Temple at Kuala Kangsar

Kuala Kangsar

Kuala Kangsar may have an illustrious royal pedigree and an important colonial past, but we come here to soak up the simple life on the banks of Lake Chenderoh: sleeping in real Malay cottages, eating home-cooked rendang, and listening to stories about traditional kampung living.

As the royal seat of the Perak Sultanate, one of the oldest of the nine Malayan monarchies, the city of Kuala Kangsar (“KK”) has a rather grand heritage. Before all this, KK was an early foothold of the colonial British, who gradually took control from the 1870s, transforming the region into a booming tin-mining and rubber-farming powerhouse. The city still has some rather incongruous relics of this Anglified past, including the rather fancy Malay College – dubbed “Little Eton” by the locals – with its pseudo-Greco-Roman architecture overlooking a rugby field.

Kuala Kangsar is worth a wander for its royal and colonial heritage, but the main reason we love it isn’t the city itself, but the fantastic SukaSuka Lake Retreat on the banks of Lake Chenderoh. Here, you can stay in real, Malay-style chalets dating back to the 1940s, which the lodge’s husband-and-wife team have transported here from different villages all over Perak. Built from meranti and chengal wood, these chalets are your chance to experience life the traditional way – with a few added extras (hot showers and Western-style beds!) to ensure it's not too “authentic” to be comfortable.

The best part of it all is getting to hang out with the owners, Aziz and Asiah, who are all about helping guests experience the simple pleasures of kampung life. They’ll cook you delicious pineapple curry and lemongrass fried fish, teach you how to play traditional Malay games, help you catch peacock bass from the lake, and perhaps even take you on a kayaking expedition to some nearby caves.

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