Essential Travel Information to Perak
Overview of Perak
Perak is an underrated tourist destination that is famous for its tropical beauty and cultural history. The former British colony has grown since its independence and is now a bustling city with hospitable people. It is also filled with many colonial buildings that have been repurposed to reflect modernity. Besides famous landmarks, the city has several natural wonders, underwater treasures and magnificent sandy beaches.
Best travel companion
Perak is place for families to bond while discovering the treasures in Perak. Perak is also ideal for newly married couples travelling to create memories, or for older couples celebrating their anniversary.
How to Get There
Ipoh is connected to other major towns and cities in the peninsula by a comprehensive network of road, rail and sea transportation.
Ipoh is 165km from Penang and 205km or a one and a half hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur. Apart from air- conditioned coaches from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Ipoh, there are also bus services from main bus terminals in Kuala Lumpur (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan and Hentian Duta) and Butterworth in Penang to the Amanjaya Terminal in Ipoh.
You can also take a taxi from Kota Bharu, Alor Setar, Penang, Taiping, Kuala Kangsar, Cameron Highlands, Teluk Intan, Tanjung Malim and Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh.
If you are driving from Singapore, take the North South Highway (AH2) towards KL, before taking exit 138 towards Ipoh. The drive up including estimated customs waiting times should be about 6 hours.
Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) provides train services to all major towns in Perak, namely Sungkai, Batu Gajah, Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar and Taiping. The fastest mode is the Electric Train Services (ETS) that plies between Seremban, KL Sentral and Ipoh.
Travellers from KL can take the ETS train to Ipoh train station from KL Sentral. They can also take Gold or Silver Service trains.
International travellers to Perak typically take a flight to KLIA, where they can transfer to a local flight to Ipoh airport. Travellers within Malaysia can also fly directly to Ipoh, or Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport in Selangor for a bus transfer.
Airlines such as Firefly operates Ipoh- Singapore-Ipoh flights twice daily.
Where to Go in Perak
Attractions & Theme Parks:
Lost World of Tambun
Run by Sunway group, the Lost World of Tambun boasts a large theme park with 6 attractions. Busy yourself in the Lost World Water Park and Amusement Park with thrilling rides that will give you a kick of adrenaline, or explore the Adventure park where you will attempt challenging obstacles including natural rock climbing and abseiling. If you love animals, stop by the petting zoo and get a picture with the giraffes, or a cool photo at the serpentarium with snakes. Don’t forget to watch the feeding show with a Siberian Tiger!
If you like animals, this is the place to be. Check out the Orang Utans, Tapirs, Gaurs. If you like watching predators in the wild, the Tigers, Crocodiles and False Gharials should do the trick. Don’t forget to visit the Night Safari as well, to see nocturnal animals come out to play in the dead of the night!
Beach & Islands:
Pangkor Island (Pulau Pangkor)
One of Perak’s main attractions, Pangkor Island offers a little bit of everything. Besides the white sandy beaches and the clear blue waves, you can hike up the hill, visit an old Dutch fort, jump to the Foo Lin Kong Chinese Temple, feed hornbills with their colorful beaks, and snorkel in the sea amongst the fishes and coral reefs, all in a day!
Nature & Adventure:
As the oldest hill resort in Malaysia (founded 1884), Bukit Larut (or Maxwell Hill as it is formerly known) will charm you with its colonial feel, as you walk along the English gardens dotted with quaint bungalows around the hillside. With exotic wild orchids, gardens, playgrounds, and several trekking routes into the wilderness, this is the perfect place to avoid crowds and immerse yourself in tranquility.
Royal Belum State Park
A place for the adventurous to get deep into nature, get on one of the numerous jungle trails or river cruises to explore the beauty that nature beholds. With so many things to do here including searching for the world’s largest flower: the Rafflesia, visiting Kampung Chuweh to see how the aborigines here live, or trekking to the salt licks at Sira Gajah where you can spot deer and sometimes even tigers, this is a must visit for nature lovers!
Gunung Lang Recreational Park is a great place for a day out with the kids. Get close to nature as you take a boardwalk over the swamp or climb the lookout towers to observe animal life, or relax at a campsite by the lake while the children lose themselves in the playgrounds or the mini zoo nearby. This is a good place to spend a morning not far from Ipoh.
Tasik Cermin (Mirror Lake)
This quiet lake is so hidden you’ll have to take a 50m walk through a dark tunnel to get to it. Surrounded by limestone karst towers, the natural setting is stunning to say the least. Make sure to stop by here if you are visiting the famous cave temples nearby like Kek Lok Tong or Sam Poh Tong. The lack of signs leading to this lake might be a challenge, but it also means a lack of other tourists. Walk through the quarry until you find the tunnel to paradise on the other side!
Taiping Lake Garden
The Taiping Lake Garden was opened to the public as a park in 1880, featuring ten scenic lakes and ponds highlighting the gardens around. With rain trees sporting branches that bend so low they touch the lake, you will get to experience the name of Taiping itself: everlasting peace. With the still lake reflecting the foliage in the cool early morning, this is the favourite spot in Malaysia for many visitors to Taiping.
Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve
As one of the best managed sustainable mangrove ecosystems in the world, the mangrove serves as breeding grounds for numerous species of crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and even the oddly shaped horseshoe crab. Attracting coastal migratory birds and other forest fowl, you might be a lucky witness to the courtship rituals of the rare Great Argus Pheasant. Other animals you might find include the Chinese White dolphin, the dugong, and big seabirds such as the Brahminy Kite and the White-bellied Sea-eagle.
Polo Ground (Padang Polo)
Known today as the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recreation Park, the polo ground became a symbol of the elite as the game of polo was played only by the rich and influential back in colonial times. Today, the polo ground is the most popular park in Perak, with a well maintained jogging track, wide open areas for kite-flying, and wide open areas for a picnic in the sun. You can even rent bicycles and rollerblades for an active evening surrounded by lush greenery.
Tasik Banding (Temenggor Lake)
The second largest lake in Peninsula Malaysia, it is dotted with hundreds of islands that used to be peaks until the construction of a dam created them. Start paddling on a bamboo raft, or jump in the lake for a dip. If getting wet is not your thing, try your hand at fishing in one of the designated fishing zones. Sited within the Royal Belum Rainforest, you can plan your visit here together with a trek into the rainforest.
Caves & Waterfalls:
Gua Tempurung (Tempurung Cave)
The Tempurung cave is the largest cave system in Peninsula Malaysia. Forming over 250 million years the 4.5km long cave contains an underground river of 1.6km, and comprises 5 giant domes including the Golden Flowstone Cavern which is 90m in height and Battlefield Cavern where fallen stalactites and other natural rock formations create the scene of a bloody battlefield. Casual visitors and serious caving enthusiasts alike will have no trouble navigating the cave and appreciating its natural beauty.
Lata Kinjang Waterfall
One of the tallest waterfalls in Malaysia, watch the water cascade down a 100-meters into the pool below. The Lata Kinjang Waterfall is famous for being visible from the North-South highway, but is rarely visited due to its access road being somewhat hidden from the highway. Do check out the orchid garden and the bamboo park there once you are done soaking in the refreshing water of the falls.
Concubine Lane Ipoh
The most famous streets in Ipoh, this set of 3 historical lanes was gifted by mining tycoon Yao Tet Shin to his wife and concubines. Today enjoy the bustle of activity and the creative murals painted into the walls along these lanes. The architecture pays homage to its shady past as the centre for opium and gambling dens with its restoration to its pre-war condition, and the shops below carry some of Ipoh’s best loved foods! You’ll know you’re there when you’re walking under a string of red lanterns, or strung up umbrellas high in the air!
Pasir Salak (Historical Complex)
A museum housed in a compound of traditional Malay buildings, this complex details the history of the first Malayan settlers all through its colonization by the British, and the various traditional Perak houses. Don’t miss the monument stone erected near the site where the first British Resident of Perak, JWW Birch was killed in his bathtub by Malayan resistance to British rule.
After recovering from illness, the Sultan of Perak built this mosque in 1913 as a symbol of thanksgiving, Ubudiah Mosque is considered by many to be Malaysia’s most beautiful mosque. With a central golden dome and Italian marble used in its construction, the mosque is a stunning landmark, and a symbol of pride for Perakians.
As the oldest Museum in Peninsular Malaysia, it boasts a spectacular collection of over 5,000 ethnological and anthropological items, many of which are rare collections over a hundred years old. Some of the animal skeletons on display are of extinct animals! With a Nature Gallery featuring dioramas of the wild habitat and a Cultural Gallery featuring the works of the different indiginous tribes of the Perakians, this is a museum that successfully captures history within its storied walls.
Birch Memorial Clock Tower
Constructed for the commemoration of the first British Resident in Perak James W. W. Birch, the four panels surrounding this clock tower illustrates the growth of civilization from the Stone Age through to Modern Science, Arts, and Social Services. Set in the centre of a beautiful plaza, the irony of this clock tower is that it lies between Jalan Dato Maharaja Lela and Jalan Dato Sagor, the two men who were executed for murdering Birch!
A ruined mansion never built to completion, Kellie’s Castle boasts a blend of Moorish, Scottish, and Tamilvanan Indian architecture. With its role in popular folklore as a haunted castle, this castle was also used for filming in the 1999 movie Anna and the King as well as 2000’s Skyline Cruisers. Built over a hundred years ago, this castle is a popular attraction in Perak as one of the few Castles in South East Asia.
As an Indian enclave in Ipoh famous for its vibrant colours, culture and cuisine, visit India without being in India! Buy souvenirs from one of the many shops lining the road, and make sure to enjoy the tasty curries and other Indian delicacies here.
Sam Poh Tong Temple
Known as the biggest cave temple in Malaysia, the open cave atop a flight of 246 steps sports a glorious view of Ipoh from above. Discover the influence of man and religion amidst a backdrop of beauty as you hunt for all the carved Buddha statues sitting beside the beautiful stalagmites and stlagtites!
Geology Museum Ipoh
A modern style museum with in-depth information on everything about rocks in Malaysia, learn about the Tin mining industry in Perak and marvel at the variety of beautiful gemstones on display. There’s even a section on fossils and dinosaurs to please the kids, and other information on geoheritage activities in Malaysia.
Mural Art Trail
If you think murals are just one dimensional paintings on walls, think again. The mural art trail features the works of Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic blending imagination and reality as the murals make use of the physical environment to create 3D images that pop out of the walls! His murals have since inspired other businesses to use murals as advertisements for their services too, so do take pictures with these transient murals before the humid climate in Malaysia degrades them.
Gerbang Malam Ipoh
With its name of “Gateway of the Night”, the Gerbang Malam night market features clothes, bags, shoes and accessories at bargain prices. If you are tired from the walking, get a foot reflexology from therapists setting up shop in makeshift tents. While food here is scarce, you’ll find many coffee shops to get a drink and chill out at the night market.
Felda Residence Hot Springs
After a long day of trekking or urban exploring, visit the Felda Residence Hot Springs to soak your tired muscles in the mineral pools surrounded by greenery. With many pools of different temperatures, you can even buy hard boiled eggs cooked with the hot springs water. With bouncy castles and slides for children on site, this is a good place to unwind while surrounded with modern comforts and WiFi connection.
Sungai Klah Hot Spring
A popular local alternative to modern day spa centres, let the natural mineral hot springs here help you detox your body and relax your muscles and joints. With a range of pools from the large public pools to a private room and jacuzz, seti amidst the greenery and the backdrop of the Titiwangsa mountain range beyond, this is a good place to unwind for half a day.
Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary
Over 80,000 migratory birds from 50 different species stop here during the migration season from August to April every year. As a winner of the Malaysian Tourism Awards’ “Best Tourist Attraction (Natural Attraction)”, you are guaranteed a peek into the world of birds that live in the Matang Mangrove Forest, the largest mangrove ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia.
Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge
Take a guided tour at the last tin dredge in Malaysia, a historical relic from the golden age of tin mining in Malaysia. As a floating factory, learn how 4,500 tons of steel can stay afloat on water, and how it formed an integral part of tin mining operations that gave Ipoh the nickname “City of Millionaires”.
How to Get Around in Perak
Make sure to download Grab to get around Perak, or hail a taxi. Fares are generally low and taxis are aplenty.
What to Eat in Perak
Food in Perak is sold in cafes, restaurants and on the street by various vendors. The state has a variety of meals offered in different cities, making it possible for tourists to sample popular foods. Whether you are looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, you will find a meal that leaves you satisfied. Some of the foods that are a “must-have” in Perak include bean sprout chicken, shredded chicken noodles, dim sum, kaya puffs, and white coffee among others.
Where to Stay in Perak
With most of the attractions situated near Taiping and Ipoh, these 2 cities are the best places to plan for your stay. If you’re travelling to attractions outside of these two towns, consider staying at the many resorts available at the various attractions to minimise travel time and maximise your trip!
Where is Perak
Perak is a Malaysian state at the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, situated just north of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. It also lies at the southern border of Thailand.
How Many Areas in Perak
Perak is officially divided into 12 districts.
Is Ipoh in Perak
Ipoh is the capital city of Perak, and started out as a tin mining town. Today, it has become more tourist centric, and is definitely one of the places to visit in Malaysia.