Exploring around Ipoh

Exploring around Ipoh

Caves and a viewpoint

More on Ipoh

While Ipoh town has its historic quarter, if you can, set aside half a day to explore the surrounds taking in a few cave temples and a viewpoint.

Travelfish says:

The following are all easily taken in on a half day tour or you can easily hire a Grab to do them piecemeal. While you can visit Sam Poh Tong and Perak Tong by public bus, this is a time consuming approach.

Beyond the tunnels at Sam Poh Tong. : Stuart McDonald.
Beyond the tunnels at Sam Poh Tong. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Your first stop should be at Sam Poh Tong which lies around seven kilometres to the southwest of Ipoh town. Believed to be the biggest cave temple in Malaysia, the main attraction is in fact a collapsed cave with a temple within.

The temple was founded by a monk from China who discovered the cave in 1890 and used it as a place of meditation until the end of his life. Today you enter through the main cavern and follow a short tunnel which veers off to the right. The tunnel opens up to the collapsed cave. To your left is a pond packed with tortoises and to your left the temple. In late afternoon the sunlight floods down illuminating the temple.

Back on the street, just fifty metres away lies the lesser Li Sen Tong temple, which is most notable for its incense coils slowly smouldering away.

The approach to Li Sen Tong temple. : Stuart McDonald.
The approach to Li Sen Tong temple. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Once you are done at these two sites, if you have a guide, they may suggest you visit Qing Xin Ling, a privately owned “Cultural and Leisure Park”. Don’t bother.

Instead, push on to Kek Look Tong, a vast and very photogenic cave complex. The main cave pierces all the way through the limestone mountain, so be sure to walk all the way to the rear. At the far opening there should be a cooling breeze and a view over a pretty park area and then, in the distance a factory of some description.

Natural beauty at Kek Look Tong. : Stuart McDonald.
Natural beauty at Kek Look Tong. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The cave has a number of caverns you can wander through, some decorated with statues. In many cases though, the stalactites and stalagmites are more than enough to impress. This cave in particular is a hit with tour groups (look at the size of the carpark). Because of this, it can pay to wait for the waves to tourists to clear if things are busy.

From here you need to trek across to the north side of Ipoh to reach Perak Tong, a cave and viewpoint. It is around 500 stairs to the peak, where there is a pavilion. While the stairs and path are decent, expect some panting by the time you reach the top. From the summit there are quite impressive views over both Ipoh town and the surroundings (including a large number of factories). Watch out for macaques.

The view from Perak Tong. : Stuart McDonald.
The view from Perak Tong. Photo: Stuart McDonald

As with Kek Look Tong, Perak Tong can get very busy, so choose your moment to start the climb. Some of the stairs are one-way only, meaning you’ll need to wait for others to pass at times.

All these sites can be seen on an organised tour from Ipoh town or by hiring a Grab for each leg. We paid 150 ringgit for a car and guide and included all the above along with Kellie’s Castle. Ask at your guesthouse or hotel for more information. If you want to visit just Sam Poh Tong, bus T34 runs from the local bus station passes nearby.

Reviewed by

Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Tours in Malaysia

These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.

Our top 3 other sights and activities in and around Ipoh

Hakka Miner’s Club
Hakka Miner’s Club

A glimpse into the past

Kellie’s Castle
Kellie’s Castle

Yes, a castle