LOCATED in the state of Perak in northwestern Malaysia, Ipoh is the third largest city in the country by population after Georgetown, Penang (second) and Kuala Lumpur (first).

However, the town is easily overlooked by travelers who are not in the know, especially if they’re simply rushing from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

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For Malaysians, however, Ipoh is a major pitstop on the way to Penang island.

The town has both the Malayan Railway’s West Coast Line and the heavily used North-South Expressway cutting through the city, making a convenient stopover. But that’s not why locals make it a point to visit Ipoh.

The charismatic destination has a rich history behind it, having first started out as a rich, tin-bearing valley of the Kinta River in the 1880s.

Source: Shutterstock.

It didn’t take long for tin mining activities to help Ipoh grow from a quiet village to a full-blown tin mining town as a result of the booming industry.

It was one of the richest cities in Malaysia , and its success earned it the title of the capital of Perak, replacing Taiping. However, in the later half of the 20th century, the decline of the tin mining industry caused the growth of Ipoh to stagnate.

As the tin mines closed, its population moved out to seek employment in other cities within Malaysia. For decades after, Ipoh suffered decline and neglect.

Source: Shutterstock.

In spite of that, Ipoh has managed to pick itself up and today, it’s popular with locals, with tourism being the main driver of the town’s economy.

What makes the destination, still very much a quiet town as compared to Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur, so compelling? For starters, Ipoh has a rich architectural, cultural, and culinary heritage, minus the crowd.

It’s also surrounded by majestic Paleozoic limestone hills, caves with dramatic rock formations, tranquil hot springs, sprawling theme parks, quaint laneways lined with period buildings, a crop of boutique hotels, and the occasional street art tucked away in a street corner.

Source: Shutterstock.

Food is an abundance and you’ll be sure to never go hungry as you eat your way through Ipoh.

Savor the local classics such as tauge chicken (bean sprouts and chicken), kai si hor fun (flat rice noodles with shredded chicken in broth), and creamy tau fu fah (beancurd pudding) before washing it all down with a hot serving of Ipoh white coffee.

Alternatively, you could just treat yourself to a day-long cafe-hopping spree, as the town is known for its hipster joints with the most gorgeous interiors and delicious grub. After all, they don’t call Ipoh the “hipster capital of Malaysia” for nothing.

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The post In pictures: Old world charm Ipoh appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.


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