Tight budget? Here are 13 cheap things to do in Ipoh

Ipoh is one of the Top 10 Places to Visit in Asia, according to Lonely Planet. Just two to three hours on the road from Kuala Lumpur, there is surprisingly a lot to do and see in Ipoh.

Here is a run-down of 13 relatively reasonable places to visit while there, provided you don’t go overboard with the shopping or eating.

1. Dataran Kong Heng, Concubine Lane, and the Yasmin Ahmad Museum (2-4 hours)

These are all located in Ipoh City Centre and are walking distance from each other.

Dataran Kong Heng has an air of “industrial chic” about it. Its abandoned buildings vibe makes it a great place to take Instagram-worthy photos. On weekends, there’s a mini flea market. The shop selling ice kepal/ice balls are a must-try as are the egg tarts from the shop next door.

Next, take a walk along Concubine Lane, home to some truly breathtaking murals, and shops selling knick-knacks.

It costs just RM3 as a donation, to enter the Yasmin Ahmad Museum. It’s an inspiring, somewhat emotional place. The many advertisements Yasmin worked on are played on a loop.

2. Thrift Shop at Mr Musashi (2 hours)

Mr Musashi is the best thrift shop chain ever. They specialise in US and Japanese vintage stuff, and you can count on getting a number of branded (GAP, Uniqlo etc) goods here.

3. Eat at a halal Chinese food court (1 hour)

This place is packed during weekend mornings. Try the famous Roti Goyang. Stalls also sell Chee Cheong Fun, Curry Mee, Lobak, and many other delicious items. Bring your Muslim friends here.

4. Visit Gua Tambun, then buy pomelo/limau bali (2+ hours)

The Tambun area and its surroundings are so beautiful. On a good day, you can see details of the mountain range far off. At certain places, you can walk up and view the high, gorgeous, prehistoric cave walls up close.

There are tiny crevices housing families of birds, and many varieties of insects (wear mosquito repellent), and amazing plants that somehow grow on what is essentially a big rock.

Drive around, enjoy the view then shop for what Ipoh is most famous for: pomelo. A good-size pomelo is about RM10. Pick a shop that offers free samples.

5. Attend Garden Market at Food Truck Garden (3+ hours)

Garden Market is home to food trucks, preloved items, an open cinema, and local performances. It takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday after 6pm. This is the rather cool side of urban Ipoh.

6. Sunday flea market (3+ hours)

Credit to Attila Siha.

This place is also called Memory Lane Ipoh and Pasar Karat Memory Lane, and is open from 7am-12pm every Sunday. You’re in for some great bargains here as there are many treasures to be found.

7. Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple (2+ hours)

Credit: See Tatt Yeo.

It’s a temple. It’s a cave. It’s a park. It’s Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple! Some of the treats here are:

  • Rock formations
  • Caves
  • Stalactites and stalagmites
  • Buddhist temples
  • Miniature figurines
  • Bonsai plants
  • Roaming geese

Entrance is free, but donations are encouraged.

8. Gunung Lang Recreational Park

Aka the cheapskate’s version of the Banjaran experience. Entrance is free, and you can purchase boat tickets to take you to where the real action is. There’s also a mini zoo.

9. Bike along River Walk @ Kinta Riverfront Hotel (2+ hours)

Rent a bicycle to get around this area. It’s very cooling and scenic in the late afternoons. At night, this place looks very much like i-City Shah Alam.

10. Enjoy chicken wings at Wing Zone (1-2 hours)

Wing Zone is an American-style joint serving Americans-style buffalo wings, with celery and blue cheese dressing on the side. It’s slightly pricey, but very delicious and for entertainment, there’s non-stop music videos playing overhead and fast WiFi. It’s worth a visit because it’s fun to choose between a million flavours of chicken wings.

11. Take a drive to the Tanjung Rambutan Hospital (1-2 hours)

It’s really just another building, but you can’t help but feel excited to be in Tanjung Rambutan because of its reputation as a mental illness recovery centre.

It’s pretty common for parents to threaten to send misbehaving kids to the Tanjung Rambutan Hospital. If a foreign tourist tells a Malaysian they visited the mental hospital, they’ll get a good appreciative laugh out of it.

12. Local Ipoh pasar malam (night markets)

The night markets listed below sell all manner of local food and local produce. A typical pasar malam starts at about 7pm and goes on until late.

  • Every night @ Gerbang Malam (Ipoh City Centre) – not that exciting, so only visit if you absolutely have no where else to go.
  • Tuesday @ Medan Ipoh (near AEON Kinta City Mall) – mostly Chinese
  • Wednesday @ Stadium Perak – mostly Malay
  • Thursday @ Taman Perindustrian Tambun – mostly Malay

13. Get a taste of Harold’s Bread and/or Family Bakery (1 hour)

These bakeries are everywhere here, so if you see one while driving around, stop and get some buns. Harold’s Bread is nicer than Family Bakery, but both are good. The Cream Cheese Bun in particular is to die for.

Other things to do in Ipoh

You can still enjoy Ipoh even if you’re on a tight budget. If you don’t have a car, rent one from DiscoverCarHire as its fairly affordable.

This article first appeared in ringgitohringgit.com

Suraya is a corporate writer-for-hire and the blogger behind personal finance website Ringgit Oh Ringgit. She is more of a minimalist, less of a consumerist, a konon DIY enthusiast, a let’s-support-small-businesses-over-big-corporations kinda girl. Prior to her current role, she worked in various capacities within the non-profit industry.