By Tan Mei Kuan and Ili Aqilah
Or how to spend 3 days and 2 nights in Lonely Planet’s 6th Hottest Place to visit on RM300
On a tight budget this year? For a suggested travel duration of 3 days and 2 nights, Ipoh Echo shows solo and group travellers how to get the most bang for hard-earned bucks with the following wallet-friendly guide brimming with charming destinations, budget lodgings, best cheap eats and even PokeStops! After all, to quote the late American travel writer, Eugene Fodor, “You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” Let the journey begin!
Eat, Sleep, Play in Ipoh for under RM300
From as simple as bed and breakfast, here is a list of accommodation options you can consider:
A recent addition, Rumah Khizanat is located in Canning Garden and just a walking distance away from two of Ipoh’s signature breakfast spots: New Hollywood Restaurant and Vegas Restaurant. Currently there are two rooms that can fit up to four people each. This bed and breakfast is part cafe and library. For just RM30 a night (per person) and its strategic location (easy access to town via bus and UBER), Rumah Khizanat is highly recommended for everyone!
Rumah Khizanat is located at 24, Jalan Lee Kwee Foh, 31400 Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridzuan. Reservations can be made through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +6012 231 1471 (Nazir) or contact them via Facebook at www.facebook.com/khizanat.
Echo for Pokemon Go: The nearest Pokestop is at Canning Park, a five-minute walk from the B&B.
A combination of black-wear boutique and a mini library, Rumah Ipoh caters to those who treasure the quiet-Ipoh vibe. Owned by Wani Ardy, a well-known writer, Rumah Ipoh has two rooms available for guests. Inspired by the late Yasmin Ahmad, the rooms are named after two main characters of one of Yasmin’s movies, Sepet. Jason room can fit up to six individuals at a time (bunk beds and sleeping pad) while Orked room is suitable for a small family (maximum two adults, two toddlers). The charge for Jason’s is RM20 per night/person (weekdays) and RM25 per night/person (weekends). As for Orked, the whole room costs RM50 for weekdays and RM60 for weekends.
This bed and breakfast is located at Jalan Khoo Cheng Cheow (available on Waze). For reservations contact (Whatsapp/SMS only) +6017 602 1336 or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/rumahipoh.
Chokodok Reggae House
Featured previously in our 230th issue, Chokodok Reggae House charges as low as RM15 per head per night. Chokodok also has a cafe serving both western and local food at a reasonable price. If you are lucky, you will also get to see one of the owners, Wir, who has a band called Balok People, performing live in the cafe.
Located at 175 Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah, opposite a police station. Reservations can be made via booking.com or airbnb.com.
Echo for Pokemon Go: The street of Jalan Sultan Iskandar comprises more than five Pokestops!
Also featured previously in the Echo, Container Hotel is situated at Kong Heng Square; one of Ipoh’s hot tourist spot. While single beds are RM45 per night, the queen size bed (for 2 persons) is only RM80. Each bed is complete with a space to store your bags and a roller shade for privacy. Situated right above Ipoh’s old coffee shops, the aromatic smell of Ipoh’s signature white coffee will definitely wake you up.
Container Hotel is located at 89-91, Jalan Sultan Yussuf, 30000 Ipoh. Reservations can be made at +605 243 3311 or email: email@example.com.
Echo for Pokemon Go: Choosing to stay here, you are putting yourself in one of the hottest places for Pokemon hunts. There are about 10 Pokestops around and Lure Party happens almost every night.
Places to see
Travellers on tight budgets will definitely love Ipoh because most of its attractions are either free-of-charge or inexpensive. While many would suggest the usual Ipoh’s iconic places, we list here some off-the-beaten-track places for you to visit day or night:
Mirror Lake is not your average tourist spot. Befitting its name, the emerald-hued water produces glass-like reflections of the verdant limestone hills along its perimeter. Located deep in a stone quarry, this hidden gem requires extra effort for a visit. Located off Jalan Sultan Nazrin Shah, sightseers will have to drive past some quarries then walk through a short tunnel and emerge on the other end to this postcard-perfect view (available on Waze). UBER might be able to get you there but no bus can go in. There is no entrance fee. (GPS: N 4° 33.55’ E 101° 7.175’ on Google Maps it is at: 4.559169, 101.119575)
Han Chin Pet Soo and Ho Yan Hor
Located next to each other, Han Chin Pet Soo used to be a clubhouse for miners back in 1893. Through the hard work of heritage enthusiast, Commander Ian Anderson and his team from ipohWorld, and sponsored by Kinta Properties, the three-storey building is now a museum packed with rare artifacts to recreate the look, feel and ambience of the Hakka Club in its heyday. There is no fee but reservations must be made. After your tour, the museum welcomes donations.
As for Ho Yan Hor, it is a museum that captures the story of the progression of the Ho Yan Hor tea. In 1945, Dr Ho Kai Cheong invented the Ho Yan Hor herbal tea to help Malaysian overcome heatiness and common cold. Guests of the museum will definitely enjoy the photographic opportunities and tea samples. Entrance is free but for larger groups, it is advisable to call in advance.
Both Han Chin Pet Soo and Ho Yan Hor are located at Jalan Bijeh Timah, 30000, Ipoh Perak. Reservations for Han Chin Pet Soo can be made at www.ipohworld.org/reservations, +605 241 4541. For Ho Yan Hor, swing by www.facebook.com/HYHMuseum or call +605 241 2048 for more details.
The best way to circle around Ipoh is to take a mural tour on your own. From international painter Ernest Zacharevic to local talents such as Eric Lai, Kareem Kai and more, you definitely will be amazed by the amount of unique murals available around town. Some of the more famous murals in Ipoh are located at Ipoh’s Old Town area and Jalan Masjid Kampung Kuchai (opposite Panglima Kinta Mosque).
Echo for Pokemon Go: As you go walk around discovering murals, tons of Pokestops are awaiting for you!
Lovers of history will definitely enjoy this DIY tour. While physical maps are available at the tourist centre, you can also download it at www.ipohworld.org. Among the historical buildings on the map are the Arlene Terrace, Birch Clock Tower, KTM Ipoh Station and more.
The Geological Museum
The sole Geological Museum in the country was built in 1957 within the Minerals and Geoscience Department of Malaysia along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah. Featuring over 3000 specimens, the most precious one of all is the one and only single-crystal cassiterite which weighs a whopping 87kg in Malaysia! The priceless tin ore was found in the Kinta Valley.
Admission is free. For group guided visits, please forward advance application to the Minerals and Geoscience Department of Malaysia or apply online via http://www.jmg.gov.my.
Opening hours: 9am-12.30pm, 2pm-4.30pm (Monday to Thursday), 9am-12pm, 3pm-4.35pm (Friday). Tel: +605 540 6000.
Lost World of Tambun (LWOT) Hot Springs & Spa By Night
We saved the best for last, a visit to Ipoh wouldn’t be complete without a visit to LWOT. The park has recently added more hot spring pools that have different temperatures and the petting zoo is available at night. The night park opens daily from 6pm till 11pm. Tickets are priced at RM35 per person.
Echo for Pokemon Go: 27 Pokestops. ‘Nuff said.
Aside from these attractions, you can also visit the plethora of caves with free admission such as Tambun Cave, Kek Lok Tong temple, Sam Poh Tong temple and many more.
Best Cheap Eats
Most of the locations listed above are located within the Old Town and New Town vicinity, where some of Ipoh’s finest hawker treats are served just down the street. Perfect for breakfast and lunch, these eateries usually have many street foods under one roof. For instance, Loke Wooi Kee coffee shop off Jalan Raja Muda Aziz offers hor hee (noodle in fish soup base), dried curry mee, popiah (spring roll), chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll), char kuew teow (stir-fried rice noodle), economy rice, kai see hor fun (chicken with flat rice noodles), dai gao min (peanut pancake), Ipoh white coffee, rojak (fruit and vegetable salad), caramel custard and more. The same variety and pricing are also found in Thean Chun Restaurant, Kong Heng Restaurant, Nam Heong Coffee Shop and Sin Yoon Loong Coffee Shop, all located along Jalan Bandar Timah. Each is worth a second visit for all the frugal gourmands out there!
Meanwhile, the Sweet and Tasty Food Court at Jalan Sultan Idris Shah (Just next to the Main Convent) has its own carpark for convenience and a ‘RM2’ shop next door for those last minute items you left at home. The food court has a huge giant fan to fan off your travel fatigue.
Check out these busy night markets too where you can eat the best for less: Pekan Razaki (Monday), Ipoh Garden East (Tuesday), Bercham (Wednesday and Sunday), Menglembu (Thursday and Saturday) and First Garden (Friday).
Favourite Travel Souvenirs
If you have a few ringgit to spare, you can visit the Memory Lane morning market on Sunday along Jalan Horley. It is a dream venue for those interested in unique vintage and second-hand goods in a funky outdoors market setting.
Get your hands on Ipoh’s famous kaya puff from Sin Eng Heong Biscuit Shop along Jalan Mustapha Al-Bakri and more traditional pastries from Yee Hup and Ching Han Guan Biscuits Sdn Bhd, both along Jalan Sultan Iskandar. Meanwhile, Yee Thye Cake House is just a stone’s away along Jalan Theatre.
A sample itinerary for a budget traveller
RM30 x 2 nights (lodging) + RM30 x 3 days (a mix of bus and UBER) + RM15 x 8 main meals + RM20 (souvenirs) = RM290.
The world’s largest travel guide book publisher, Lonely Planet, has placed Ipoh at Number 6 spot in the list of the ten must-visit destinations in Asia in 2016. Ipoh on a shoestring is equally captivating because as the saying goes, the best things in life are (well maybe not quite but reasonable enough) free.