Kampar, in the Kinta Valley at the foot of Cameron Highlands
Kampar lies within the Kinta Valley and it is very near to the Cameron Highlands which stretches out almost next door to Kampar Town. The town was a center in the tin mine industry, founded in 1887. The name of the town originates from the Cantonese words kam pou. It means 'precious gold' and refers to the town's previously large tin reserves.
The town and surrounding is still very local, few foreign tourists visit the town though some come to visit the well known caves of Gua Tempurung. This is sad as Kampar has enough to offer local and foreign tourists alike to keep them busy for a few days.
As you would expect from me, I visited the town on bicycle. It's my preferred way of transport because I can see more of the surrounding and, to me at least, I get a much better impression of the countryside.
And I have to say, it was such a pleasure cycling to this area in Perak, the countryside is beautiful and the town has an excellent hotel available: Grand Kampar Hotel, a new and very comfortable hotel in the new area of Kampar town.
Kampar is located 170 km north of Kuala Lumpur (on the north/south motorway), 30 km south of Ipoh and 85 km east of Pangkor and Lumut.
The question of course is why you would want to visit Kampar?
Kampar is only found on a few tourist map. The town and the area are known mainly for its tin mining industry but only a few visitors know that there are several tourist attractions which make a visit worthwhile.
Probably the most well known is the caves of Gua Tempurung. These centuries-old caves are very well preserved. You can penetrate up into 3km of caves in higher and lower areas.
Some caves go quite deep and you will have to pass and wade through underwater rivers. In the lower caves, you will have the possibility to experience total darkness. It is so dark you will not be able to see anything including your own hands 2 cm in front of your face. It is quite an unnerving experience.
Golf enthusiasts can play their game at the Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort, in Batu Gajah, 20 minutes drive from Kampar. See for details our golf page
White water rafting is another experience you will never forget. Shooting the rapids would give you an intense adrenaline rush. However, if you are not that adventurous, you may want to go fishing in one of the many lakes left over from the old tin mine industry.
Jungle trekking is also possible. Kampar is built at the foot of the hills which, for a large part are still raw and dense tropical rain forests. Pony riding is also available for children.
And of course, Ipoh is nearby. With its long history, Ipoh is a great visit. Here is more about Ipoh
But the town is also famous for its food and in case you are not interested in any physical activities, the food alone is worth a visit !
Japanese Carbide Factory Chimney
A very unknown but very interesting piece of Malaysian history can be found in Malim Nawar. Here you can see the very last chimney of a Japanese carbide factory. After the 2nd World War the factory was demolished and the bricks used by the locals for their own use.
The story I have heard from my friend Martin who used to live in Malim Nawar, is that second chimney was sold brick by brick. The owner of the land left only the very base of the chimney. The Chimney is located about 15 km from Kampar town.
Kampar is famous for its food. In the area, the fishball noodles are famous but very special for Kampar is the chicken biscuit. I was also invited to try the roti kari ayam.
This amazing dish is a white bread filled with curry chicken. The way it is produced is quite simple, first the curry mee is cooked, then it is filled in the dough and then baked in a bread. The restaurant where Miss Rosma and Miss Bibi, from the Grand Kampar Hotel took me serves two different sizes of bread: big and small. Even the small bread takes 3 to 4 people to finish. An amazing dish.
Where to stay
Kampar has one very good hotel: the Grand Kampar Hotel which opened doors in 2008.
I have visited the hotel a few weeks later after the opening, around Chinese New Year. What a pleasant surprise! The hotel has surprisingly low prices, even during the Chinese New Year, for the rooms and the meals offered.
We have created a special page about the Grand Kampar Hotel and we are happy to inform you the hotel has a series of special packages available that will make your stay even more spectacular.
If you traveling on a small budget, in the old town there are a few local cheap hotels available. Don't expect anything more than a bed and a shower but you won't pay much too.
Getting there and away
From Kuala Lumpur
If you have your own transport, take the North-South highway to Tapah junction and follow the directions to Ipoh and Kampar, 23 km away.
Take the North-South highway to Gopeng and follow the direction to Kampar and Teluk Intan (from the highway junction at the traffic lights, go left onto the A1). You will pass the Gua Tempurung caves. Kampar is about 15 km from the junction.
From Pangkor and Lumut
Take the road out of Lumut to Ipoh until you reach Pusing. In Pusing you will follow the direction to Batu Gajah. You will pass Kellies Castle on the way to Gopeng. Follow the direction to the North-South Highway but do not enter. Just follow road no.A1, it is another 18 km to Kampar.
There are a few alternative roads.
Take the road out of Lumut to Ipoh, pass Ayar Tawar until you reach the junction to Tanjong Tualang. Follow the local road for a few kilometer until you reach a "T" junction, go right for a few kilometer until you reach another "T" junction. Going right leads to Tanjong Tualang town. Go left here to Malim Nawar until you reach the main road No.1 and follow this road for about 8km until you reach Kampar.
Alternatively you take the junction in Bota Kiri to Kampung Gajah (not to be confused with Batu Gajah). Follow this road until you reach Kampung Gajah (28 km) and follow from here the direction to Tanjong Tualang and Kampar (A15). Just before Tanjong Tualang is Kampong Timah where you can take the junction direct to Kampar or you continue following the A15 to Malim Nawar. Both roads are scenic, very quiet and in good condition.
Another option is take the road out of Lumut to Teluk Intan. Follow this road for 31km until you reach a junction to Pasir Salak. Go left and follow this road until you reach a T-junction and go right to Kampung Gajah. After 2 km there's a junction. Going straight leads to Pasir Salak, going left leads to a bridge/
Cross the bridge of the Sungai Perak and turn right and continue to the first traffic light. Here you turn left (A15) to Tanjong Tualang. In Tanjong Tulang you can turn right and visit Tronoh Mines before arriving in Kampar town. The other option is pass Tanjong Tulang and take the first junction after the the town to Malim Nawar (A114). This road is equally scenic but leads you after another 15 km to the connecting road of Gopeng and Ipoh. Kampar is another few kilometers to your right.
Should you take one of the two mentioned road, visit Pasir Salak which is right on the way.
There are frequent buses from Puduraya bus station in Kuala Lumpur taking about 2 hours (specify to the driver you want to go to Kampar because the express buses only pass Kampar).
From Ipoh, several local buses serve Kampar too. If you come from other destinations you have to change buses in Ipoh.
Trains serve Kampar too. Although the journey is pleasant, it takes about 2 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Kampar. The railway station is on the south side of the old town center.
And as if this is all not enough, we have this map for you. Click here to see the map
Grand Kampar Hotel
A traveler needs to lay his/her head in comfort after a long day of adventures. A comfortable room, a hot bath, watch a little TV and ... some excellent food. The Grand Kampar Hotel does this for you and much more. But what most impressed me with this 155 rooms hotel was the attention of the staff.
They were all smiles and very helpful, like finding new friends on the road. And as a long time traveler, this was exactly what I was looking for.
Three times I have visited the caves, here's a report of one of my visits. I am not really a cave enthusiast but the Gua Tempurung caves I enjoyed so much I did come back, several times already.
Yusuf Martin wrote us a nice story about Kampung life in Perak.
Ipoh is the capital of Perak and just over 30 km north of Kampar. It's the transport hub but the city itself is worth a visit. Read more about Ipoh on this page.
South Perak does not include many places worth a visit but Teluk Intan should have your attention. Not only for the famous Leaning Tower but also for it's long and very visible history: