Ipoh: My Kind of Town


The following are my reasons to tempt my friends and family to visit Ipoh. Why not check yours out!

Why Ipoh?

Ipoh is a great, compact city – it has everything you need, but packs it all into a very manageable size. It’s a gourmand and nature-lover’s paradise.  Escaping to the many attractions like the beach, the hill resorts, mangrove reserve and the caves in the limestone outcrops, are all within an hour’s reach. Overseas friends enjoy the agritourism that is easily accessible.

What Do You Miss Most when you’re Away?

Reading the newspapers over a kopi tarik while waiting for my breakfast of roti canai or tosai, followed by char kway teow, in a coffee-shop.

What’s The First Thing You Do When You Return?

I go out to find some excellent local food. First stop, Funny Mountain Soya Bean in Jalan Theatre for tau fu fah. If I am up early, fresh toddy from a nursery in Gunung Rapat – it’s for medicinal purposes.

Where’s The Best Place To Stay?

Ipoh has a range of hotels from budget to boutique hotels.

Where Would You Meet Friends For A Drink?

At dusk, the Iskandar Polo Club for the stunning views of the multi-coloured hues of the setting sun against a backdrop of the limestone hills. It is “Members Only” so hang around the paddocks or clubhouse for an invitation.

Or Berlin’s Bier Houz in Greentown’s Business Centre for a selection of imported German beers.

Where Are Your Favourite Places For Lunch?

I hate places with slow service or loud music. The following are favourite haunts: Moven Peak in the centre of Ipoh, Hollywood Restoran in Canning Garden, Simpang Tiga for Indonesian cuisine, banana-leaf and duck curry in Samy’s Restoran in Chemor. Or for curry mee, try Keng Nam coffee-shop. Or just join any queue in front of a noodle shop at lunchtime. I’ve never been disappointed.

And For Dinner?

The food courts at about 6 p.m. No vendors have a greater understanding of food than those in Ipoh. They are dotted around town. No trip to Ipoh is complete without a sample of Ipoh Chicken taugeh, for supper. Almost all of Ipoh’s food places are excellent value – from RM3.00 a dish.

Where Would You Send A First-Time Visitor?

Emerald Lake, just past Jalan Kuala Kangsar Ipoh. For a walk, try the Heritage Trail for an interesting trip into memory lane, past architectural structures with fascinating origins. To the Gunung Rapat market on a Saturday morning for the sights, sounds and smells of a typical bustling market whilst being serenaded by the music played by musicians from a nearby home for the Blind. Wander the traditional medicine lanes in old town where dried seafood, ginseng and bird’s nests tickle the senses from open-fronted shops. There are several interesting shops around the main market in the centre of the city  that specialise in various products such as those that make the lion’s heads, in lion dancing.

Or have a day out to visit the Sam Poh Tong caves, Gua Tempurung, and Matang Mangrove Reserve.

What Would You Tell Them To Avoid?

Public toilets.

Public Transport or Taxi?

Public transport is very bad in Ipoh, but without a car, there is little choice but to use the taxis. They are not cheap anymore and the minimum charge may be RM10. Taxis never use the meter so a price has to be negotiated at the start of the journey. Be prepared to pick up additional passengers on the way to your destination.

Handbag or Moneybelt?

Definitely moneybelt. There are several reports of bag-snatching by people on motorbikes: be vigilant everywhere, keep your bags in sight always, and be careful when walking along the kerb. Be streetwise.

What Should I Take Home?

Pomeloes from the pomelo stalls opposite the Sam Poh Tong cave temple, groundnuts from Menglembu, kicap cair Cap Budak Terbang and kicap pekat Cap Orkid, available from most grocery shops, wooden clogs from the main market and bespoke suits from Sin Tit tailor along Jalan Brewster.

And If I’ve Only Time for One Shop?

If in the centre of Ipoh, head to Parkson Grand, where you’ll find all the top brands under one roof. Or else, try Jusco, in the outskirts.


8 thoughts on “Ipoh: My Kind of Town

    Thank you to MBI for being ‘super efficient’ in collecting parking summons but has contradictly being ‘poor efficient’ in providing recreational places for Ipohities. Why am I saying this? It is through personal experience and observation where the MBI enforcers will not miss any chance to produce parking summons even though the car owner has just parked temporarily while looking for parking coupon at nearby shops. Where does the collection for parking summons and parking coupons goes to? It should be contributed back to Ipohities by having more recreational parks for us to keep up with healthy lifestyles. I would like to draw the attention that Ipoh is very lacking of recreational parks where family could spend quality time such as having family picnic, jogging and relaxing. Sadly, we only have the overcrowded Taman Dr S.P. Seenivasagam , Taman Rekreasi Sultan Abdul Aziz (Padang Polo), Taman Rekreasi Gunung Lang and Kledang Hill. It always had been the same since I grew up in Ipoh over thirty years ago. Even the new developed Ipoh Riverfront has failed to attract crowds since it has been brought down by the smelly and dirty Kinta River. Other than that are only private parks which is restricted to public.
    On July last year, I had the opportunity to take look at the Ipoh Development Plan which was displayed at MBI building and I found out nothing extraordinary besides carrying out the old plan to develop more business areas but sadly none on recreational areas. Why can’t we be more creative?
    Why is this happening? Is it really about money? I presume our local corporate bodies and business tycoon are more than willing to contribute for the betterment of the people especially in providing recreational parks. Privatization would be another choice. Is it about locations? We have plenty of ex-tin mining ponds and also limestone hills which could be transformed to recreational area with good jogging tracks. For example, take a look at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) where the management has turned the ex-mining ponds into a nice park with good jogging tracks. Can’t we have the same for Ipohities?
    Truly, it is all about awareness on the needs of Ipohities to make Ipoh a better place to stay as displayed at one of the notice boards where ‘MBI’ stands for ‘Mencapai Bandaraya Idaman’. We could make a significant change for the future.

  2. So right Steven Lee..Indeed Taman DR is just about the only green lung in the heart of Ipoh..but it is falling below its potential..Ipoh really needs better tourist destinations,and I mean those of quality and which are well thought out.Something that would appeal both to locals and tourists would be ideal,and simultaneously add to the revenue of the state.For the best results,landscapers,people wth knowledge of botany,as well as business and marketing should come together and give their best.Don’t give up Steven Lee.Perhaps you have not yet knocked on the right door.Could it be the Datuk bandars office..

  3. I have prepared a write-up and layout plan on how to redevelop DR Seenivasagam Park so that the Park be revitalized with more facilities and activities for the community and most importantly, be self-sustaining. I have talked to many people including MBI but no one seems to be interested to do anything about the Park.

    In the meantime, things continue to deteriorate in the Park. The only thing that is worthwhile to see in the Park is probably the Japanese Garden, courtesy of Fukuoka city which pays for the upkeep costs.

    The train ride, ferris wheel and merry-go-round are long gone. The wooden bridge on the lake has been replaced with one made from cement. Even the water level of the lake has gone down. I don’t know if boat rides are still available.

    The Park is the green lung in the city center and more convenient for residents from all over Ipoh than the Polo Grounds. It used to attract many families during the weekends but there is hardly anything to do there now, other than having a picnic.

  4. I must say I agree with Norman.As much as I am fond of peaceful Ipoh, as a place to entertain visiting guests,it falls FAR behind Malacca or Penang…I find myself cracking my head when I have foreignguests. Gunung Lang?Rather mundane..and hot!What cld I suggest?Mebe part the DR park cld be converted into something along the lines of the Spice Gardens of Penang,with botanical name plates set up,and interesting paths to explore.A nice cosy theme cafe cld be part of the attraction.
    Perhaps sm thought cld be put into the restoration of old Heritage buildings.Both Penang and Malacca hv succeeded in transforming old abodes into stylish,quaint little hotels.In fact, in Penang there is even one very successful one that was once a British army officers mess.What stories these places have to tell,and not necessarily with a hefty price either.
    Ipoh being a food haven is also another issue,with the privilege being reserved for non-muslims! Other than Pakeeza and Koh Samui(which are both great eating spots),there is not a lot to try,with most chinese coffee shops being non-halal..
    And while I am wingeing,I may as well bring up one of my strongest grouses..The terrible smells that hit you as you walk along the open drains in ipoh! In fact I was at a well known hotel in ipoh yesterday,and as I walked from my car to the lobby,the smell hit me like a smack on the face.Parkson Grand is another offender.Am I the only one who detects that offensive odour that floats thru the ground floor,and virtually permeates into the clothes you buy there??? It is pretty obvious that it is coming from the huge over-flowing bins of rubbish along the side.This stench also overflows into the classrooms of the adjacent main convent.Poor girls..
    Indeed, I am not adverse to all the strong wonderful, smells that make up a part of Malaysias’ colourful culture, but dirty is dirty,and something needs to be done about it.

  5. I am an Ipohite and very proud of it… but the only problem I have since I had married a Malacca girl for my wife is that the historical state is much improving all year round.

    Every holiday spend will be back to Malacca with all the new tourist destination been built worth a visit, need not mentioned The spinning Taming Sari, The amazing Flor De LaPalma, The serenating River Cruise, The Planetarium and lots more which I myself cant prescribe….

    So, during my inlaw visit to Ipoh I have dificulties in showing them what best are we having in my town Ipoh..

    To me I bet we need some well planned tourist destination…

    1. Right on S.E.Y. We at Ipoh Echo are constantly highlighting dump sites, mosquito cultivation, and the lack of cleanliness in and around Ipoh. but we also need the co-operation of the community and have them wake up to doing their individual bit to keep our environment clean. So Ipohites, let’s band together and adopt a slogan like “If its to Be. Its Up to Me”. Send us pictures of the offenders, report dumps, highlight abuses. So S.E.Y pick up the baton and run with it.

  6. Thanks for your list of things to do in Ipoh. Such enthusiasm from a die-hard Ipoh person!

    But, hang on, which hotel in Ipoh qualifies as a boutique hotel? There is only one I can think of.

    Emerald Lake? Is that at Gunung Lang Recreational Park, off Jalan Kuala Kangsar?

    I have problems with your one-stop shopping. Well, it depends on what visitors want to buy, doesn’t it? Ipoh people would drive to KL just to shop at its shopping centres! I hope some indigenous Perak products, and produce, will be made available in one place in Ipoh. Will the newly renovated former Lam Look Ing Bazaar be the place for a ‘Ipoh specialist shopping centre’?

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