PETALING JAYA: Ipoh, the little tin mining town, has hit the travel radar of international guides around the world – the latest being the New York Times (NYT).
"Ipoh is now roaring back in style," NYT wrote in a feature on Wednesday (Feb 28) highlighting how the boom of trendy cafes has rejuvenated the sleepy village into the country's hippest destination.
It attributed the start of Ipoh's comeback to the Sunway Group when the conglomerate opened the Lost World of Tambun theme park in 2004.
In 2014, Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic brought his magic to Ipoh, beautifying the old buildings with murals, after a series of hits in George Town, Penang.
"But perhaps the greatest change – one propelled by home-grown talent – has been the boom in hip cafes over the last few years," NYT said.
With the boom of hip cafes like Burps & Giggles, came along fittingly hip hotels, such as the SEKEPING Kong Heng hotel in the city's Old Town.
Other business followed such as the Pattisserie BoutiQue on Jalan Sultan Yussuf, which sells a menu of salads, soups, sandwiches and ice cream; and Plan B, a contemporary restaurant with a high ceiling, giant windows and tile floors.
"Cafes continue to open in the town's colonnaded shophouses, tucked between established businesses like silk shops, watch repairers and travel agents," NYT said.
It also listed a host of eclectic boutique hotels designed for the Instagram era.
Ipoh's awakening lured not only youngsters from Kuala Lumpur over for a weekend of cafe-hopping but young Ipohites who had left town for a more lucrative and vibrant life in the city.
"A few years ago, most youngsters here moved to other countries, but now people are coming back because they like the food, the environment, the slower lifestyle," co-owner of cafe Tea Coffee Game Chung Kok Heung was quoted saying.
Chef Sam Lau, who had left Ipoh in his early 20s, was one of them.
NYT said he had returned to open his own bread shop, Aritsan Handmade Bread, in his hometown after leaving Ipoh for 16 years.
"Lots of youngsters leave here to come back, they want to share what they learned from overseas and show something new to Ipoh," Lau said.