When we started our research on what to do around Malaysia, Ipoh was a name that came up a couple of times as a “smaller version of Georgetown”.
As we were headed to the Cameron Highlands before moving on to Georgetown and Penang, Ipoh seemed a good central point to stop off at for a night.
If there’s one regret I have about Ipoh, it’s that we only stayed for one night!!
It surpassed our expectations (maybe because we didn’t really have any…) and now that we’ve been to Georgetown too, I have to say I preferred Ipoh. (If you’re a Georgetown fan, please don’t shoot me! Georgetown definitely grew on us too, but bear with me while I explain!)
Charming Ipoh has a real “artsy” vibe. It feels so relaxed and hip with great cafes and restaurants.
Yes, Ipoh might be a “smaller version of Georgetown”, but to me, that’s the appeal!
Despite Ipoh being Malaysia’s third largest city, it is relatively compact, has none of the crowds, fewer cars and some great pedestrian only zones.
The city is naturally divided by the Kinta River into two main parts – Ipoh Old Town and Ipoh New Town.
The Old Town is where you’ll find plenty of colonial era Chinese shop houses and several truly beautiful historic buildings dating back to the British Colonial era. The Railway Station, Town Hall, and Court House are all worth a visit while you’re in Ipoh.
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The main reason Ipoh compares to Georgetown, though, is because of the street art that has made Georgetown famous over the years.
The street art in Ipoh is simply amazing. There is so much more of it in Ipoh than there is in Georgetown. It felt like every time we turned a corner, there was more to discover!
Some of the street art in Ipoh was painted by the same Lithuanian artist who made Georgetown famous with his (sometimes) interactive murals – Ernest Zacharevic.
There used to be eight murals in Ipoh by Ernest Zacharevic, but one of them (Girl On A Wall In Bandar Timah) was unfortunately painted over a couple of years ago when the building it was on was renovated.
The other seven still remain though, and are arguably in better condition than most of the street art in Georgetown.
The street art trail in Ipoh starts at the Tourist Information center. There, you can get a pamphlet about the art, with locations of where you can find them. I didn’t find this particularly useful though, as they are GPS coordinates rather than locations shown on a map.
As we often do, we turned to Maps.me to help us out. The App was great for helping us find most of the art, as well as loads of additional ones not by Ernest Zacharevic, but equally as beautiful.
Below you’ll find a guide to the official art trail in Ipoh as well as some of my other favourite murals that we simply stumbled upon during our exploration walks around beautiful Ipoh.
I’ve also put together this little map for you, which I hope might be more useful to you than having to type in the GPS coordinates for each mural!
Let me know how you get on!
An Old Uncle Drinking Coffee
You’ll find this first mural right across the street from the Ipoh Tourist Information Center on Jalan Bandar. It’s not far from Ipoh train station, which is worth a visit in its own right!
A Paper Plane
Venture up Jalan Tun Sambanthan for the paper plane mural on the next corner.
A Yellow Hummingbird
Just another two blocks up, turn right on Jalan Bandar Timah and then left onto Jalan Panglima.
You’ll hit two birds with one stone here (excuse the pun!), with the hummingbird on your left and the next one – Kopi-O down the car park on your right.
There’s also a new addition here – see if you can spot it
A ‘Kopi’ Break
Also called Kopi-O, this mural is located in the same car park as the yellow hummingbird. Just walk down through the car park a bit and it will be on the opposite side (on your right).
A Bag Of Coffee
We missed out on this one, but I’m told you can find it on Jalan Bandar Timah just off Jalan Market, right next to Brewtiful cafe.
It’s really small and I don’t think we’re the first to have failed in our quest to find it. To be honest, I’m not even sure if it’s still there, but let me know if you have more luck spotting it!
Old Town Relives Nostalgia With Trishaw
On Market Lane, just off Jalan Bijeh Timah, this is the only interactive street art by Ernest Zacharevic in Ipoh.
Jump on the trishaw and become part of the attraction!
Tin Mining Town With Chinese-Style Painting (aka Evolution)
We didn’t actually get to this one either! But, you’ll find it right at the end of Jalan Panglima down toward the river.
A Selection Of Other Street Art Murals In Ipoh
In Ipoh New Town you’ll find “Mural Arts Lane” which should keep you occupied for a good while!
As I mentioned, definitely don’t dismiss Ipoh New Town either.
When it comes to colourful murals, they’re literally all over Ipoh, on both sides of the river. I really don’t think I’d rate one side over the other.
Where To Stay In Ipoh
We spent our night at the Cititel Express Ipoh. The location was absolutely superb, right on the Old Town side of the Kinta River, making it a great base for exploring both Ipoh’s Old and New Town.
The rooms are a decent size and the beds comfortable (always very important, and not an easy task on a budget in Malaysia…)
We found the Cititel Express Ipoh to be great value for money at €35/night for a mid-range hotel.
One word of caution though – don’t bother with their breakfast!
While it only set us back €1 each, I’d still say it was a waste of money… It was simply awful. With so many great cafes in Ipoh, just head down the road for a guaranteed more satisfying start to the day!
Where To Eat In Ipoh
Since we really only had one day and one night in Ipoh, we didn’t get to explore nearly as many cafes and restaurants as I would have liked!!!
But, we had lunch in a cute cafe on Jalan Sultan Yusof called Aud’s by JJ Cafe.
The staff were super friendly and the food was great. I especially loved that they provided a metal straw for my smoothie!
For dinner, we headed to Plan b. It’s definitely a little pricier (for Malaysia) but the food was delicious! (And, in reality, we only spent €32 on two meals, a glass of wine and a beer).
I only wish I’d saved room for dessert too as the cakes on display looked absolutely divine!
If you’re planning a trip through Malaysia, make sure Ipoh is on your list.
And while you’re there, maybe stay for more than one night!
Have you been to Ipoh? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!