Perak Tong Cave Temple
Perak Tong cave temple or Perak Tong (霹雳洞) is one of approximately 30 temples in around Ipoh. It is probably the most well-known temple in Ipoh, especially for the views of the city from its summit. While there is no entrance fee, there is an expectation that visitors donate 3 ringgit to access the staircase if you plan to climb the cave’s hillside.
Perak Tong Cave Temple History
The impressive creation that is Perak Tong Cave Temple goes back one century ago. A married couple from Jiaoling County (Guangdong Province, China), Chong Sen Yee and his wife Choong Chan Yoke, built this temple after discovering the cave in 1926.
Initially, they had to seek approval from the Perak State Government but once this had been granted, they set out to develop the cave temple in earnest. Chong Sen Yee’s (the husband) main responsibilities were planning and development while his wife, Chong Chan Yoke sought donations locally and internationally to fund the project.
In the early 1980s, both Chong Sen Yee (1980) and Chong Chan Yoke (1983) died, leaving the responsibility of the cave to their son, Chong Yin Chat.
Arriving at Perak Tong Cave Temple
It is a peaceful place (although can get quite busy at weekends and during holidays). Visitors can marvel at the paintings etched into the wall, enjoy the beautiful views from the top of the temple and get some rest bite from Ipoh’s strong sun and temperatures: as well as being in the shade, the interior of the cave is a few degrees cooler than outside.
Upon arrival you will ascend a small set of stairs and then pass through a narrow entrance before feasting your eyes on this large cavern. There are over 40 Buddha statues in Perak Tong Cave Temple but the largest and most impressive is the 40-feet tall gold Buddha you will see as soon as you enter this vast limestone cave, with two guardian deities on each side.
What to See
Besides the large Buddha, there are other statues all around the temple and its grounds, including various sculptural depictions of Guan Yin – the “Goddess of Mercy”, an appellation first given by Jesuit missionaries in China. You will also see plenty of Chinese calligraphy and well-preserved colourful Buddhist paintings on the walls of the cave.
What to do
We recommend that while you are visiting Perak Tong Cave Temple, you should make the extra effort to climb to the hilltop pavilion. It is not for everyone; extra caution is advised for young children and the elderly. Also, if it has been raining, we would also suggest you skip the climb. You probably should wear a decent pair of trainers/sneakers too, but many do not. It is up to you.
In parts, the staircase is a little steep and narrow, but the endeavour is well worth it. In total, there are approximately 450 steps that wind their way up to the summit. On your way you will pass various pavilions where you can sit if you need a break or to admire the view. There are some further steps beyond the highest pavilion, which will take you to a greater height and spectacular views of Ipoh’s northern suburbs.
Please note that protection from the scorching heat of the sun is not available in all areas of the climb. It is wise to dress accordingly and use a decent sun protector. You might want to consider climbing in the morning before it gets too hot. Also, the staircase would not meet health and safety requirements in some countries. Please be aware that the steps can be quite tricky, especially when coming back down.
In front of the cave temple, there is a landscaped garden with a pavilion, two lotus ponds, two bell towers and another statue of Guan Yin. While these gardens are nice and well attended to, they don’t even compare with the beautiful garden of Sam Poh Tong cave temple
Crab-eating macaques (also known as long tailed macaques, or simply and incorrectly as ‘monkeys’ to most of us), are found throughout the grounds and hills of the cave, but not specifically in the temple. The relevant temple authorities discourage visitors from feeding them, but this guidance isn’t always heeded.
The macaques have acclimatised fully to their human surroundings and have no qualm snatching food (and indeed bags) from unsuspecting temple visitors. So while we will say that the macaques are not dangerous, we do advise you to be mindful of your belongings and be aware that rustling plastic bags (like opening a bag of crisps/chips), can alert the macaques that there is food nearby.
Shops and facilities
If you need a calorie boost or simply a cooling drink after your climb, there are several stalls selling snacks and drinks, including fresh coconut and ice cream. There is also a souvenir stall that offers tourist temple knickknacks such as jade. If you are so inclined, there is even a stall to have your fortune told.
How to Get to Perak Tong Cave Temple
Getting to Ipoh: If you are driving in from the north (from Penang for example), take Exit 141 from the North-South Expressway. If you are driving from Kuala Lumpur (or anywhere else south of Ipoh), take Exit 138 to Route 240 from the North-South Expressway.
Driving to Perak Cave Temple from Ipoh Town:
Basically, it is a 15 minutes’ drive north (all the way to Jalan Kuala Kansar) to the temple. Here is a google route from Ipoh’s Railway Station.
By Taxi or Grab
It is possible to get a taxi or Grab car to Perak Cave Temple. However, please consider it might be more difficult arranging your return journey. Given that its distance is not too far from the centre of the city, we believe that for the most part you should not have a problem ordering a Grab car but we cannot guarantee it.
It is possible to take a bus to Perak Tong Cave Temple but bear in mind two things: (1) Public transport in Ipoh is not very good; (2) The bus numbers for the outward and return journeys are different.
You can take the No.35 bus, which will drop you off opposite the temple.
To return back to Ipoh centre, please get the No. 31 bus. You will find a “bus stop”, next to the big tree adjacent to the exit of the cave temple.
At IpohGo, we highly recommend to anyone who intends to use public transport in Ipoh, to double check services before making the journey. You can find more details here . They also have two phone numbers (012-450 0483 or 012-450 0806) and an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further Practical Details about Perak Tong Cave Temple can be found by checking out it’s listing in IpohGo’s Directory.