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  • Rick

Three Concubine Lanes of Ipoh Old Town

Updated: Sep 6, 2020

Concubine Lane

In 2015, Ipoh Old Town was such a quiet town that travellers would call it a laid-back town with cafes, traditional coffees and food and flourishing street arts. Not much was heard of the three Concubine Lanes. In July 2016, Lonely Planet listed Ipoh as one of the best Asian destinations to visit. Photos of the Concubine Lanes started appearing in news articles. The lanes were opened.

Before going on the last trip to Ipoh, I read about the Concubine Lanes from blogs and thought how Ipoh must have undergone a drastic change in about a year to become the next Armenian Street in Georgetown, Penang. Have the old charm of Ipoh Old Town became a thing of the past? Is it as touristy as Malacca and Georgetown now? I need to see for myself.

While in Ipoh, I was relieved to see that the charming old town was still pretty much intact. Yes, there were changes but on smaller scales — these are ongoing efforts to preserve the old town and to revive its old-day charms to attract visitors. Is it "touristy"? Not really, old towns require people to stay lively. So long as the developments are reasonable and relevant, it is healthy for preserving the old town and encouraging tourism.

I explored the 3 Concubine Lanes during my 3 days in Ipoh.

Why "Concubine" Lanes?

According to a signboard along Concubine Lane, after a fire destroyed the old town in 1892, the town was rebuilt with lanes of shops. A mining tycoon, Yao Tet Shin, gave three lanes to his three wives as gifts. Each of his wives would collect rents from the shops in her own