Despite being the fourth largest city in Malaysia, Ipoh doesn’t get much recognition compared to Georgetown, Penang. They are both similar in terms of their architecture, street arts and food scene but Ipoh is much quieter and has an old town charm that draws travelers looking for an off the beaten path experience.
Revamped through vibrant street arts, Ipoh is slowly turning into an up-and-coming travel destination and should definitely earn a spot on your Southeast Asia bucket list.
48 hours in Ipoh is the right amount of time to get a taste of the capital city of Perak and this guide will show you all the great things it has to offer.
How to get to Ipoh?
Getting to Ipoh is easy with plenty of options to choose from – buses, minivans or flights.
|Popular routes||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh||Bus, minivan, private car||US $5|
|Penang to Ipoh||Bus||US $3|
|Johor Bahru to Ipoh||Bus, flight||US $21|
|Taiping to Ipoh||Bus||US $2|
|Cameron Highlands to Ipoh||Bus||US $5|
If you’re looking for a cheap and comfortable way to get to Ipoh, I recommend taking the bus. Several bus operators serve this route daily. Most of them will drop you off at Amanjaya terminal which is located about a 20 minutes’ drive from Ipoh city center.
If you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur, you can take the bus from KLIA1, KLIA2 or Terminal Bersepadu Selatan.
Ipoh also has an international airport located about a 15 minutes’ drive from the Old Town. If you’re coming from Singapore, Air Asia and Scoot Airlines offer daily flights to Ipoh. You can also fly from Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru.
Ipoh Itinerary Day 1
Sample the famous Ipoh white coffee for breakfast
Start off your 48-hour Ipoh itinerary with a traditional breakfast accompanied by the famous Ipoh white coffee. Served either hot or cold, Ipoh white coffee is made from roasted coffee beans and sweetened condensed milk. Coupled with some delicious egg tarts, it’s definitely the perfect way to kick off a busy day of exploring.
If you want to sample the original white coffee, make sure to go at either Nam Heong White Coffee or Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong located on Jalan Bandar Timah. If you’re wondering what to eat in Ipoh, both cafés also serve a selection of Hainanese dishes such as Hokkien Mee, Kuey Teow soup and dim sums.
Hunt for street art
Ipoh is a gold mine for street art and interactive murals. Unlike in Penang where you have to line up for a photo, the streets of Ipoh are almost always empty.
The most popular ones were painted by the Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic in collaboration with the tourism board and Old Town White Coffee to revive Ipoh and encourage tourism.
All of his arts are located within the Old Town and the two that stick out the most are the “Old Uncle Drinking Coffee” and “Old Town Relives Nostalgia With Trishaw” which can be found on Jalan Bandar and Market Lane respectively.
While some of the original murals have faded over time, other street arts have started to pop up all over Ipoh. For instance, Mural Art’s Lane houses over a dozen colorful murals.
Explore around Concubine and Market Lanes
A great spot worth checking out during your weekend getaway in Ipoh is Concubine Lane. It’s actually the most popular out of the three lanes gifted by the Chinese tycoon, Yao Tet Shin, to his three wives. The other two are called Wife Lane and Market Lane and are located within walking distance of each other.
During the week, Concubine Lane is quite deserted except for a few passersby and only gets busy during the weekend as all the shops, cafés and tourist stalls open up. Although touristy, it’s a great place to visit if you’re on the hunt for souvenirs. There are also a few street arts scattered around.
Market Lane, on the other hand, is quieter but more vibrant with its colorful street arts and rows of rainbow umbrellas dangling from above.
Ipoh Itinerary Day 2
For your second day in Ipoh, head out to explore some of the cave temples dotted all over the city. These temples are etched into the limestone cliffs and are worth visiting if you want to experience the Chinese cultural heritage while witnessing some incredible panoramic views. The temples are located slightly outside of the Old Town, so you’ll need to hire a private taxi or Grab to take you there.
Begin at Kek Lok Tong which is located within a beautiful lake garden where swans roam about freely. While the cave temple isn’t too big, there’s a section that’s filled with a whole bunch of stalactites that look like melted candles dripping down from the ceiling.
Located less than a 10 minutes’ drive away is Sam Poh Tong temple. At the entrance, you’ll find a pagoda in the middle of a small lake. Inside the cave temple is a small tunnel leading to another pagoda and a tortoise pond.
Finally, end at Perak Tong, the most popular cave temple in Ipoh. It features numerous statues of Buddha and mythical creatures with colorful paintings adorning the walls. But the best part is the panoramic view at the end of a long flight of stairs. It’s quite a workout to get up there but the views are absolutely worth it!
Pro tip: All cave temples are completely free to visit.
Relax at Gunung Lang Recreational Park
After a long day of temple hopping, end your 48 hours in Ipoh at Gunung Lang Recreational Park. This former tin mining site has become a major tourist attraction in Ipoh and is very popular among locals.
The most prominent feature of the park is the huge lake flanked by tall limestone cliffs. There’s also a small man-made waterfall near the entrance. You can walk around the lake or take a quick boat ride to the other side for RM3 (US $0.71). Here you can explore further along the boardwalk that takes you around the swamps or get a bird’s eye view of the lake from the different observation towers. Make sure to keep an eye on your belongings though as there are cheeky monkeys hanging around.
Entrance fee: Free (optional: RM3 /US $0.71 for the boat ride)
Opening hours: Every day from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
With awesome food, stunning nature, colorful street arts and fascinating cave temples, Ipoh is definitely the perfect addition to any Malaysia itinerary.