The Kuala Kangsar Tourist Information Centre is ideally located and easily acessible to all. The centre is manned by local private. They are pretty handy with the right kind of information – brochures completes with the road maps and they also selling tour packages and flight tickets. The centre is located at: No 1A, Jalan Kangsar, adjacent to the town’s clock tower. Call us at +605-7777717. We are here to asisst you.
Kuala Kangsar, The Royal town
Home of Malay royal household and where the Sultan reigns
Kuala Kangsar is the royal town of Perak. It is located at the downstream of Kangsar River where it flows into the Perak River. The name Kuala Kangsar is believed to be derived its name from the kangsar tree (Hibiscus flocossus) that grows in abundance along the banks of the Kangsar River. Another legend claimed that its name was handed down by explorers who established a settlement at the mouth of the river and began calling this place ‘Kuala Kurang Sa’, short form for ‘Kuala Kurang Seratus’ (literally means ‘one short of a hundred’) because there are 99 tributaries that flows into the Perak River around this place.
Historically, this locality is said to have a strange effect on Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Mudzafar Shah of Perak who ruled from 1877 to 1887. Unlike rulers before him who built their palaces at selected vantage points in the eastern region of the country far away from the Perak River so as to avoid detection by enemies and from their attacks, this sultan constructed his palace on the western side of the Perak River bank. The palace was called Istana Sri Sayong which is situated beside the Masjid Ubudiah, but currently left abandon and in ruins. All sultans after Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Mudzafar Shah resided in palaces on the west bank of the Perak River in Kuala Kangsar, thus it has become Perak’s royal seat since the 18th century. It was also the administrative seat of the first British Resident in the State, and a town full of old palaces with many in a dilapidated state while some have been restored into magnificent galleries.
Kuala Kangsar is also known in Malaysian history as the site where the first Conference of Rulers, the Durbar, was held in 1897. By the 1890’s, the growth of the tin mining towns of Ipoh and Taiping had eclipsed Kuala Kangsar, but it remains to this day one of the most attractive of the Malay royal capitals. The town is also the site of the first rubber tree planted in Malaysia which was planted by English botanist Henry Nicholas Ridley. Mr. Ridley was the one responsible in developing the rubber industry and helped the Country to become the largest rubber producer in the world. The tree still stands today at the site near the corner of the office of the Kuala Kangsar District.
Kuala Kangsar is located on the western bank of the Perak River, at the confluence with the Kangsar River. It is a beautifully preserved town that is worth exploring especially for heritage enthusiasts. Within the town are some of the most charming palaces and mosques in Malaysia. It is Kuala Kangsar is a one-stop centre for a variety of handicraft souvenirs ranging from labu Sayong, mengkuang mats, keris, traditional fish traps and parangs (long knives) which can all be obtainable from the stalls in Lembah near to the Clock Tower of the town.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Kuala Kangsar is a relaxing town where visitors can have an enjoyable day with few worries about the daily schedules. Below are some of the interesting places for tourists and visitors.
- Masjid Ubudiah and the Royal Mausoleum
- Istana Kenangan (an old palace, now the Perak Royal Museum)
- Istana Iskandariah (the Royal Palace)
- Istana Hulu (another former palace, now the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery)
- Victoria Bridge (built in the early 1900’s)
- Sultan Iskandar Bridge
- Sultan Abdul Jalil Bridge and the Sidewalk
- Clock Tower
- Keris Memorial
- Bukit Chandan
- The first and the oldest rubber tree in the country (near the District Office)
- Madrasah Idrisiah Kuala Kangsar
- Malay College Kuala Kangsar
- Pavilion Square Tower
- Golf Course
- Government English Girls School (now Sekolah Raja Perempuan Kalsom)
- Arena Square
The Malay College of Kuala Kangsar is one of the premier schools in Malaysia. A boarding school for the Country’s brightest boys, it was founded collectively by four sultans from the Federated Malay States in 1905 with the intention to spearhead the future of Malays. These were Sultan Idris of Perak, Sultan Sulaiman of Selangor, Sultan Ahmad of Pahang and the Yang Dipertuan Besar Mohd Shah of Negeri Sembilan. During the Japanese Occupation in the Second World War, the school was turned into administration offices and a hospital for the Japanese Imperial Army, who interrogated and subsequently beheaded anyone they opined, was a traitor. It resumes a school in the 1950’s and attracted many more royal and aristocratic children throughout the Country. Anthony Burgess taught here before he retired and became an internationally recognized author. The huge Rain Tree in front of the East Wing is said to be as old as the school itself. Known as Eton of the East, it has produced a good number of Malay leaders and politicians and still remains a centre of academic excellence.
To facilitate good view when the Malay College students were engaging in sports such as football and rugby n the District Field behind the District Office, the government built a tower at the Pavilion Square in 1930 to accommodate the sultan and the British Resident. This three-tier pavilion still stands, although the wooden staircase has begun to rot away. Kuala Kangsar has many heritage buildings dating back to as far as 1900. Some of these old building worthy to be mentioned here are the Masjid Ubudiah, Istana Iskandariah, Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery, Istana Kenangan, Clock Tower,
The beautiful Ubudiah mosque was designed by Arthur Benison Hubback, a government architect who is notably credited for the design of the Ipoh railway station and the Kuala Lumpur railway station. Construction began in 1913 but it was abandoned during the First World War. It was also delayed when the then crown prince’s elephant walked over and cracked the imported Italian marble floor. This Moorish-styled mosque was finally completed in 1919, a year after the death of Sultan Idris Shah, and the new Sultan Abdul Jalil officiated it. Beside the mosque is the Royal Mausoleum, the final resting place of Perak rulers since the mid-18th century. The Istana Iskandariah, which houses the throne of the current sultan, is another legacy of British architect then. The design of the palace is based on the architecture of West Asia, which is famous for its pointed arches and onion-shaped domes. The building is rectangular in shape and faces the sunrise and the river. The roof is designed with one main dome in the centre and four subsidiary domes.
Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery (Tel: 05-7775362 ) is a former palace called Istana Hulu built in 1903 with Victorian architecture. The building was used as a school for girls in the early 1960’s and assumed the name of ‘Raja Perempuan Muzwin School’. In the early 1990’s, the school moved out and left the palace abandoned until 2002 when restoration works began on the dilapidated palace building. After the restoration, it was transformed into a gallery displaying mementoes and memorabilia belonging to the current Sultan Azlan Shah and under the management of the Perak State Museums Department. It is open to the public from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.
Not far from the Masjid Ubudiah and the Istana Iskandariah is another old palace, Istana Kenanagan which is one that truly represents traditional Perak Malay architecture. Also known as ‘Istana Lembah’, ‘Istana Tepas’ and ‘Istana Jenazah’, this palace is currently home to the Royal Museum of Perak and is open to public everyday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. On Fridays it is closed from 12:15 noon to 2:45 pm for prayers. It was built in 1926 after the great floods earlier in the same year. Shaped like a sword, the entire palace was built without any architectural plans and not a single nail was used. The walls are made of woven sliced bamboo and patterned in diamond motifs called kelarai. The roof is in the shape of the five ridges of a traditional Malay house and the ridge of a row of bananas known as perabung lima and perabung pisang sesikat. The palace was completed in 1931 and used as a temporary residence for Sultan Iskandar Shah (1918-1938) while Istana Iskandariah was under construction.
The Clock Tower of Kuala Kangsar built in the middle of the town was erected to commemorate independence of the Country on 31 August 1957. Incidentally, it also served as the round-about for traffic management.
The Victoria Bridge is a railway bridge that crosses the Perak River near Enggor. It was built in 1897 under the supervision of an engineer named C.R. Hanson. This bridge is no longer in use as it has been replaced by a new concrete bridge constructed about 15 metres away from the original bridge. It still has great historical significance.
The Iskandar Bridge is a steel bridge that crosses the Perak River before reaching Kuala Kangsar via the old trunk road. It was constructed by James Craig Limited of Klang between 1928 and 1932 during the British Administration. There is the new Sultan Abdul Jalil Bridge, which is closer to Kuala Kangsar, takes some load off the heritage Iskandar Bridge. This bridge was officially declared open by Sultan Azlan Shah in June 2002. With the opening of this bridge, the distance between Kuala Kangsar and Sayong was significantly reduced.
Just outside the gates of the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery is a lonely, century old rubber tree. It is one of two of the oldest rubber trees in the Country that have survived over the years. It was said that Sir Hugh Low, the British Resident of Perak of that time, planted this tree in an effort to promote the commercial cultivation of it. Soon, jungles were cleared and converted into rubber estates. Sir Hugh Low also planted a number of rubber trees at the compound of his residence but they all did not survive. There is another century old rubber tree near the District Office in town which is probably the more popular one.
For those who love golfing, there is a nine-hole golf course in Kuala Kangsar. This par-35 course plays to 5,446 metres for the full 18-holes with the outgoing nine-hole at 2,754 metres using the blue tees and the incoming nine at 2,692 metres using the white tees. The fairway is covered with cow grass and the course is relatively flat.
Kuala Kangsar is famous for its handicraft industry. In Sayong, about less than 5 kilometres away across the Sultan Abdul Jalil Bridge from Kuala Kangsar, is home to the labu Sayong or traditional earthen water pitcher. This pitcher is used for storing water, and water kept inside this pitcher overnight became cooler as though it was kept in a refrigerator. Through the effort of the government, a cottage industry to produce such water pitcher was established in Kampung Sayong more than a decade ago. Due to demand from foreign markets, this industry has mushroomed all over Sayong and has even spread to other surrounding villages including Kampung Kepala Bendang. Go and visit these makers especially those who are still resorting to the traditional way of moulding and shaping with bare hands. But, to scout for finished products, go to the stalls at the Lembah or the Pesisiran Sayong on the other side of the Perak River.
Another interesting handicraft is the tekat (gold thread embroidery) that is unique to Perak. It is a handiwork passed down from mothers to daughters. In the olden days, each girl was given her first and most important assignment to display her handiwork by creating beautiful embroidery pieces to be worn or paraded for her own wedding ceremony. These pieces comprised gold thread embroideries on velvet pieces. Today, this handiwork has become an industry where girls are employed by small enterprises to produce such embroideries for sale to those who are getting married. There are also training centres such as the Handicraft Development Centre in Enggor that provides classes for those who are interested in this art and the traditions of making tekat.
The Handicraft Development Centre (Tel: 05-7576200/6201) is a government agency which preserves and conserves traditional crafts and encourages the younger generation to pursue age-old skills handed down by their forefathers and it also helps craftsmen become self-reliant entrepreneurs. It brands items such as pottery, batik, tekat, woodcarving, brassware and silverware which are for sale at reasonable prices. It is located at the 40th kilometre of the Ipoh-Enggor road, less than 15-minute drive from Kuala Kangsar. Its business hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Monday to Friday, on Saturday it opens half day from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, and closes on Sunday and public holidays.
The most interesting handicraft the keris making which is indeed a living heritage. The keris is an asymmetrical dagger that is strongly associated with the culture of not only the Perak Malays but also the indigenous people of Indonesia, Southern Thailand and Brunei. The keris usually has distinctive wavy blade though there are many with straight blades. The numbers of the waves on the blade is always odd numbered ranging from three to 13 waves. Generally, a keris can be divided into three parts: bilah (blade), hulu (hilt) and warangka (sheath). These parts are the objects of art. They are often carved in meticulous details and made from various materials such as metal, precious rare types of wood to gold or ivory. Use both as a weapon and a spiritual object, the keris is often considered to have an essence or presence, often considered to possess magical powers, with some blades possessing good luck and others possessing bad. In Perak, kerises are worn at special ceremonies, with heirloom blades being handed down through successive generations. Both men and women can wear them, but those for women are smaller in size. There is a strong belief among the Malays that a rich spirituality and mythology often developed around such weapon. Kerises are used for display, as talismans with magical powers, weapons, sanctified heirloom, auxiliary equipment for court soldiers, as an accessory for ceremonial dress, an indicator of social status and a symbol of heroism. The making of a keris requires special skill and is the specialized duty of metalworkers. In Perak, there are only a handful of these master metalworkers who have acquired the art of keris making from their fathers and forefathers. A blade-smith makes the blade in layers of different iron ores and meteorite nickel. Some blades can be made in a relatively short time while more legendary weapons take years to complete. In high quality blades, the metal is folded dozens or hundreds of times and handled with the utmost precision. In Perak, Abdul Mazin (Tel: 017-6561040 ) of Kampung Changkat, is one of the few highly respected craftsmen with good knowledge in the history, origin and occult of the keris.
Kuala Kangsar also produces craftsmen for jewelleries and metal insignias. Mariwasa Kraftangan (Tel: 05-7765888/0214/0215) is one of the few factories that employ skilled craftsmen to work on decorations of awards of the State and the Nation. These craftsmen also work on jewelleries as well as precious stones and metals. Mariwasa Kraftangan is not only known as one of the largest silversmith in the Country but also for its fine gold and silver jewellery, sterling silverware, pewter-ware, commemorative medallion, gold bullion, gift items and customised orders. It is thus worthy to make a visit to its impressive show room at Lot 522, Kawasan Perusahaan Kuala Kangsar.
The craft bazaar along the Sungai Perak offers local handicraft items such as bubu hiasan (decorative fish traps), tikar mengkuang (mats), tekat benang emas (gold embroidery) and anyaman rotan (rattan woven). Go and hunt for a good bargain of these items, buy some and used them as decorations to your home or as gifts to friends.
HOW TO GO
By car, the main gateway to the town is via the North-South Highway. From Kuala Lumpur, head northwards pass Ipoh and exit at the Kuala Kangsar toll. Kuala Kangsar is approximately 30 kilometres north of Ipoh. From Penang, go southwards, pass Taiping and exit at the Kuala Kangsar toll. Or else, use the old Federal Route 1 as an alternative for those who want a leisurely drive to Kuala Kangsar. There are two bridges that connect Kuala Kangsar to Sayong. Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah Bridge is made out of concrete and is located near the town while the older Sultan Iskandar Bridge is further upstream and is made out of steel.
There are bus services from Ipoh and Taiping, and a train service from the south including Kuala Lumpur to the north including Butterworth. It is also a stop for the exclusive and luxurious E&O Train Services that comes from Singapore and go northwards into Thailand but this is not a public train.
WHERE TO STAY
Among the more popular hotels are the Tin Heong Hotel, Double Lion Hotel, FJ Riverside Inn, the Sungai Perak Safari Resort and the Rumah Rehat Kuala Kangsar. The Tin Heong Hotel at No. 34 Jalan Raja Chulan (Tel: 05-7762066 ) and Double Lion Hotel at No. 74, Jalan Kangsar (Tel: 05-7761010 ) are two budget inns in the town centre. The former has 14 air-conditioned rooms at a minimum rate of RM20.00 per night while the latter has 15 rooms with room rates similar to the former.
There is the FJ Riverside Inn (Tel: 012-2150525 or 012-2237361 ) that operates bungalow facilities in Kampong Kledang, Kota Lama Kiri. Each bungalow can accommodate up to 8 people and is furnished with gas oven, refrigerator and air-conditioned. Sungai Perak Safari Resort (Tel: 05-7772020 ) at Jalan Daeng Selili offers decent accommodation at reasonable rates. It provides facilities for seminars and meetings, and a restaurant. Its compound stretches up to the bank of the Perak River, thus providing a panoramic view of the surrounding areas.
Rumah Rehat Kuala Kangsar or the Kuala Kangsar Rest House (Tel: 605 776 4262) is located at Bukit Chandan, within walking distance from the official residence of the District Officer, the public swimming pool and the Sekolah Raja Perempuan Kalsom. In front of the Rest House after crossing the road in a public park called the Arena Square which is sandwiched between the Perak River and the Rest House. Every year, during the Sultan’s birthday there will be a boat procession and other water sports held in the Perak River. It is also within driving distance from Istana Iskandariah and Masjid Ubudiah. The rooms are big installed with air condition, bathroom and hot water. Some of the rooms offer a magnificent view of the Perak River and the newly developed Pesisiran Sayong on the opposite side of the river.
There is also a homestay program called MRO Homestay (Tel: 014-3449100 or 019-5182061 ). It is located at No. 226 Taman Kuala Kangsar and offers accommodation at RM150.00 per room/night.
WHERE TO EAT
Among the popular dishes and delicacies from Kuala Kangsar are the laksa gandum, gulai tempoyak, Masak lemak ikan patin and kuih apam tepung beras. Laksa gandum contains wheat flour noodles instead of the northern variety made from rice flour, and is served with the laksa soup. This noodle dish goes along well with cendol or ais kacang. The gulai tempoyak is a dish of Patin (Pangasius pangasius), Baung (Mystus sp.) or other river fishes cooked with fermented durian paste. Masak lemak ikan patin is another delicious Malay dish served with rice. The Patin, a kind of catfish, is cooked in coconut milk with herbs and spices with the formidable Thai pepper. Two types of traditional cakes that have made their names here are kuih apam tepung beras and kuih labu. The latter is actually cakes made from pumpkin wrapped in banana leaves. There are several stalls at the Medan Selera Sungai Perak in the Lembah (literally means a valley or a low lying area) by the riverside selling these food and drinks. The masak ikan patin dish is also widely sold by small eateries at the Tebing (literally means a river bank) at the Sayong side of the Perak River. You have to go to the jetty and catch a passenger boat to Sayong for this dish. For some Thai food, try AFN Tom Yam at the northern part of the town along the main road to Padang Rengas.
Yat Lai is perhaps the most well-known restaurant in Kuala Kangsar. Many of the old boys of the Malay College Kuala Kangsar have fond memories of this restaurant because Yat Lai was their meeting place during schooldays where they could have coffee and and paus. Yat Lai is is an old double storey corner shop-house located in the town centre serving delicious halal paus with fillings included beef, chicken, kaya (coconut jam) and red bean which are hand-made and only available from 2:00 pm. The restaurant also have chicken chop, fried noodles and fried rice among others. Then, there is the Hai Lam Coffee-shop at Jalan Kota Lama Kiri (Tel: 012-5155045 ) that serves Hakka noodles with a thick mince pork gravy and vermicelli in beef ball soup.
There are also outlets that sell beer and light beverages such as Cuesport Cafe, Gate Cafe and Bistro. The Cuesport Cafe is the first sports cafe in town that provides three tables of British snooker pool. It is located at Bandar Baru Fasa 2, beside the bus and taxi terminal.
OTHER TOURISTS’ DESTINATION IN VICINITY
1. Pesisiran Sayong.
2. Perak River Safari.
3. Ulu Kenas Waterfall.
4. Kolam Air Panas, Ara Panjang, Manong.
5. Suka Suka Lake Resort near Kampung Kelantan.
This complex to showcase the making of labu Sayong and the sales of the variety of earthen-wares produced from this village. It is a centre to accommodate the pottery makers as well as other cottage industry players to exhibit their expertise and to provide them stalls to market their unique products. This complex is aimed to become a tourist’s icon in the State with its beautifully designed building and landscaped garden that covers an area of more than 50 hectares. Located on the opposite bank of the Perak River facing the Rest House and overlooking the Masjid Ubudiah and the Istana Iskandariah, this complex houses many buildings for exhibition, display, conferences and seminars. It also has at least a cafeteria and a restaurant. It is mainly accessible by a boat ride from the jetty at the Lembah of Kuala Kangsar or the new jetty at the Sungai Perak R&R area along the North-South Highway. Tourists and visitors are thus encouraged to take a 10-minute boat ride across Perak River from the Lembah with a small fee. This project is part of the initiative of the Northern Corridor Economic Region costing more than RM14 million with construction works began in early 2009.
PERAK RIVER SAFARI
The River Safari along the Perak River offers beautiful sights of traditional Malay villages, animals and plants that grow all along the banks of the Perak River. This River Safari is mended for those eco-tourists to acquire an unforgettable adventure as they raft or paddle down the Perak River. These activities are conducted by several experts who have reservation booths along the Perak River at Jalan Tebing, Tepi Sungai. A 25-minute ride to Jawang is followed by a two hour river cruise. Other activities the tourists can participate in Jawang include bird watching, jungle trekking, rafting, canoeing, fishing and visits to limestone caves. Arrangement can be made for those who want to spend a few nights in an orang asli village.
ULU KENAS WATERFALL
If you want a break from the town and feel the fresh air of the nearby jungle, then go for a picnic with your family at Ulu Kenas Waterfall which is located within the Ulu Kenas Forest Reserve some 16 kilometres from Kuala Kangsar on the way to Manong. This waterfall has clean, clear water and once there was a dam and a water treatment plant here to provide drinking water to the villages around this area. The water of this fall and its rapids cascades into a pool which is perfect for a dip, if not a swim. It is a natural water playground for children. Facilities available are basic with toilets, bath and changing rooms, and only on weekends there are stalls selling food and snacks. The entire area is covered by secondary forest and an old durian plantation near the entrance of the fall. Its natural setting and beauty will surely inspires your soul and refresh your mind. Apart from swimming attire, bring along a change of clothes, your own food and have a picnic here.
KOLAM AIR PANAS, ARA PANJANG, MANONG
Like many other hot springs, this Kolam Air Panas is nestled in the serene tropical forest surrounded by hills. The hot spring here is believed to have therapeutic healing effects. Since ancient times, hot spring water have been used to treat skin diseases and ailments like stiff joints, muscle pains, rheumatism, arthritis, insomnia and respiratory concerns. Take a dip into pools of warm water for a natural health treatment. This hot spring is located in Kampung Ara Panjang which is approximately 25 kilometres south of Kuala Kangsar via the Sultan Abdul Jalil Bridge to Sayong, southwards to Senggang and straight to the Kampung Ara Panjang. Bring your own food and drinks.
SUKA SUKA LAKE RESORT NEAR KAMPUNG KELANTAN
Suka Suka is a small private island in the middle of a man-made lake situated about 18 kilometres from Kuala Kangsar. Nearby are the villages of Batu Reng and Kampung Kelantan. The artificial lake was created by the hydro-electric dam in Chederoh. It is an excellent escape for tourists and visitors to lay back and enjoy the charming scenery of the surrounding jungle. You have first to take a 20-minute boat ride to the island resort. At the resort, you will be warmly welcomed by your hosts. Spending your holidays here is a great way to experience traditional Malay living, eating good Malay dishes, wear traditional sarongs and learn about local village customs. You will also be taught how to play the traditional game of congkak. The resort offers basic A-frame chalets with both communal and en-suite facilities. You can also swim in the lake or visit a nearby waterfall. Other activities include kayaking, fishing, jungle trekking, mountain climbing and even fruit picking (only during fruiting seasons).
HOW TO GO
For those who drive, USE THE North-South Highway and exit at the Kuala Kangsar toll. Proceed northwards to Gerik, and drive for about 15 minutes from the toll plaza, you will see the Kampung Kelantan signboard. Turn right and you will find the jetty to Suka Suka Island by end of that road. Take a boat ride across the lake to the Suka Suka Lake Resort.