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  • Raymond Lim

Is Ipoh Worth Visiting Or Should You Skip It?

Ipoh is a small city and compared to the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur or Penang, it’s understandable that many visitors don’t think it is worth visiting.

But Ipoh is very different from other places in Malaysia.

If you want to find out how, keep on reading.

1. The Food

For us and many locals elsewhere in Malaysia, food is the top reason to visit Ipoh.

Hawker stalls are largely run by locals, and not left to hired help from other countries. Some have had the same business running for multi generations.

Yes, you can have great laksa or curry mee almost anywhere in Malaysia. But there are some dishes that Ipoh specializes in.

One of these is Hainanese style chicken rice, and the other is kai se hor fun (shredded chicken noodles in prawn broth).

Ipoh Chicken Rice

Other dishes that Ipoh is known for is tau fu fah and let’s not forget, Ipoh white coffee!

Ipoh White Coffee

There’s also one type of fruit that grows wonderfully in a certain area of Ipoh, the famous Tambun pomelo.

2. Rich Past

Penang background heavily features Chinese clans and the baba Nyonya community, but Ipoh’s origin is different.

We have the last remaining tin dredge (TT5) that visitors can still see up close. And several well-run museums and galleries that showcase Ipoh's history as a former tin mining capital of the world.

There’s even a hundred-year-old town just out of Ipoh that still looks the way it does back in its heyday. Although the town was much livelier then, and there weren’t massive banyan trees growing out of some of the buildings.

Kellie’s Castle is an architectural marvel that would not exist if not for the owner’s many business explorations – one of them was tin dredging.

Kellie's Castle In Batu Gajah
Kellie's Castle In Batu Gajah

When you visit Ipoh, you can see different instances of how tin mining shaped the city – this is present in both the existing communities now. As well as the local cuisine.

Stick around longer and you can visit neighboring Taiping too. Which is where the first railway was constructed in Malaysia – all for the sake of transporting tin.

3. Natural Beauty

These days, it’s not tin that drives the economy in Ipoh. One of the main industries here is cement and other limestone products.

You can see large quarries along the North-South highway. And while the quarries are a widely acknowledged disgrace on Ipoh’s beautiful landscape, there are still places where you can appreciate the scenery in peace.

Most notably, this includes Ipoh’s many cave temples – the most naturally majestic of these in our opinion, is Kek Lok Tong.

Main Entrance Of Kek Look Tong In Ipoh
Main Entrance Of Kek Look Tong In Ipoh

There are also recreational areas like Tasik Cermin where you can board a battery-powered boat out on a calm lake to see the limestone karsts up close.

Mirror Lake 2 In Ipoh
Mirror Lake 2 In Ipoh

And if it’s not a Sunday, you can go cycling at the scenic Qing Xin Ling Leisure & Cultural Village.

Qing Xin Ling Leisure & Cultural Village
Qing Xin Ling Leisure & Cultural Village

Another natural attraction we highly recommend folks to visit is Gua Tempurung. This is a large cave system that is best enjoyed with a full day on an extensive wet tour.

4. Orangutans

Yes, you read that right. There is an orangutan sanctuary not far from Ipoh. It takes an hour to reach Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island Foundation from Ipoh by car.

And the island is not always accessible (i.e., water levels in the lake are too low) but when it is, the short boat trips there are worth it.

This is not like a zoo where visitors move from cage to cage to see the animals. But the rescued orangutans here get to roam the island and it is the visitors that are behind bars in a caged tunnel.

Learn from the keepers themselves the backstory of each of their resident orangutans. Some of them do get released back into the while and occasionally, they have babies on site at the small research center of the island too.

5. Close To Cameron Highlands

Instead of enduring a 3-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur up to Cameron Highlands, it can be less than 2 hours to reach Cameron Highlands from Ipoh.

Because of this, our day trips from Ipoh to Cameron Highlands are very popular.

You can visit tea plantations, parks, strawberry farms, and Kea Farm Market all in one day before returning to Ipoh.

Strawberry Farm In Cameron Highlands
Strawberry Farm In Cameron Highlands

What’s more, you can have breakfast in Ipoh before starting your journey up! The reason we think this is a great thing is that Cameron Highlands is not known for their local food.


We can come up with a few more reasons on why you should visit Ipoh, but these are the main ones. Ipoh is not just another food capital in Malaysia!

Read this other post if you want to know how long we think you should plan your itinerary for Ipoh. Or when the best time to visit Ipoh is.

Ipoh Private Tour Service

If you need transportation to go on an Ipoh food trip, let private tour service RayTheTour

bring you around!


Reasons To Choose RayTheTour:

  • We’ll pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation before and after the tour!

  • Enjoy the ride in our air-conditioned MPVs and vans

  • You can customize the itinerary to suit your needs!

  • Our friendly local guides are fluent in Chinese or English

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