Perak's state capital, Ipoh, is often a favourite destination for locals and those making their journey along the North South Expressway.
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Although Ipoh, a city with a long history on the banks of the Kinta River, is not well known as a tourist destination for foreigners, it is quite a favourite among locals, especially for day trips or a short weekend visit. The main attraction for locals is definitely the local cuisine, as Ipoh is famous for its Chinese dishes, especially its rice noodle dishes and Ipoh White Coffee. A large percentage of visitors to Ipoh are actually headed to other destinations in Malaysia, and incorporate Ipoh as a relaxing interlude in their journey.
Still, Ipoh is not without its attractions. During its heyday in the tin mining era, Ipoh prospered and grew. Signs of Ipoh's former glory can be seen in the various heritage buildings that dominate the cityscape, including the impressive Ipoh Railway Station, which was built in the same style as the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. Another attraction with strong local support is the cave temples located in the limestone hills on the outskirts of the city. These temples served as community centres for the local Chinese population and were designed with the Taoist principles of harmony and balance.
There are several other attractions just beyond the city limits, including Kellie's Castle, an abandoned mansion by a Scottish plantation owner, and the magnificent Tempurung Cave, one of the largest limestone caves in Peninsular Malaysia.
Ipoh has always been well connected, and is situated just beside the North-South Expressway. Ipoh is also a stop for the west coast railway line that covers the length of the country while limited air services are available.
Train service is available at the Ipoh Railway Station as Ipoh is a stop along Keretapi Tanah Melayu's Intercity service.
Bus services to all major cities and towns in Malaysia are offered at theMedan Gopeng Express Bus Terminal, located just south of Ipoh's city centre.
Limited air services are offered by two airlines at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport. Firefly Airlines currently flies between the city and Singapore while home outfit Silverfly has limited flights to Kota Bharu, Subang, Medan, and Singapore.
Although Ipoh is not that popular a tourist destination compared to other regions in Malaysia, it still manages to have its fair share of interesting sites that are bound to delight those who visit them.
Limestone cave temples
The limestone hills on the outskirts of Ipoh have many caves, which prompted the Chinese to build temples within those caves, reminiscent of the many grotto temples and shrines in China. There are three such cave temples of note in Ipoh: Sam Po Tong, Perak Tong and Kek Lok Tong. Each of these temples are unique in design as each takes into account the natural surroundings of the caves.
Located around 25 kilometres south of Ipoh near the town of Gopeng, Tempurung Cave is a massive limestone cave within Mount Tempurung. The cave's five gigantic domes that resemble coconut shells, or tempurung in Malay language, inspired the name of the cave.
The unfinished dream of a Scottish plantation owner, this uncompleted abandoned mansion sits impressively upon a hillock near the town of Batu Gajah, a 20 minute drive from Ipoh. An ambitious venture in its day, this mansion was designed to be a marvel, incorporating many amazing features, including an elevator, an indoor tennis court, and a rooftop courtyard for parties.
Gunung Lang Recreational Park
A short distance from the city centre, lies the picturesque Gunung Lang Recreational Park. A former mining area, it has been rehabilitated and transformed into a lovely park featuring three lakes teeming with fish.