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culture by locations
Having begun its existence as a small village along Kinta River, Ipoh is now one of the interesting places in Malaysia. Ipoh is Malaysia’s fourth largest city with a population of over 700,000. The booming of the tin-mining industry in the early 20th century encouraged the further development and growth of the small village, and it was not long before Ipoh became one of the busiest mining towns in the region. As a result from the influx of Chinese miners during the city’s early days, the population of Ipoh is notably different from the rest of the nation, with about 70% of its inhabitants being of Chinese descent.
With the collapse of the global tin industry in the 1980s, Perak’s and Ipoh’s tin mining days are mostly over. However, Ipoh still retains its importance and significance as a major urban centre as well as being the capital of the state of Perak. For some time now, Ipoh has also emerged as one of Malaysia’s famous places for food, popular for the city’s distinctive restaurants, hawker fare and local dishes.
Ipoh was founded in the 1820s, and soon gained prominence with the other mining towns of Perak such as Gopeng, Taiping and Kampar during the boom of the tin industry in the early 20th century. Tin was a very important commodity during that time, and Perak was widely known to have one of the richest deposits of the metal in the world. Knowing that, important organizations both mining and non-mining such as the Eastern Smelting Company, Straits Trading Company and The Chartered Bank of India were attracted by the potential of the natural resources of the land and soon found their way into Ipoh, giving a great boost to the town’s development and economy. -
The town, being located strategically in the tin-rich Kinta Valley soon found itself growing rapidly, especially around the 1920s and 1930s. It continued its meteoric rise till the collapse of tin prices in the early 1980s, which halted its swift advance that resulted in other urban centres such as Kuala Lumpur taking the spotlight instead.
The original capital of Perak was Taiping, but the role was assumed by Ipoh instead during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia on 15 December 1941. Even after the city was recaptured by British forces and after the events of Merdeka (Independence Day), the city remained as the capital of the state till today.
Ipoh Today – Places of Interest
Having experience the greatest growth during the early-to-mid 20th century, the architecture in Ipoh consists of a mix of decadeold colonial buildings with structures of noticeably modern design a peculiar arrangement that gives off a certain charm. Also, as Ipoh was the British’s second administrative city during the colonial times, the city has a number of historically-significant structures and areas which clearly show British influence of that era a real treat for those who are interested in exploring the history of Malaysia.
One of the notable historic buildings constructed by the British is the Ipoh Railway Station a large structure of Neo-Moorish influence popular among the British of that time. Built in 1917, it served as the main railway terminal of the state but is more famous for its awe-inspiring design which has led it to be called the Taj Mahal of Ipoh.
Other places of interest include Kellie’s Castle (the massive exresidence of a wealthy Scottish planter, popular with tourists), Masjid Negeri (Perak’s state mosque), Padang Ipoh (Ipoh Field, surrounded by many historical buildings from the colonial era), the Ipoh Old Town (with a free guided Heritage Walk at 8am every Sunday) andmany more.
For those looking for an experience closer to nature, Ipoh has many places still sporting unspoiled natural beauty. For cave explorers, the biggest limestone cave in Peninsular Malaysia, the Gua Tempurung can be found within travelling distance of Ipoh, open for short tours or adventures deep inside the cave. Jungle trekking and other ecotourism activities are also supported for visitors to experience the unique rainforests of Malaysia.
For those who are willing to travel a bit further, the Taiping Lake Gardens, about 1 hour drive from Ipoh is a mustvisit. Originally a mining site, the
Taiping Lake Gardens is now one of the most beautiful public places in the country. 10 lakes and ponds of various sizes dot the garden, creating a breathtaking view that had inspired many tourists to write about its beauty.
Ipoh, along with Penang are two cities most famous for its excellent food and local cuisine. Well-known for its wide range of delicious food, Ipoh especially famous for certain dishes such as Nga Choi Kai (Bean Sprouts Chicken Rice, which is said to be extra delicious in Ipoh due to the local water), Sar Hor Fun (flat rice noodles in soup), Ipoh Heong Peng (translated literally as Ipoh Fragrant Biscuit), Ipoh White Coffee and many more.
As a matter of fact, Ipoh is so famous for its food that it’s not uncommon to find hawkers sporting signs like “Ipoh Chicken Rice” and “Ipoh Sar Hor Fun” in other places all around Malaysia. Also, Old Town White Coffee, one of the most popular café chains found all around Malaysia, sells White Coffee of Ipoh origin as its trademark drink!