Lenggong: Malaysia’s Pre-historic Legacy

Cover Story

By Ili Aqilah, Nantini Krishnan

Photos: Luqman Hakim

The name Lenggong derives from several local myths. Different versions abound of how this cowboy-town got its name: one, according to the fourth edition of Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka (DBP) dictionary, the word ‘Lenggong’ in its direct translation is an ark; another, was about a man named Lenggong who was residing in the thick forest and discovered the place.

Despite being the smallest district in Perak, lush Lenggong was listed as an archaeological heritage site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2012 when researchers found evidence in the open-air and cave sites, of hominid history from 1.83 million to 1700 years ago. Since then, the town has been inundated with tourists curious about its history.

Aside from its prehistoric significance, the question arises as to whether Lenggong valley has more to offer its visitors? Ipoh Echo sent its team to find out more about the valley that has become one of the important areas for archaeological study in Peninsular Malaysia.

Many Other Touristic Sites Abound in Lenggong

Perak Man and the Caves of Lenggong

The most well known of the sites in Lenggong is of course Perak Man and the Caves. Among the many caves in Lenggong, Gunung Runtuh Cave hit the world’s spotlight when Perak Man, the oldest and most complete human skeleton found in Southeast Asia, was discovered by a team from Malaysia Science University (USM) in 1990 led by Datin Paduka Dato’ Professor Emeritus Siti Zuraina Abdul Majid.

Against all odds, Ipoh Echo had the good fortune to meet with one of the members of the original excavation team, Pak Rosli, who can still remember the moment they discovered the skeleton of the Man of Perak; the only Paleolithic figure found intact in the country.

“I can still remember Zuraina’s face when we discovered Perak Man. She told me, that this was one of the happiest moments in her life,” said Pak Rosli who was born and bred in Lenggong and who hopes that more should be done to boost Lenggong tourism.

Aside from Gunung Runtuh Cave, Teluk Kelawar Cave and Kajang Cave have also revealed some evidence of prehistoric burials. There are about twenty caves located at the large karst outcrop of Bukit Kepala Gajah. Together, these sites represent the significant stages in human history unrivaled in the region.

Due to its UNESCO status, visitors who are keen on visiting the historical sites will need to issue a formal letter to Lenggong Archaeological Museum before the visit, to book the tour.


Lenggong Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Gallery of the Lenggong Valley is also called Galeri Arkeologi Lembah. The gallery,  located on the eastern side of Sungai Perak, showcases the prehistoric archaeological heritage in Lenggong valley where Perak Man was discovered. The gallery consists of exhibition galleries, an administrative office, a meeting room and a research room.

Galeri Arkeologi Lenggong,
Jabatan Warisan Negara,
Kota Tampan Lenggong,
33400 Perak Darul Ridzuan.
Contact number: 05-7679700
Visiting Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 9am – 12pm, 3pm – 5pm
No admission fee is charged.
GPS Coordinates:  N 05°03’20.7″ E 100°57’45.1″
Email: info@heritage.gov.my


Lata Kekabu Waterfall

Lata Kekabu, located in the district of Lenggong, is surrounded by a forest reserve abundant with a diverse range of tropical trees. The road to the Park is less than a kilometre off the trunk road from Kuala Kangsar to Lenggong, Perak. Lata Kekabu is a popular destination among local and foreign nature lovers, who love to explore the pristine beauty of flora and fauna. There is also a jungle trekking route if you are adventurous. This place is known for its fresh air and is ideal for relaxing picnics during weekends. The park is well maintained and clearly signposted on the trunk road.

Open from 7am to 6pm.
No admission fee is charged.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 2.97′ E 100° 56.70′


Lenggong Touristic Sites

Lenggong Night Market

Night markets in Lenggong are open-air and you are able to find traders selling a variety of goods as you walk along the street including food, clothing, bags, shoes, handbags, hand phone accessories, toys, household items and others.

Nights Markets in Lenggong:
Day: Monday
Location: Tasik Raban Recreational Park
Time: 3pm – 7pm
Day: Wednesday
Location: Kg. Luat, Lenggong
Time: 3pm – 7pm
Day: Friday
Location: Lenggong Town
Time: 3pm – 9pm
Day: Sunday
Location: Kg. Sumpitan, Lenggong
Time: 3pm – 7pm


Kiah Pekasam

Pekasam is one of the methods used by the Malay people to preserve fish. During earlier days, villagers depended on rivers and pond for their source of fish supplies. During certain seasons, the amount of fish caught can be more than what the family can eat. Since there was no electricity and refrigerators available to keep the fish fresh, they would preserve the fish with salt and sour asam gelugor (garcinia atroviridis) to make it last longer. Pekasam fish (traditional preserved fish) is a Northern Malaysian speciality where freshwater fish are marinated in salt and toasted rice, followed by fermentation for two weeks. Lenggong is still famous for its ikan pekasam. Kiah Pekasam Enterprise is among the companies that carry out the fish preserving process and the best pekasam fish are all available here. Fermented fish is a traditional dish that is enjoyed by all Malaysians and its unique salty and sour taste can be quite addictive.

Address: Kiah Pekasam Enterprise, Kg. Pengkalan Ikan, Kuak, 33400 Lenggong.
Contact number: 012 437 7906 / 012 560 9567

Tasik Raban Restaurant

To get to Lenggong from Ipoh, one simply cannot miss Tasik Raban Restaurant located on the highway. What started as a small eatery for lunch, has grown into one of the must-visit-pitstop for all tourists heading to Lenggong or the north. Open daily, Tasik Raban Restaurant offers traditional and authentic Malay specials such as Tempoyak (fermented durian) fish, Pekasam, fresh Ulam (assorted local herbs), assorted seafood and grilled fish. Avid foodies will have trouble choosing what to have for lunch as the restaurant serves up to 90 different dishes every day. Aside from good food, the restaurant also has other facilities such as a prayer room, toilets and huge parking lots. The restaurant also has other branches located in Perak.

  1. Restoran Tasik Raban Lenggong; TK19, Kota Tampan, 33400 Lenggong, Perak (013 511 8659).
  2. Restoran Tasik Raban Stadium, Ipoh: PT 158964, Jalan Kompleks Sukan, 31400 Ipoh, Perak Stadium (013 597 8100).
  3. Restoran Tasik Raban Station 18: Pengkalan No. 1A Medan Stesen 19/5, Stesen 18, 31650 Ipoh, Perak (019 550 0236).
  4. Restoran Tasik Raban Seri Iskandar, 1@1A, Jalan PP7, Bandar Universiti Seri Iskandar, 32610 Seri Iskandar, Perak (019 521 5657).

The restaurant allows reservations, open from 11am till 4.30pm. Do call them if you plan to come in with a big group.


Lenggong Square

Lenggong Square, known as Dataran Lenggong offers a variety of food such as chicken rice, fried noodles, Nasi Kerabu,Nasi Lemak,satay, grilled foods and many more. Dataran Lenggong is just north of town centre for halal food. Drop by with family and friends to enjoy a satisfying halal meal at Lenggong Square.

GPS Coordinates: N 05°07’19.4″ E 100°58’24.3″


Get in touch with prehistoric Lenggong valley

With so many caves and historical sites waiting to be explored, archaeological enthusiasts and lovers of history will definitely enjoy the time spent in Lenggong. After being discovered in 1990, the skeleton of Perak Man has finally come back home and is residing at the Lenggong Archaeological Museum, so take this chance and learn all about the man!

Lenggong has many attractions on offer yet so much needs to be done by the Lenggong District Council (MDLG) to make it a friendlier town to visit. As a UNESCO heritage site, MDLG and the museum should provide more guides to cater to impromptu tourists who wish to visit the limestone caves.

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