Royal Belum State Park – one of the World’s oldest rainforest

Covering more than 300,000 hectares of tropical rainforest, this 130 million plus year-old tropical paradise is offering visitors the nature at its purest and unspoiled state. This is the home of more than 3,000 species of plants and plenty of animal species including 14 of the world’s most threatened mammals such as the Sumatran Rhino, Malaysian Tiger, Malaysian Sunbear, Malayan Tapir, and Asian Elephant. This is definitely a place to be for ecotourism lovers. Rent a boat and explore what Belum rainforest’s real treasure. Also get to know the aborigines of Jahai people from Negrito tribe if you stop at the Orang Asli village located nearby.

Part of Royal Belum State Park

Other treats:

Other attractions not far from Belum State Park are Tasik Banding (Lake Banding) and Temenggor Dam, a hydroelectric power station. En route to Belum, do stop at Lenggong for Kota Tampan Archaeological Museum to witness the skeleton of ‘Perak Man’.

How to get there:

On North-South Expressway, exit at Kuala Kangsar interchange. After the toll booth, get on the ramp ahead and go straight to Grik. Then, get onto the East-West highway to Banding.

Gua Tempurung (Tempurung Cave) – the largest limestone cave in Peninsula Malaysia

Located not very far from the capital Ipoh, this wondrous cave complex offers visitors a breathtaking gallery of stalagmites and stalagtites with its 5 huge domes and they are the largest in Malaysia. Spelunkers out there, be ready to get wet and dirty when you go for the most extreme tour deep into this great show cave not only in Perak, but the whole country and every moment of it will be worth remembered. I personally in supporting this Visit Perak Year campaign have given a visit to this cave weeks ago and had a wonderful caving experience but due to some constraints, I didn’t manage to go for a complete tour of the cave. Read my experience here.

Gua Tempurung, Gopeng

Other treats:

For a more challenging cave trekking, drop yourself in Gopeng and ask about Gua Kandu (Kandu Cave). To explore this cave, one needs complete safety gear and equipment such as helmet, harnesses for climbing and flashlight, though.

How to get there:

On North-South Expressway, exit at Gopeng interchange. Turn left at the traffic lights and head towards Kampar. Entrance to Gua Tempurung is on your left after 5 kilometers.

Tour fees:

  • Tour #1: Golden Flowstone – RM6 (adult), RM2.50 (child), RM3 (senior citizen)
  • Tour #2: Top of the World – RM9 (adult), RM4.50 (child), RM3 (senior citizen)
  • Tour #3: Top of the World + Short River Adventure – RM11 (adult), RM6 (child), RM6 (senior citizen)
  • Tour #4: Grand Tour – RM22 (adult), RM11 (child), RM6 (senior citizen)

*Child aged 6 to 12 years; **Senior citizen aged 60 years and above

Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve – the World’s best-managed mangrove swamps

Located in Larut district in Taiping municipality, Matang is all about mangrove swamp. It covers more than 40,000 hectares of world renowned well-managed mangrove swamps and habitats to species of birds and marine life. Rent a boat and a guide to explore more of this swamp. Just don’t forget to look around when approaching those mangrove trees as snakes can always be seen hang out on tree branches but I doubt there are crocodiles around.

Mangrove park, Matang

Other treats:

Other than mangrove trees, visitors to Matang can also enjoy the scenery of fishing village of Port Weld as well as old-school charcoal ovens used to produce charcoal from mangrove trees. Also famous in this area is Mee Udang (Prawn Noodles), a spicy yellow noodles in broth of fresh prawns.

How to get there:

On North-South Expressway, exit at Changkat Jering interchange. Head towards Taiping town but at Simpang Empat, take a left to Matang.

Perak Herbal Garden – also known as Taman Herba

Located on a 22-hectare land in Kampung Kepayang, Gopeng, this is a place to get some information on local herbs for medicinal, cosmetics as well as aromatherapheutic purposes. Make sure to take on guided tours to get benefit of some important information on the herbal plants available at this park.

Herbal plants, Perak Herbal Park

Other treats:

Bring your fishing rods and picnic lunches as the lake nearby can be used for fishing and campsites are available to visitors.

How to get there:

On North-South Expressway, exit at Simpang Pulai interchange. Turn left at the junction after the tool booth. Drive about 4 to 5 kilometers towards Gopeng but once you reach Kampung Kepayang, turn right at a junction to Batu Gajah. The Herbal Park is located not very far ahead.

Entrance tickets:

RM2 (per adult) and RM1 (per child)

Sungai Klah Hot Spring

Located in Batang Padang district of Perak, this hot spring recreational park is nestled in the lush forest, green hills with mountain streams added with surrounding oil palm trees of FELDA plantation. Set up in a local’s true village environment, Sg. Klah hot spring offers several pools of hot water treatment which can be good for your skin rejuvenation and overall health.

View at Klah Hot Spring

Other treats:

Pamper your body with traditional massage and don’t forget to bring raw eggs to boil as the water is hot enough (102 degrees) for that purpose.

How to get there:

Take Sungkai exit on North-South Expressway. Turn left after toll booth heading south to Slim River. The road leading to the Hot Spring Park can be reached on your left in less than 10 kilometers later. Look for signboard for Felda Sg. Klah and Sg. Klah Hot Spring.

Entrance tickets:

RM10 (per adult) and RM8 (per child)

Orang Utan Island – off Bukit Merah Laketown Resort

Orang Utan, the native primate of Malayan and Borneo jungles is one of the most endangered species in the world. This small island in Bukit Merah Laketown Resort is made purposedly to develop detail researches on orang utan as well as a rehabilitation and breeding center for this exotic ape. At this Orang Utan Island, visitors are welcomed to see orang utans living their lives and free-roaming in a near-natural wild habitat of them. If you’re interested in adopting any of the orang utans there, feel free to ask.

Teenage orang utan at the Orang Utan Island

Other treats:

Being at Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, you can spend a half-day, if not the whole to splash in the water theme park or just stroll around to enjoy the natural settings of lush greeneries and beautiful landscape. Accommocations are available too.

How to get there:

Take Bukit Merah exit on North-South Expressway. Follow signage to Bukit Merah Laketown Resort. At the resort, head to the Marina Village and board a Lake Cruiser to the Orang Utan Island. It’s just a 10-minute boat ride.

Entrance tickets:

RM15 (per adult) and RM10 (per child)

Taiping Zoo and Night Safari

This is the only zoo in Perak and the main attraction in Taiping town. It is also the oldest animal park in Malaysia. I had a few visits to the zoo before especially during my younger age but haven’t been for the night safari just yet. The 34-acre zoo is located within the Taiping Lake Garden and closed to Maxwell Hill, the highland that makes Taiping the wettest place in Malaysia. It houses over 180 species of animals. At night, visitors will have the chance to get close to the nocturnal species which are more active when it’s dark. There will be a tram that takes visitors around the enclosures. For those with steady feet, maybe walking is for you. It’s not that huge anyway.

Tired kids after visiting the zoo, Taiping

Other treats:

Lake Garden is a short stroll away from the zoo. Enjoy the serene beauty of the natural lake and more than 100-year old trees which provide shelters along the Lake Garden’s main road. To watch Taiping town from higher ground, get onboard a jeep and be at the top of Maxwell Hill in less than 30 minutes. Burmese Pool and War Cemetery are also within Lake Garden’s vicinity.

How to get there:

Take Changkat Jering exit (from KL) or Taiping Utara exit (from Penang) on North-South Expressway and make your way to Taiping town center. From town center, follow direction to Lake Garden (Taman Tasik Taiping). Zoo is located just opposite a school and there’s a car park area in front of the entrance.

Entrance tickets:

  • Daytime zoo: RM12 (per adult) and RM8 (per child)
  • Night safari: RM16 (per adult) and RM10 (per child 3-12 years old), tram included.

Ipoh – the Limestone City

Located in the middle of Kinta Valley, Ipoh city is surrounded by limestone and karst landscape. This city used to be a center of tin mining activities in the early 20th century. The capital of state administration was then transferred to Ipoh from Taiping. The latter was also producing tin ores in Larut Matang district. Since the mining industry was controlled by the Chinese miners, Ipoh city is now has more influenced by the Chinese cultures especially in food and delicacies. Ipoh Char Kuey Teow, Ipoh bean sprouts, and Ipoh Hor Fan are among others. Ipoh White coffee also made its name popular after the city.

Kek Lok Tong Buddha temple, Ipoh

Other treats:

Apart from the amazing karst landscape that gives Ipoh a majestic look, historically, it posseses many old-style buildings like Moorish-look railway station, the white Victorian-style old City Hall, as well as rows of classic-looking shops in the old quarter of the city. However, be careful when driving in Ipoh. Expect more inconsiderate drivers eventhough the traffic is a lot easier than KL.

How to get there:

There are several exits to Ipoh along the North-South Expressway between Simpang Pulai and Jelapang. Make sure you get a map or ask local friends for directions.

Lumut and Pangkor Island – All about sun, sand and sea

About 80+ kilometers east of Ipoh, Lumut town is a gateway to the beautiful Pangkor Island. Recently, Lumut was made official as the naval township with the biggest base of the Royal Malaysian Navy located there. Previously a fishing village, Lumut still benefits from the sea. Fishing and tourism are two major sources of income to the small township. Pangkor Island, which is located about 40-minute ferry ride from Lumut jetty, is now a popular tourist attraction in Perak, as well as the country. There are several most beautiful beaches in Malaysia there. With a blend of white sandy beaches, variety of seafood, and Dutch colonial history, Pangkor is definitely a strong magnet in Perak’s tourism industry.

Esplanade, Lumut

How to get there:

From KL, you can take the coastal road from Kuala Selangor to Lumut or exit the North-South Expressway at Bidor interchange and follow the sign to Lumut or Sitiawan. There is so far no direct access to this harbour town of Perak.

One of the beaches, Pangkor Island

Kuala Kangsar – the Royal Town

Despite its reputation as the Royal town of Perak and only about 40-50 kilometers from Ipoh city and almost the same distance from Taiping, I didn’t have that many chances to give it a visit so often. I think I’ve only been to Kuala Kangsar about 5 times before. Most of the visits I made there were for its famous laksa and ‘labu Sayong’. There are plenty of other attractions in Kuala Kangsar in addition to the Royal Palace (Istana Iskandariah) such as Ubudiah Mosque, Malay College (Perak’s top premier school, sometimes known as Eton of the East), Abdul Jalil Bridge, Istana Hulu, and many more.

Ubudiah Mosque, Kuala Kangsar

How to get there:

Take Kuala Kangsar exit of the North-South Expressway. Go up the ramp after toll booth and turn right until town center.

The 10 listed icons are just a few of the top attractions you can get in Perak. There are more places to visit such as Pasir Salak and Teluk Intan which contain interesting elements unique to their own. Thus, make your way to the northern region of Peninsula Malaysia and explore what lies behind this wonderful state of Perak. I should give myself the same treats as well because I think I still have lots to do to understand my own birthplace. Hopefully Perak Tourism Board is ready to provide visitors with essential information as well as improving certain facilities and infrastructures to welcome millions of visitors that are expected to make way into the state this year.