Ipoh: An Underrated Old Town in Malaysia

As I got lost on the charming narrow alleys of the city's old town, I kept on telling myself on why we haven't been to Ipoh yet considering our countless Malaysia getaways. I could imagine myself spending a lazy afternoon on a café, or beer shack, tuck in the middle of this laid-back district to people-watch. And we will definitely do that one of these days, because Ipoh deserves more than just a daytrip.

Having been to some of Malaysian key cities during our past visits including Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi, Penang, and Melaka, me and my buddy felt that we knew the country like the back of our hands. Little did we know that we just scratched the surface of one of our favorite countries in the world (check here for discounted tours, activities and transportation in Ipoh).

A few weeks back, we got an invitation from the Philippines' leading low-cost airline to have a three-day trip to Malaysia. Of course, we had to say yes! Cebu Pacific Air flies directly from Manila to Kuala Lumpur with lowest base fares starting at P2,088 which is a steal, right?

Thirteen souls were gathered for an adventure to explore some of the famous getaways in the country. After a full day of Kuala Lumpur sightseeing, we embarked on a two-hour journey to Ipoh, one of Malaysia's underrated cities.
Ipoh Malaysia Blog
Ipoh Old Town Funky Street
Ipoh is located 200 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur and is the third largest city in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur and George Town. The city didn’t feel busy though, actually, it was a Sunday when we were there and it felt like a sleepy town, my kind of town.

Ipoh Malaysia Blog
Pinoy Travel Bloggers represent!
My knowledge about Ipoh before this visit was limited to their world-famous white coffee (which is always included on our grocery hauls in Malaysia) and nothing more. But after one full day of going around the city, we knew that we have to go back here soon.

Jalan Yau Tet Shin

Our first stop was our lunch place. Malaysia has been one of our favorite countries because of its diverse culture which is perfect for gastronomic adventures (me and my buddy are both fans of local foodstuff). Ipoh is famous for sumptuous local dishes and gladly, we got to try some of it.

Ipoh Malaysia Blog
Jalan Yau Tet Shin
The group didn't mind the glaring noon sun as we stepped out from our bus. We headed straight to Onn Kee Restaurant to try their famous noodles and giant bean sprouts (tauge). We had it with chicken and barbecued pork and everything was phenomenal that we had to order more.

Restoran Onn Kee Ipoh
Restoran Onn Kee, one of the famous dining places along Ipoh's famous hawker street.
Restoran Onn Kee Ipoh
Giant bean sprouts (tauge)
Restoran Onn Kee Ipoh
The famous Ipoh chicken (tauge ayam)
Restoran Onn Kee Ipoh
Barbecued pork (char siew)
Restoran Onn Kee Ipoh
Ipoh noodles
While still nursing our satisfied tummies, my buddy saw a pastry shop and his eyes were fixed on the egg tart amongst all the pastries that were lined on a tray—he wasn’t even the type who would go gaga over sweet stuff. He added that this particular treat was speaking to him. Of course, we had to try it and it didn't fail, as expected.

Ipoh Malaysia Blog
Ipoh pastries
We were walking along Jalan Yau Tet Shin's cobblestone road when we saw a grocery store selling an assortment of local products. My buddy rushed inside and went straight to the white coffee section. I, on the other hand, carefully inspected their chlli and black pepper options from the spices area (we’re too old for cutesy travel trinkets).

Ipoh Malaysia Blog
Ipoh's hawker street
Needless to say, we all went out from the shop with boxes, yes boxes, of our Malaysian loot for the next few months—sambal udang bercili ranggup (crispy prawn chilli), Malaysian spices, and instant mie goreng noodles which are some of our kitchen staples.

Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS Perak) 

MAPS is the newest amusement park in Perak which opened in June 2017. It is said to be the first ever animation theme park in Asia that has 23 interactive attractions and 15 thrilling rides on their six themed zones including Dream Zone, Animation Square Zone, Blast Off Zone, Live Action Zone, Lakeside Zone, and Fantasy Forest Zone. Day passes ranges from RM63 to RM72 depending on the guest’s age and they offer discounts for group purchases.

Ipoh Malaysia Blog MAPS
Movie Animation Park Studios
I never liked theme parks because of my anti-social nature but when you’re with a fun group, then it’s a different story. The 21-hectare property is built to accommodate 8,000 visitors per day and is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm on weekdays (except Wednesdays) and 10:00am to 10:00pm on weekends and public holidays.

Ipoh Malaysia Blog MAPS
Perfect for families and friends
The group tried an indoor ride wherein we needed to use laser guns to shoot a number of targets inside a maze-like track. I could imagine families and friends showing off their laser skills in this attraction. We then watched a show on the Smurfs Theater and were amazed on the engaging animation program.

Sadly, we didn't get to try any ride as we were pressed for time but MAPS is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone who's tired of the usual weekend routine.

Ipoh City Landmarks

Ipoh Malaysia Blog
Ipoh Town Hall
We had a quick stop on some of the city's important landmarks including Ipoh Town Hall, Law Courts and the Railway Station. It was starting to drizzle that early afternoon but it didn't stop the group from taking quick snaps before we headed to the old town.

Ipoh Old Town

George Town in Penang is one of my favorite cities in Malaysia because of its old world feel. I've been there four times already and it felt like each visit is unique from the other. As soon as our bus parked on a roadside spot, I immediately felt excited on what's in store for us.

Ipoh Old Town Malaysia Blog
Han Chin Pet Soo - Malaysia's first Hakka tin mining museum
At first, I was trying to trace the similarities and differences of Ipoh’s Old Town with George Town. But then, after spending some time on this laid-back district, I totally forgot about comparing it and went on with my "getting lost moments" at the historic streets of Ipoh.

I veered away from the group as we explored a random street and I literally got lost.

Ipoh Old Town Malaysia Blog
Concubine Lane
My feet led me to Concubine Lane (Lorong Panglima) where old Chinese shophouses are now turned into shops or cafés. There are rumors that wealthy Chinese merchants and British officers during the old times would keep their mistresses in this area, away from the nosy locals, hence the name of the alley.

Ipoh Old Town Malaysia Blog
Old Chinese shophouses turned into shops and cafes
There's an alley where locals usually go to when they feel the need to have coffee and then there's another where people went on with their daily lives like washing clothes and stuff.

Ipoh Old Town Malaysia Blog
I got reunited with the group when I entered a hipster coffee shop and found them sipping through their cups of white coffee. It seemed like they never felt my absence as they were all happily chatting.

Ipoh Old Town White Coffee Blog
25 Concubine Lane Coffee Shop
I had to try it as well so I ordered a hot white coffee paired with some cookies. I've tried this world-famous hot drink a number of times, both instant mixes and brewed ones, but I never expected to have a unique coffee experience in Ipoh.

Ipoh Old Town White Coffee Blog
Ipoh's signature white coffee
The first sip was crucial as I try to connect it with the ones I had before. And as expected, Ipoh's white coffee is divine! You'd feel the strength of the caffeine but at the same time, there's this creamy hint to it. As a black coffee drinker, it passed my caffeine and pleasure level.

Ipoh Old Town Blog
We will be back, Ipoh.
Travel stories and whatnots dominated the bus as we went back to Kuala Lumpur. I dunno if it's because of the caffeine kick but everyone seemed to not get tire even after a jam-packed full day itinerary. And as the mayhem continued, I thought to myself about the reason why we haven't been to Ipoh. And as if on cue, my buddy mentioned that we should go back there on our next Malaysia trip, I just smiled and nodded in approval.

Check here for discounted accommodations in Ipoh

This trip is made possible by 
Cebu Pacific Air 
in partnership with 
Tourism Malaysia.


  1. Wonderful post. Beyond the beautiful architecture and rich history, Malaysian cuisine is also one of the best in the world. I love their Laksa soup.


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