May 19, 2017
White coffee, limestone hills that date back to the Paleozoic era, and the slow-paced life, these are the characteristics Ipoh has long been famous for. Seventy years ago, along with London and Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh became one of Singapore Airlines’ first destinations. Back then the capital city of Perak, Malaysia, was a popular destination for the industry due to its tin-mining trade. But the mines closed decades ago, and today travellers head to Ipoh in search of culture, nature and good food.
The state of Perak was named among the world’s top 10 regions to visit in 2017, according to Lonely Planet, and Ipoh played a large role in the accolade. Colonial architecture, hip cafes and boutique hotels are among the city’s lures, as are its murals (above) by Lithuanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic. The real star, however, is the local food. From juicy pomelo to beansprout chicken, egg tarts and lor mai kai (steamed glutinous rice with chicken), Ipoh is a foodie wonderland.
It’s also the perfect base for day trips to nearby Royal Belum State Park, one of the world’s oldest rainforests, and the UNESCO-listed Lenggong Valley. There’s bird watching in Kinta Nature Park, whitewater rafting in Gopeng, and pottery making in Kuala Kangsar. And that’s barely scratching the surface.
Here are three more reasons to visit Ipoh in 2017.
1. Good sports
With the Division One Asia Rugby Championship (above) this month in Ipoh, the city is earning a reputation as an event destination. The competition is one of three major sporting events taking place within a couple of months. International hockey tournament the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup took place earlier this month. And in April, 400 riders from 31 countries took part in the first Gran Fondo New York Malaysia race. The global cycling marathon served as the opening act of the inaugural Ipoh Cycle Fest, an eight-day festival that organisers hope will mark the start of cycling tourism in the region.
2. Movie Animation Park Studios
Mr Peabody and Sherman, The Smurfs, and Malaysia’s own BoBoiBoy, a young boy with superpowers, are among the characters set to appear at this long-awaited theme park when it opens in June 2017. Expected to host one million guests in its first year alone, the 21ha venue will have six themed zones, housing 23 interactive attractions and 15 rides. Among them is Malaysia’s tallest drop-tower ride, Megamind Megadrop, which will reach heights of 52 metres. Those who’d rather play on firm ground may prefer a game of laser tag with Casper the Friendly Ghost.
SEE ALSO: 7 beautiful beaches in Malaysia
3. Return of the trishaw
Why walk when you can ride in nostalgic splendour? The last time Ipoh’s iconic trishaws were seen on its streets was in 2005 – that is, until September 2016, when 20 electric-assist rickshaws were launched for the enjoyment of locals and travellers alike. There are three packages: a Single Trip (RM6) takes passengers from point A to point B, the Heritage Trip (RM30) covers Ipoh Old Town and 26 popular tourist spots, and the Charter Trip (RM50 per hour) allows passengers to travel to any destination, between 10km and 15km per trip.
– BY RACHEL LEES