Concubine Lane is the local name for Lorong Panglima (Panglima Alley) which is a narrow passage way in Ipoh’s Old Town area.
The Western Section of Concubine Lane is too narrow for cars to travel down and this part of the street is a very popular destination for tourists.
About Concubine Lane
There are two different explanations of where the name ‘Concubine Lane’ came from. One theory is that the street became known as Concubine Lane because this was the place where rich local business man Yao Tet Shin gave his mistress a house to live in. There is also ‘Wife Street’ in Ipoh which, so the story goes, is so called because this is where Yau Tet Shin gave his first wife a house to live in. The other theory is that Lorong Panglima became known as Concubine Lane because this was where rich local men and the British colonial administrators kept their mistresses. The common theme to both stories is that Concubine Lane is somewhere local men came to get up to things that they would rather their families didn’t know about.
There are no prostitutes or opium dens on Concubine Lane now, or at least none that we saw we visited. What there is are some restaurants, cafes and a lot of colourful shops with things to sell to tourists.
One of the more interesting outlets on the Western section of Concubine Lane is the Meiko Kaiso Shop which has a small museum of vintage items upstairs. It costs 3 MYR to go inside. The museum is well presented with lots of household items on display from the 1950s and 1960s, and the inside building itself has been left in much the same condition as it would have looked at the time.
The Western End of Concubine gets very busy with tourists particularly around midday, when coach loads of mainly Chinese tourists arrive on day trips from Kuala Lumpur. If you want to avoid these crowds try coming earlier in the morning or in the late afternoon before they arrive and after they depart. Ipoh is a pleasant and quiet place in the evening with a lively outdoor food market which opens in the evening on Jalan Yau Tet Shin (a street named after the man who allegedly kept his mistress on Concubine Lane) and we recommend staying the night in Ipoh to make sure you can appreciate the Old Town without the large crowds of visitors being there.
The Eastern section of Concubine Lane, also known as First Concubine Lane, does not have any shops but it does have some of the great murals for which Ipoh is becoming increasingly famous (the one with the man collecting rubbish is at one end of the street and the mural of the family eating curry noodles is at the other end). If you look up you will also see umbrellas hanging over one end of the lane and Chinese lanterns over the other. This is great street art, and for us more interesting than the tourist oriented Western section of Concubine Lane.
Location of Concubine Lane
- Concubine Lane is in the centre of Ipoh Old Town only 600 metres walk away from Ipoh Railway Station.