The oldtown of Ipoh, Malaysia
We were looking forward to the oldtown of Ipoh, Malaysia almost more than Georgetown, despite that Georgetown is a UNESCO member.
We had heard a lot about the oldtown of Ipoh. That the food is supposed to be so delicious. Also, that in the oldtown there is so much outstanding street art. That there are so many temples to visit and also a few museums for the culture lovers. And on top of all that, Ipoh is supposed to be really cool in general.
And so, full of anticipation and high expectations, we took the bus from Cameron Highlands to Ipoh.
Our bus ticket cost 22 MYR per person. The route, which normally takes two hours, lasted more than twice as long due to the high volume of traffic of the Ramadan holiday.
Because of this, we arrived in Ipoh very late. The bus station is also located quite a distance outside of the city center, so it took an additional half an hour plus before we finally got to our hotel.
When we arrived, it was already very dark, and the hotel door was locked. But a security guard came, and he seemed to be informed that we would arrive late. After a quick check-in we were able to bring our golf bags up to the first floor to our room.
We didn’t get dinner that night and so our Roti Boy, a sweet pastry that we really loved in Malaysia, had to be enough for us for the night.
Our accommodation in Ipoh
We have already written about our first-class accommodation in our hotel review section.
We thought the hotel was great and immediately extended our stay from two nights to three.
Food in Ipoh
On our first morning, we started walking to find something to eat and found that it wasn’t that easy. After a 15-minute walk, we ended up at an Indian restaurant and enjoyed a decent meal, while across the street the washing machine was busy washing our laundry.
In the oldtown of Ipoh, I ate my very first Laksa. And it was my best Laksa ever!
Laksa is a type of soup that is available in many different variations. One variation is creamy in a curry sauce, which is called Laksa Lemak. Another is called Assam Laksa, which is sweet-sour hot in a clear broth, and was my favorite. If you are interested in what the ingredients are and/or want to cook it for yourself, I have found this great site for a recipe.
I don’t know if I was wowed by it because I was especially hungry, or if the Laksa was just so amazing. But if you come to the oldtown of Ipoh and try the homemade Laksa, please let me know, because I still dream about it!
Besides the Laksa, we did not eat anything in Ipoh in our two days that we would consider to be particularly outstanding. Not that the food wasn’t good. But we often had trouble to find something the moment we were hungry. We found that many of the restaurants closed early, even though it was still only late afternoon.
Street art in Ipoh
We were definitely not disappointed here. It felt like there was street art on every corner, and the next one was more beautiful than the last.
Now we were really looking forward to travel to Georgetown. Could it be possible to surpass the murals in the oldtown of Ipoh?
Culture in Ipoh
One day we took a taxi to the Ling Sen Tong Temple. The temples Nam Thean Tong and Sam Pho Tong are located just a few meters away from each other, so you get three for one, so to speak.
We visited two of the three temples, as the sun mercilessly slammed down on us.
Our tip: don’t always trust the opening hours indicated on Google. When we arrived, the Sam Pho Tong temple, which was the most interesting to us, was unfortunately closed. Even the locals that we talked to could not determine with certainty how late each temple was open. We think it is best to come early so there is less of a chance that you will stand in front of locked gates.
This was definitely our highlight in Ipoh! And just finding it was quite an adventure for us.
We took a taxi to the edge of Ipoh city. We read online that this is where the limestone rocks with the prehistoric paintings are located.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a large group of monkeys. A few locals looked at us, curious as at what we were doing there. We tried to explain that we were here to see the rock paintings. A friendly nod in the direction of a rock followed, which we interpreted to mean go around that rock.
the way to the rock paintings in Ipoh
But we didn’t really see a path. At first, we stood around a little indecisive. Did the locals understand us? Then we took a few more steps, and through the jungle we went- rocks on our left side, abyss on our right. That was already too much adventure for me. But James’ interest in history drove him forward, and I inevitably had to go along with him. After all, I didn’t want to be left alone with the monkeys.
On top of that, I had to go ahead! The reason, as James saw it, was that my eyes were better than his, just in case a snake should be lurking somewhere along the way…
Great! Now I was so focused on not falling and looking for all the hidden dangers that I didn’t take any photos.
After a while we came out of the jungle to a small open space. And there they stood. Horses.
Now we were completely confused. Where was the cave? What are these horses doing here? And should we continue?
One of the horses was blocking our way. Being the city kids that we are, we decided it was best to just wait for a while. After all, we didn’t want to scare the horses!
The rock paintings
After continuing our little hike, we came to a spot that had overgrown vegetation everywhere. And there it was. A sign! Pointing to the Tambun Caves! We had to climb up some steep, moss-covered stairs, which were surrounded by gigantic rocks. Once we made it to the top of the stairs, what a view we had! My nerves calmed down as I soaked in this picture.
But we still had to keep going because we still hadn’t found the paintings. But at least we finally knew we were on the right track.
The further we went, the queasier I got again. What was that noise? Why isn’t anyone here? After all, this is a great sightseeing point. Right??
Just when we thought it wasn’t possible to go forward any further, we finally saw it. The rock paintings of Tambun! Everything was forgotten. The sounds of wild animals were no longer audible, and we were in awe of the red paintings on the rock. Who had painted them? What was the reason behind it? We let our imaginations run wild and enjoyed the nature around us. The feeling of being at the pulse of history, and having it all for ourselves, was incredible!
Oh yeah… on the way back we decided to take a different path, and we ended up in the middle of a polo field. This explains the horses that crossed our path earlier in the day! We’re also happy to report no snake sightings!
Further attractions in Ipoh
The sights that we had written down for our trip, but didn’t make it due to a lack of time and not having our own car, are:
Kek Lok Tong Temple
Gunung Lang Recreational Park
Peerak Cave Temple
Lenggong Valley (UNESCO!)
Ubudiah Royal Mosque
Perak Royal Museum
Royal Perak Golf Club (the oldest golf club in Malaysia)
We stayed three nights in Ipoh. But in hindsight, we wish we would have stayed at least one or two nights longer, especially because we had already lost our first evening due to our late arrival. We thought Ipoh was really great. In the evening, the streets of the oldtown were empty, and we were able to pleasantly stroll around. The weather in the evenings was pleasant, and we felt very comfortable.
Ipoh is indeed a cool city with many charming old buildings and artworks.
What we particularly liked:
The oldtown, with its mixed architecture and all the murals which are really beautiful. And our excursion to the Tambun Caves. That’s why we know that at some point we’ll be back to tackle the rest of the highlights that we didn’t have time to see.
What we didn’t like:
That we only had two days to explore the oldtown of Ipoh, Malaysia and its surroundings.