong Heng restaurant in Jalan Market, sells very delicious curry noddle. The curry paste of the curry noodle is so good that it's packed and sent to franchisees in Hong Kong. (Open mornings and afternoons only.). They have a franchise restaurant at SS2, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Another recommended restaurant is the restaurant facing the roundabout besides MGS secondary school. (Open mornings and afternoons only.); a coffee shop called Sin Chuan Fong located at the "Hugh Low" Street also famous with it curry noodles; just order a curry mee "special" and it will do for your breakfaxt and lunch (open day time).
- Laksa. This is a noodle which is same as the the Penang's famous Laksa but with a different taste. Laksa in Ipoh tastes a bit sour and spicy but not as sweet as Penang's Laksa. The ingredients of the noodle soup contain prawn paste. There is one Laksa stall in Farlim, Ipoh (opposite the Setapak driving institute,on the way to Mengelembu from Ipoh) sells very good Laksa (Only opens on Sunday afternoon).
- Prawn mee or Hokkien mee. This is also another noodle that is same as Penang's Hokkien Mee. The soup of this noodle taste spicy and sweet. Recommended prawn mee stall is the roadside stall on the road between Yik Foong complex and Super Kinta shopping centre (Only opens at night and until early morning).
- Chee Cheong Fun. Unlike the Chee Cheong Fun in KL, Ipoh has it with minced pork sauce and mushroom, topped with preserved green chilli, a sprinkle of deep fried shallots and sesame. Can be found in many restaurant in Ipoh. One stall at Thean Chun Restaurant (Beside Kong Heng restaurant in Ipoh old town sells this.
- Cuttle fish. This food is a plate of cuttle fish with kangkung or water convolvulus vegetable and sweet and spicy sauce on top of it.
- Sze Chuan food. There is a very good Sze Chuan Restaurant located in Fair Park (There is only one, along the way from Ipoh General Hospital to Ipoh Indra Mulia Indoor Stadium.) They serve some very authentic Sze Chuan-style dishes that can only be described as heavenly. Don't forget to order the deep fried "Man Tou" or Chinese "Pau", Cheong Chang Arp (sauce-layered duck), Sze Chuan fried long beans, Taufu cooked Szechuan-style and Tong Por pork meat. These are signature dishes at this establishment.
- Mee Rebus. This is a plate of noodle with sweet and sour flavour taste. Ingredients include beansprouts and eggs. The famous restaurant that sells mee rebus is the Mee Rebus Ramli restaurant at Jalan Raja Ekram and the main shop at Jalan Kuala Kangsar. (Opens morning and night)
- Nasi Kandar. This is a rice with dishes like fish curry, black pomfret curry, ayam masak merah and various types of vegetables. Very popular among locals Malay and Chinese. Located at Yong Suan Restoran, Jalan Yang Kalsom. (Opens afternoon)
- Chinese Vegetarian Food. There is one restaurant, Restaurant Sin Meng Kee, in the city centre that offers good Chinese vegetarian economical rice. It has many dishes in its menu. Main shop located at Jalan Dato Onn Jaafar and branch located at Jalan Lau Pak Khuan, Ipoh Garden and Kinta City food court. (Opens morning until evening)
- Claypot Chicken Rice. This is a hot and delicious chicken rice cooked in a claypot. There is a stall at Shatin food court at Pasir Puteh that is very famous for selling this rice. (Opens only at night).
- Chinese-style Satay. This is skewered meat seasoned and flavored with spices and served with cucumbers, onions and a chunky peanut sauce. Please note that the Chinese-style of satay (compared to other satay) contains pork and thus unsuitable for Muslim tourists. The preferred stall is in Thean Chun Restaurant, Ipoh old town. (Open mornings and afternoons)
- Food court. If you just want to eat a variety of good Ipoh food in just one place, that would be Anika Selera or Gourmet Square and Wolley centre in Canning Garden. Must try bubur cha cha (The first drinks stall counting from the Wolley centre) and seafood in Anika Selera (Try the Marmite Crab or the sweet & sour crab and the fried balitong here is good). Must try ABC dessert (Ice Mix) in Wolley centre. It is made up of a bowl of sinfully delightful mixture of red bean, cendol (green strands of pandan flavoured rice flour), jelly, peanuts and palm seed kernel topped with shaved ice, rose syrup, evaporated milk and corn. For the more health conscience, there is a fruit variant you can order. The other two great food courts are Rainbow City food court opposite Sam Tet primary school in Ipoh and all the street food stalls in Mengelembu old town. (All opens at night). You can find a lot of choices of good Ipoh food in these food courts.
Worth mention, it is quite difficult getting a table at many coffee shops during weekdays and especially on weekends and holidays, advice is to go there early or not at busy time.
- Assam House, 29, Psn Greentown 4, 605-243 7851. 11:30AM-3PM, 6PM-10PM every day. Straits Chinese food. Halal.
- Ipoh White Coffee, which are coffee beans specially roasted (with palm-oil margarine; visit this Wikipedia article for more info). Its colour is similar to that of cappuccino when served with milk. The best can be found in the few coffee shops located opposite the Kinta Heights flats in Ipoh's old town such as:
- Nam Heong Restaurant (Distributor of "3 in 1 Ipoh Old Town White Coffee")
- Xin Yun Loong restaurant (Open mornings and afternoons only)
- Xin Yuan Hoong and Xin Yuan Foong (All open mornings and afternoons only).
- The aroma, taste & texture of the original thing is definitely superior compared to the commercially-packed sachets or the Ipoh White Coffee sold elsewhere. These coffee shops are likely to be crowded during teatime, especially on weekends. Food-wise, you can get fried noodles/vermicelli, satay, congee, kuih, etc. sold in these coffee shops. You should also order tasty toasted bread with kaya (coconut jam) and butter to complement a good cup of white coffee (known as a "Yin-Yang" toast). Nowadays you can get a good cup of white coffee in coffee shops around Ipoh city.
- Tau Fu Fah, or soybean curd. It is claimed that only Ipoh or Kinta Valley water that can only make this drink so tasteful. This drink is good for the body after travelling in a very hot day. The soya bean is fresh, sweet and smooth. Once you are drinking this soya bean curd, you can feel the smoothness and freshness of the soya bean smoothing down through your throat. It is served steaming hot with pandan syrup. The stall, named Kei Foong, or Funny Mountain in English, is located at Jalan Dato Tahwil Azar, near Restaurant Foh San. It has a drive-in delivery service. Also try the delicious variety of:
- soymilk only
- soymilk mixed with cincau
- soybean curd with soymilk.
- The Funny Mountain shop opens morning until evening. Tau Fu Fah and its variants can also be found in stalls by the roadside in various places.
- Tong Sui, sweet dessert drink that will definitely refresh your body in a hot day. Located at Restaurant Cha Yong, behind Pizza Hut in Ipoh Garden South. The other place locals call "Tong Sui Kai" or Desert Drinks Street is located in the food stall across from Sam Tet Primary School (noon til late night). Another few stalls are located in the Ipoh Stadium's food court and in a food court near the former Ocean (now The Store) supermarket.
There are a few good budget and clean hotels around the food court near Sam Tet primary school, Jalan Yang Kalsom and Public restaurant in Ipoh city centre.
- Seri Malaysia Hotel Ipoh. Budget hotel. Located at Jalan Sturrock, Off Jalan Tambun.
- The Majestic Station Hotel Ipoh. Budget and old hotel. Located at the Ipoh Railway Station.
- YMCA Ipoh. Budget hotel. Located at Jalan Raja Musa Aziz, beside D.R. Park..
- Hotel Eastern. Budget hotel. Located at Jalan Raja Musa Aziz.
Within the city centre
- Syuen Hotel Ipoh, 88, Jln Sultan Abdul Jalil (Located at opposite Parkson shopping centre). +605 253 8889, fax: +605 253 3335. . A four star hotel, thus probably not for the budget traveller, the Syuen offers a full range of services for both business and holiday travellers. A room for 1 starts at around RM 190 and includes breakfast and 1 round of golf.
- Hotel Excelsior. Four star hotel. Located at opposite Overseas restaurant.
Outside the city centre
- Casuarina Parkroyal Ipoh. Four stars hotel. Not for budget traveller. Located at Jalan Gopeng.
- Heritage Hotel Ipoh. Four star hotel. Located at Jalan Raja DiHilir.
- Hillcity Hotel & Condo. Located at Jalan Gopeng, opposite Sam Poh Tong cave.
More information about each hotel at accommodation section at Ipoh In All Malaysia.info
- Pangkor. It is a fishing village island with many beautiful beaches. There are two famous resort in the island: Pangkor Laut and Pan Pacific resort. Nearby places such as Lumut, Sitiawan and Pangkor Island offer very good seafood.
- Cameron Highlands. Malaysia famous highland destination where there are many vegetables, strawberry and tea farms at that place. The cold weather and beautiful scenery makes it a popular hide away from the warm weather destination of local people. There is a toll-free road to Cameron Highland from Simpang Pulai located at south of Ipoh. It will take about an hour to reach there from Ipoh by car.
- Gua Tempurung or Tempurung Caves, Perak's best keep secret, a must visit if you are an adventurous person. It is located at Gopeng, just 24km south of Ipoh.There are many unique and fascinating limestone formations in the cave. There are few challenging cave exploration packages that are very exciting where you need to climb, crawl and slide. There is a shuttle bus and tour service at Medan Gopeng bus station in Ipoh. It takes about 30 minutes to arrive at there.
- Lata Kinjang waterfalls is a majestic waterfalls that is visible from the North-South highway, after passing the Tapah exit.
- Taiping, was the first major township developed by the British in Malaysia. It is a very peaceful and quiet town. Its' attraction are beautiful Maxwell Hill (or now known as Bukit Larut) and Taiping Lake Gardens, and Taiping Zoo.
- Tg. Tualang. It is located south of Ipoh and offers very good seafood.
- Ulu Geroh Be an ecotourist and experience the rainforest by going to Ulu Geroh, an Orang Asli kampung about one hours drive into the hills east of Gopeng (25 km south of Ipoh). The last half of the ride is along a rough road (4x4 prefered) through rubber, durian and oil palm plantations to the village on the edge of the rainforest. Guides from the Orang Asli community take visitors to see the parasitic Rafflesia flower (the largest flower in the world) and the Raja Brooke's Birdwing butterfly as well as other forest bugs, plants etc. There's also a small but beautiful waterfall. The guides charge about RM50 per person. It's best to arrange for guides a day or two in advance....this can be done by phoning Saniey, who speaks English, at 017-5118743.
Ipoh is in general a very safe city, certainly by international standards. There are however some irritants, like beggars especially at bus terminals. It is better not to attract any unwanted attention by giving money to the beggars as most of them are professional beggars operated by syndicates.
The city centre is relatively safe, but again, pickpockets do work in the stations. If you are carrying a bag make sure that it's closed tightly (all zipped up or whatever). If you have a wallet in your pocket keep a hand near it while exiting the buses.
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