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.
The city has a long and turbulent history going back a long time. More about Ipoh's history, you can read here.
Ipoh 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.
There are plenty of good hotels in all price ranges in Ipoh.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
New! CommentsHave your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Taiping, city of everlasting peace
My favorite city in Perak is Taiping. It's still a very relaxed little town with a zoo, Lake Gardens, Bukit Larut and more.
Cycling in Perak
Perak is for many travelers merely a passing by, either on the way to Cameron Highlands, Penang or Kuala Lumpur.
For cyclists it is a very interesting state. With mostly flat roads and enough to keep you busy for a week or so, Perak has more then it gets:
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.
Taiping to Ipoh
Two roads are possible to cycle from Taiping to Ipoh, one is the #1 going to Kuala Kangsar and north out to Ipoh, the other leads through Bruas.
A third one goes from Kuala Kangsar south to join the Bruas - Parit road.
South Perak does not include many places worth a visit but Teluk Intan should have your attention. Not only for the famous Leaning Tower but also for it's long and very visible history: