Gunung Lang – Ipoh’s Hidden Attraction

By Jerry Francis

It has taken about two decades to turn scenic Gunung Lang, which is nestled in the midst of limestone outcrops, into a recreational park with a potential for becoming a tourist attraction. Despite all the time spent and an expenditure of over RM11 million, Gunung Lang still fails to achieve its desired objective which is to be a recreational park as a getaway for city folks and also to attract tourists . . .

A Scenic Cocoon in the Heart of Ipoh

So why its obscurity?

Gunang Lang still lies in scenic majesty undiscovered and unexplored by Ipohites and tourists alike.  Ask the average man-in-the-street about Gunung Lang and chances are one would be greeted with a blank stare and the retort, “Gunung What?”

So what is the reason for its obscurity and at whose feet should the blame for its lack of prominence be placed?

Gunung Lang is located just north of the city off Jalan Kuala Kangsar and easily accessible by road. It has a lake surrounded by greenery and limestone outcrops. It was first identified and adopted by the Rotary Club of Ipoh for development into a family recreational park; much publicity was given but with very little progress. It was unique then as it could only be approached through a cave, which has now been sealed off for safety reasons.

As the proposed project would be a major undertaking, it was later decided by the Ipoh City Council that it would take it over. It allocated a lot of funds towards its development, which was supposed to have been completed in 1995.

However, the question of who would develop it was hotly debated later. The uncertainties arose when the state government announced that it would consider a proposal by the State Agriculture Development Corporation to develop the site as an agro-tourism project.

It was not until 2000 that it became clear that the city council would develop the park according to the design of the National Landscape Department, which was engaged as consultant.

Back to Nature Concept

The department also made the large allocation for the redevelopment of the park on a “Back to Nature” concept for both adults and children. The aim was to preserve its natural beauty as much as possible. There are about 100 plant species at the site seldom seen elsewhere in the county.

Covering an area of 30.35 hectares out of which 14.16 hectares consists of the lake, the park is divided into two sections.

It was opened in October 2000 and was closed after a couple of years for renovation and reopened in 2004. There is a man-made cascading waterfall (operates a few hours daily) with a large sign that is lighted up at night and can been seen from the highway.

Across the lake, which is stocked with fish such as lampan, tilapia and kelia, lies an inner landscaped park that is accessible only by boat. The boat trip, which takes about five minutes from the jetty at the office building, costs RM3 for adults and RM1.50 for children and senior citizens for a return trip. There are three boatmen and the boat departs whenever there are visitors.

Situated in the park are two watch towers, three kampong houses, a playground and mini zoo with deer, ostrich and rabbits. There are picnic grounds, a campsite, foot-paths, a boardwalk along the lake and plenty of Heliconia and Bougainvillea bushes.

The park is open from 8.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. daily except on Fridays when it is open till 4.00 p.m. There are few visitors during weekdays, however during weekends, the place is crowded with school children and companies hold their family days here.

A. Jeyaraj, who visited the park recently, noted that the place is relatively clean and a team of 22 workers carry out the day to day maintenance. It costs the city council RM200,000 annually to maintain it.

Lack of Visitors

In spite of being on the outskirts of the city and within easy reach by those with cars, the park has not been attracting visitors as many residents are not aware of its existence and even those who have heard of the name do not know where it is situated.

The inherent seclusion and tranquility of the place provides a perfect retreat for families to enjoy their weekends of relaxation. The surrounding limestone hills draped in lovely greenery is a living tapestry for the eyes.

Poor Signage

There is a lack of signage especially along the highway to divert some traffic to the park. Even at the entrance to the park there is no proper signage.

At the jetty there is a plaque giving general information. However, there is no site plan of the area and visitors going to the other side of the lake have to walk aimlessly not knowing what the attractions are.

Improvements Needed

The kampong houses need sprucing up. This is an eco-park and the plants and trees should be labeled and brief descriptions given. The focus should be more on landscape rather than as an animal park. Maybe the deer and ostrich can be let loose or given to other petting zoos.

With few recreational activities there is little to do in the park other than strolling. The park needs hiking trails, hill climbing and exploration of the caves for the more adventurous.

The Perak House adjacent to the jetty needs to be maintained. A few household items should be placed inside the house.

Nor Sarul Rizal bin Kassim, assistant officer of the city council’s landscape and recreation department located at the park, said that University Pendidikan Sultan Idris in Tanjung Malim has carried out a study on the park for the past two years and would submit its proposals for improvement soon.

Aggressive Marketing Necessary

Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir, has called on the city council to upgrade Gunung Lang into a recreational cum tourist spot for both local and foreign visitors. “I’ve asked MBI to find ways to improve the park so it will become a viable tourist attraction,” he said.

There is no denying that it is a great location with a lovely environment of limestone hills and a cave, but the marketing for the facility is very poor. The city council should go on a more aggressive marketing drive to let members of the public know more about it scenic attractions.

Ipoh has its scenic attractions. It is time that a concerted effort is made to promote one of its hidden treasures.

For enquiries, call: 05-5062088.


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13 thoughts on “Gunung Lang – Ipoh’s Hidden Attraction

  1. In Ipoh, developments are approved without studying traffic conditions. There is only one main access/exit road to Bercham, Pengkalan, and almost every part of Ipoh. Road congestion and traffic jams now have caused a lot of frustration among Ipoh residents. If this is bad, imagine if the amount of traffic in Ipoh in doubled. Clearly, in this aspect, Ipoh is not ready to grow bigger.

    In the case of Gunung Lang, all vehicles going towards the city must pass through the traffic lights junction at Wing Onn Garden and Gunung Lang. Even those using the entry/exit at the road parallel to the expressway will inevitably turn into this junction to go to the city. As it is now, the junction is a traffic bottleneck during peak hours. What is the effect of increased traffic from Gunung Lang to the already congested Kuala Kangsar Road (Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman)?

    Before MBI approves further development there, at least one other entry/exit into the area from another direction must first be created. This means building bridges across the railway tracks and Sungei Kinta. A road alongside the river will provide access/exit from Gunung Cheroh but the Indian temple may protest.

  2. i would like to study more about gunung lang for my landscape projects. about finding ways to solve this site’s problem. may i know who may i contact and ask more details about gunung lang? can anybody tell me what to improve about gunung lang and how u guys think about solving this problem? in additions, what are the suggestions to enhance this place so that it will become the main attraction of ipoh. thanks

  3. I was there once and was never think of going or bringing oversea friends there again due to the poor management and poor maintenance.What a disgrace!I think more efforts and actions should be taken to improve in order to attract more tourists in future!

  4. I went there as an overseas visitor in January 2011 and the cafe is a disgrace. Dirty, unwelcoming and a very poor choice of food and drink. We were made to feel as though we were not wanted by the cafe operators.

  5. The tunnel from the back is not man-made but was there before Gunung Lang was commercialized. The tunnel is big enough for a 4WD vehicle to pass through. Later DBI built an iron grill across the tunnel to prevent its use, so that the only access is using the boats to get across the lake. Otherwise the boat operators will not get any customers.

  6. I have some ideas on how to commercialise this wonderful piece of natural beauty within the city…. but I’ll wait for now. Let’s hear some suggestions from various other readers first. 😉

  7. A park is a serene place of natural beauty, a place to sit and stroll, chat with a friend, read a book, not necessary places of hyper activities, well, at least not all over the place.

    The beauty of Gunung Lang are its limestone hills, the cave, the artificial tunnel for vehicular access to the park, the vegetation and the bodies of water. The concept of the development at Lang is fundamentally flawed. Buildings are badly designed and constructed, the garden landscape poorly executed while workers try their best to right the wrong. Theme buildings are hollow, unusable, and not authetic in any way – relocating a few good old kampong houses would have done the trick. There is not even a decent cafe in this isolated area. And yet, we are told we are not meant to complain about these things.

    What has to be done to improve it? Can we start all over again?

  8. I feel let this place has it is, if many flocks into this Lang Hill. Then it will be another Polo Ground and Taman DR Senivasagam, all the hawkers will come and settle down. DBI will be unable to do anything, because most of the hawkers will be their own relatives. They will dirty this place and the air will be surrounded with laksa smell! U know what I mean.

  9. Nothing to do in this park. No good restaurant to hang around. Beautiful scenery though. Allowing fishing tour, kayaking or bamboo floats with a surround jogging track should lure more people over. With additional activities, this place will be much better than Taman DR Senivasagam nor Polo ground.

  10. I used to go to Gunung Lang almost every weekend with my family.There is actually nothing to do,but to feed the fishes in the lake and have a stroll around the surroundings.DBI must buck up and add more attractions to lure more visitors.Perhaps,DBI can work with the tourist industry players and in collabration with the tourist department of Perak to come up with a comprehensive plan,instead of doing it alone.

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