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After my time in Yogyakarta and Ipoh, I have two new favourite Southeast Asian cities. That’s why I’m sharing my Ipoh itinerary, packed with colourful corners and
I was excited to get back to Malaysia as I’d had such a good time there in 2016. Last year, my sister visited and went somewhere I’d missed: Ipoh. It sounded interesting so, en route from KL to Georgetown, I paid it a visit.
Related read: how to spend 2 weeks in Malaysia
Many visitors to Malaysia miss Ipoh but I don’t know why – it’s the perfect tourist city: colourful, friendly, easy to get around and a foodie paradise. What’s not to love? Add it to your Southeast Asia bucket list if you haven’t already.
Can you see Ipoh as a day trip?
If you just have one day in Ipoh, a good option is to take an Ipoh day trip from Kuala Lumpur. You can catch a bus or train in 2.5 hours from the capital. It’s a long day trip but possible since you can see the top Ipoh things to do during a short amount of time.
For an Ipoh day trip, I recommend GetYourGuide:
You could also consider taking a day trip to Ipoh from Penang. Once you’ve hopped on the ferry from George Town, the bus or train journey to Ipoh is just 1.45 hours from Butterworth. Use 12go to book journies in Malaysia.
Read next: 101 Asia travel tips
Ipoh one day trip itinerary:
- 8am – leave Kuala Lumpur and board a train or bus
- 10.30am arrive in Ipoh for a late breakfast
- 12pm – explore the best things to do in Ipoh (keep reading)
- 7pm – have dinner and board your return transportation
- 9pm – arrive back to your accommodation.
Staying overnight in Ipoh
Obviously I’d say the longer the better for your Ipoh itinerary as it’s such a lovely little city. I spent 2 days in Ipoh exploring at my leisure which I’d highly recommend if you have time. Consider staying over at…
Abby by the River Hotel – this budget backpacker accommodation is really decent. Dorms start at $6 a night and privates are slightly more. It’s a no-frills comfy base with a nice roof terrace to eat your breakfast (complimentary toast and coffee) and enjoy a panoramic view of Ipoh.
M Boutique Station 18 – for an affordable yet stylish hotel with thoughtful details and quirky decor, check out this boutique guesthouse. Rooms start from $40.
Ipoh Bali Hotel – To splash out on one of the most stylish hotels in Ipoh will only cost you around $50. This rustic Bali-inspired hotel has thought of everything, from carved elephant door handles to views out over leafy gardens.
Things to do during an Ipoh itinerary
Where to start? The central city has gorgeous old-fashioned streets, spectacular street art and lots of authentic local restaurants. Dotted around the countryside are more Ipoh attractions including a few sets of cave temples.
After sharing the best things to do, I’ll run through my suggested Ipoh itinerary for day trip visitors, as well as those staying overnight for 2 days in Ipoh.
The basketball court
There are definite Hong Kong vibes at this basketball court and symmetrical apartment building. Right beside Old Town White Coffee, one of the best restaurants in Ipoh on Jalan Bandar Timah, a visit is easy to work into your Ipoh day trip itinerary.
The colourful house street
So many rainbow-coloured houses on such a small hidden street, who knew? As a city of undiscovered gems, one of the best things to do in Ipoh is seek them out.
This really is a hidden one because the street doesn’t even have a name. It’s very near Mural Art’s Lane so you’ll probably spot it straight away but if not, head to Cakchibow Cafe and find it in the alley beside.
Ipoh Booth Cart
There’s street art all over Ipoh but for an interactive experience, pop over to Ipoh Booth Cart. Outside you’ll find this awesome swing mural.
Inside, there are even more interactive murals. It was totally empty when I visited but the murals are well worth checking out.
Mural Art’s Lane
Of all the attractions in Ipoh, none are more colourful or quirky than Instagram paradise, Mural Art’s Lane. Whole alleyways of stunning colourful designs – I spent ages taking photos and I’d love to do it all over again.
Named after the fact that British colonialists used to frequent ‘houses of the night’ on this street, Concubine Lane is completely different today. Cute markets selling jewellery and souvenirs pop up, flowers blossom, and even an English red phone box has a spot!
Market Lane (umbrellas and art)
Market Lane was once known as Second Concubine Lane because apparently one wasn’t enough for the British. Like the first one, it’s now bright, colourful and quirky. You can barely imagine it dimly-lit and full of seedy bars.
The main reason people seek it out today is to get their ‘grams with the interactive street art: the Trishaw piece by Ernest Zacharevic is located here, as well as a cute tea party mural and one of some jumping kids.
Read next: my Ipoh street art guide with map
Panglima Kinta Mosque
This dreamy blue and white mosque is a great place to experience Malaysia’s rich culture. Nearby to Taoist and Hindu temples, it makes the city of Ipoh a real melting pot. It’s also gorgeous to photograph.
Ipoh railway station
This iconic station built by the British has become a well-photographed attraction in Ipoh. I arrived by train at night and came back (minus the luggage) for a photo in the daytime. It’s unlike much of Ipoh’s architecture so it’s worth seeking out.
Visit the caves around Ipoh
Another of the best things to do in Ipoh is explore the countryside, particularly the incredible cave temples dotted outside the city. Religious shrines are hidden away inside vast labyrinths within craggy limestone caves.
Top Ipoh caves to visit include Perak Cave, Sam Poh Tong and Kek Lok Tong.
Read next: visiting the Ipoh caves
Day trip Ipoh itinerary
If you’re coming from KL or Penang and not staying overnight, follow this detailed Ipoh one day trip:
10.30am: After arriving into Ipoh, start your day with famous white coffee and an egg tart at Old Town White Coffee, a well-loved local establishment dating back generations. It’s also a food court known for its tasty Malaysian food so if you have time to return for a meal, do!
Don’t forget to visit the basketball court, right beside Old Town White Coffee. Take a few minutes to snap some photos before moving on.
12pm: Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple
During a day trip to Ipoh, you’ll probably only have time to visit one set of caves. I’d suggest Sam Poh Tong.
Sam Poh Tong is super bright and colourful, home to pagodas, statues from Buddist mythology and a reclining Buddha statue. There are three temples beside each other so you can spend a couple of hours exploring.
Getting there: Jump in a Grab from Ipoh for 8 MYR.
3pm: Mural Art’s Lane / Ernest Zacharevic street art tour
Arrive back from the caves and head to Mural Art’s Lane, one of the best things to do in Ipoh for street art fans. Take a while to wander while snapping photos of world-class street art.
Depending how into street art you are, you might want to follow the Ernest Zacharevic Ipoh street art trail. After becoming famous for his street art in Georgetown, this Lithuanian artist completed similar works in Ipoh. They’re well worth finding.
4pm: Concubine Lane and Market Lane
6pm: Dinner – Chinese food
Chinese food is a right of passage in Malaysia. Make sure to include a tasty meal before ending your Ipoh day trip.
Chinese residents used to make up 50% of Malaysia’s total population, and the total is still around 20% today. For that reason, Chinese food is deeply ingrained in the culture and, thanks to the small size of Ipoh, none of it will be far away. I went to Luo Wang for their renowned chicken with bean sprout dish. It was delicious!
Ipoh itinerary for 2 days
If you have 2 days in Ipoh, add this day.
Start with an adventurous hike or decadent brunch. I won’t judge you based on which you pick. Based on the fact I only have a photo of one, which do you think I did? 😉
Hiking option – Bukit Kledang
An adventurous thing to do in Ipoh is hike Bukit Kledang. There are four hikes you can do, the shortest taking one hour and the longest taking four. Bukit Kledang is 800m above sea level and my advice would be to go early or late to beat the heat.
Brunch option – Plan B Cafe
No Ipoh itinerary would be complete without brunch! Foodies
Afternoon – Kek Lok Tong / Perak Cave
For the afternoon, visit another set of cave temples, or two if you want. Set in 12 acres of gardens, Kek Lok Tong is pretty as a postcard. Visually, the surroundings of this cave temple remind me of China which is interesting since so many Chinese people moved here last century. They must have felt at home in these stunning surroundings.
Take an hour to wander the limestone cliff-lined gardens. There are Buddha statues to admire inside but the grounds steal the show.
Getting there: It’s easy to call a Grab in Ipoh but there aren’t so many drivers waiting near the caves. For that reason, I’d suggest asking your driver to wait. Often waiting time is free and they’ll just charge for the ride home.
Perak Cave Temple
A 20-minute drive from Kek Lok Tong is Perak Cave Temple. Built in the same era as Kek Lok Tong, these two cave temples are actually pretty different. This gorgeous red temple has no grounds and is all about cave paintings, Buddhist shrines and panoramic views from the top.
An hour is plenty of time to see everything.
Getting there: I got my Grab driver to take me to Perak Cave from Kek Lok Tong, then back to Ipoh. Book on Grab then arrange the rest of the journey when you meet.
Swing by Ipoh railway station for photos before heading home!
Where to eat in Ipoh
Don’t forget to work some amazing meals into your 1 or 2 day Ipoh itinerary. As a multi-ethnic society, Malaysia is a great place to try Chinese and Indian classics as well as Malay-specific dishes.
Ipoh may be smaller than KL and George Town but that only makes it easier to move between the abundant food courts and cafes. Eat local food and everything’s cheap! I managed to track down some of the best food in Ipoh and I hope you do too.
As well as coffee and egg tarts at Ipoh White Coffee and French toast at Plan B, don’t miss these places. It wouldn’t be an Ipoh travel guide without food, right?
Sri Anandha Bahavan (authentic Indian)
Malaysian-Indian food will be good wherever you try it – Ipoh is no exception! Sri Anandha Bhavan is one of the best restaurants in Ipoh for Indian food, serving vegetarian and meat dishes including curries, dosa and banana leaf dishes. You can’t go wrong with any of it but I loved my serving of spicy palak paneer (cheese cubes in a spinach sauce).
Don’t forget to order some Indian sweets for dessert! Jalebi is always a winner. These milk and pistachio squares above were also extremely moreish.
Address: 7 Persiaran Bandar Timah.
Restoran Lou Wong Tauge Ayam Kuetiau
As I already mentioned earlier, Hainanese chicken with bean sprouts is what this local restaurant is known for. It’s a simple dish but well-worth worth trying. My fresh, generous serving was very moreish and doused in sweet soy sauce.
Address: 49 Jalan Yau Tet Shin.
Thean Chun (shredded chicken noodles)
Another of the best restaurants in Ipoh for Chinese food is Restoran Thean Chun. The shredded chicken noodles with prawns and a salty broth were tasty and cheap at 6 MYR. This busy restaurant is food court-style like many others so grab a shared table and order whatever takes your fancy.
Address: 73 Jalan Bandar Timah.
Opening times: 8am-4.30pm (only until midday on Sundays), closed on Thursdays.
Yoke Fook Mun (dim sum)
I’m always on the hunt for dim sum and I wasn’t disappointed in Ipoh. This old-school restaurant is run by a team of older ladies who can’t speak much English but make some excellent dim sum. A bit of pointing and guessing went my order but I was happy with what came out – a selection of pork and prawn dumplings and fried rice batter with spicy sauce.
I paid 25 MYR for 3 plates and a drink – a bit on the pricey side for Ipoh but at least I was stuffed!
Address: 65-69 Jalan Leong Sin Nam.
Opening times: 6am-1.30pm and 6.30pm-10pm.
These are the items that came with me to Ipoh and I would recommend using during your Malaysia trip.
- Copy of Lonely Planet Malaysia
- A handy bum bag with secure zip to keep your belongings secure
- Combination padlock (ideal for hostel lockers)
- A stainless steel reusable water bottle that you can fill up with filtered water (hotels in Ipoh will have these)
- Alternatively, a filtering water bottle that allows you to safely drink tap water
- Reusable coffee cup (collapsable) for hot takeaway drinks
- Travel luggage – I use the Mountain Warehouse Traveller Backpack (60l with 20l detachable backpack)
- A camera – I use the Sony DSC-HX350 Digital Compact Bridge Camera which I think is one of the most affordable options for a camera with such a good zoom
- A GoPro if you’re into making videos – I use the HERO8 Black
- Solo travel pick: a tripod or mini GorillaPod to get yourself in the shot – I use the Manfrotto tripod and Joby Gorillapod
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Thanks for reading my Ipoh itinerary!
I’m very jealous you’re visiting as I want to do it all again. There are so many things to do in Ipoh, including simply sipping white coffee and watching the world go by. Whether you choose an Ipoh day trip or spend a couple of days getting immersed, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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Kuala Lumpur posts:
- The ultimate KL itinerary for 2 days
- 5 cute cafes in Kuala Lumpur
- The top restaurants in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur
- All the best things to do in Melaka
- The best food in Melaka
- 10 cute Melaka coffee shops
- Where to see street art in Melaka
Southeast Asia travel planning:
- 101 items for your Southeast Asia bucket list
- 101 backpacking Asia tips
- The perfect Southeast Asia travel route
See you next time for more adventures,
Ps. Liked this itinerary for Ipoh? Pin it for later!
Malaysia quick links
Flights – I use Skyscanner and search by month to see the cheapest dates.
Stay connected with E-sim data plans that don’t require delivery or collection; just span the QR code.
In my opinion, Lonely Planet offer the best guidebooks. Get the latest Copy of Lonely Planet Malaysia.
For Malaysia buses and trains, I use 12GoAsia. The search feature allows you to compare prices and durations.
I use Booking.com for accommodation. They have the best range of hotels and self-catering apartments, plus you can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
For activities, I use GetYourGuide and Viator as they both have a huge range of affordable tours.
Need travel insurance? I use World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and tips!