Weekend Trip to Ipoh from KL – Best Things To Do in Ipoh

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A large, historic brick mansion with multiple windows and a rounded tower sits atop a grassy hill under a clear, blue sky.

Despite being one of the biggest cities in Malaysia, Ipoh has always been overshadowed by its more famous siblings, Penang, Melaka, and Cameron Highlands. Many travelers miss the chance to sit down and relish the true beauty of Ipoh because, for so long, this charming and quiet city mainly served as a transit passage to get to Penang or a gateway to climb Cameron Highlands.

But our upcoming weekend trip to Ipoh from KL will prove there’s so much more to this beautiful and underrated town. We’re excited to share our experience with you, from discovering its rich cultural and arts scene to going on a culinary adventure to try the best foods in Ipoh.

Let’s uncover the marvels that lie within this tin mining village, which has become one of Malaysia’s best-kept secrets.

A blue and white mosque with a large central dome and two minarets, surrounded by an open courtyard and lit by the soft light of sunset.

Where is Ipoh?

Ipoh is located in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia, southeast of Penang, and west of Cameron Highlands. It is the capital city of Perak state and the 7th largest city in Malaysia.

How far is Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur? Ipoh is approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur and about more than a 2-hour drive.

Why Visit Ipoh?

Ipoh is a charming city known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and culinary delights. Here are a few reasons for us to visit Ipoh:

  • Historical Sites: Ipoh is home to beautiful colonial architecture and historical landmarks such as Kellie’s Castle and Ipoh Railway Station.
  • Natural Attractions: The city is surrounded by stunning limestone hills and caves, including Gua Tempurung and Kek Look Tong Cave Temple.
  • Culinary Delights: Ipoh is famous for its delicious food, including the renowned Ipoh white coffee, bean sprout chicken, and various local delicacies.
  • Relaxation and Wellness: Visitors can unwind at places like the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat and the Lost World of Tambun.
  • Art and Culture: The city boasts vibrant street art, museums, and cultural festivals.

How to Get to Ipoh From KL?

There are three ways you can get to Ipoh:

  • By Train: Taking the ETS (Electric Train Station) at KL Sentral is the easiest way to get to Ipoh. You will alight at the Ipoh Railway Station, which is also considered one of the top tourist spots in the city. The ride can take up to 2.5 hours. You can buy tickets at the Ticket Counter in KL Sentral or online.
  • By Bus: If you’re looking for a budget-friendly transportation option, you can ride from the Main Kuala Lumpur Bus Terminal or Terminal Bas Selatan (TBS). Here’s a link to the bus schedule. The bus ride can take anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours.
  • By Car: And if you enjoy road trips, you can travel by car taking the highway route. The car ride can take up to 2 hours and 40 minutes, depending on traffic.

TIP: Click here to read our article featuring our favorite toddler toys to keep our daughter entertained during road trips.

When is the Best Time to Visit Ipoh?

The best time to visit Ipoh is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this period, the weather is generally pleasant, with less rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

However, Ipoh can be visited year-round as the city experiences a tropical climate with warm temperatures and occasional rain throughout the year.

What Are the Most Exciting Things to Do in Ipoh?

A large, white colonial-style building with a central domed structure, surrounded by green trees and parked cars, under a clear blue sky.

What to do in Ipoh? I’m glad you asked! This peaceful town has many must-visit spots that can be easily overlooked by passersby. Even just by roaming the streets, you can see how much character the city has. You can find street art in the city’s historic parts, the majestic colonial buildings, and many more attractions in Ipoh that makes the city thrum with life and culture.

Are you excited to take this journey with us? So are we! Let’s start.

Free (And Cheap) Things to Do: Exploring Ipoh on a Budget

1. Revel in the charm of Concubine Lane and Market Lane

Concubine and Market Lane are two of the most-visited historic streets in Ipoh. It gained quite the popularity because of its mural-lined walls and the cute boutique shops and cafes catering to tourists. If you’re a first-timer in Ipoh you should definitely go visit just for the experience.

There are plenty of handcrafted items and souvenirs available, and of course, you can’t miss the stores selling local snacks and desserts. If you don’t want to visit while it’s too crowded, go on a weekday and in the afternoon.

Oh, and make sure to bring a camera because there are a few spots and cafes that are great for a photo op. The colorful decorations and murals adorning the cafes and walls make for a wonderful backdrop for any photo.

2. Relax and unwind at Kong Heng Square

Just a few minutes walk from Concubine Lane is Kong Heng Square, another hidden gem of Ipoh. It used to be deserted but was renovated into a unique hangout place for visitors to shop and dine.

Kong Heng Square is much more peaceful than Concubine Lane but just as hipster and vibrant. It’s a wonderful place to stroll, go window shopping, or hunt for local delicacies.

The Kong Heng Square Artisan Market is especially a hit with tourists because of the variety of stalls selling trinkets, crafts, food, and desserts.

3. Capture the colors of mural-spotting in Ipoh Old Town

Visit Ipoh Old Town to see the famous “Art of OldTown,” which consists of 7 murals brought by the collaboration of OldTown White Coffee and the City Council of Ipoh.

The murals were created by famous Lithuanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic. One of the murals, the “Old Uncle with Coffee Cup,” is on the wall outside the famous OldTown White Coffee cafe. Another notable mural found in the Han Chin Pet Soo history museum is “Evolution,” a wonderful depiction of the tin mining industry that paved the way for the city’s development a hundred years ago.

4. Explore the dynamic street art scene at Mural Art’s Lane

The street art scene in Ipoh has been booming and gaining attraction since its first introduction in the city. With historic areas like Concubine Lane, Ipoh Old Town, and Mural Arts Lane, it’s safe to say that art will always remain part of Ipoh’s culture.

Mural Art’s Lane is filled with local street art that depicts the life and culture of Malaysians, and it was an initiative by local artist and teacher Eric Lai. Plenty more murals exist in other parts of the town, and even stores have their own murals to promote their business. The number of murals adds up every year, and soon enough, you’ll be able to see new paintings pop up each time you visit Ipoh.

5. Hunt for treasures at Memory Lane Flea Market

Free up your Sunday morning to visit the Memory Lane Flea Market. Memory Lane offers a unique experience because it literally feels like you’re walking down memory lane as you browse several stalls for antiques, clothing, pre-loved items, shoes, and more.

Many visitors felt the nostalgic atmosphere as they walked from shop to shop, looking for old treasures to bargain for. The market opens early, at 6.00 AM, and you can spend half the day shopping and hunting for classic and old collector’s items.

6. Admire the elegance of Ipoh Railway Station

If you’re traveling to Ipoh by train, you’ll have the luxury of stumbling into Ipoh Railway Station, one of the hottest tourist attractions in the city.

Ipoh Railway Station is a historical colonial building built during British rule. Its features resemble those of Indian structures, and the architecture is heavily inspired by the Moorish Empire, which is why it garnered the name “Taj Mahal of Ipoh.”

It’s a functioning station, and its facilities have been renovated to provide a better experience for travelers.

7. Escape to nature at Gunung Lang Recreational Park

Take a peaceful retreat where nature’s beauty is at its best. Gunung Lang Recreational Park is like a paradise in the center of Ipoh.

Here you are in for a treat as beautiful towering limestone walls surround them and a scenic view of greenery across serene waters. The park is a breath of fresh air right in the middle of the city.

There are plenty of activities for families and visitors to do, such as fishing, canoeing, caving, jungle trekking, and camping. Enjoy amenities including a kid’s playground, picnic spots, mini zoo and petting zoo, lookout tower, boat jetty, rest hut, jogging trails, and more!

8. Find peace at Tasik Cermin (Mirror Lake)

You can traverse the majestic waters of Mirror Lake or Tasik Cermin for a small fee. The lake is hidden between tall limestone walls and an enchanting formation of hills and trees that looks like it came straight out of a movie.

It was named “Mirror Lake” because of the perfect and clear mirror image reflected in its waters. Beyond the 90-meter mining tunnel you have to walk through, another lake awaits you can ride across on a boat ride.

On the way, you’ll pass by gorgeous scenery, which is a perfect time to take out your camera and snap some shots. If you ride on the boat, you’ll reach Tasik Cermin 2, which takes you to more attractions, including the colorful Monkey Swing Playground and Rocky Sky Ladder, a perfect spot to let your kids play. There’s only one way to experience Tasik Cermin, and that’s to see it for yourself.

9. Channel peace at Sam Poh Tong Temple

Among the other cave temples in Ipoh, Sam Pong Tong is one of the most famous, along with Perak Tong Cave Temple. While Perak Tong Temple is known for its interior cave design, Sam Poh Tong Temple’s main highlight is the one-of-a-kind and serene garden in the front and a tortoise pond at the back of the temple.

The garden has a picturesque landscape, perfect for picture-taking, and you can buy vegetables to feed the tortoises at the pond.

10. Seek serenity at Ling Sen Tong Temple

Ling Sen Tong Temple is home to several colorful and vibrant sculptures and figures from Chinese Mythology, particularly “Journey to the West.” It also features statues of animal zodiac, Taoist and Buddhist figures.

The temple is built within one of the three limestone caves in Ipoh (near Mirror Lake) and can be explored in less than 20 minutes.

11. Embrace tranquility at Kwan Yin Yong Temple

Kwan Yin Tong Temple, also known as Perak Guan Yin Temple, is one of the temples found in the limestone tower Gunung Rapat, which also houses other temples. This Buddhist Temple is a tribute to the Goddess of Mercy, Bodhisattva Guanyin. Several statues of Guan Yin and colorful murals line the cave walls of the temple.

12. Reach ultimate bliss at the Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple

Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple, sometimes spelled Kek Loong Tong, translates to the “Temple of Ultimate Happiness.” Many visitors claim that the Kek Lok Tong Temple has a nice environment, nestled in a beautiful cave with many statues of worship.

The temple also leads to a lush garden with picturesque views of limestone hills and beautifully preserved stalagmites and stalactites.

13. Discover the wonders of Perak Tong Cave Temple

Perak Tong Cave Temple is among Ipoh’s most famous and visited temples. This Taoist temple is situated atop a hill with a cave entrance.

When you enter the cave, you’ll see the 40-foot golden statue of Buddha in a sitting position. Meanwhile, colorful murals of Buddhist figures and characters from Chinese mythology wrap around the cave walls. The exercise is not over because you still have to hike to reach the peak, which can take approximately 15 to 25 minutes.

While the climb is a bit challenging, the view from the top beats everything else.

14. Dive into the art of filmmaking at the Yasmin Ahmad Museum

Yasmin Ahmad Museum is a nod to the Malaysian filmmaker and legend Yasmin Ahmad. The museum aims to educate and inspire future generations to write their own scripts for commercials and films. It’s located in a small space, but the location was well thought out because it’s near where Yasmin shot her famous works.

Whether you’re a long-time admirer or have no knowledge about the late Yasmin Ahmad, the museum provides a glimpse into her works, including her films, poetry, and photography, an experience to remember.

Ticketed Adventures: Must-See Attractions in Ipoh

15. Adventure awaits at Lost World of Tambun

Are you ready for some family-friendly fun? Have the best time of your life at Ipoh’s Lost World of Tambun, featuring six theme parks and three night parks, with exciting activities waiting for you! Prepare to soar and scream on their thrilling rides at the Amusement Park or learn all about Ipoh’s tin mining history and culture at Tin Valley.

Love animals? Visit Lost World’s Tiger Valley and Petting Zoo, interact with the world’s majestic wild cats, and get to know their other friends in the wild. Meet over 55 animal species, including Giraffes, Zebras, Ostriches, Rabbits, Tortoises, Snakes, birds, and more! For the ultimate adrenaline-filled experience, the Amusement Park will challenge you to the extreme with activities like High Ropes, Zipline, Caving, Super Adventure Race, etc.

Ready to be part of the excitement at the Lost World of Tambun? Buy your tickets here now!

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16. Rejuvenate at Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

Stressed out? It’s time to pamper yourself at one of Ipoh’s most luxurious and nature-centric resorts. Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat offers a relaxing stay amidst nature’s beauty.

This hotel sanctuary won a Travel + Leisure Luxury Awards Asia Pacific 2024 for Malaysia’s Best Hotel Spa, and it’s no wonder why. Here you can enjoy premium facilities such as the Geothermal Hot Springs Dipping Pools, Thermal Steam Cave, Ice Bath, Meditation Cave, Crystal Cave, Garra Rufa Doctor Fish Pool, Fitness Centre, and Freeform Swimming Pool.

Everything about the resort will take your breath away, from the greenery and views to the well-maintained amenities. Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat promises a peaceful retreat for families and visitors to remember.

Click here to book your Banjaran Hotsprings Day Pass.

17. Unveil mysteries at Kellie’s Castle

Moving on to the weird side of town, Kellie’s Castle is a popular tourist destination because of the many haunted stories associated with it. Looking at it, it does seem like it’s straight out of a medieval horror movie, especially when you see it at night.

But beyond its reputation of being haunted, it is a fascinating and tragic history of Scottish plantation owner William Kellie-Smith and his family. Discover the mysterious allure behind Kellie’s Castle, find out if the haunted stories are true, and experience it yourself!

18. Experience tranquility at Gaharu Tea Valley

Escape the busy city life and go on a nature escapade at Gaharu Tea Valley, the largest Gaharu plantation in Malaysia. Enjoy stunning views and picturesque landscapes during the Van Tour Ride.

One of the stops is Hilltop View & Café, where you can savor a cup of organic agarwood tea made fresh from the plantation. Families can engulf themselves in the beauty of Gaharu Trees in an unparalleled trekking experience. Don’t end the day without making your mark in the environment; Gaharu Tea Valley offers an Agarwood Tree Planting Program for everyone who wants to see the world bloom with Gaharu trees!

Be part of this wonderful experience, and get your tickets at Klook.

19. Step into whimsy at Tinitin Town

Welcome to every kid’s paradise, Tinitin Town, an indoor playground on Level 2 of the Master Badminton Club. With 9,000 square feet of play area, kids below 10 will have an awesome time trying out all the attractions and doing the activities.

The play area is always well-maintained, and the toilet is kept clean. Parents, you can join too! Make your inner child happy and bond with your kids while exploring all the exciting attractions: Adventurous Playground, Supermarket Role Play Zone, Rainbow Climbing Net, Sand Pit, and more.

Create an unforgettable experience with your kids at Tinitin Town. Buy the tickets here.

20. Explore the depths of Gua Tempurung (Tempurung Cave)

Gua Tempurung, or Tempurung Cave in Gopeng, Perak, boasts beautiful limestone formations, a true sight for sore eyes for first-time visitors. It’s a popular spot for spelunkers and cave enthusiasts and even more for visitors who want to try their first cave exploration.

Tempurung Cave has five domes, each with its own charm, and different formations of well-preserved stalactites, stalagmites, limestone, and marbles adorning the cave. They offer package options for beginners and seasoned cave explorers alike, so even if you’re a first-timer, it’s definitely worth trying!

Buy tickets to Gua Tempurung here.

21. Be charmed by the Qing Xin Ling Leisure and Cultural Village

Note: As of this writing, Qing Xin Ling Leisure and Cultural Village is temporarily closed until further notice.

Eat & Drink in Ipoh: Savor the City’s Culinary Delights

1. Nam Heong White Coffee: Discover Ipoh’s Signature Brew

Your trip to Ipoh is not complete without trying their famous signature white coffee. There are a lot of coffee places in Ipoh, but the one that caught our attention was Nam Heong White Coffee, the birthplace of the original Ipoh white coffee.

2. Dive into Halal Delicacies at New Hollywood Canning Garden

Indulge in Chinese delicacies at New Hollywood Canning Garden located at Taman Canning. They have a great selection of Chinese and Malay dishes that are Halal-certified.

3. Savor the Silkiest Tau Fu Fah at Funny Mountain

Now, let’s talk about the sweeter things in life. Funny Mountain Tau Fu Fah is a popular dessert place in Ipoh. They serve authentic, old-fashioned, and the smoothest, silkiest, and softest soya beancurd or tau fu fah that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

4. Bring Home the Famous Kaya Puffs from Kedai Biskut Sin Eng Heong

Take home the best kaya puffs and other Chinese biscuits from Kedai Biskut Sin Eng Heong. It’s probably one of the most crowded places for tourists because many people line up just to buy their kaya puffs, so prepare for a long queue!

5. Obsess Over the Iconic Nasi Ganja at Kedai Kopi Yong Suan

Kedai Kopi Yong Suan is the talk of the town for serving the best nasi ganja (weed rice). It’s so popular that people are willing to wait for hours just to get their daily serving of nasi ganja.

They also serve other breakfast items like coconut sambal, chutney, and coffee made from locally farmed coffee beans.

6. Experience Deliciousness at Ipoh Tuck Kee Restaurant

Whether you’re in the mood for hearty noodles or dinner, Ipoh Tuck Kee Restaurant offers heavy meals for every palate. The restaurant is located downtown at Jalan Yau Tet Shin Street. The best part about their noodles is they are served with a variety of side dishes like octopus, fried chicken wings, and chicken feet.

Where to Stay in Ipoh (For Families)?

Staying at a nice hotel is the conventional way to spend a weekend getaway, but why not shake things up during your stay in Ipoh? Join Lost World of Tambun for a fun glamping experience with your family! Spend your nights close to nature under the comfort of your glamping tent.

If you ask me, it’s the perfect accommodation for taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Lost World of Tambun Glamping will feature enjoying nature’s amenities, such as the natural hot springs, lush tropical jungles, and more exciting destinations! Sounds fun? Book your experience at Klook and have an unforgettable stay at Ipoh.

While you enjoy your side of nature, our family will stay at the M Roof Hotel and Residences because it’s the closest location to the Start/Finish line of the Ipoh Half-Marathon, which we’ll be joining on 26 and 27 July.

Click here to check availability and rates for M Roof Hotel.

Is Ipoh Worth Visiting?

We’re hoping it is, and we’re looking forward to our family trip to Ipoh!

Ipoh is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. From its rich history and vibrant culture to its mouthwatering culinary delights, this charming city offers every visitor a unique and memorable experience. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a foodie, Ipoh has something special in store for you. So, pack your bags and embark on a delightful journey to uncover the many wonders of Ipoh. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!


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About Marlieke Kemp-Janssen:

Marlieke is the mom of a four-year-old girl and, together with daddy, they love living in and exploring Kuala Lumpur. As well as being the founder of Kuala Lumpur with Kids, Marlieke is a digital marketing consultant who has helped small businesses grow through her company Aureum Hospitality Advisers.

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