Cave temples, colonial buildings, traditional shophouses, and a thriving food scene said to be second only to Penang are just some of Perak’s highlights. Here’s how budget-conscious travellers can spend 48 hours in Ipoh, the state capital, to experience its cultural heritage, delicious food, and a visit to the mysterious Kellie’s Castle.
Before setting off
Ipoh sits approximately 200 kilometres (124 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur and 160 kilometres (99 miles) south of Penang’s George Town, making an ideal city for a stopover. The Kinta River divides Ipoh into the old and new towns. Colonial buildings such as the Railway Station, City Hall and various government offices sit inside the older part. The new town has a modern appearance filled with office blocks, retail outlets and an active entertainment scene. Ipoh itself is relatively small and tourists can easily walk around the city. But the cave temples and Kellie’s Castle are further away. Pro tip: Grab is an excellent and more affordable alternative to relying on taxis. Culture Trip recommends Mari Hostel, which is both affordable and sociable, with beds starting at just RM75 ($19) per night.
A recent tourism campaign put Perak and its capital Ipoh on the international radar. Visitors arriving in Ipoh will find reasonably good infrastructure. Those arriving at the bus station should be aware it’s located approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from the city centre and shouldn’t cost more than RM15 ($3.80) with Grab. The train station is in the heart of the city and tourists can walk to their hotel or hostel.
Start the day with a cup of the region’s famous Ipoh white coffee at Nam Heong White Coffee on Jalan Bandar Timah in the old town. Breakfast is available here too. Stroll through Ipoh’s old town and marvel at the elegantly designed shophouses with colourful façades and intricate patterns lining the street. Visit Masjid Negara (National Mosque), the early 20th-century British clock tower, Ipoh High Court, and Railway Station. While Ipoh’s colonial heritage isn’t as strong as Penang, the architecture is still elegant and representative of a bygone era. Pro tip: the tourist information office is on the right-hand side of the railway station and it offers a variety of leaflets, maps and information on Ipoh and Perak.
Have a coffee or soft drink at Plan B Ipoh on Jalan Panglima before visiting the nearby Miniature Wonders Art Gallery. The small gallery displays scenes from ancient China, including the Terracotta Army with handcrafted models made from dough. Cross the River Kinta and go straight to Mural Art’s Lane, a small path with street art dedicated to Perak’s heritage, food and local family life. Stroll through the new town, soak up the environment, snap a few photographs and buy souvenirs.
In the early evening, order a Grab to the MBI Clock Tower opposite Ipoh City Council. A giant flag flies at the one end of the park as the clock tower stands at the other. After a few photographs, exit on the northern side. Walk west along Jalan Dato Seri Ahmad Said for approximately half a kilometre before turning right on Jalan Raja Musa Aziz to Seenivasagam Gardens. A jogging area, Japanese-style gardens, and a small lake are inside the park. Next, walk further along the road for a few minutes to the Hindu Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniyar Temple and Buddhist cave temple. Be aware of stray dogs.
Ipoh doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene. But it does boast an impressive reputation for food every visitor can enjoy in 48 hours in Ipoh. Parade Food Court offers a selection of Chinese-style dishes and serves cold bottles of beer for a quiet drink or two.
The second part of 48 hours in Ipoh involves exploring the surrounding cave temples and Kellie’s Castle. For efficiency, use Grab to get from one destination to the next or hire a taxi driver for the day. Start early and expect to return in late afternoon.
Start the morning at Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong on Jalan Bandar Timah in Ipoh’s old town for a local-style breakfast and coffee. The first attraction is the mysterious, unfinished and potentially haunted Kellie’s Castle, which is approximately 21 kilometres (13 miles) from Ipoh in Batu Gajah. An eccentric Scottish colonialist commissioned the mansion for his family before suddenly passing away. Kellie’s Castle remains unfinished. Getting here can be challenging and tourists need to be patient if they rely on Grab. Ask the driver to wait at Kellie’s Castle for a ride back to Ipoh in exchange for a small fee or tip as getting back might be time-consuming.
The afternoon of day two on the 48 hours in Ipoh itinerary focuses on visiting the famous limestone cave temples. Stop at Sam Poh Tong and Ling Sen Tong after returning from Kellie’s Castle. Most tourists spend no more than an hour exploring these two adjacent temples. Use Grab again to reach Kek Lok Tong on the other side of the hill. Finally, visit Perak Tong, Ipoh’s most well-known cave temple approximately 20 minutes away by car. A highlight of Perak Tong, or Perak Temple, is climbing the 450 steps for a view of the city.
Evening and night
After an active day and productive 48 hours in Ipoh, head to St Patrick’s Irish Pub on Jalan Raja Ekram to knock back a few drinks and unwind. Live music and a selection of local and imported beers provide the perfect environment to reflect on Ipoh. Or head to one of the other bars lining Jalan Raja. Tourists will find several restaurants in this area offering mid-range dining experience too.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.