Ipoh Heritage Walk
Both tourists and locals claim that the best way to experience the city of Ipoh is to walk through it, immersing yourself in the culture. Head over to the tourist centre for a map of the city and start heading out! During the walk, you’ll be able to explore a side of the city that’s often hidden from plain sight, wandering through the mix of preserved shophouses and colonial buildings interspersed with historical facts written on plaques through the city. It makes for a fun and leisurely walk.
Ipoh has a plethora of artwork in the city, so while exploring the city, look out for some of the city’s famous murals that are scattered throughout the city.
Some of the more famous murals are the works of local artists such as Eric Lai and Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic. Both locals and travellers alike flock to these pieces, because they serve as great photo opportunities. So keep a sharp eye for them. If you’re interested in seeking out these pieces, maps with the locations of each of the murals and art pieces can also be picked up at the tourist centre.
Ho Yan Hor Museum
Ipoh’s rich history has been well-documented through its unique museums. Most of these museums are rather small, specialty museums that can all be covered in the span of a few hours.
The first of these is the Ho Yan Hor Museum or Tea Museum, is set in a refurbished shophouse lot, where you can explore at your own pace, reading about the famous herbal tea found here and the story of its founder. Admission is free, and, at the end of the museum, you’ll be invited to sample some of herbal tea, which can also be purchased as souvenirs.
Han Chin Pet Soo
Right next door to the Tea Museum is the Han Chin Pet Soo museum. Noted as one of the more popular museums in Ipoh, it’s housed in an old tin miners’ club, it details the stories of the tin industry and its people that helped develop Ipoh. As historians note, Ipoh was referred to as ‘The Vale of Tin and Sin’ during its glory days and as ‘The Vale of Tin and Tears’ during its bad days. The museum is rather comprehensive, with well-informed tour guides explaining the history through the exhibits. Do note that this museum only does guided tours at specific times, and slots may fill up quickly on busy days, so pre-booking online is much advised to avoid disappointment.
Yasmin at Kong Heng Museum
If you’re in Ipoh on the weekends, and especially if you’re a cinephile, you should visit the Yasmin at Kong Heng Museum, which is a favourite amongst locals in Malaysia. The museum highlights the works of the late Yasmin Ahmad, a local film auteur who is recognised as an icon of Malaysia. The museum often showcases her films and commercials, as well as displaying art projects that have been inspired by her works.
Thean Chun Coffeeshop
Ipoh is renowned for its street food. The easiest place to sample most of Ipoh’s famous cuisine is at the famous Thean Chun coffeeshop. Located at Jalan Bandar Timah, they are popular for their divine caramel custard and chicken and prawn hor fun. Other delicacies that can be found here are satay, chee cheong fun, and curry noodles.
Do note that you have to order your food at the respective stall and pay once the food is served. Drinks are by way of a waiter who will attend to your table to take down drink orders. The lively atmosphere of the coffee shop is great for a quick meal, but it can get pretty crowded so it’s not recommended to stay here for too long.
Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple
Located near Gunung Rapat, this naturally formed cavern is a beautiful place to see on any trip to Ipoh and is about a 15-minute car ride from the city centre. Surrounded by mountains, this beautiful cave temple offers travellers a cool retreat from the heat. A quick walk through the cave will reveal a lush garden that houses a lake and walking paths. It’s a great place to wander on quiet days, but crowds are frequent on busy days. If you’re heading back, taxis may be scarce given the area, so it’s suggested to use a ride-hailing app such as Grab or Uber, or ask the temple office if they could help charter a taxi on your behalf.