Perak's finest colonial architecture stands side by side with rickety kedai kopi (coffee shops) in chameleonic Ipoh. The capital of Perak is flanked by towering white cliffs, some with magnificent cave temples pocketed in the limestone. Sliced into old and new towns by the Kinta River, Ipoh charms with its street art and street food – rather like a languid version of George Town.
Ipoh is more than a gateway to the Cameron Highlands or a way station en route to Penang. Shaped by the 1920s tin-mining boom, Ipoh's wealth and population ebbed away after the mines' closure. But an old-town renaissance has revived its time-worn buildings into boutiques, hotels and gorgeously kitsch cafes.
Food is reason enough to visit. Malaysian and Singaporean gastronomes arrive in droves for Ipoh's tauge ayam (chicken bean sprouts) and to argue over who serves the best kopi putih – white coffee, the town's signature drink.