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Ipoh - capital of Perak


Ipoh is the capital of Perak and one of the largest cities in Malaysia with around 600.000 inhabitants. The city is located in the Kinta valley, 165 km south east of Penang and about 200 km north of Kuala Lumpur.

HSBC Bank in Old Town Ipoh
HSBC Bank in the old town

The city has a long and turbulent history going back a long time. More about Ipoh's history, you can read here.

IpohIpoh is no longer as important as it used to be in the days of the booming tin mining industry around the turn of the 19th century. At the time of the British rule in Malaya, Ipoh was Malaysia's second city for administration purposes. Remains of the golden days of Ipoh are still to be seen: the railway station and the town hall.

Accommodation

There are plenty of good hotels in all price ranges in Ipoh.


The Padang

Padang is the Malay word for 'field', and this is exactly what it is. In the colonial days the British used this field for cricket. Nowadays it is in use for many things including playing some football or having a picnic with the family. Ipoh has left the Padang unscathed, together with the beautiful casuarinas trees that has been encircling the field for almost a century now.

FMS Bar and Restaurant

FMS in Ipoh
The famous FMS in the old town center in 2005,

The FMS "Federated Malay States" building was built at the turn of the 20th century. It became a bar and restaurant in 1906.

Until a few years ago the bar and restaurant were still open and served a good cup of coffee and a meal.

When I visited Ipoh in 2011, the FMS was closed and trees where already growing out of the roof.

It was a sad thing to see, especially knowing how much Ipoh owes to the FMS.

In the early 20th century the FMS was a meeting place for merchants and planters. It is located just opposite the Padang.

The FMS in Ipoh in 2011
The FMS in 2011, abandoned and waiting for destruction? I hope not!

The FMS Bar and Restaurant is still quite popular. Time has changed the culinary preferences here. Try the Sichuan prawns.

Birch Memorial, The Clock Tower

Hidden a bit though easy to find is JRR Birch Clock Tower. The first British resident was not a particularly popular character with little respect for locals he considered to be inferior beings (we talk about the end of the 19th century, the days where Malaya was searching for getting rid of the British rule).

In the end, he was assassinated at Pasir Salak.

In that respect it's a bit strange, the Malaysian government pays quite a bit of respect to JRR Birch, the man who was so much hated all over the country. Pasir Salak contains a monument, and in Ipoh, there's the clocktower with representations of Birch's life.

Murals on the Birch Memorial Clock tower in Ipoh
Murals on the Birch Memorial Clock tower in Ipoh

The Perak Museum

In 1926 Foo Choong Kit build a house which is now the Perak Museum. At some point in history more than 40 people lived in the house. But expenses went up and in 1950 it was sold to the local government in Perak and became state museum in 1992.

The museum is certainly worth a visit as it contains a nice selection of Perak's history collected in artifacts, photos, clothing and other curiosa related to the state.

Ipoh heritage Ipoh heritage
Ipoh has it's own heritage ...

The museum is located at Jalan Kuala Kangsar and opens all week from 9.30am-5pm.

St. Michael's School

St. Michael's School is a magnificent building. It's also one of the biggest of the colonial buildings in town. The school opened doors in 1912 and is still in use as a school although in the period of the Japanese occupation, they used it as an administration center.

St. Michael's was one of the more prestigious Christian missionary schools in Perak. And you can see that back in the architecture, the facade for example reflects the Christian background of the school.

Royal Ipoh Club

The Royal Ipoh Club was once the domain of planters, tin miners and administrators. Another terrific monument in the city center.

Ipoh Town HallTown Hal

One of Ipoh's architectural wonders is definitely the Town Hall. The building is a mix of renaissance and roman architectural features.

The building of this magnificent building, opposite of the railway station, started in 1913 and took 4 years to finish.

This building has also served as a Post Office, and was once the District Police headquarters in 1948.

The Railway Station

Some people call it Taj Mahal of Ipoh! That's way too much honor but it is certainly a magnificent building. When Ipoh was an important tin mine center, in the late 19th century, the railroad was build and with it the railway station.

Ipoh Railway Station

The station contains also the Station Hotel also known as The Majestic or The Heritage Hotel. With respect to the past, there is not a lot of "majesty" left of the hotel except on the outside. In town you will find much better (and cheaper) hotels despite the renovation in 2004.

Still, the railway station is still worth a visit, even if it is to sniff a little of the old grandeur of the early 20th century.

The cave temples

Just outside the city, on the way to Gopeng (6km) three beautiful cave temples can be visited: Ling Sen Tong, Sam Poh Tong and Nam Thean Tong. These old temples might seen not too ancient on the outside but are around 100 years old. They've constantly been renovated and extended.

Ling Sen Tong cave temple in Ipoh

These temples are a must visit. See also this page about cycling from Ipoh to Teluk Intan where I tell and show more about the temples

Papan

Papan is a one street village 13km to south of the city center on the way to Lumut. If you come from Ipoh, take the first junction to Pusing and follow the boards to Papan, which is from the junction 2 km.

There isn't much left of some of the shophouses in Papan

There isn't much left of some of the shop houses in Papan

It's a heritage area although it disappears quickly as there is no work on the way to preserve the old buildings here. Despite its potential, there's not a lot left of the once beautiful shop houses.

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Here is more about Taiping


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Perak is for many travelers merely a passing by, either on the way to Cameron Highlands, Penang or Kuala Lumpur.

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Map of Perak

Map of Perak
Map of Perak


Gua Tempurung Caves and Kampar

Gua Tempurung caves are located near Kampar, 33 km from Ipoh.

Although you can easily make a visit to the caves in a day trip from Ipoh, it's nice to have a night in Kampar too and explore the surrounding of the tin mine industry and what is left of it (including a new tin mine museum in town.

Gua Tempurung and Kampar


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A third one goes from Kuala Kangsar south to join the Bruas - Parit road.

Here's the full story


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Teluk Intan

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Leaning Tower Teluk Intan