By Gael Hilotin for Yahoo! Travel
Ipoh is a drowsy city of Perak, Malaysia that is splendid with antique heritage buildings and tempting Malaysian dishes. This old city was nicknamed "The Hill City" because it is bounded by hills. Walking around the city following its heritage trail is an exciting way to get to explore its vastness and rich cultural heritage. Meandering through its pavements and cobblestone alleys, my eyes feasted on towering archaic buildings, Chinese shop houses and colorful indie boutiques. I was like a lost little girl dwarfed by this attractively old-fashioned city.
Here are some tourist attractions that you can check out while in Ipoh:
Ipoh Railway Station
Ipoh railway station is one of the most imposing train stations I have seen in Malaysia. It is akin to the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. The building's façade has magnificent voussoir, dome and horseshoe arches suggestive of Moorish revival architecture. Its manicured garden added more to its splendor. If you are lucky you can catch the opulent Eastern and Oriental Express luxury train waiting for passengers here.
Ipoh Town Hall
This beautiful stately colonial building dating back to 1914 proudly stands in front of Ipoh Railway station. The building looks so serene with its white paint that covers its walls, pillars, and turrets.
Masjid Negeri Mosque
This monumental mosque was built way back in 1912, one of the oldest mosque in Perak and the pride of the Muslim community in Ipoh. It has one minaret and a couple of protruding red orange tiered domes. Just in front of the mosque you will also find the Birch Memorial Clock Tower. It is a square decorated tower built for J.W.W Birch, the 1st British resident of Perak, Malaysia.
This old city with 147 heritage buildings has a flourishing blend of Asian culture. That distinct smell of Indian spices, herbs and cuisine to the colorful and artsy sari and traditional Indian clothing on display at the shop houses brightens the street of Little India in Ipoh.
Chinese Shop houses
Walk around Ipoh's Chinatown and be amazed by the sweeping number of Chinese shop houses surrounding its pavements. While others are forgotten and dilapidated, a good number of buildings are still well-kept and restored.
Perched on top of a not-so-high-hill surrounded by manicured garden is an apricot-colored colossal building. The stately mansion has Moorish-styled windows, grand columns, wine cellars, huge rooms with colonial designs, a blank space supposedly designed for the first ever elevator in Malaysia, arches and walls inspired by Greco-Roman designs, and a grand tower.
Kellie's Castle is believed to be a gift of William Kellie Smith (a Scottish plantation owner) to her wife Agnes so he can convince her to live in Malaysia. He wanted to build a castle for her reminiscent of the castles in Scotland so she will feel at home. Another story is that it is a gift to his newborn son.
Perak Cave Temples
Perak Tong, Kek Long Tong and Sam Poh Tong Temple are popular pilgrimage sites for Chinese Buddhists. Perak Tong temple is famous for its towering 15 meter golden Buddha statue and a massive archaic bell. Sam Poh Tong temple on the other hand is set in a well-manicured garden; it is one of the largest cave temples in Malaysia which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist artworks. Kek Long Tong temple houses a fat Chinese Buddha on the same limestone hill where Sam Poh Tong temple is located.
Ipoh has a lot more to offer to tourists aside from its quaintness, especially outside its outskirts where it is teeming with outdoor adventures like white water rafting, jungle trekking and caving. When in Ipoh, do not forget to also check out the local market and eat and drink at hawkers stalls offering delicious Malaysian and Chinese dishes and the world famous Ipoh white coffee.