“A new friend I made in Melbourne, where I live, told me about his hometown, Ipoh, and invited me over when I mentioned that I was planning a trip to Malaysia. So, I included Ipoh in my itinerary to catch up with him,” shared Australian Rohan Cox.

The 41-year-old online marketer who runs www.TravelSouthEastAsia.com.au researched his trip using Malaysia Lonely Planet. After three days of sightseeing and a hearty dose of famous Penang food, a bus ride to Ipoh ensued.

Rohan Cox enjoying the scene at Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

Rohan Cox enjoying the scene at Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

On his impression of Ipoh, he said, “It is convenient to come to Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur or Penang by bus. It is not a long and tiresome journey, and it’s inexpensive. The locals are friendly and don’t hassle or bother a foreigner, unlike some places that I’ve been to.

“It is fairly easy to get around the city for a tourist. Quiet and small, it offers a limited variety of places to visit. Ipoh needs more things to attract tourists as there is very little for a tourist to see or do, and the nightlife is not that happening too. To be fair, I was in Ipoh on Monday and Tuesday nights. I should return on a weekend and see how lively it gets at night!

“The limestone cave temples, such as Ling Sen Tong, Kek Look Tong and Perak Cave, are to me the best attractions of Ipoh. Reading and viewing photos of Ipoh’s famous limestone cave temples on the internet before my arrival, I am glad to say that I was not disappointed. They intrigued me.

chilling in Melaka

chilling in Melaka

“However, as interesting as they may be, they are too far away from each other, so maybe a mini bus or van that does a round to each cave would help tourists without their own transport get around better and to see more of what Ipoh has to offer. Whatever it is, anyone who visits Ipoh must grab the opportunity to explore the caves!

“I spent most of my time checking out shopping malls and public parks, and to places like Healy Mac’s Irish Bar and Bricks & Barrels for my meals. My local friend took me to try out Chinese cuisine at a restaurant. I can’t remember the names of the dishes, except that they were all delicious.

“In contrast, my lunch of Hainanese chicken rice, which I found online as a “recommended dish to eat while in Ipoh” was not that memorable. It was cold and I didn’t like it. I was quite surprised because of its reputation. I must have gone to the wrong eatery.

visiting Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sarawak

visiting Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sarawak

“If I had known beforehand that Ipoh is the gateway to Cameron Highlands and Pangkor, I would have made my plans differently. As I had already set my schedule to go to other cities including the East Coast and East Malaysia, I guess I will have to make a second trip to Ipoh. And this time I am going to make sure that I go to the most popular Hainanese chicken rice shop!”

Note: An edited version of this article [IPOH: A tourist’s VIEW] was published on 2nd May, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.

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