Gua Tempurung Limestone Caverns in Perak

Gua Tempurung translates as “Shell Grotto” in Malay. Indeed, the composition of the limestone cavern walls includes remnants of sea shells. Additionally, Gua Tempurung is located about 24 kilometers from Ipoh, Malaysia and it is only a short drive from the city center.

Gua Tempurung is the main attraction for visitors to Ipoh, Malaysia. Additionally, Ipoh is located in Perak State. It is the 3rd largest city in Malaysia and there is lots to see and do in the area. This would include other caverns in the local karst formation such as Kek Lok Tong and Perak Tong.

Gua Tempurung Entrance
Photo of the entrance into the limestone caverns at Gua Tempurung. The entrance is awe inspiring and the cavern is very big in the first section.

Geological Origin of Limestone Caverns

Limestone caverns such as Gua Tempurung originate from the ocean floor. Indeed, limestone is created when seashells are subjected to intense metamorphic processes such as heat and intense pressure. Additionally, limestone subjected to additional metamorphic processes results in the creation of marble. As a result, marble formations also exist inside the local caverns.

This indicates that the limestone and marble formations are millions of years old. However, human discovery of the caverns is relatively recent. Evidence of sentient life that was discovered at Gua Tempurung is only about 10 thousand years old, dated from 8000 BCE.

Creation of Limestone Caverns

When exposed to regular flows of water, limestone is very malleable in geologic terms. This means that the water will wash away the calcium which is the base material of limestone. The result is the formation of magnificent stalactites and stalagmites. This phenomenon is also evident in famous international locations such as The Burren and Halong Bay.

These limestone formations inside the cave at Gua Tempurung are magnificent. As a result, some of them have taken on shapes of humans and monsters. It is really quite dramatic!

Stalagmite monster
This stalagmite monster we encountered at the entrance of the cavern seems like it is about to devour my friend.

FYI – Stalactites form from water dripping from the top of the cave and therefore grow from the ceiling. The water drops leave behind calcium deposits which accumulate over thousands of years.

Furthermore, stalagmites form from the bottom of the cave where the water drops land. To put things into geologic perspective, these formations take about 1000 years to grow 10 centimeters!

stalactite formation
The stalactite formations which descend from the ceiling are pretty amazing and took many thousands of years to form.
stalagmite formation Gua Tempurung
The stalagmite pillars are reaching up towards the ceiling of the cavern.

Gua Tempurung Tour Options:

  1. Golden Flowstone Tour – 40 minutes
  2. Top of the World Tour – 1.75 hours
  3. Top of the World and Short River Adventure – 2.5 hours
  4. Gua Tempurung Grand Tour – 3.5 hours

We were in for a nice surprise because they actually let us do the “Top of the World Tour” self guided. This was unexpected because their website indicates the guide service is compulsory. It was a nice surprise because this would have been our preference.

Another nice surprise worth mentioning is the “wind tunnel” cave at platform 4. As a result, we were able to cool off before climbing to the top of the world because there was a nice cool breeze blowing through the cave!

For the top of the world tour you will pass through 5 platforms. However, the cavern pathways are lit very well and easy to follow. Additionally, there are handrails so everything is fairly simple and very safe. The distance to platform 5 is about 1.9 kilometers from the entrance and there are 640 steps. It was mildly strenuous and certainly nothing to be concerned about.

Gua Tempurung Platform 5 “Top of the World”

The top of the world platform is the final platform that is also the ultimate top of the cave. Previously, we had passed through 5 enormous domes shaped like coconut shells. This was the last one. Also, this was the turn around point for our tour option.

However, if we were to continue, there was a long dark stairway descending into the bottom of the cave. This is where the tour option 3 and 4 would descend 1.6 kilometers to the river that runs through the base of the cave.

Top of the world Gua Tempurung
View from Platform 5 “Top of the World” looking back towards the passage way that we had just emerged from.
Gua Tempurung "Top of the World"

Gua Tempurung Entrance Fee

Non Malaysian adults must pay the full price of entry which is 30 ringgit! However, the website says 9 ringgit. This is because the website refers to visitors in possession of a Malaysian MyKad ID. If so, you get in for that price. Unfortunately, my Malaysian driver’s license does not substitute for a MyKad!

Helpful resource:

  • http://www.ipoh-city.com/attraction/Gua_Tempurung/