Now, if you’re on a tight budget and still looking for ways to explore Ipoh City, then this post is just for you!
We are a bunch of medical students, bone dry financially from spending all our money on books and guilty pleasures to make up for exams gone wrong and thesis writing that sucked our souls like dementors. It became a tradition to visit some place, come up with a trip that we could call a vacation to seal of the whole year of sweet but never-ending exams and trials. Our first year’s trip landed us in one of Malaysia’s treasured archipelago, Langkawi.
This time, with less finance and availability of time, we settled to the nearest and cheapest option from KL city; Ipoh. I’ll save you the details of Ipoh and its whereabouts. You can find that in the Internet with just a few clicks. This post will tell you just about everything you’d want to try in Ipoh for two days and one night.
Day 1: Playing Tourist
We were scheduled to leave KL at 5am. And the plan end there- just scheduled, not executed. We spent the night before partying up to 4am at the back lawns of our college, smelling like charcoal and grilled chicken and dancing to old, nostalgic songs so it wasn’t a surprise when we slept through the countless alarm clocks. When we finally did wake up, it was almost 8.30am before we got the car loaded and well to go.
It took us approximately a little over two hours to reach Perak and that was around 10am-ish. Our hotel check in wasn’t until 2pm so en route to Ipoh’s main entrance, we decided to take a detour into Gopeng town for a quick visit to our first stop, Kellie’s Castle.
- Kellie’s Castle
Location: 30mins away from Ipoh town.
Entrance fees: RM5 for Malaysians (IC identification is needed) and RM10 for foreigners.
Kellie’s castle holds an important historical value to the development and growth of Perak, I would say. The informative boards along the walk through the allies and balconies as well as the whole ruins would paint you a perfect picture of this beautiful story that failed to make its way into out textbooks. Every nook and corner of the castle provides a perfect tapestry for photography.
The idea of a brief walk around costing us no more than 1 hour turned out to be just an idea. We spent almost 2 hours taking pictures and wandering through the smallest and darkest tunnels so it was just about perfect to make our way to our reserved hotel, casually making a hasty stop to the nearest temple, also believe to have a close connection to the history of Kellie’s castle.
We spent a lot of effort in choosing out choice of accommodation. We were both very particular about the price and its worth, especially the cleanliness of the bathroom. After myriad arguments, we finally settled for the below.
2. Hotel Station 18
Room of choice: Single Bed
Price: RM41 (We were both girls with average body sizes so squeezing into a single bed wasn’t much of a hassle. This price was divided among the two of us so the rate per person was worth the one night stay).
PROS: The hotel was overall good, I would say. A rating of 7/10. The lobby and hallways were clean. This should be the least of your concern, especially if you’re a backpacker or on a budget. The room was clean but for what is worth, the sheets were stained and there was a dead cockroach on the floor. Both which we did not mind living with for one night. The coolest part of the hotel is that the bathroom was AMAZEBALLS; very clean and convenient. All basic necessities were provided and they have a water dispenser at the hallway at your service at all times. That was a major plus point as it was very hot and dehydrating around the time we went travelling.
CONS: The receptionists are quite a problem especially in terms of communication so you’d need to be on your toes at all times as to not get on their bad side because that would definitely turn your whole experience (staying and travelling) sour. We reserved a single bedroom so upon acknowledging we came in a pair, they immediately uttered the statement “ONLY ONE PERSON ALLOWED TO USE THE ROOM YA”. This statement kept us wary and at discomfort at all times. But with perfect teamwork and timing, we managed to sneak in and get a good rest that night.
After checking in and keeping our baggage safe in the room, we headed off to our next stop; LUNCH!
3. Lou Wong Bean Sprout Chicken
Location: Ipoh Town (Waze it, brotha!)
Price: Approx RM 17 per pax.
Stall that goes by its famous name, so the price is also naturally suited to its fame. In my opinion, they charge a tad bit too expensive for a bowl of rice, chicken dish and another bowl of fish ball soup. The taste wasn’t too extravagant, to be honest. For bean sprout chicken more worth the price, I suggest you try the other alternatives. This shop is famous for its name so if given another chance, I wouldn’t mind missing on a most recommended restaurant for a dish that stands mediocre in the scale of taste.
4. Kek Look Tong Cave
This place is also dubbed as Kek Look Tong Cave Temple or Gua Kek Look Tong.
Opening hours: 9am to 6pm (Gates start to close as early as 5pm)
Entrance fees: FREE
Nothing bad to say about this place. Many picturesque corners for a perfect portrait click. Especially suited for tourists who are fitness conscious and would not want to miss their daily cardio. The whole cave enveloped in a perfect chilly temperature alongside a calm and elegant ambience with a plethora of Buddhist statues decorating certain corners of the cave. After a short walk of I would say 200m, you would find yourself looking out to an opening of the cave overlooking a beautiful garden with jogging tracks and man-made lakes with blooming (some dried but beautiful nevertheless) lotus flowers. If you keep in mind to bring your jogging shoes along, you might be able to burn enough calories for the food Ipoh has to offer. There is also a path stretching across the garden from left to right with pebbled floors, a perfect (but beautifully torturing) acupuncture experience to get your blood circulation going.
By the end of wandering around Kek Look Tong, the fatigue of long hours of driving and walking finally caught up to us, pouncing on us like a patiently waiting predator for its prey. Eye-bags started to decorate our faces so it was only natural that we decided to get back to the hotel for a quick rest, shower and rejuvenate ourselves for the next bit of adventure.
Upon reaching our room (we really put in a lot of effort and planning in sneaking into our room), we took one look at the bed and behold, DEFEAT! We instantly flung ourselves onto the bed, promising to only take a 30 mins nap with an impending alarm set. It was 5.30pm then.
As usual, not all promises can be kept.
We woke up at 10pm. The room a pandemonium. We were panicking. We just missed our next schedule. We took quick baths and put on our ‘night’ outfits for the late night adventure in search for the perfect dinner Ipoh had to offer.
At 10pm, there’s not much of choices you have at having a bite at the best food around Ipoh. We gave up on half of what we were supposed to do and settled for a hawker-style restaurant a couple blocks away from out hotel.
5. Restoran Sun Shi Sheng Corner
Location: near hotel station 18
Price: Fried Kuey Teow – RM5.00
Prawn Mee- RM4.80
The food did not disappoint. Or maybe we were too hungry after a five-hour sleep. We don’t know but we were left smiling with a full and happy tummy. Especially when the price was just about right and the taste was to our tongue like Beethoven to our ears.
We felt like it was such a waste if we did not pay a visit to any place that night so we decided for walk around Kinta Riverfront to digest our late dinner.
6. Kinta Riverfront
Location: Near D.R. Seenivasagam Park
Entrance fee: FREE
Ipoh’s very own (smaller) version of iCity. Perfect for couples but a tad bit too dark. Strangers lurking around with potential of attacking or smuggling. Could also be potential drug abusers. Hey, I’m just laying the risks here. The lights are perfect for pictures and all but the place is a bit dangerous. Thus, would recommend bringing someone reliable for safety. We were a pair of girls with no male companion and we had only each other for support so we came up with secret codes and a plan to flea in case we got attacked.
We headed back to the hotel in fear of whether or not one of us would have to spend the night at the back seat of the car. To our advantage, the receptionist happened to be absent so our night ended on a good note with a comfortable bed and a room too cold to complain.
Day 2: Food Hunting
We woke up early as planned (strictly) around 7am and headed out straight to a well-known temple in Ipoh for our morning prayers. Nothing like a blessed morning to start out the day.
After prayers, we got changed in the car itself (WHAT? I know right, so badass) and headed out to carry out of last day. Correction: Last Day of FOOD HUNTING.
- Sin Loon Young Restaurant
Location: Ipoh Town
Famous for: Coffee and toast
Price: RM3.70 (both)
Description: Rival to Nam Heong Restaurant
-Coffee: The coffee at this franchise was in comparison (to Nam Heong) stronger, thicker and less sweet.
– Toast with kaya spread: The toasted bread was as soft as cotton with every bite leaving a stamp of your teeth by the edges, making a perfect combination with the kaya spread being mild and rich at the same time.
A valuable experience through the window transcending generations of our ancestors to the present.
- Nam Heong Restaurant
Location: Opposite Sin Loon Young Restaurant
Famous for: Coffee and Toast (+-RM4), Caramel custard pudding (RM3.20), Egg tarts (RM1.80)
-Coffee: (In comparison to their rival, Sin Loon Young) Milder, whiter and sweeter. Caters for coffee lovers who prefer the less strong variety.
-Toast: The bread is crunchier and crumbles with every bite along with kaya spread that tastes a little stronger. Prefer the toast set from Sin Loon Young.
-Caramel Custard Pudding: Thinner, wider and melts as soon as it touches the tongue.
-Egg tarts: Mild egg taste, tart layer crumbles with every bite and the egg in the middle is not so soft but just right. Tastes better when cooled a tad bit.
- Jalan Bunga Raya hawker van
Location: Jalan Bunga Raya
Famous for: Cendol Jelly Kuning (RM2.80)
It’s located just by the roadside so you’ve got to keep an open eye when you cruise through the road with the help of Waze. It’s usually situated at the right side of the road which would require you to take a U-turn somewhere along the way.
The cendol is sweet and cool, perfect for the heat the weather has to offer. It’s even better with the combination of beans, the greenish swirly thingy and also their signature yellow jelly which is uncommon elsewhere.
- Coconut Drink
Location: Near hotel station 18 (main road)
- Nam Heong Restaurant
Location: Refer at ‘breakfast’ details.
Famous for: Curry Mee, Banana Leaf Fried Kuey Teow
-Curry Mee: Fragrant with coriander leaves and spicy by the right scale with a generous serving of shreded chicken meat on top.
-Banana Leaf Fried Kuey Teow: The smart incorporation of Indian culture (banana leaf) would cater to the Indian community as well. It’s well fried with just a vague hint of oil and gives out a tempting smell, a combination of fish cakes, tiny cockles and fragrant ‘sambal’.
- Kong Heng Restaurant
Location: Opposite Concubine Street
Famous for: Caramel custard pudding (RM3.00), Popiah (RM4.40), Rojak (RM5.00)
-Caramel custard pudding: In comparison to Nam Heong restaurant, this restaurant has to offer its own variety of pudding that is denser, thicker, small but nevertheless a pocketbomb of taste exploding with custard the moment it hits your mouth. It’s slightly sweeter and definitely the better type compared to what Nam Heong had to offer.
– Popiah: The popiahs are being sold by an elderly woman who only looks frail for her age but an expert in what she does; popiahs. She serves two types of popiahs, wither fried or normal. We chose a mixture of both to get the best of both worlds. As verified by features in newspapers, this popiah does not fail your taste buds. Definitely one not to be missed in Ipoh!
-Rojak- Not much of an extraordinary dish. Had a huge crispy surprise at the top of the dish which really attracted us. Taste wise we’d rate it a 50-50.
- Bits & Bops
Location: Plan B, Ipoh
Famous for: Shaved Ice Ball
A famous stall inside the Plan B compound that has garnered visits from icons like Marina Mahathir and several local artists. This stall offers a variety of sweet pleasures like shaved ice balls given to you in top of a brown paper that requires your hands to be cupped in full for support, ice creams and quirky beverages. A must try when in Ipoh!
In between visits to these stalls, we also managed to squeeze in stops at these few places that were completely FREE and FUN!
- Persatuan Shridi Sai Baba– a perfect place of worship for Shridi Sai Baba devotees. If you’re lucky and blessed enough (like us!), you get to participate in a cleansing Pooja that they host most mornings.
- Plan B– A hip and chick modern day architecture implementing 21st century trends like the hipster culture and clean-edge creativity. An urban art sitting in the heart of old-soul Ipoh town. Perfect for souvenir shopping and hipster dining experience.
- Mural paintings by the back ally
- Concubine Street– A back ally street lined by two-storey shops that sell souvenirs. Each shops also have their second storey decorated for picture-taking purposes, often charging extra for entrance. This street also offers myriad landscapes that are picture-perfect and creative.
When we checked all these places off our list, we finally realized how tired we were to actually embark on a 2-hour journey back to KL. After checking out of our hotel and purchasing souvenirs for our loved ones, we detoured briskly at Tambun to get their famous pomelo and made our way straight to the highway back to the hustle and bustle of KL city.
PS: Vainly spent 30 mins at Tapah R&R and wasted so much time and energy there that by the time we reached college, we were beaten to a pulp and carrying dark grey clouds beneath our eyelids. Especially Navina who did ALL the driving for the two days.
PSS: Places we planned to go but didn’t get to go (sadly):
- Gua Tempurung
- R. Seenivasagam Park
- Tambun hotsprings
- Cafe hopping
Our total budget spent on this entire trip amounted to RM130++ per pax inclusive of petrol usage and hotel accommodation which is something we consider to be within plan and a SUCCESS! Hopefully this travel log would help many others who are short in the financial department but still have an indistinguishable fire for travelling within them. Till next time, friends.