With plenty of new and old palaces to explore, the Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar is full of history and architectural wonders, not to mention that some traditional crafts such as keris-making and pottery-making are still thriving in this town. In the list of 26 Things to Do in Kuala Kangsar, the first section (no. 1 -15) consists of attractions / things to see in Kuala Kangsar; the second section (no. 16 -19) consists of Things to Eat in Kuala Kangsar, and the third section (no. 20-26) is dedicated to other areas in the vicinity such as Sauk, Lenggong, and Lake Temenggor.
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1. Visit the Ubudiah Mosque (Masjid Diraja Ubudiah)
At the mention of “Kuala Kangsar”, the very first image that would pop up in one’s mind would irrefutably be the iconic image of Ubudiah Mosque. Surrounded by coconut trees, the golden-domed mosque against a blue sky is a soothing sight to see; and many calls it one of the most beautiful mosques in Malaysia.
Completed in 1917, the mosque was commissioned by the 28th Sultan of Perak, Sultan Idris Murshidul adzam Shah, and built by the British architect Arthur Benison Hubbuck who employed a moorish design. There’s an interesting story about the construction of the mosque : The construction was delayed because the marbles that were imported from Italy were damaged by two fighting elephants and had to be re-imported again.
If you think the design of the mosque might look somewhat familiar, chances are that you might have seen the Ipoh Railway Station or the KL Railway Station as they were both built by the same architect. The mosque’s facade is not the only thing that’s magnificent; the interior is equally beautiful when you take a look inside.
Ubudiah Mosque on Wikipedia
Address : Masjid Ubudiah, 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia.
2. See the Royal Mausoleum (Makam Diraja Al-Ghufran)
The Royal Mausoleum is located right next to the Ubudiah Mosque. It is the the final rest place for many Sultans, Raja Perempuan (queens) and royal family members.
Address : 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia (next to the Ubudiah Mosque).
3. Take a Peek at Baitul Anor
The Baitul Anor was the former residence of the Perak Prince – Raja Kechil Sulong Harun Al Rashid. The yellow “balcony” is an interesting feature the mansion has. The mansion is not in good shape at the moment but from its intricate details and design, I can imagine its past glory. Despite the mansion looking abandoned, you should take a peek inside, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find it clean, and also with an exhibit of old pictures and stories of the royal family.
4. Marvel at the Istana Kenangan /Royal Museum (Muzium Diraja)
Built in 1926, the Istana Kenangan was the former royal residence. Besides the contrasting colors of yellow and black, it is also worthy to note that the former palace was built without the use of any nails, and has an intriguing design of a sword in its scabbard when viewed aerially. Take a closer look and you’ll see meticulous craftsmanship. The building is now transformed into the Royal Museum, which exhibits the history of Perak. Unfortunately the museum is closed until further notice but you can still enter the compound to see the building.
Istana Kenangan on Wikipedia
Address : 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia.
5. Visit the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery (Galeri Sultan Azlan Shah )
The Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery is another former palace turned museum. The museum is dedicated to the 34th Sultan of Perak – Sultan Azlan Shah. You’ll learn a great deal about this man because his life story is showcased here – his education, his career, his love for hockey, his hobbies of coins/spectacles/watches/notes collection, and more. There are also two other galleries, one dedicated to cars used by him (think vintage Rolls Royces) and a mementos gallery.
Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery on Wikipedia
Address : 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia
Opening Hours : 10 am – 5 pm.
Entrance Fee: RM 4 for adults, RM 2 for children.
6. See the Istana Iskandariah
Completed in 1933, the Istana Iskandariah is the palace where the sultans of Perak reside. You won’t miss the palace if you are driving around the royal district of of Kuala Kangsar; but you can only literally “see” the palace because it is out of bounds for tourists.
Istana Iskandariah on Wikipedia
Closed to Visitors
7. Watch the Making of a Keris in Action in Kampung Padang Changkat.
The traditional craft of keris-making has been a legacy for four generations in Abdul Mazim Abdul Jamil’s family. Depending on the size and the complexity of the keris, it can take weeks or even months just to make one keris. Being one of the very last few who knows the secrets to this dwindling trade, Mr Abdul Mazim’s work is highly sought after by many, including the royalties as well.
When I arrived at his place, he was making this one tiny little keris that was similar to the size of a letter opener. This alone will take him about a week to make and to be sold at RM500. You can imagine anything bigger could easily cost thousands.
You hardly see any modern machines in the keris-making studio; very much of the process is all done by hand. The studio is located inside Kampung Padang Changkat, within the royal district not too far away from the palaces. There will be a small signage that says “Kampung Padang Changkat” at the entrance of the village.
8. Shop for “Labu Sayong”
You might have noticed these big potteries on the road while you are driving around Kuala Kangsar. Kuala Kangsar is indeed known for the making of these ceramic potteries known as “Labu Sayong”. “Labu” means pitcher, while “Sayong” is the main village that the potteries are being made. Kampung Sayong is just across the Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah Bridge. Once you cross the bridge and turn left, there will be lots of signages that’ll lead you to various pottery makers. Other villages that also produce the labu sayong include Kampung Kepala Bendang and Kampung Bukit Lada.
The pitchers mostly come in black and orange colors. Water stored overnight in these pitchers become almost as cool as coming out right from the refrigerator. I don’t know how the physical process works, but I know this because I’ve tried it before.
Most of the pottery makers in Kampung Sayong have a pottery-making facility attached to the house. You might be able to see the manufacturing process in action if you arrive at the right time. I didn’t get to see the process perhaps because it was during the ramadan period. It’s best to call and enquire if you wish to see the making of these potteries.
Here are a few random phone numbers of the pottery makers incase you might want to call them and enquire.
9. Check out one of Malaysia’s Oldest Rubber Trees
This rubber tree may look like any other rubber tree in Malaysia. Look closely and the fences enclosing the tree might have given some hints on the importance of this tree – it was one of the oldest rubber trees planted in Malaysia when it was first introduced in 1877. Malaysia’s economy is never the same again because rubber is an important natural resource that is in demand by the world. The tree is located outside the Kuala Kangsar Land & District Office.
Address : Pejabat Daerah Dan Tanah Kuala Kangsar, 33000, Kuala Kangsar, Perak, 33000, Malaysia.
(waze for “Kuala Kangsar Land & District Office” to find it).
10. Climb the Pavilion Tower
The Pavilion Tower is just down the road from the oldest rubber tree, standing at one corner of the Kuala Kangsar “padang” (field). The pavilion was built in 1930 by N.E. Don, and used by the royal family to watch polo games.
11. Say Hello to the Mcdonnell Douglas A4 Skyhawk
The aircraft is an interesting find in Kuala Kangsar, because out of all places, I really wouldn’t expect a war plane on permanent display right in the middle of town, not too far away from the wet market. The air craft was presented to the sultan of Perak as a gift in 2004. Aircraft / military aficionados should definitely check it out !
Address : I don’t have the exact address, but you won’t miss it as it is right in the middle of town on your way into Kuala Kangsar; or just waze for “Kuala Kangsar“.
12. See the Kuala Kangsar Clock Tower
Built in 1939, the clock tower is located not too far away from the Mcdonnell Douglas A4 Skyhawk. You won’t miss either of them when you drive into Kuala Kangsar.
Address : I don’t have the exact address, but you won’t miss it as it is right in the middle of town on your way into Kuala Kangsar; or just waze for “Kuala Kangsar“.
13. Stroll Along the Banks of Perak River
The Perak River has a natural brown color which turns golden under the sun. What’s not to love at the sight of the golden river, rolling hills, the Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah Bridge, and the refections from the sky? The pictures below were taken next to the Medan Cendol & Laksa MPKK.
14. Visit the Malay College
The Malay College is one of the oldest schools in Malaysia established in 1905. During the early days, the prestigious boarding school only accepted elites and members of the royal family as students. Today the school still remains as one of the top schools in Malaysia.
Malay College on Wikipedia.
Address : Jalan Tun Razak, 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia.
(Waze for “Kolej Melayu Kuala Kangsar” to get there)
15. Walk on century-old railway tracks on Victoria Bridge
Victoria Bridge is not located within Kuala Kangsar itself, but about a 20 minutes drive from it, in Karai. Constructed in 1900, it is one of the oldest railway bridges in Malaysia. I first learned of this bridge when I watched the Malaysian movie “The Road Less Traveled”(一路有你). I’ve visited Kuala Kangsar previously, but the movie planted a seed in my heart to revisit Kuala Kangsar again.
The railway tracks remain strong and sturdy (and popular on Instagram) today even though it’s no longer in use. A footbridge has been built parallel to the bridge that allows motorcycles and pedestrians to get to the other side of the bridge.
Address: Jalan Karai, Enggor, Perak, Malaysia
(Waze for Victoria Bridge Kuala Kangsar to get there)
16. Eat Laksa & Cendol
When you drive around Kuala Kangsar, you’ll see lots of laksa and cendol stalls everywhere. Pak Ngah’s Laksa is one of the popular stalls that people go to. The folks in Kuala Kangsar really love laksa and cendol so much that there is a “Medan Cendol & Laksa MPPK” dedicated to these two things. I didn’t get to try either during my time in Kuala Kangsar because all the stalls were closed as it was Ramadan. I hear that it’s “different”. If you’ve tried it, tell me how it tastes like !
17. Dine at Yut Loy Kopitiam (悅來餐室)
Yut Loy Kopitiam is known for it’s Hainanese western food and hand-made pau’s and has been around for the past 50 years . An interesting thing to note is that the kopitiam is halal; don’t be surprised if you see Muslim friends dining next to you. In fact, the royalties come to this kopitiam for the pau’s too ! Anyhow, halal or not, it’s always a charm to dine in this kind of old-schooled kopitiams because I absolutely love the nostalgia.
Don’t miss the Hainanese Chicken Chop – a chunky piece of meat deep-fried till crisp and golden, while still remaining as juicy as hell. It’s priced at RM 17, which I think is quite expensive considering that it’s food in a kopitiam in a small town. Give it a try and you’ll gladly say “just take my money”.
I tried the famous pau which comes in variations of beef and chicken. I took the chicken pau which had a lovely supple texture but I found the chicken stuffing to be just average. It was only later on my friend told me that it is the beef curry pao that’s famous ! Well, that explains it ! These pao’s are only available from 2 pm onwards.
Address: 51 Jalan Kangsar, 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak (Waze for Yut Loy Coffee Shop)
18. Eat Roti Bakar at Double Lion Restaurant & Hotel (雙獅園酒家旅店)
While it’s called a “restaurant”, I think Double Lion is more of a kopitiam. I visited this place around 3 pm for tea, and everyone in town seems to be here for the roti bakar !
The Hainanese bread is baked by Soon Fatt Bakery that’s located within the Double Lion Hotel. The bakery has been around for years and it still uses the traditional way to bake the bread over charcoal fire. The roti bakar is fluffy and real comfort food. You may just buy the loaf of bread if you have no time to sit down for tea.
19. Eat Japanese Food at Sushi Jerlun (天下之食) in Jerlun New Village (瑤倫新村)
It was a bit of a shock to me when I discovered there is a Japanese restaurant in Jerlun New Village, because who would go to a Japanese restaurant in the middle of nowhere to eat ? But it looks like my worry is unnecessary as the restaurant is always full house. The restaurant is another 15 minutes drive away from Kuala Kangsar with very simple set up, which is precisely the reason that it is able to keep its running costs low, making it unbelievably cheap for patrons. Noodles (soba, ramen, pasta ) are mostly under RM 10; so are rice dishes (teriyaki chicken rice, curry fried pork rice, etc); yakitori is mostly RM 1.90 to RM 2.90 per stick, and even the most prized wagyu beef is only RM38.90 per 100g !! How about the food you ask ? The food is so fantastic it’s been featured by a Malaysian food show, and it’s also opened another branch in Sungai Siput.
Here are a few recommendations for you : Jerlun Tofu (RM 3.90) – locally made tofu, super-tender with a crispy crust;
Addrress : Kampung Baru Jerlun, 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak.
Opening Hours : from 6 pm. Closed on Mondays.
20. Stay in a homestay in Sauk New Village
Kamo’s Homestay is a unique homestay in Sauk New Village which is 15 minutes drive away from Kuala Kangsar. The new village is tiny with about 200 families and everyone knows everyone. I would call this yet another place that’s located in the middle of nowhere, far away from civilization. But maybe being “far away from civilization” is what people want; a place to be back to basics, a place to relax, and a place to get in touch with nature again. Kamo is the owner of the homestay and he is an expert on things to do in and around Sauk. You may read more about Kamo Home here.
Getting there : Waze for Sauk, Perak
21. Watch Spectacular Sunrise at Kampung Sauk (新壽活村)
Majestic hills, dreamy cloud, golden hues and glistening waters, need I say more ? The hill where we watched sunrise is located just at the back of Sauk New Village.
22. Kayak on Tasik Raban
Tasik Raban is 10 minutes drive from Sauk New Village. The lake is gorgeous and serves as a huge mirror that reflects everything from the sky.
Getting there : Waze for Tasik Raban
23. Eat River Fish & Fish Belly in Sauk New Village
Sauk New Village is known for its river fishes and fish belly, give these two things a try if you have a chance and tell me how they taste like, as you can see, I didn’t get a chance to eat them because the store is closed ! Restoran Lau Kai (老街飯店) is one of the popular ones to try these two things.
24. Visit the Lenggong Archaelogical Site and the Lenggong Museum
The Lenggong Valley has been gazetted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2012. The Lenggong Valley consists of 8 important sites, namely Gua Gunung Runtuh, Gua Asar, Gua Kajang, Gua Ngaum, Gua Puteri, Gua Teluk Kelawar, Bukit Jawa and Kota Tampan. The oldest paleolithic figure at 11000 years old was found in Gua Gunung Runtuh. It is the most intact skeletal remains in Malaysia, also known as the “Perak Man”. The 8000 years old skeletal remains of the “Perak Woman” was found in Gua Teluk Kelawar.
The caves are not readily accessible to the public as you’ll need to apply for for a permit. These are the contacts from Malaysia’s Official Tourism Website :
Zurani Bt Zamri. Tel : +6019-567 2455
Pusat Informasi Pelancongan Hentian R&R Raja Muda Nazrin, Tasik Raban Lenggong : +605-7512350
There’s also an article on BBC Travel that says to contact the museum’s director, Sanjai Kumar, to get the permits to visit the caves.
If you don’t have time to visit the archaelogical sites, visit the Lenggong Museum instead, which is where the Perak Man is currently exhibited at. The museum is currently undergoing upgrades and will be reopened again in June 2017.
Address of Lenggong Museum: Kota Tampan New Village, Perak, 33400 Lenggong, Malaysia
Museum is closed from now until 30th May 2017 for upgrades.
25. Eat Loh Dee Wantan Mee in Lenggong (羅地叉燒雲吞麵)
If you happen to be nearby the Lenggong area and looking for something to eat, try the Loh Dee Wantan Mee that’s open for breakfast. The noodles come in sizes, S,M,L. The portions are quite big so take the S (like the one in the picture below) if you are not a big eater. The noodles are utterly deletable with smoky char siew, while the wantans are delicate – these are the best combos to start your day ! The fishballs in Lenggong is also popular, but we didn’t get to try it this time round.
26. Visit Lake Temenogor.
Lake Temenggor is part of the Belum-Temenggor Forest. The Belum-Temenggor Forest is a one of the oldest forest in the world at more than 130 million years old. Its wealth of flora and fauna is astounding that you’ll need a good full day tour of the place. If you don’t have a full day and you happen to have some time to kill in Kuala Kangsar / Sauk / Gerik, go on a mini road-trip and drive further up north to see the stunning lake; the drive will take about 1.5 – 2 hours from Kuala Kangsar.
Lake Temenggor on Wikipedia
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