When traveling to Perak, most go to Ipoh, fewer visit the excellent Ipoh Cave Temples or the UNESCO site of the Lenggong Valley, some stop at serene Pangkor Island or visit the mangroves at Kuala Sepetang, and the smartest make a pitstop in Taiping for a food hunt and climbing beautiful Bukit Larut, or drive to Kuala Kurau for seafood and local river culture. But only the very savvy and adventure lovers ever seek out the town of Gopeng.
Gopeng is definitely off the beaten track, but for no very good reason. Set only 20km south of Ipoh and about 2 hours drive north of Kuala Lumpur, Gopeng was indeed one of Malaya’s prominent tin-mining centers. It is set next to some of Peninsular Malaysia’s most stunning limestone cave systems and the Kampar River, today one of the best white water rafting spots in Malaysia.
Gopeng town also had a strong Chinese community whose immigration history reflects in the town’s architecture, heritage and, of course, Gopeng food — lai fun noodles, anyone?
This article comes to the rescue of those who want to visit Gopeng but don’t know what are the best things to do there. We’ll suggest 19 great things to do in Gopeng — from white water rafting and adventurous activities such as caving, hiking and abseiling, to the best Gopeng attractions, and of course the gorgeous food. The best of Gopeng is all down in this handy list.
So let’s get ourselves started without further ado!
Gopeng White Water Rafting and Adventure Activities
1White Water Rafting in Gopeng
Say Gopeng and the first thing that people think of is the rushing Kampar River, one of the premier sites for white water rafting in Malaysia. White Water Rafting in Gopeng was established by pioneer adventure travel operator Nomad Adventure, and it’s still one of the major drawcards to this otherwise little and quaint village.
The Kampar River has nothing short of 22 rapids that range from Grade 2 to Grade 3+, offering the perfect environment for both testing your limits and also enjoying some quieter waters where the beauty of the surrounding nature will soothe your city-weary nerves.
Gopeng’s white water rafting tours are usually 3-hours-long and conducted by expert guides. When the river level is low, expect to raft for around 4.5km, while when waters are higher, the trip should be about 7km-long. Gopeng’s Kampar River rapids are recommended for both beginners and intermediate rafters and are an ideal activity for groups and large families.
2Explore and Caving at Gua Tempurung
Gua Tempurung is one of Peninsular Malaysia’s oldest and most stunning caves, and it’s very close to Gopeng town. Gua Tempurung is estimated to be a stunning 400-millions-year-old and is divided into 5 different caverns filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Gua Tempurung is more than 3 kilometers long, and a perfect place for all levels of adventure caving expeditions. For the same reason — huge, dark and scary — Gua Tempurung was used as a hideout by the Communist insurgents of the Malayan Emergency between 1948 and 1960.
Today the cave is very popular among spelunkers who come in droves to try one of four different exploration packages. Expect to get wet and dirty as you trawl through wide and narrow passages and chambers filled with the tweeting of bats and sloshing of an underground river.
There are four different tours to have shorter or longer (and deeper) experience inside Gua Tempurung. Golden Flowstone is the shortest, 40-minute-long tour consisting of a walk over simple boardwalks on stilts set above the cave’s river system.
You can book a DISCOUNTED Tempurung caving exploration + white water rafting tour via KLOOK, a service we often use when traveling in Malaysia, using this link.
Top of the World is 1hr and 45 minutes long. First, you’ll climb up the 640 steps to the Wind Tunnel, and then will visit the tin mining caves.
You can add a Short River Adventure to Top of the World, getting down from the Wind Tunnel to an underground river where you’ll definitely get wet before reaching the outdoors after 2 and a half hours.
At last, the 3.5 hours-long Grand Tour is the best way to have a go at true spelunking: you’ll crawl, climb, swim, and slide through Gua Tempurung’s passages and river.
You can book your discounted tour of Gua Tempurung on KLOOK clicking on this link.
3Waterfall Abseiling at Ulu Geruntum
Ulu Geruntum is a sloshing 10-meters-high waterfall near Gopeng. It was opened to tourism in 2005 when Nomad Adventure worked together with the local orang asli to set up an adventure activity that could help them earn an income.
The place is of course well-known by now, and can get definitely get crowded — but it’s still a beautiful spot to experience Gopeng’s wild nature. You’ll abseil down the rock face, water splashing all over you, as you descend and conquer meter after meter.
You can book a DISCOUNTED Gopeng waterfall abseiling + river tubing tour via KLOOK, a service we often use when traveling in Malaysia, clicking here.
4Hike the Bukit Batu Putih trail
Not to be confounded with the trek of the same name near Melaka, Bukit Batu Putih is a simple yet beautiful hiking trail that can be completed in less than two hours. It takes visitors on top of a perfect vantage point to soak unobstructed views over Gopeng town and the Kinta Valley.
The entry is very close to the access point to the Gaharu Tea Valley, and that’s where you pay a small RM3 conservation fee. The hike starts under the shelter of vegetation until it reaches a couple of viewpoints where limestone rocks stand as the eternal watchers of the beautiful scenery unfolding below. You’ll be able to watch the Kampar River meander slowly through the broccoli-like forest below, like a placid snake gliding into a viridian sea.
At 310-meters of height, the summit of Bukit Batu Putih is certainly less spectacular, but a must-conquer either way.
5Caving at Gua Kandu
Gua Kandu is 1100 meters long, the 7th longest in Peninsular Malaysia, and a real adventure playground.
The place was infamous as a hiding spot for the local communist guerrilla during the Malayan Emergency between 1948 and 1960 — lookout for the Chinese characters etched on the rocks while you visit.
History aside, the cave today offers a lot for adventure and spelunking enthusiasts who can set out on exploration tours of different levels of difficulty. We treasure our experience very much: a few hours of high-octane, adrenaline-pumping scrambles along with the chambers of this multi-level cave. The expedition ended at the other entrance of the tunnel, where you can soar through the huge, majestic cave mouth gliding on the 100-meters-long Gua Kandu Flying Fox by Nomad Adventure. The first in-cave zipline in Southeast Asia is set up inside Gua Kandu’s largest cavern — the same that the Japanese Army wanted to turn into a World War II aircraft hangar, before being defeated.
You can book a DISCOUNTED Gua Kandu caving exploration + white water rafting tour via KLOOK, a service we often use when traveling in Malaysia, using this link
6Standing Paddle Board on the Kampar River
Recently introduced by Nomad Adventure, standing paddle boarding on the Kampar River is another adventurous activity that visitors are encouraged to try while in Gopeng. Join your friends and an instructor on the water, learning how to balance yourself on a paddleboard as you glide through serene tropical river scenery.
You can book a DISCOUNTED Gopeng Standing paddle Board tour via KLOOK, a service we often use when traveling in Malaysia, if you click here.
7Swing on the High Ropes Course at Nomad Adventure’s Mountain School
Nomad Adventure is the first operator in the area, and their Earth Camp a blissful oasis where you can stay among nature. Don’t forget their Mountain School, Gopeng’s first and only series of aerial adventures realized with ropes: from zip-lining to trying various high and low rope activities, you’ve got them all here, set within the grounds of the different traditional Malay villages surrounding Gopeng. One of the perks is, indeed, to get to play on the ropes as you learn about the local ways of life. If you are already experienced in rock climbing, you may take a full-day rope rescue techniques instructional course to step up your climbing — and safety — game.
8Look for Rafflesia Flowers with the Orang Asli at Ulu Geroh
You don’t have to go on a trip to Borneo to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest flower, as it can be found near Gopeng. The village of Ulu Geroh is only 12km away from town, surrounded by durian farms and rubber and palm oil estates. In order to find the Rafflesia in bloom, you will have to use the services of the local orang asli (aboriginal) guides of the Semai tribe who live in this area. The trek up a steep hill is moderate and will bring you close and personal with this stemless, barkless, and rootless plant that, when in bloom, lasts only a few days before dying off with a foul smell.
Usually, the Ulu Geroh Rafflesia tours also include a short trek to a nearby spot where you’ll be able to see big numbers of the rare Rajah Brooke butterflies flutter around.
You can book a DISCOUNTED orang asli village experience tour via KLOOK, a service we often use when traveling in Malaysia, using this link
9Brave the Trans Gopeng – Cameron Highlands Hiking Adventure
Hardy hikers can consider taking the 2D/1N trip from Gopeng to the Bharat Tea Plantation in the Cameron Highlands. The crossing, a wonderful hike across rivers, farms, and jungles, takes about 10 hours of steady walking on your first day and is organized by Gopeng Rainforest Resort. You need obviously to put together a group of at least 10 people and be able to forget comforts, as you’ll stay overnight at an orang asli village en route.
Watch this video with some of the best adventure activities you can have in Gopeng!
10Gaharu Tea Valley
The Gaharu Tea Valley is an agarwood plantation producing delicious local HOGA tea on the hills right outside of Gopeng. It has become a hit among local and international tourists, especially from Mainland China — that’s possibly why the whole place has been enclosed within a tacky replica of the Great Wall.
The area is beautiful, but to be frank, it’s also Gopeng’s most touristy attraction — places like the Tree Hugging Park, where most trees have an illustration on their bark, seem like the usual thing done for the Gram. But if you come here with a lover or your family, taking a look at the Hilltop Viewing Stage in the early morning light, when the sun makes the agarwood plantation and the faraway Titiwangsa Range glow, is something to consider.
11Learn About Local History at Gopeng Museum
Gopeng’s history is one of industry and tin mining, and this small and yet interesting museum set along Jalan Eu Kong is a must-visit. A few well-written and informative boards give you a low-down on Gopeng’s early history of settlers, and well complemented with the old black and white repertoire pictures of the area that cover one of the walls. But what’s worth coming here for the most are the old vintage objects on exhibition: sewing machines, old typewriters and radios, metallic fans, and so on.
The Gopeng Museum is only opened on weekends in the morning, and often hosts interesting talks that you should try to time with your visit.
12Explore Gopeng Heritage House
Set in one corner of Gopeng central square Dataran Rafflesia on Jalan Sungai Itik, Gopeng Heritage House, only opened on weekends, is a beautiful example of how to mix this town’s present and past. Housed inside a pink and charming Baba Nyonya traditional house, it offers a collection of vintage memorabilia from old Malaysia and colonial Malaya.
Gopeng Heritage House contains an eclectic selection of objects such as an original barber chair and a four-poster bed arranged on two floors with a cafe at the back. You can kick back here and have tea, kopi, cincau, or Chinese herb jelly while you chat up with the witty curators. Remember that the Heritage House is only opened on weekends, and there is an entrance fee of RM10 for adult foreigners and RM6 for children. Malaysians pay RM5 and RM3.
13See the Oldest Water Pipe in Malaysia
You can’t come to Gopeng and miss the “Paip Besar Gopeng”, or the big waterpipe from 1908 that’s still standing just outside of town on the left side of the road to Kampar. It’s just one of those things quirky things that you don’t want to miss.
Truth be told, there’s nothing much to see here, but you should make a stop to this pipe in virtue of the fact it’s more than 110 years old and still standing.
14Explore Gopeng Old Town: Eu Kong Street, Market Street (Jalan Pasar) and High Street (Jalan Tasek)
Most of Gopeng’s oldest buildings were destroyed by a fire in 1186, but the three roads jutting out of Gopeng’s main square still hold some interesting architecture. Walk down the streets, try to stop at some of the several old-world shops, and pretend you are looking at the ancient tin mining boomtown that Gopeng once was.
15Chase Ghosts at Kellie’s Castle
Rising on the plains between Gopeng and Batu Gajah, Kellie’s Castle is an unfinished manor that mixes European-style and South Indian Tamil architecture. Built by a colonial Scottish planter, William Kellie-Smith, this castle is set in tropical surroundings next to the Raya River. Legend says that Kellie built this manor either as a gift to his wife, or to celebrate the birth of his son in 1915. In the original plan, the castle should have had Malaysia’s first elevator, an indoor tennis court, and a rooftop courtyard for nightlife and entertainment.
But things didn’t go quite as planned: during the construction works, Kellie’s team of Indian workers was struck with a bad case of Spanish Flu, which subsided only when Kellie listened to his men and built an Indian temple on the grounds. A statue of Kellie is immortalized among the other Indian gods on the temple’s roof.
The castle was never finished because Kellie died of pneumonia while away in Portugal in 1926. Devastated, his wife decided to move back to Scotland, leaving Kellie’s Castle unfinished as it stands now.
Today Kellie’s Castle is a tourist attraction, and because of its history of mysterious deaths, some like to say it’s haunted. The castle was also featured in the 1999 film Anna and the King, and 2000’s Skyline Cruisers.
Best Gopeng Food to Try
16Eat great Gopeng Food at the Local Pasar Gopeng Foodcourt
Forget the hipster cafes along Jalan Pasar and head to Gopeng’s one and only covered food court, Pasar Gopeng Food court, next to the local wet market. There’s a smorgasbord of great Gopeng food to be had here.
Don’t leave without trying the local Lai Fun, a bowl of heavenly tick noodles in a broth that may seem a bit like the best Penang Laksa, but it’s another thing altogether. Buy it from the legendary Stall 8 Kook Fun, that’s been selling the stuff for over 50 years, and you won’t certainly regret it.
You can get more types of juicy Chinese noodles for about RM5 per bowl at Stall No 53. We had the dry Char Hor Fun and a plate of juicy Wa Tan Hor, both to die for. The Wa Tan Hor in particular were silky and covered in a rich gravy, with big chunks of chicken… all for very affordable prices (RM 5–6 per plate). Unmissable.
Other interesting stalls at Pasar Gopeng Foodcourt are:
No 15, that dishes up famous Curry Laksa, along with a variety of other noodles. Don’t miss the You Tiao and Red Bean fried buns of Stall No 13 for breakfast. Mind well that the signboard says Pork Mee, Pan Mee, and Seafood Mee, but hasn’t been changed since this family took over the stall a decade-plus ago.
Stall No 18 has great chicken rice and chicken porridge, dished up with 30-year-old expertise. Two stalls down, the great wan tan mee at No 20 are yet another long-standing Gopeng favorite.
But if you come here for breakfast, we really recommend you try the deliciously thick white coffee and the very-well toasted roti bakar (see where to eat roti bakar in Penang) with butter and kaya at Kedai Nam Chen, or stalls 25 and 26. The roti bakar is particularly good, sliced in the middle, and served full of coconut jam and butter, just what you need to dunk in your coffee.
If you feel more adventurous and you come here on Tuesdays when the food court is full of the people who come to Gopeng for the weekly market, try to ask for the herbal tea with egg (meaning that the egg is soaked inside). It’s a traditional and somewhat odd combination, but it tastes great — the tea is dark and thick, full of aromatic spices and flavor that seep into the egg. Very special.
At last, stall M36, just on the right-hand side of Kedai Nam Chen, has delicious chee cheong fun coming in dry shrimp or Hong Kong varieties. You can ask to get you a plate with a mix of both to try because they are super-tasty. Come early, as they usually sold out by 9 am.
17Try Gopeng’s Hipster Side at High Street Kopitiam
Smack in the center of town along High Street (Jalan Tasek), this upholstered Kopitiam is Gopeng’s answer to George Town’s heritage-chic boutique bistros. The interiors are cool, with exposed brick walls and nice use of the original shophouse’s wooden partitions.
The food on offer on the menu is heavily based on kinds of pasta (from RM11), but then you can get the local Hainanese Chicken Chop (RM 16.80) and a series of home-baked bread and fried dumplings (RM 8.80). A good compromise between Eastern and Western, with a modest price for the category. Check it out.
18Eat alfresco at Heritage Town Cafe Gopeng
Set along High Street, this boutique eatery tries to bring the concept of a Penang hip cafe’ to this tin mining town. The results are mixed, but overall interesting, and it’s a good place to pamper yourself a bit while in Gopeng.
The high marks here are for the alfresco space, where marble-top tables await your orders of frothy kopi (a traditional one, that is) and a blend of local and Western dishes. Try the Hainanese Chicken Chop or the roasted fish on Banana leaf.
19Eat Gopeng Asam Laksa in the quaint countryside
Usually, everybody shouts for Penang laksa, but when in Gopeng, the place to go have some is Gopeng Hill Asam Laksa, a countryside restaurant set in an idyllic kampung location along Jalan Kampung Pintu Padang.
The specialty here, beyond the perfect bowls of nicely cooked and freshly garnished laksa (RM 6), is the fire-roasted and delicious Sugar cane chicken. Which is probably as fresh as the poultry running around the backyard…
Best Places to Stay in Gopeng
You certainly need to stay at least for a night to enjoy all the things to do in Gopeng. There are a few good places to stay in Gopeng to suit most budgets.
Possibly the best and most luxurious option is Sementra Nature Resort, a collection of beautiful double-story bungalows set next to the water and in a blissful place surrounded by nature. You’ll enjoy nice balconies, large bathrooms, and squeaky clean rooms at affordable prices for this type of accommodation. Check out prices and book your room here.
A similar standard can be found at Hijau Resort, a beautiful villa with a swimming pool and cozy rooms that make very good use of warm wooden furnishings. You can check more information and book a room here.
YipStay is a modern and inexpensive hotel set in the center of Gopeng Town and handy for all the local sights and the food hunt. You can book a room here.
But for those who want to stay closer to nature, Gopeng offers some interesting glamping options near the Kampar River. Gopeng Glamping Park has quite swanky tents equipped with plush beds and has bicycles for rent and a very relaxing outdoor area with hammocks. Check prices and book clicking here.
A little bit cheaper but still a nice glamping option is Outworld basecamp in Kampung Chulek. The accommodation here is inside thatched bamboo rooms where you’ll sleep on mats on the floor, or inside tents that are insulated with outer tarps for perfect, rain-free stays. Check out more information, prices, and book your stay here.
You can check other Gopeng accommodation here.
Airbnb in Gopeng
Alternatively, if you prefer to stay at an Airbnb, you may have to backtrack to Ipoh. Check all the available nearby Airbnb options with this map locator:
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