As the second-largest state in Peninsular Malaysia, Perak had the distinct advantage of being a tin-mining hotbed in the late 1800s. Meaning “silver” in Malay, the state’s name alludes to the silver colour of the tin found in abundance at the time. Ruled at one point by the Dutch, then the British, agriculture became one of Perak’s main industries, followed by the introduction of tourism, not at all surprising given the state’s many attractions. For those considering a trip to Perak, here are the top 10 sights that ought to be on your list of “must-sees”.
1. Royal Belum State Park
Photo credit: lets.book, Flickr
This spacious park holds the title as one of the world’s oldest rain forests, and the 130 million year-old tropical paradise offers visitors the chance to experience nature at its purest. Spanning over 300,000 hectares, the rain forest area is home to more than 3,000 species of plant and animal species, including 14 of the world’s most threatened mammals (such as the Sumatran rhino, Malaysian tiger, Malaysian sun bear, and Asian elephant). A definite must for nature lovers, the best way to experience wildlife is to rent a boat and explore the treasures of the rain forest. If that is not enough excitement, indulge in a spot of camping, swimming, jungle trekking, and fish feeding to fully take in the wonders of this eco-tourism hotspot.
See Also: What is the Royal Belum State Park?
2. Gua Tempurung (Tempurung Cave)
The largest limestone cave in Peninsular Malaysia offers a breathtaking gallery of stalagmites and stalactites with its five huge domes. Blessed with natural beauty, the cave measures 1.9km in length and 120m in height, and follows a direct course through a mountain range called Gunung Gajah-Tempurung. Tracing its roots back to over 400 million years ago, the inside parts of the dry upper chambers of the cave display evidence of vein deposits of tin on the walls and ceilings. The cave has stalagmites, stalactites, rim stone pools, a 1.6-km river-cave system, crystals, and pillars, as well as majestic columns of marble inside its mammoth cavern.
3. Pangkor Island
Pangkor Island is one of Perak’s busiest destinations, for very obvious reasons. A popular island destination, Pangkor is situated just off the west coast of Lumut and is a 30 minutes by boat from the mainland. From pristine golden beaches surrounded by clear blue waters to stunning sunsets against the backdrop of lush rainforests, Pangkor Island emanates an idyllic ambiance that is sure to relax and rejuvenate even the most frazzled of city workers. Like many islands in Malaysia, Pangkor a great spot for snorkeling, too.
4. Orangutan Island
Located within the lush Bukit Merah Laketown Resort is the 14 hectare Orangutan Island, one of the few worldwide rehabilitation, conservation, and breeding sanctuaries for orangutans. Located a mere 10-minute ferry ride from the lake resort, orangutans on the island are easily spotted from the boats and visitors are given the chance to “walk on the wild side” as they make their way through a 100-metre long caged walkway on the island.This sanctuary was specifically formed to develop research on orangutans as well as to provide a safe environment for them. The beauty of the island is that visitors are able to witness orangutans roaming free in a near-natural wild habitat, and are also able to “adopt” an orangutan if they wish.
5. Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve
Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve is a large expanse of mangrove forest covering 50,511 hectares and stretches from Kuala Gula in the north to Pengkalan Baharu in the south of Perak. Comprising of two islands and seven major estuaries, the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve was proclaimed a Permanent Forest Reserve in 1906. Renowned as one of the world’s best-managed mangrove swamps, it is the home to myriad of bird and marine life species. Other than mangrove trees, visitors to Matang can also enjoy the scenery of the fishing village of Port Weld and catch sight of old-school charcoal ovens used to produce charcoal from mangrove trees. The area is also known for its outstanding mee udang – yellow noodles in a spicy broth of fresh prawns.
6. Sungai Klah Hot Spring
Located in Batang Padang district of Perak, this hot spring recreational park is nestled within the lush forest, green hills, and mountain streams of an oil palm plantation. Set up in a true village environment, the hot spring offers several pools of hot water treatment, and benefits of such treatment include skin rejuvenation, increased circulation, and an improvement in overall health. Besides enjoying the natural wonders of the hot spring itself, visitors can pamper themselves with traditional massages and even bring their own raw eggs to boil – at 102 degrees, the water is definitely hot enough!
See Also: 7 Hot Springs to Visit in Malaysia
No trip to Perak would be complete without a pit stop in Ipoh. Located in the middle of Kinta Valley, Ipoh city is surrounded by limestone caves and a majestic karst landscape. This city was the centre of tin mining activities in the early 20th century, but Ipoh’s main attraction these days is its food. The edibles are influenced by the Chinese miners who inhabited the city once upon a time and, as a result, Ipoh food is now synonymous with delicacies such as char kuey teow, chicken rice, bean sprouts, hor fun, and traditional Ipoh white coffee.
Apart from the delectable goodies, Ipoh has a rich history and beautiful architecture including the Moorish-look railway station, the white Victorian-style old City Hall, and rows of classic-looking shops in the old quarter of the city.
8. Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge
Close to the town of Batu Gajah there is a surviving tin dredge, a colossal industrial relic from the days when Malaysia was the world’s largest tin producer. Located off State Route A15, the Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge carries the serial number T.T. No. 5, a throwback to the days when it was believed to have been the biggest tin dredge in the Kinta Valley. Built in 1938, the T.T. No. 5 tin dredge was in operation until 1983, when falling tin prices forced the closure of the local mining industry. The dredge reopened its doors in February 2008, allowing visitors to witness a piece of colonial history.
9. Kuala Woh Recreational Forest
Photo credit: Cameron Highlands.net
Located at the foothills of Cameron Highlands, approximately 12km from Tapah, this thick, secluded rain forest is ideal for swimming, camping, jungle-trekking, fishing, and picnics. There is also a hot spring and various waterfalls. You can get a glimpse of the unique traditional life of The Orang Asli (indigeneous people) who live here, and while they are shy, they are known to be very friendly. Entrance is free and there are accommodation facilities such as chalets, bungalows, and camping grounds.
10. Kuala Kangsar
Filled with historical value, the royal enclave of Kuala Kangsar was the site for the first Federated Malay State rulers conference in 1897, and was also where rubber trees were first introduced to the country. Modern day Kuala Kangsar holds on to its old world charms – clean streets with century-old shady trees, preserved colonial buildings, and beautifully-landscaped gardens.
Climbing the hills of Bukit Chandan brings visitors to one of Malaysia’s famous landmark, the Ubudiah Mosque, while a little further up reveals the sprawling complex of Iskandariah Palace (where the present-day Sultan of Perak lives) and the Perak Museum, along with a breathtaking view of the Perak River. Other attractions include the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, which boasts stupendous Greco-Roman architecture.
Note: This article was updated to replace the photo at #8 from Kellie’s Castle (located in Batu Gajah) to the Ipoh railway station.