Located a mere 576kms or a 1.5-hour flight away from Singapore lies a town that will make even couch potatoes leave the condo flat. Ipoh, the capital of Perak, a city in Malaysia, is gaining popularity among Singaporean travellers for its boutique hotels, cafes, street art and cheap and delicious food – the recipe for a perfect weekend getaway.
Described by the locals as “the town that tin built”, Ipoh has transformed from a quiet village in the valley of the Kinta River to a chic and bustling tourist spot. Back in the 1900s, Ipoh was a booming tin-mining hub.
A weekend is just the right amount of time to explore Ipoh. The following are activities that are categorized by preference.
Art and Culture
One can catch a glimpse of the past via the Han Chin Pet Soo, an exclusive gentleman’s club for tin owners that was turned into a museum.
Guests, who are only allowed entry by appointment, can take an hour-long tour of the three-storey shophouse. The past life of miners, including the hardships, nightlife and entertainment, are showcased in each floor. There are even wax figures of women who used to be the mistresses of rich men in the past.
At Concubine Lane, the street is filled with artwork that can be photographed or purchased. Local artist Yong Wai Yeen can be seen painting street scenes at his live demonstrations.
Located nearby are Ipoh’s murals which are painted by artists such as Ernest Zacharevic and Eric Lai. Because Ipoh is not as congested as other tourist spots, there is room to enjoy an art walk and take plenty of Instagram-worthy pictures.
Heading out of the city will bring you to Ipoh’s cave temples which are made of limestone. Sam Poh Tong and Perak Cave Temple are the most visited ones for their incredible view.
Food and Cafes
For breakfast, one must try Ipoh’s famous white coffee which is coffee made with beans roasted in margarine for a milder and sweeter taste. Sin Yoon Loong is Ipoh’s most popular coffee shop. To go with coffee are choices like soft-boiled eggs on buttered toast, wanton noodles or wobbly custard.
Other restaurants and cafes to add to the list are Plan B 2.0 (an industrial-themed restaurant that specializes in comfort food favourites), Burps and Giggles (a simple yet artistic café that serves finger foods and pastas), Restoran Tuck Kee (a local go-to place known for its Moonlight Noodles) and Patisserie BoutiQue (a cakeshop known for its chicken floss salted egg cheesecake).
Boutique Sarang Paloh Heritage Stay is a refurbished shophouse that offers clean and cosy accommodations for as low as 90SGD (for two) per night. The hotel kept its original timber floors and high ceilings creating a heritage-filled ambiance.
Starting December 2, Air Asia will launch direct flights to Ipoh while Scoot is already flying this route. Ipoh is also only an hour and forty-five minutes away from Penang via Malaysia’s Electric Train Service.
This trip itinerary only covers the most popular spots in Ipoh and there are still so many more waiting to be discovered. A weekend of exploration and relaxation in Ipoh is something feasible to add to a bucket-list.