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Ipoh, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide

How do I write an article about Ipoh, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide? Well, the best way to me was to go on a road trip. And that was exactly what I did with a friend from Malaysia.

I took a flight to Kuala Lumpur to meet my Malaysian friend. Then we drove in his car to Ipoh and Penang.

The result was a glorious and fun week of exploring and eating in these three beautiful cities. We spent a short time in Ipoh. And yet, it was filled with so much activities.

In this article, I will provide as much information as I can. Some information would be from research. And some would be from experience.

You will learn about where Ipoh, Malaysia is? Who are the people living there? The culture and religion in this town. The language spoken. The dress code to follow. Where to stay? What good food to enjoy? What are the things to see and do? And many more.

Where is Ipoh, Malaysia?

Ipoh is near Kuala Lumpur, and along the west coast of West Malaysia. As such, we found it quite easy to drive from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh as there were highways direct to this city.

Who are the People in Ipoh, Malaysia?

I was quite surprised to find out that Ipoh is the third most populous city of Malaysia. Generally, it can be said that the people in Ipoh are the same as the ones mentioned in my article about Malaysia. That is, the city has many races such as Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian.

But to be honest, when I was there and strolling along the streets, I do find a strong influence from the Chinese. And there seemed to be more Chinese than other races there.

What is the Culture in Ipoh, Malaysia?

Having many different races and religions, Malaysia has many different cultures. The diversity in customs and traditions resulted in a very rich and colorful culture in Ipoh.

This was evident when we strolled around this charming town. For example, there were huge mural art everywhere. See the Things to Do in Ipoh section for more information about this and other rich cultural sights.

Each race and religion has their unique and important festivals. This range of culture has created a myriad of fascinating festivals. Read the Festivals section further down for more information.

Travel Tip: Please respect their culture.

What are the Religions in Ipoh, Malaysia?

In Malaysia, there are many people with different beliefs. Some believe in Buddhism. Some in Hinduism. Some are Sikhs. And some are Christians. The majority in Malaysia follow their main religion, which is Islam. In Ipoh, the same can be said to be true.

What is the Common Language Spoken  in Ipoh, Malaysia?

While Malay is the official language in Malaysia, I did find that I could get along with speaking English at the hotel, ordering food at a restaurant, or simply asking for directions from a local.

At times, I did find that the Chinese in Malaysia preferred to speak in Mandarin. When this happens, I gladly obliged as I am able to speak in Mandarin, too.

What are the Festivals and Public Holidays in Ipoh, Malaysia?

Here are the public holidays and festivals that are celebrated in Ipoh. They are basically the same as the national holidays celebrated throughout Malaysia. One difference is in Perak, they celebrate the Birthday of the Sultan of Perak.

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • Chinese New Year
  • Thaipusam
  • May 1 – Labour Day
  • Vesak Day
  • Nuzul Al-Quran Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Hari Raya Adilfitri
  • June 8 – Birthday of SPB Yang di Pertuan Agong
  • Father’s Day
  • Hari Raya Haji
  • Awal Muharram
  • August 31 – National Day
  • September 16 – Malaysia Day
  • Maulidur Rasul
  • November 6 – Birthday of the Sultan of Perak
  • Deepavali
  • December 25 – Christmas Day

To learn more about the above public holidays and festivals, please do visit my article about Malaysia. I cover it in more depth there.

Below are some of the festivals unique to Ipoh and Perak, which by extension includes Ipoh, too. They look like so much fun! Next time when I plan to visit Ipoh, I will make sure to go during one of the festivals. I recommend you do the same, too!

Perak River Safari – April

This festival promises lots of thrills and excitement. It is like a water carnival with many water sports and activities such as jet ski races, and power boat races. And if you prefer the land, there are also tug of war, football and volleyball to enjoy.

Ipoh Food Festival – April

Ipoh food is very delicious. And it is not easy to find out where are the best places for the most yummy food. So, the Ipoh Food Festival sounds perfect. It features the local food as well as cooking schools. Best time to taste all the best food in one place.

Ipoh Fun Run – July

The information about this run is not consistent. Some say it is a run from Ipoh to Bandaraya and back to Ipoh again. Some say it is called the Ipoh Unicorn Fun Run. Honestly, I found the video below, and I must say this run looks lots of fun!

Ipoh Music Festival – September

Music brings people together. And a festival of music is one of the best ways to celebrate together. This opening act for the Ipoh Music Festival looks awesome.

Ipoh Nine Emperors Festival – October

This festival is thrilling and colorful. The street parades are spectacular. The prayers and processions are beautiful to watch. Word of caution though. The festival includes a ritual where devotees cut themselves. They do not feel pain. But surely not for the faint hearted.

What is the Dress Code in Ipoh, Malaysia?

My friend and I walked around town in casual wear; bermudas or shorts with light t shirt. And we noticed most people in Ipoh have the same dress code. So, no worries. Pack light and enjoy your time in Ipoh.

What is the National Dress in Ipoh, Malaysia?

The National Dress is the same as for the entire country. You can see what it looks like in my Malaysia article.

What is the Popular Sport in Ipoh, Malaysia?

Perak wants to be the sports hub of the nation. This is to promote healthy lifestyle. So, all forms of sports are being promoted in this city. Most people in Ipoh prefer football though.

What Currency Can I Use in Ipoh, Malaysia?

Holidays in Malaysia - Ringgit

All throughout Malaysia, the currency used is the Malaysian Ringgit.

How is the Weather in Ipoh, Malaysia?

I have written in length about the weather in Malaysia. And it is the same weather for Ipoh. To find out more info, please refer to my Malaysia article.

How is the Haze Situation in Ipoh, Malaysia?

In the past, when Malaysia reported about the haze situation, Ipoh rarely was mentioned. But, just like any of the major cities, Ipoh does get affected by the haze.

The haze has been known to occur during the hot season. This is from May to October.

Travel Tip: Check the haze situation for Ipoh before traveling to this city.

Which are the Hotels to Stay in Ipoh, Malaysia?

Although not a large city, Ipoh surprisingly has many lovely hotels. For this round of visit, I chose the Hotel Excelsior. This was because it is a very established hotel. In fact, one of the first in Ipoh.

Ipoh Hotels Review - Hotel Excelsior Ipoh - Superior Room
Hotel Excelsior in Ipoh. Click image above to read review.

If a traditional and established hotel is not your cup of tea, then there are plenty of new and cool hotels that would please you. Whatever your taste, Ipoh has the hotel to suit your needs. Check out your options below.

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What are the Things to Do in Ipoh, Malaysia?

Ipoh surprised me. I had expected a sleepy town with very little to see and do. But there were so many Things to Do in Ipoh. After only two days stay, I realized I should have allocated more time for Ipoh.

I will not make that mistake again. Next time, I will make sure I stay at least four days to experience more that Ipoh has to offer.

Mural Art

Ipoh gave me a taste of mural art. And I have grown to love it. It is like walking in an entire city that is a museum of artwork. After Ipoh, I look out for street art in every city I visited.

Things To Do In Ipoh - Mural Art - header
Things To Do In Ipoh – Mural Art. Click image above to read about this awesome attraction.

Kek Look Tong

Ipoh is a city with mountains and caves. And some of these are mystical. Kek Look Tong is one of these that has become a spiritual site. There are statues of divine beings like Buddha, and an enchanting garden with beautiful creatures.

I felt such peace and tranquility there. I felt as if I have walked into another realm that is heavenly.

Things To Do In Ipoh - Kek Look Tong (極樂洞) - Steps to Entrance
Kek LookTong – Click image above to read about this awesome attraction.

First Concubine Lane

Ipoh’s First Concubine Lane has become a hip and cool area to enjoy shopping and dining at some really chic cafes and restaurants. Even the boutique hotel here is charming.

I really liked the street. Unfortunately, I visited during the low peak season, and there was very little activity. Fortunately, because of the low peak season, it was easy to find seats at the restaurants, and at the cafe where we enjoyed delicious desserts.

Er Nai Gang (), which actually means First Concubine Lane.
Ipoh First Concubine Lane – Click image above to read about this awesome attraction.

Ho Yan Hor Museum

After a day in the sun touring the city, the Ho Yan Hor cooling tea was so refreshing to us. Served since the tin mining days to keep the workers healthy, this museum serves to remind the locals and visitors of its grand history.

There was a shop to buy the wide variety of herbal teas. I regretted not buying it when I was there.

A colorful mural created by art teacher-cum-artist Chin Choon Yau
Hor Yan Hor Museum – Click image above to read about this awesome attraction.

What Food to Eat in Ipoh, Malaysia?

I love the food in Malaysia. Almost every place I ate served really delicious dishes. No exception here where I found some of the Best Food in Ipoh .

Lou Wong Bean Sprout Chicken

Some people said this is the best chicken rice in Ipoh. Some people said that the standard has dropped. So, I went with my friend to try it. Click the image below to read my review.

A delicious and full meal - Chicken with Bean Sprouts, Hor Fun (Flat white noodles), and meat balls in soup
Lou Wong Bean Sprout Chicken Rice. Click image above to read my review.

Foh San Dim Sum

This dining establishment was behind the Excelsior Hotel where we stayed at. According to my friend, this is one of the best dim sum in Ipoh. Was it? Click the image below to find out.

Some of the dim sum we had - siew mai, har kow, cheong fun & tea
Foh San Dim Sum – Click image above to read about this awesome attraction.

Where To Go Shopping in Ipoh, Malaysia?

We did not visit the malls during our stopover at Ipoh. That was because we did not particularly enjoy shopping in a mall. Now, I learned that there was a mall there. Just to share my experience, maybe next time I will take a look?

Best Time to Visit Ipoh, Malaysia?

There are high season and low season to visit Malaysia. The same goes for visiting Ipoh. Each season has its pros and cons. For me, I prefer the low season so that I do not jostle with large crowds. Also, the hotel room rates are lower during this season.

To find out more about the two seasons, please go to my Malaysia article.

How To Get To Ipoh, Malaysia?

By Airplane

You can catch a flight to Ipoh because there is the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport. It is 6 kilometers from the city centre. But the flights only fly from two destinations.

From Johor Bahru, there are AirAsia and Malindo Air. From Singapore, there are AirAsia and Scoot.

Personally, I prefer to fly by JetStar, from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Then catch a bus or rent a car to travel to Ipoh. The flights are more frequent, and I get to see more, including another city.

But, if you plan to only visit Ipoh, then this can be a good choice.

By Train

When I was a young boy, my parents, my brother and I took the train to Kuala Lumpur. It was a wonderful experience for a little boy. Today, I find that a train ride would not be so thrilling.

Still, if you choose to, you can take a train from KL Sentral to Ipoh railway station, which is southwest of the city. The Gold Service train takes about two hours and twenty minutes to reach Ipoh. And the Silver Service train takes about two hours and thirty minutes, and stops at every station between KL Sentral and Ipoh.

Here is a video by me, taking the train from KLCC to Batu Caves. It is not to Ipoh, but I hope the video will help you see how KL Sentral looks like as well how good the train is.

By Bus

There are buses from Singapore to Ipoh. Do check for various transport providers for individual pricing and schedule.

Also there are buses from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh. Again, the same, also check various vendors for their unique prices and schedules.

By Road

After the road trip with my friend, I found traveling by road to Ipoh to be really fun. At the same time, it can be a little boring because you will see nothing but mountains for hours. I enjoy it though because I love being in nature.

There is a highway to Ipoh. Just follow the Lebuhraya Utara – Selatan/E1 south from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh. It will take about two hours drive. If you are concern about directions, there is an app called Waze that can guide you on the journey.

Do You Need a Visa to Go to Ipoh?

Visitors from some countries can visit Malaysia, and all her cities without a visa. Some will need a visa. It is best to check the immigration websites to find out if you need a visa to enter.

How To Get Around Ipoh, Malaysia?

By Bus

The Ipoh Bus Terminal is in Old Town. There are buses with routes to almost all parts of the city. Make sure you get the bus schedule to know how to get to your destinations, and how much each ride costs.

By Taxi

There are plenty of taxis in Ipoh. But, just like everywhere in Malaysia, please do negotiate the price, and agree on it before you board the cab. Do not go by meter.

By Grab

Private Hire Vehicles like Grab is available in Ipoh, Malaysia. I recommend using this service because it is so convenient. Also, prices are fixed before you confirm the ride. So, there is no problem with haggling or sudden increase in fare.

By Car

You have the choice to rent a car. If you live in Singapore or another part of Malaysia, and you own a car, this is a better option.

Rental of cars is quite affordable. Just make sure the rental service is legit, and get insurance.

I found that driving in your own car is a very good option to get around Ipoh. You can choose where you would like to go, how long to stay at each attraction, cafe or restaurant. Some hotels even provide free parking. I highly recommend this choice of transport if you can have it.

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If you have ANY questions about Ipoh, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,


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