If you are not from Malaysia, like us, you have probably not heard of Kuala Kangsar. This town near Ipoh doesn’t get mentioned a lot when it comes to planning a Malaysian holiday.
However, Kuala Kangsar is a small town with a big punch. It’s a royal capital and was the first place where the British started seeking control of peninsular Malaysia. Nearby Ipoh and Taiping are larger but Kuala Kangsar is home to some of the most impressive buildings we have seen in Malaysia.
There are not many Kuala Kangsar attractions, but the ones that exist are worth seeing and it’s easy to spend a few hours enjoying Kuala Kangsar and driving past some of the lovely buildings. The town felt empty, but grand.
Below you will find our guide to what to do in Kuala Kangsar, visiting Kuala Kangsar with kids and where to stay in Kuala Kangsar.
The Ubudiah Mosque is the main Kuala Kangsar attraction. This grand construction makes for a stunning mosque which is definitely one of the best looking ones I have seen. The mosque was constructed between 1913 and 1917.
Non Muslims can visit as long as they dressed modestly. It’s worth visiting the outside even if you don’t go in.
Nearby Ubudiah Mosque is an old two story palace complex that used to be the residence of the Sultans of Perak. The Palace is now a Kuala Kangsar tourist attraction called the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery. This set of buildings is split into several display areas.
There are two smaller galleries: one houses some of the royal cars plus some other transport related items and the other displays an assortment of knick-knacks that the Sultan was gifted over the years. The main building houses displays on the Perak royal family including some of their nicest outfits and dress swords plus some displays on the life and times of the current Sultan and Sultana.
S and Z enjoyed looking at the collection of gifts, Z loved the swords and I found the history of the Sultans of Perak and the life of the current one engaging enough. It isn’t a huge attraction but it was fun and it was one of the places to see in Kuala Kangsar we enjoyed the most.
How much this stop would engage your kids really depends on them. S and Z enjoy looking at eclectic collections of “stuff” so they were entertained for over an hour. There are no interactive displays or multimedia or anything but for us, that worked well and so makes our list as one of the top things to do in Kuala Kangsar.
Entry is 4 MYR for adults, “students” (which will cover most kids) are free, otherwise they are 2 MYR.
Istana Iskandariah is the official residence of the Sultan of Perak and it is spectacular.
It is not open to the public, but it is large and, since there is a road all of the way around, it’s easy to get a peak of this palace and it’s worth the effort. I haven’t seen anything quite like it.
Istana Kenangan, also known as the Palace of Memories, is a wooden structure next to Istana Iskandariah. It is entirely made from wood and bamboo without any nails. It was a temporary home to the Sultan while Istana Iskandariah was being constructed.
It was previously a museum but it is no longer possible to visit inside. Still, the outside does look good and it’s easy to see from the road around the palace.
In the middle of town is the clock tower. This is also an attractive area with lots of greenery. It is opposite a park with a playground and it’s near the river. It’s another place that is worth driving past to take in the views.
About 45 minutes away is the city of Ipoh. We really loved Ipoh and it is easy to day trip here from Kuala Kangsar – although we would recommend you do it the other way around and stay in Ipoh and day trip to Kuala Kangsar.
The Old Town in Ipoh is quite special. There’s lovely laneways and awesome street art. It’s quite trendy and we loved exploring it.
Another good day trip option from Kuala Kangsar is Taiping. There are some fabulous attractions here including Taiping Zoo and the Lake Gardens.
I don’t recommend staying overnight in Kuala Kangsar. A few hours are enough to enjoy the things to do in Kuala Kangsar so I recommend staying in Taiping or Ipoh and visiting on a day trip (this is what we did).
If you do want to stay overnight, here are some options…
The best hotel in Kuala Kangsar is The Shop Hotel. This budget hotel offers clean and fresh accommodation and, although rooms are basic, they are clean and relatively modern. They also have family rooms with free Wi-Fi and air conditioning. The price is definitely low and a cafe located right next to the hotel makes for a comfortable stay.
Budget accommodation is pretty easy to find in Kuala Kangsar and the Golden Roof Hotel offers just that. This budget hotel in Kuala Kangsar offers rooms that are clean and basic with free Wi-Fi included. It isn’t hard to find somewhere to eat nearby to the hotel and there are family rooms available.
Offering some of the cheapest accommodation is Kuala Kangsar, Blue Star hotel is an older retro style hotel with twin, triple, quad and family rooms so it’s suitable for groups of all sizes. The accommodation is basic but there is free wi-fi and the hotel isn’t far from major attractions.
Kuala Kangsar is an easy place to visit with kids. We visited with our 6, 5 and 10 month old. They enjoyed seeing the big palace (S wants to be a queen!) and loved exploring all the items in Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery. They now want to send the Sultan a present.
There is a playground across the road from the clock tower.
There are regular buses from Ipoh and Taiping. There’s also a train station on the main line between Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth. Given the attractions are a little bit spread out, it is a lot easier if you have your own car.
I love seeing different sides of the countries we visit and Kuala Kangsar gave us this. It is quite different to the other places we have visited. I have usually found Malaysian architecture to be very low key and that’s what made Kuala Kangsar so special. Ubudiah Mosque and Istana Kenangan are particularly worth a look.
If you are visiting Ipoh or Taiping, I recommend taking a quick side trip to Kuala Kangsar for a look.
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