Located approximately 21 kilometres (13 miles) south of Ipoh in Batu Gajah, Kellie’s Castle is one of Malaysia’s most mysterious colonial structures. William Kellie-Smith moved to Malaya, now Malaysia, in the late 19th century and made a fortune from growing rubber. Wealthy Smith started building a mansion for his wife. He wanted the grandest and most opulent estate in all of Malaya. With a mixture of styles including Roman, Moorish and Indo-Saracenic as well as numerous eccentric decorations, Kellie’s Castle is an architectural marvel. But after his death in 1926, the Kellie family sold the property. The jungle quickly reclaimed the unfinished mansion. Today, it’s said to have several hidden passageways and whispers of the supernatural.
Limestone hills and cliffs surround Ipoh. Not only do they provide impressive and photogenic landscapes, but they also contain extensive cave systems. Some have been transformed into Buddhist temples. The temples creatively use the cavernous space which is full of relics and religious icons.
Popular ones to visit on a day trip from Ipoh include Perak Temple, Sam Poh Tong Temple and Kek Lok Tong Temple. Vibrant colours decorate the exterior, as burning incense wafts among the bronze statues interspersed between stalactites and stalagmites. Tourists can visit several temples in a single day by either driving, hiring a taxi or using Grab.
Tempurung Cave, or Gua Tempurung in Malay, is among the largest limestone caves in Malaysia outside of Sarawak. Stretching for almost 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) and consisting of five chambers, the caves offer an intriguing experience in Perak, approximately 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) from Ipoh. Inside, look up and see how the top resembles a coconut shell with distinct markings and characteristics. Then stroll past stalagmites, stalactites and unusual rock formations as thousands of bats hide in the inky darkness. Visitors can choose between different packages which include wet and dry tours. Expect to squeeze through gaps and slide down walls in the internal obstacle course and wade through water in the wet tours. The dry ones are easier to navigate. Adventurous travellers should consider this day trip from Ipoh. Tickets range from RM20 ($5.10) to RM50 ($12.70) depending on the type of tour.
Perak’s former capital, Taiping, sits approximately one hour northwest of Ipoh. The area played a significant role in Malaysia’s once prosperous tin mining industry. Stroll through the streets and find more than 30 colonial buildings as well as traditional shophouses and the Taiping Zoo. But the main appeal is the central lake and park transformed from a former tin mine. Highlights include walking around the lake, snapping photographs of the centuries-old trees and admiring the scenery that resembles a park in rural England more so than tropical Malaysia. The Telegraph Office Museum, one of Taiping’s newest attractions inside the oldest colonial building (1885) is worth visiting too.
The Kampar River rates as one of the top day trips from Ipoh for thrill-seekers. With a total of 14 rapids ranging in difficulty from Class I to Class III, visitors can expect a day of adrenaline-pumping fun. Prices start at RM170 ($43.30) per person, including a safety induction, all equipment and a professional rafter to guide beginners. Sessions start at either 9:00am or 1:00pm lasting a total of two to three hours.