Ipoh is a city in Malaysia and is the capital of the state of Perak. It is approximately 200 km (125 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur via the North-South Expressway. Today, Ipoh usually refers to the territory under administration of Ipoh City Council or Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh, which includes the smaller towns adjacent to the city such as Silibin, Chemor, Jelapang, Falim, Menglembu and Tanjung Rambutan. Historically, "Ipoh" referred to the Old Town and New Town areas divided by the Kinta River at its heart, from which the city grew. From the late 1980s Greentown, located beside the New Town, was transformed from old government quarters to an administrative and commercial centre of Ipoh, often overshadowing both the Old Town and New Town.
The most practical means of reaching Ipoh is by bus, although train services have speed up and increased considerably since the line from Kuala Lumpur was double-tracked.
Ipoh's own Sultan Azlan Shah Airport (IPH) does not offer many flight options. Beginning July 12th, Firefly will begin services from this airport to the budget terminal of the Singapore Changi Airport four times a week.
There are ten daily services in each direction between the Ipoh Train Station and KL Sentral in Kuala Lumpur. The journey takes between three to four hours one way and costs between RM12 and RM40 depending on seating class.
The main Ipoh bus terminal is located at Medan Gopeng. The station provides services to and from just about any location in the country. Most frequent routes are to and from Kuala Lumpur (Puduraya Station) and Penang. Larger bus companies like Transnational, Plusliner, Konsortium provide the most frequent, reliable and safe services.
Bus companies also operate out of other locations including Jalan Bendahara for services to and from Singapore and Jalan Bercham for bus service to and from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Ipoh is well connected to the North-South Expressway. You can get into Ipoh via Exit 137: Simpang Pulai, Exit 139: Ipoh Selatan, Exit 140: Ipoh Utara or Exit 141: Jelapang.
The Old Town and New Town of Ipoh are two different parts of Ipoh separated by the Kinta River. Most olden-day pre-World War II shop houses, heritage buildings, and some Government buildings are located in the Old Town while the New Town comprises the area originally developed by Yau Tet Shinstretching all the way from Kinta River to Greentown. It has newer shops, buildings, shopping malls and housing estates.
Ipoh Old Town has much character and contains many marks of its colonial past including:
The Ipoh Railway Station. It bears similar architecture to that of the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and is nicknamed the "Taj Mahal of Ipoh".
Ipoh Town Hall located across the road from the Railway Station also features some interesting gothic architecture.
Muzium Darul Ridzuan is an interesting historical museum of Perak, located in a pretty former tin-mining tycoon's mansion on Jalan Kuala Kangsar.
Kellie's Castle, the deserted mansion of an eccentric Scottish planter, is in Batu Gajah, half an hour's drive from Ipoh city center. Its main appeal lies in the belief that it is haunted and that secret passages leading to hidden chambers exist. A taxi will cost you around RM 50 - 60 and they will usually wait for an hour (which is long enough to look around). There is an entrance fee to the castle.
Perak Tong (Perak Cave) is located at Gunung Tasek and houses over 40 Buddha statues and many murals. There is a steep, tall staircase in the interior of the cave rising up to the top of its hill, where one is greeted by a beautiful and panoramic view of Ipoh and its surroundings. The statue of Buddha in Perak Tong is the tallest and largest of its kind in Malaysia. Perak Tong was built in 1926 by a Buddhist priest from China.
Gua Tempurung is the largest limestone cave in Peninsular Malaysia and is believed to have been in existence since 8000BC. Located close to the North South Highway's Gopeng Exit, it provides the opportunity to explore in detail the insides of a limestone cave. You can choose to experience a short tour of the cave or adventure into the deep ends of the cave that includes trekking in a cave river and other uneven terrain.
Explore Tambun, once a small town north of the city, with city growth it is now a close suburb to the city centre. Tambun has been traditionally known for its juicy pomelo fruit and the Tambun Hot Springs. Soaking in these hot springs is said to bring health benefits to the body because of the high sulfur content in the water. Also in Tambun, is Ipoh's only water theme park, The Lost World of Tambun.
It provides great rides and entertainment for families and also organizes tours into the nearby limestone caves for those interested in eco-tourism.
Ipoh provides numerous different shopping experiences, from malls to local markets:
Pasar Malam or night markets are where many stalls set up their business selling a variety of food, groceries, toys, clothes and household items. The stalls move to various locations throughout the week:
Memory Lane is a flea market along Jalan Lim Bo Seng that takes places every Sunday morning. It is a good place to find imitation goods, antiques and other interesting local souvenirs. Be ready to bargain for the best price and be conscious of the fact that some stuff sold are probably stolen goods.
Shopping Malls. The Kinta City Shopping Centre and Ipoh Parade are the two best malls within the city. Both have a fair range of branded stores, with good bargains during sale periods that could be of interest to keen shoppers.
For a stretch of quaint boutiques, visit Ipoh Garden South.
Ipoh is known, the country over for good food. Signature Ipoh dishes are:
Ipoh bean sprouts chicken, which consists of chicken meat, assorted chicken innards and bean sprouts boiled in hard water and served with soy sauce and sesame oil. Ipoh's bean sprouts are very fat, short and tastier than those produced outside Ipoh; thus, Ipoh's beansprouts also receive orders from other states. Famous bean sprout chicken noodles include Onn Kee and Lou Wong Restaurants, both of which are located at the junctions of Yau Tet Shin Street and Osbourne Street.
Ipoh Sar Hor Fun which are rice flat noodles prepared in hard water and served in clear chicken and prawn soup with chicken shreds, prawns and spring onions. Famous sar hor fun purveyors include Thean Chun and Kong Heng Restaurants, located along Leech Street in the Old Town. Other popular food choices include chicken and pork intestines satay, curry pork skin chee cheong fun, popiah and their custard! Custards are usually sold out around 3pm weekdays and noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
Salted chicken or Yim Kok Kai. This is a must try when you are in Ipoh. The chicken is baked in salt in such a way that the skin and meat is so delicious that you will finish it all. Whole chickens are wrapped in "oil paper" and then baked in large woks filled with heated salt. The restaurant that sells salted chicken is Aun Kheng Lim Restaurant, located at Theatre Street, opposite Martell house or near Bak Gong restaurant in the city centre. It is so popular that you must call to order before you drop in. Tel: 05-254 2998.
Ipoh White Coffee, which are coffee beans specially roasted (with palm-oil margarine; visit this Wikipedia article for more info). Its colour is similar to that of cappuccino when served with milk. The best can be found in the few coffee shops located opposite the Kinta Heights flats in Ipoh's old town such as:
The aroma, taste & texture of the original thing is definitely superior compared to the commercially-packed sachets or the Ipoh White Coffee sold elsewhere. These coffee shops are likely to be crowded during teatime, especially on weekends. Food-wise, you can get fried noodles/vermicelli, satay, congee, kuih, etc. at these coffee shops. Also order tasty toasted bread with kaya (coconut jam) and butter to complement a good cup of white coffee (known as a "Yin-Yang" toast). Nowadays you can get a good cup of white coffee in coffee shops around Ipoh city.
Pomelo. Perak's most famous fruit, a large juicy citrus fruit. The best pomelos are reputed to be from Tambun, about 10 minutes drive east of Ipoh. There are stalls selling pomelos in front of the Sam Po Tong temple.
Tau Fu Fah or soybean curd. It is claimed that Ipoh or Kinta Valley water makes this drink tasty. This drink is good for the body after travelling on a very hot day. The soya bean is fresh, sweet and smooth. Once you are drinking this soya bean curd, you can feel the smoothness and freshness of the soya bean smoothing down through your throat. It is served steaming hot with pandan syrup. The stall named Kei Foong, or Funny Mountain in English, is located at Osbourne Street (Jalan Tahwil Azar), near Restaurant Foh San. It has a drive-in delivery service. Also try the following delicious varieties:
The Funny Mountain shop is open from 10.00am to 7.30pm. Tau Fu Fah and its variants can also be found in stalls by the roadside in various places.
Tong Sui sweet dessert drink that will definitely refresh your body on a hot day. The most famous, located at what locals call "Tong Sui Kai" or Desert Drinks Street, is opposite Sam Tet Primary School (noon till late night). The most popular tong sui at this place would be black sesame mo mo cha cha and red bean Also recommended is one located at Restaurant Cha Yong, behind Pizza Hut in Ipoh Garden South. Another few stalls are located in the Ipoh Stadium's food court and in a food court near the former Ocean (now The Store) supermarket.
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