Alright, alright! Now, this is our Ipoh Travel Journal Part 3. Don’t miss the part 1 and part 2 of this trip to Ipoh. I’ve done the intro mostly there. This authentic old town, which famous for its white coffee, booming with tin mining back in the early 19th century, and now it’s one of Malaysia’s favorite travel destination as well.
You know what, writing this travel journal makes me kinda feel weirdly emotional about Ipoh. Regardless of what I expected to see when I picked this city as our destination, I personally encounter much more in a kind of different way.
Once being a shining star of the tin era, burned down to over half the town (The Great Fire of Ipoh in 1892), came back stronger and rebuilt with a better hope, only to face another challenge. Invasion by the Japanese and British in the 1940s, to the decline of the tin mining industry.
All that cause, Ipoh now stand as strong as ever. The face of this city, the hope of its people, remain still as one cultural heritage to the world. Ipoh now something ‘hype’ for tourists both foreign and local. A real living example of the juxtaposition of ‘old’ and ‘new’ of a town.
Short recap from the last post, we’re done exploring this mysterious touristy abandoned castle of Mr. Kellie. Exhausted, sweating, starving, with two chicken paos, one KitKat matcha ice cream, and one super refreshing mountain dew… We’re back! Ready for our next stop.
Mr. Lim, our Uber driver recommended to just visit Kek Look Tong temple as one last attraction that day. It’s pretty late in the afternoon anyway and we’re kinda racing with time as they are closing at 6 pm. Luckily, we made it.
Kek Look Tong Cave Temple
Upon arrival, we found that all the vending machines are either broken or they just ran out of drinks. Yeah, we’re still thirsty, should’ve bought more at the castle. But that’s okay, what we’re about to see is the best of all cave temples, of all attractions we’ve visited in Ipoh. IMHO
Seems like there are still a lot of visitors even though they’re closing in like an hour. The greeting from Kek Look Tong is pretty similar with the other cave temple we visited yesterday, the Perak Cave temple. Only this time, it’s kinda warm and bigger taller stones. Which makes quite an impression of,
Once you get inside the cave, you can see around there are some Buddhist figures as well as deities spread all around its complex layout. Just look to your left, to your right, there’s an upper section as well to the right side of the cave.
You might notice they got beautiful stones that formed stalagmites on the ceiling, even made prettier with some warm artificial lighting. Really like the feel here. But it’s still not the best part.
What Is The Best Part?
The best part of this temple is that wide opening, bright, cool breeze, fresh landscape nature look, and beautiful garden. Our eyes will be automatically drawn to this garden, guaranteed. Just after you find the largest Buddhist statues which are in the center, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Beautiful isn’t it? I would love to have this kind of garden as my backyard. It’s a dream garden. Don’t mind that giant electric tower, I know it’s annoying. Just focus on the garden.
This is the look of an award winning landscape garden. Award winning? Yeah. More, this garden also has a jogging path circling two lakes and one of the longest reflexology footpaths in Ipoh.
Unfortunately, by the time of this writing, their official site is off, domain issue I suppose? There’s not much information to dig in from this place. This temple used as a place of worship as early as 1920 and became a part of iron mining in 1960.
Just look at those limestones. This is hands down the best view cave temple ever.
Shame that we only had very little time. I’d say the best duration to enjoy this the most will be 3 hours. Just sit there and think about your life. Late afternoon before they close is the better time. The sun about to set giving you that golden look of the garden.
Shame… It’s Just Not Enough
An uncle who seems the one working here gave a sign of bell or something while he’s walking around and telling people that they closing soon. Quickly, we gotta get the job done.
We set up a tripod and Steffia stands at the best spot to get the best view for a time lapse. While I walk around the garden along the jogging track to see more.
I’m a fast walker anyway, so I think I got this. Some statue from stones, some flowers and plants, beautiful lakes, and more beautiful trees and rocks.
Then I’m back to where Steffia doing time-lapse, only to find out that the time lapse setting was wrong. Instead of taking pictures every 10 seconds, I mistakenly set it to every 10 minutes. Oh, the irony.
Anyway, gate’s closing. We had to go with regret. It’s okay, it’s okay.
I had my view, I had my view…
We called back Mr. Lim, then straight back to Le Metrotel. We took a rest as we’re pretty tired. More like a headache because of the scorching heat from the sun at Kellie’s Castle earlier. I went out to buy some stuff at Watsons, just a few meters away from the hotel. Pretty convenient in location.
Hawker Stalls Food
When it’s dark, we’re looking for dinner around the hotel again. This time, we don’t want to eat at the same location as the night before. Although, still they seem pretty interesting. We tried to walk further to find hawker stall foods at Jalan Sultan Ekram. A recommendation, again, from Mr. Lim.
It’s one crowded hawker food, just so you know. And it’s pretty long too on the left side. Looking at that, my brain was like, “Food… Food…”. You can find this hawker stall and every location we’ve been in the map we put at the end of the post.
Mind you, finding a table here can be quite a challenge. We walked back and forth, cannot find one. Even when our eyes catch a spot, there someone took it first.
We walked around the hawker a little bit, which leads us to the behind. There they have more space, fewer people. It’s much better here. You can see the big Sun Guochow restaurant sign. That’s the location.
So yeah, we ordered a seafood fried mee and a fried oyster for our dinner. They taste umm, okay I guess? I like the oyster better. It’s fresh and seasoned really well.
One of the challenges of eating at hawker stalls like these is language. From about 6 to 7 stalls I asked, only one that could understand me speaking in English. That’s the auntie from the Sun Guochow restaurant where we ordered our juices from. She called me,
Leng Zai…Leng Zai…
Google it, Leng Zai is my favorite nickname.
Happy tummy, time to go to bed. Took another short walk to buy some fruits for dessert.
Day 5 Ipoh: Yet Another Hotel
That morning we woke up very early just like our first night in Ipoh. We went for another sunrise street hunt. Only this time, the sun was not in our favor. It’s been gray since the morning. It’s like telling us to slow downnn. That kind of mood.
We spent some time at Mural lane trying to enjoy the street art and took photos of them all. That feels like when we’re hunting street arts in Penang. These murals painted on old, heritage buildings. They seem to highlight Malaysia’s cultures.
Satisfied with the murals, just the two of us that early morning, we proceed to have breakfast. This time, we go to the famous curry restaurant in Ipoh, Xin Quan Fang.
We arrived at 7.30 in the morning, and there’s already a queue. Not long, but it’s kinda wow, this early and they queue already. Oh ho, this food better be worth it.
Tick tock tick tock, we got our seat. Ordered 2 curry noodle with separated pork meat, shrimp, and the broth. Juicy, tender, spicy, and very delicious. No wonder they famous. Spent RM 27 at this restaurant. Best breakfast we had in Ipoh in terms of food.
Actually, I’m not sure having curry as a breakfast, though. But at this point, I don’t care. It’s that good. By the time we’re done, the queue was way longer than before. We go back to the hotel, get changed and book another Uber.
We went to this three temples which located close to each other. The main purpose is actually the Sam Poh Tong Temple.
Sam Poh Tong
Good thing we leave kinda early, barely any visitor yet. That makes this place a very enjoyable one. We took it slow, really slow.
The first thing you will see is this beautiful garden landscape with a fish pond in front of a pavilion. Interestingly, this is a very beautiful garden landscape, which was awarded “The Best Landscaped Garden” in Malaysia back in 1993. Before Kek Lok Tong took over, of course.
All I can think of when I saw this garden was it looks like a fall season. Really charming. See for yourself.
There’s a huge and tall gate sorta to welcome you at the entrance of this cave temple. Interesting to see how they kinda built something between the limestone hill that looks like bridging it.
Inside, you can see all sort of Buddhist things from statue to the smallest elements such as decoration. You can tell from the photo that it’s quite dark inside. It’s not like Perak Cave or Kek Lok Tong which more gracious with lights.
The Best Part: The Japanese Garden
You will love this part of the temple. Once you go inside, proceed with the sign that leads you to what looks like a tunnel to an opening area. This is like having your soul re-attached with nature.
First impression was like a silent awe because it’s just so peaceful and silent, almost like a very sacred garden where you shouldn’t make any noise. Sssshhhh…
Some Buddha statues to your left, an interesting kinda look like another temple pavilion which is the only contrast in color that you’ll see around. Because everything is sorta green. And a tortoise pond to the right which you can feed by purchasing the food from the lady up front.
The only thing that I couldn’t unsee and forget was how the light beautifully drops between these huge limestones. It’s more like the light piercing through this garden. Beautiful!
Lucky for us we get here early, thank you early morning sun! We didn’t feed the tortoise, though. They seemed not that interesting that time.
There’s a legend said that a monk from China lives here and make this temple his meditation place until his death. I wonder how he did it.
The Other Place
You can also go up to another open area with 246 steps staircases to get a beautiful view. However, when we’re there it seemed that it’s closed temporarily. Maybe for maintenance or maybe something else.
Upon exit, we found another part of this temple, a spooky one actually. There’s an access to the back side of the pavilion, which lead to an empty opening.
At first, we didn’t know what is this place. There seems to be an old house, then walking further to the back we saw this.
It’s a place for funeral services. A cremation place more precisely. D*mn, that’s creepy! It’s pretty dark here due to the hidden spot from the sunlight. There’s only two of us, of course. Who else wants to see this ‘attraction’? It’s just people like us, weirdos.
Let’s just carry on to the next temple. I’m worried we’re gonna see things that we don’t really want to see. 👻
Nam Thien Tong (Nan Tian Dong)
Now, this is a more colorful temple. Not as big as Sam Poh Tong, but because it’s location next to Sam Poh Tong, they often associated similar.
What interesting, though, is the name it carries. “Tong” is referred as cave while “Nan” is South and the word “Tian” is sky; so if you translate that into English, it simply means, the cave to host the various Buddhist figures from the southern Sky (heaven).
This is a Taoist Temple in its nature and its another alternative name is Nan Dao Yuan (“Nam Tou Yun” in Cantonese), means College of Southern Religious Principles.
According to the story, this temple discovered by a Chinese Taoist priest Kuong San Teik in 1867. The current chief Taoist priest is the fourth generation management.
You can also see a fish pond in their garden to the left side which connected with the next temple.
Ling Sen Tong
The name of the temple is literally mean “The Rock of Heavenly Spirits”. From as far as our eyes can see, this is the one who wins the colorful temple competition. It has some sort of entertainment park feel.
They have adorably cute statues of animals, deities, and characters from Chinese story. Even some special space for the Monkey King and Journey To The West characters.
There are more people here as the sun gets higher. And know that it’s incredibly hot even at 10. With all that smokes and heat, we’re good to just end this temple visit. Book an Uber and had an ice cream as we wait.
The 40 minutes Nasi Kandar!
Only 2 things now in my mind. Food and our last hotel, the one and only Sekeping Kong Heng. Now, before we go there… There’s one more restaurant we want to try.
You see the queue? How good can it be, right? Yep, we queued for almost 40 minutes. For what seems to be not worth at all. It’s the Nasi Kandar at Yong Suan Coffee Shop. I don’t know much about the food, all I know it’s kinda famous and lots of recommendation online.
Steffia was the one doing more research about this Nasi Kandar. So as I wrote in the earlier post that like many coffee shops, they sell drinks, and rent their space for food stall. So does with this place, the Nasi Kandar stall actually named ‘Perniagaan Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah’.
Shortly, we got our takeaway food for only RM 9. We bought 1 only as the portion is enough for sharing of 2. We bought the ‘ayam goreng, daging cincang, telur’ with their curry. Relax, we’ll eat it later.
We Ate A Whole Chicken, Salted! Savage!
There is this one famous food just across the street from Le Metrotel. It’s the Aun Kheng Lim Salted Chicken. It’s been days we noticed that people queue to buy here.
After checking out, we split to buy different food before we booked the Uber. Steffia went to buy some snacks at Sin Eng Heong. But then, she gave it up after the queue didn’t move for like 10 minutes, and it’s still a long one.
I got my ‘mission’ completed in less than 5 minutes queue. The thing is, I don’t know that we can only buy a minimum 1 piece. By 1 piece, I mean a whole chicken. Yep, they only sell a whole chicken. It seems like most people bought it for a family sharing or to bring it home after their vacation from Ipoh.
I was, at first, doubt it to buy or not buy. Can we just eat the whole chicken like that? I mean, of course, we can. But it’s not what we want. I just want to take a bite for curiosity sake. We had the Nasi Kandar already! Then… I bought it anyway for RM 19.
There’s no way to leave the chicken to bring it home tomorrow. Not a good option. So, we proceed to our last hotel.
Sekeping Kong Heng
Since this hotel actually located just next to the first hotel we stayed on the first night, the Container Hotel, again we passed the same street. Only this time, wayy more tourists. Even though it’s Monday.
Checking in trying to find the ‘receptionist’. Where the heck we have to find it?
Mind you, this is not like any other hotel. I will try to do a more detailed post about Kong Heng. Consider this short part a tease.
Tourists are everywhere around this Sekeping Kong Heng area. We found the ‘lobby’ and the ‘receptionist’ that looks like a…… I don’t know… Cleaning storage?
Check-in was smooth, the staff led us to go up the stairs. It’s locked, restricted for hotel guests only. Tell you what, it’s quite an experience to stay here like no other. You gotta try Kong Heng style.
It’s like staying at an abandoned old house, but it’s kinda cool. Creepy yet fascinating! Alright, let’s save it for the review post. Time to eat.
The Regretted Lunch?
As soon as we get to our room, we prepared our lunch. One big portion of nasi kandar and a whole salted chicken. This is way more than enough for the two of us. Lads and gents, I present to you, our very lunch…
Mmmhh, looking at those foods surely kinda questioning you;
Is it food?
Chill, the presentation is not everything with this kind of food. I know it looks like it taken from a garbage dump. But trust me, taste not like garbage. It’s pretty good.
The nasi kandar, tasty, a bit spicy, and quite a strong curry. The chicken was better than the meat, though. They are famous for their ‘ayam merah’ anyway. Should try that.
As for the salted chicken, you know what. We probably should eat it like at a different time. At first, it tasted good. Better to eat it while still hot, you can really taste the salt all over the chicken soaked very well. It’s a delicious chicken. But not after you eat at least half of it.
We kinda automatically stopped when we burped and the burps have a taste. Guess what? Salty… From that point on, we had to push ourselves and each other to finish what we started. Come to me, salts!
You’d better be ready for a hospital if you have a high blood pressure yet eat the whole chicken at once. Here, be safe with this travel insurance.
Once finished, it’s like chicken bones everywhere. Even one big bottle of water was not enough to wash away the salty feeling on our tongue. Oh, the irony.
This One Last Night, Ipoh…
As per usual, we took some photos in the room and around the hotel area. We went to check out their hang out area, where guests expected to have a social life and interact with other guests. Which I don’t know if that’s gonna happen nowadays, honestly. Checked the pool, it looks like no swimming tomorrow morning for me.
Went for another walk to see if we can catch any sunset view here. Again, no sun setting, the cloud was too thick. But, we had a nice blue hour that night.
Because we’re back to this area which really cools down at night, we decided to just dine in at Plan B. This modern charming look restaurant with some Australian feel in the interior touch, is your solution if you want to eat but you can’t find another food nearby (this old town area) or you don’t want to eat that chicken and beansprout again.
Oh! Hence the name, Plan B!
It’s good, we enjoy the atmosphere the most. The foods, drinks, and desserts are all good. Kinda pricey, though, but well… Looking at the place, mmhh… We spent RM 105 that night, the most expensive food we had during our trip to Ipoh. More detail on the coming culinary post.
Good Bye, Ipoh
The next morning all we did was to just take photos of our gadgets and stuff, breakfast, and try the famous one brand from Ipoh that goes international to more than 13 countries worldwide.
It’s the Old Town White Coffee. You must’ve heard or seen this somewhere. It’s just, we gotta try eating here. Because just as they said,
Carrying the charm of a traditional ipoh coffee shop, we serve a variety of Malaysian delicacies from white coffee to toasts, rice and noodles.
Yeah, about the charm… Don’t care, eat here anyway. That’s all that matter for that moment. It’s a-okay, not something you’d die tryin’ for. Another RM 42 for lunch, and I also bought the tea gift set from Ho Yan Hor museum to bring it home for RM 100.
Book another Uber to Amman Jaya Bus Terminal. We bought a bus ticket to KL with Star Shuttle for RM 42 / person. Took 3.5 hours from Ipoh, but good thing there’s one last beautiful greeting from the sunset.
It’s seriously saturated with blue and magenta like the sky was edited. And you do this when we’re going home, huh? Sky? This is one way to say goodbye, though.
One Last Sandwich
I’m tired after sitting for a long time on the bus. Like it’s not enough, the flight home delayed for almost 2 hours. C’mon!
Luckily, KLIA 2 connected with a shopping mall. We took a walk and window shopping for a while, then we had our dinner. Because we don’t have Subway in Indonesia, guess what we have?
That will be the last food we had for this trip. It’s time to say goodbye now. Ipoh has been a great travel experience for us. It’s one underrated destination in Malaysia. I know you probably want to visit KL, Penang, Malacca, Langkawi. But if you have time, make a stop at Ipoh. If you go from KL to Penang, this can be a very good stop.
Hope to see you on some other posts from Ipoh. There’s still a couple more thing I would like to share with you guys. Expect a new post every Monday and Thursday.
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Thanks for reading! Check these links below if you want to get some deals on your next trips, as well as we will get something in return to keep us on track.
- Book your next flight to Ipoh or Kuala Lumpur!
- For you guys Indonesian, book your flight here with promo price.
- Are you backpacker or globetrotter on a budget? Worry not, Container Hotel is what you’re looking for.
- For your Instagram need, check out that M Boutique Hotel we mentioned above. Legit!
- One of the best locations for your hotel, stay at Le Metrotel Hotel.
- Definitely try Sekeping Kong Heng! It’s the ultimate one!
- Or if you’re looking for another stay in Ipoh at a discounted price.
- Claim your $26 for free when you book with Airbnb.
- Book your airport transfer car pick up $23 only. Or use KLIA Express for faster transport.
- If you plan to go by bus to Ipoh, check out busonlineticket.com or easybook. They both are recommended bus and train booking site for Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand.
- If you also want some nature experience, try Cameron Highland. Stunning view with waterfalls and fruit farms.
- Capturing your best travel moment with the best camera for you.
- Safety first people, get a travel insurance if you’re traveling.
- Check more on our resources page!
This is the map showing all the places we’ve been as well as those we canceled to visit due to our traveling time. Hope it’s useful.