Being much smaller and laid back than hotspots like Kuala Lumpur or Penang, Ipoh is ideal for those seeking an easy-going and relaxed environment where there is less traffic congestion, more open spaces and slower pace of life.
Located partway between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, the capital city of Perak state started off as a small village in the 1820s and flourished under British rule during the subsequent tin rush of the 1870s. The ensuing years brought development and an influx of foreign companies. But while in mining put the city on the map, by the mid 20th century it had given way to more modern industries such as manufacturing.
Listed among Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Destinations in Asia in 2016, the city still retains its old-world charm and heritage attractions, such as the iconic Ipoh Railway Station which has often been the backdrop of films.
These are complemented by beautiful nature sites – from limestone caves, lakes, national parks and gardens. It affords one abundant options for leisure activities ranging from cave exploration to river rafting, jungle hikes and picnics. The Lost World of Tambun amusement park with a water park, petting zoo, spa and hotsprings is also a significant attraction for families and fun-seekers. All this makes tourism a significant industry for the city.
Ipoh is also famed for its local delicacies like salted chicken, beansprout chicken, traditional biscuits and white coffee. Indeed, commuters driving between Kuala Lumpur and Penang will often make a stop in the city to stock up on these. Cafe culture is currently picking up in the city, complementing its many old-world coffee shops. You will certainly find lots of big flavours at small town prices here.
Along with the cafes has come a budding art scene. Many murals have popped up, most celebrating a facet of local culture. Similar to elsewhere in Malaysia, Ipoh is diverse melting pot. The aforementioned tin mining boom a century ago brought many migrants in search of better futures, and their descendants today make up a large portion of the community.
The people are easy going and friendly. Unlike bigger cities, you will hardly see anyone in a rush. They will be happy to tell you where to find the best food or attractions, and welcome you into their city.
But Ipoh is certainly no backwater, and has all the modern conveniences like supermarkets, international F&B chains, movie theatres, banks, hospitals, international schools and even golf clubs. With numerous residential developments also springing up in recent times, you will find ample comfortable accommodations equipped with good leisure amenities throughout the city.
|20,976 km2 (8,099 sq mi)