Settled strategically within steep limestone peaks on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia and a former tin mining town, Ipoh possesses a great heritage from its colonial past, beautiful limestone caves, hills and mountains, striking temples and mesmerising street art. Now, a visit to Ipoh would bring travellers a memorable experience as there are so many things you can explore at the capital city of the state of Perak. And for those who are travelling on a budget, we have listed 24, yes 24 free things to do in Ipoh, Perak.
Ready for your trip to Ipoh?
Be Part of Ipoh Heritage History
1) Take a Selfie at the Birch Memorial Clock Tower
Located just in front of the Ipoh State Mosque is the infamous Birch Memorial Clock Tower. Proudly standing still since 1909, this Victorian-style monument was built in remembrance of J.W.W. Birch who was the first British Resident in Perak (though he was assassinated in 1875).
The tower has 2 levels; the first level represents the justice, loyalty, fortitude and patience which resembles the four “Virtues of British Administration”, meanwhile the second level consists of vibrant and colourful frescoes that indicate 49 famous figures and popular professions of different eras from soldiers, scholars, sculptors, astrologers, etc.
Opening Hours: Anytime
2) Admire the Beautiful Architecture of Ipoh Railway Station
Does this building look familiar to you? Ipoh Railway Station was used as a shooting location for ‘Anna and the King’ (1999) movie! If you’re a big fan of Jodie Foster who stars in the movie, then a picture here is a must.
First opened in 1917, the vernacular colonial western style is heavily influenced by the British Indian colonial architecture making the Ipoh Railway Station one of its kind. Known as the ‘Taj Mahal of Ipoh’, the building also houses the Majestic Hotel.
It is also the main railway station in Perak under Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) offering KTM Intercity services, Electric Train Service (ETS) services, and freight trains. From here, catch a train to Butterworth, Penang and Padang Besar, Perlis. You can also take the train to and from Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station, Seremban and Gemas.
Opening Hours: 6am – 6pm daily
3) Take a Peek Inside Ipoh Town Hall
Ipoh Town Hall was completed in 1916 by A. B. Hubback, a British architect who also designed several important buildings in Malaysia such as the Sultan Abdul Samad building, an iconic building located in front of the Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) in Kuala Lumpur. If you’re a fan of classic architecture then this building is a must!
The neo-classical white building is also a popular spot for wedding photoshoots. Visitors can take a look inside the Town Hall and also enjoy good view of the colonial train station from the upper floor of the building.
Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm daily
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/LCSZsNYJKKJ2
Feed Your Adventurous Spirit
4) Trek Up to Kledang Hill
The best way to enjoy limestone outcrops that surround Ipoh is by hiking the Menglembu-Kledang Hills which stand at 800m. The view of the limestone formations and Ipoh city will leave you in awe!
No matter which trails you choose to hike, you’ll see interesting plants along the way up such as Bamboo orchids and pitcher plant. If you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of long-tailed or pig-tailed macaques, leaf monkeys or the Siamang-black furred gibbon.
However, avoid hiking on the weekend as this place is ALWAYS packed with locals – unless you love crowds. The best time to go is on weekdays at dawn or dusk as you’ll get a chance to see the mesmerizing sunrise or sunset. The trek is fairly easy so we’re sure you’ll enjoy this hike.
Starting Point: Multiple but we suggest 101° 1.638’E 4° 34.312’N
P.S. If you’re into jungle treks, check out 8 best jungle treks in Malaysia.
5) Picnic at Ulu Kinta Waterfall
Another tourist magnet, Ulu Kinta Waterfall is totally worth the hype. Located near the Police Field Force North Brigade Base, you won’t be disappointed with the remarkable green surroundings and stunning cascading waterfall.
Only 20 mins drive from Ipoh city centre, Ulu Kinta Waterfall is located within the Ulu Kinta Recreational Forest. The entrance to this reserve forest is free so pack the picnic basket, with some sandwiches and head over for a nice relaxing picnic!
Waterfall’s lover? You’ll love these 10 beautiful waterfalls in Malaysia!
Get Stunned by the Limestone Caves
6) Sam Poh Tong Cave
Located in Rapat Mountain, this is a well-known Ipoh cave for a temple inside. Rumour has it that this cave was discovered by a Buddhist monk from China who was passing through the city in the 1890s. He decided to stay and meditate in the cave for 20 years, until his death. Eventually, this cave was named as a pilgrimage destination, and until the present time, monks and nuns still come to meditate here.
It is worth a visit and a steep climb of 246 steps: you’ll be rewarded by the statues of Buddha among stalactites and stalagmites that will leave your jaw-dropping, as well as the mesmerising view of Ipoh. Before heading back, catch a breath in the Japanese pond full of carps and tortoises located at the back of the temple.
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm daily
7) Kek Lok Tong Ipoh Cave
Although it is also located in Rapat Mountain, this cave is trickier to find as it is located on the backside of the mountain. Fret not as there will be signs (and tourists) around the place to help you locate the cave.
This cave has been used as a place of worship since the 1920s. Its cavernous space comprises an altar with Buddhist statues surrounded by the Chinese pantheon. In 1960, it has been a part of an iron mining site and even now, you can still spot primary iron within the limestone walls of the cave.
Don’t miss a beautiful garden with fish ponds and a jogging path by the side. A stroll around is a must!
Opening Hours: 7am – 7pm
Other caves in Ipoh worth visiting:
- Tambun Cave (directions: https://goo.gl/maps/UVTZ3B1wpV22)
- Perak Tong, also known as Perak Temple cave (directions: https://goo.gl/maps/qvr3yXtrT3D2)
Learn Something at the Ipoh Museums
8) Educational Trip to Malaysia Geological Museum
Established in 1957, the museum is the most important geoscience and geology centre in the country. You’ll learn about the limestone formations not just in Ipoh but throughout Malaysia, as well as the mining activities that took place during the colonial period.
There are 7 exhibition sections covering from the museum history from fossils to geo-heritage of the country. In total, the museums display a collection of 600 mineral specimens, 150 rock specimens, 200 fossils, gemstone and ornaments specimens from all over Malaysia.
If you’re planning to visit this museum in a group, you can request for a tour and it’s free of charge!
Opening Hours: Mon – Thur: 8.30am – 12.30pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm, Friday: 8.30am – 12.00pm & 3.00pm – 5.00pm, closed on Weekends and Public Holidays
9) Tour Around Darul Ridzuan Museum
Are you interested in learning about the early history of Perak, mining and agriculture in Ipoh? Then a trip to this museum is a must!
What I really love about this museum is the unique architecture of the building. It was built as a house by Foo Choong Kit, a rich tin miner in 1926. Then in 1950, the house was sold to the Perak Government, which was then used as an administrative centre; it was not until 1992 that this building finally graduated to becoming a museum.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 9.30am – 5.00pm, Except Friday: 9.30am – 12.15pm, 2.45pm – 5pm
10) Visit the Gopeng Heritage Museum
Another cool museum worth visiting is the Gopeng Heritage Museum. It captures simple but without a single doubt amazing lives of the people in the area. Rewinding back to 125 years ago: you will be able to see antique and calligraphy paintings. A good way to reminisce the good old days.
Opening Hours: 9am – 3pm (Only on weekends)
Visit Places of Worship
11) Indian Muslim Mosque
The Mughal style mosque was built in 1908 specifically for the local Indian Muslims. The white mosque with dashes of green colour is not your average looking mosque as it is heavily influenced by Indian architecture emphasizing the Mughal-Islamic concept.
12) Paloh Khoo Miu Temple
This temple is 144 years old and one of the oldest temples in Ipoh. The murals picturing Buddhas on the temple walls and roof is something to look forward to during your visit to the temple. The ornamental carvings on the top of the roof are said to depict moral teachings such as doing good deeds and avoiding immoral thoughts and behaviours.
Opening hours: 7am – 4pm
13) Wat Puthanimittam Thai Temple
Expect the usual glitzy Thai temple decor with a lovely green mountain backdrop. The highlight of this temple is a 10-m Buddha statue: a part of it was said to be built by the Thai monks themselves and took about 2 years to complete.
Appreciate Ipoh Arts
14) Street Art of Old town
Walk around and be artsy by exploring various Ipoh street murals in the focal area of the old town. The drawings and colours gave life to the Ipoh neighbourhood. Here is the list of most popular murals you should pass by:
- Kids on a Paper Plane (direction: https://goo.gl/maps/wdq7adMZHoA2)
- Working Trishaw (direction: https://goo.gl/maps/oCxsHv49kiD2)
- Kopi O Peng (direction: https://goo.gl/maps/ypCGYwrmjcD2)
- Girl on a Wall (direction: https://goo.gl/maps/QjPVDtpAhBM2)
- Hummingbird (direction: https://goo.gl/maps/pdntyQ1UWAs)
- Old Uncle Drinking Coffee (direction: https://goo.gl/maps/LKy1BbtPe642)
15) Gua Tambun Cave Paintings
The Gua Tambun was found in 1959 by a British soldier who spotted the prehistoric 3,000-year-old cave drawings. Then, the discovery was gazetted in 1986 by the City Council and was announced as a National Heritage by the Department of National Heritage in 2010.
Find reddish paintings of humans and animals like dugong (a marine mammal), tortoise, octopus, along with seashells and pieces of coral reef scattered all over the floor. A visit to this cave would literally take you back to thousands of years ago.
Opening Hour: 8am – 5.30pm daily
Immerse Yourself in the local lifestyle
16) Check out the lively night markets
Night markets! It’s an opportunity to absorb the ambience and meet friendly locals. What is it not to love about a trip to any night market? Being a small size city, surprisingly, Ipoh hosts a handful of night market almost every day of the week!
These are some of the popular ones:
- Monday @ Taman Ipoh Jaya (directions: https://goo.gl/maps/hZoq47aAekp)
- Tuesday @ Medan Ipoh (directions: https://goo.gl/maps/9xMkeHFK1y92)
- Wednesday @ Stadium Perak (directions: https://goo.gl/maps/YfJ9dwoBjfu)
- Thursday @ Taman SPPK (directions: https://goo.gl/maps/uxMrFxuEkv52)
- Every night @ Gerbang Malam (directions: https://goo.gl/maps/SzDTF9qZarF2)
Stroll Around the City
17) Experience the Heritage Trail Ipoh
Pick up the Ipoh heritage trail map at the Tourist Information Centre located at Old Town City centre or your hotel’s lobby and wander the city on your own! Commence at the train station and make your way to its rich historical structures. During an approximately 6 km walk, soak in the colonial ambience as you pass through the whitewash buildings. We suggest you spend two hours exploring this trail; stop for a quick bite and famous Ipoh white coffee along the way.
18) River Walk @ Kinta Riverfront Hotel
The Ipoh Kinta Riverfront Walk in Ipoh is known as the Mini I-City of Ipoh, similarly to Shah Alam, there are many beautiful LED lights on the trees. Not only that, the River Walk also has plenty of great halal restaurants facing the Ipoh River and, overall, this is a good place to just chill out and enjoy the fresh breeze and pretty lights at night.
Opening Hour: 7am – 11pm
19)Walk Around the Royal Ipoh Club
The Royal Ipoh Club, built at the end of 19th century, is another colonial-era treasure for Ipoh city and used to be THE place for the British administrators and tin miners. They would come to the club to watch, play cricket and socialise whilst enjoying their carefree colonial lifestyle. It offers a great view of the park, created by Ipoh Chinese community back in 1898 to remember the Diamond Jubilee of the honourable Queen Victoria.
Although this place is restricted for its members only, it is still worth dropping by just to admire the architecture and the history behind this building
Opening Hour: 9am – 5pm
20) Go Jogging at Eco Park
This privately owned, yet open to a public park is situated 5 kilometres south of Ipoh and boasts the scenery of limestone hills. Here, you can find a jogging track, outdoor fitness amenities, a lake, gazebo, a lotus pond and a children’s playground! Just perfect for a family outing.
21) Take a Leisurely Walk in the Japanese Garden
The Japanese Garden or “Taman Jepun” is a tranquil and wonderful garden located on Tambun Road in Ipoh. It was established in the early 60s’ and instantly became a popular place for couples to take wedding photographs. The Japanese Garden is surrounded with flowers and trees, including the quintessential Japanese bonsai plant, and a pond.
Opening Hours: 5pm – 9.30pm (Weekdays) 9am – 9.30pm (weekends)
22) Stroll Through the Concubine Lane
The Concubine Lane or Yi Lai Hong is a place where wealthy Chinese tycoons kept their concubines and mistresses in 1892. While not so much of a great story, especially for women, it is still a historic spot worth checking out.
Look for street art paintings on the walls. Our favourite is a mural of people eating curry noodles which are located on the wall of Nam Chau Kopitiam, a famous curry noodles restaurant.
And make sure to visit it on weekends or public holidays as there will be arrays of pop-up stalls selling antique goods, local street food and souvenirs.
Be a Part of Ipoh Culture
23) Check out the Chinese Shophouses
Both the Old Town west of Kinta River and New Town east of the same River offers a great collection of frozen in time Chinese shophouses that portray nothing but authenticity, nostalgia and rich culture of the past. Do take the time to capture the essence of the bygone era before it completely vanishes. We simply love the old shophouse buildings and the rustic ambience!
24) Wander Along the Little India
Help yourself with a leisurely walk along the vibrant streets of Little India and snap some awesome photos. This place becomes twice as lively than usual during festivals like Deepavali, Christmas and Thaipusam.
So are you excited to explore the city of Ipoh and check these 24 free things to do in Ipoh?
Looking for more cultural places with murals all over the city like Ipoh? Check out 9 best street art cities in Southeast Asia!