Ipoh’s historic quarter

Ipoh’s historic quarter

Take a wander

More on Ipoh

There are two parts to Ipoh town, the “new town” beyond the Kinta River and the “old” between the river and the railway. Wandering the old section is a great way to fill a few hours.

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On Concubine Lane. : Stuart McDonald.
On Concubine Lane. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The historic quarter is hemmed in by four clear boundaries. The railway line to the west, Jl Sultan Iskandar to the south, the Kinta River to the east and Jl SP Seenivasagam to the north. Within you’ll find plenty of historic buildings at take a gander at. Also in the area are bookstores, galleries, cafes, souvenir shops and an excellent museum.

The tourist office distributes a “Ipoh Heritage Trail” flyer. It marks some 30 buildings of interest, but just lists the buildings and a photo. An easy improvement would be the addition of some information about each building. They also have an “Ipoh Mural Art Trail” flyer which marks the prominent art murals in the same area. They’re both free, so grab copies from the Tourist Office near the train station before you get going.

Not a straight edge in sight. : Stuart McDonald.
Not a straight edge in sight. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The epicentre of the scene is “Concubine Lane”, today known as Panglima Lane. The street once housed concubines during the tin mining boom, but today the ladies are all gone. In their place are tourist tat shops and their very in-your-face vendors. It can get congested with package tours around here.

Stray a bit further, and you’ll find no shortage of early 20th century buildings. Many have their establishment date near the top. Don’t be shy about wandering down the back lanes to enjoy different aspects of the buildings.

Now that is a train station. : Stuart McDonald.
Now that is a train station. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Highlights include the following.

Ipoh Train Station was conceptualised and designed by Arthur Benison Hubback—the man also responsible for KL train station. It draws from the same British Indian colonial architecture as the counterpart in KL. The station opened for business in 1917.

Gorgeous old buildings. : Stuart McDonald.
Gorgeous old buildings. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Completed in 1916, Ipoh Town Hall faces the station and was also Hubback’s handiwork. A claim to fame includes hosting the inaugural congress of the Malay Nationalist Party in 1945.

Just across from the State Mosque, and built in 1909, the Birch Memorial is dedicated to the memory of JWW Birch. The first British Resident of Perak, he was assassinated in 1875.

Don’t forget to look down. : Stuart McDonald.
Don’t forget to look down. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Just outside the historic quarter, on the north side of the Padang. The Moghul style India Muslim Mosque was built in 1908 by a wealthy Tamil Muslim.

Lovingly restored in 2013-2015, the Hakka Miner’s Club is one of the best examples of heritage in Ipoh. Do do their tour. Close by is the bright blue Hoyanhor Museum—dedicated Chinese herbal tea.

Around Plan B there are some dilapidated, though photogenic buildings—a hit with Instagrammers. On weekends you may need to queue for that shuttered window photo!

Contact details for Ipoh’s historic quarter

Address: Ipoh Old Quarter
Coordinates (for GPS): 101º4'41.55" E, 4º35'46.94" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps

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.


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Hakka Miner’s Club
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