Taiping, reputed as one of the wettest towns in Peninsular Malaysia literally means ‘great peace’. With an average rainfall of 4,000 mm, visitors and tourists can find a large collection of beautiful flora and rain trees in the panoramic Taiping Lake Gardens. This second largest town in Perak after Ipoh has an estimated population of about 200,000.
Facts about Taiping
- Currency: MYR (Malaysian Ringgit)
- Dialling code: In Taiping, you will need to use the +6015 prefix if you are calling fixed line numbers and the standard mobile number prefixes are applicable.
- Airport: Taiping has its own airport but its not operational for large airplanes. As such, the nearest way to fly in would be through the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Ipoh.
- Airport Tax: applies for both domestic and international flights
- Distance from airport to city centre: To get to Taiping from the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, you can charter a taxi which will take about 1 to 1 and a half hours
- Temperature: Taiping has one of the coolest temperatures in Malaysia, recording to between 23 and 33 degrees Celsius
- Climate and Weather: Tropical with high humidity
- Common languages: Bahasa Malaysia, English Language, Chinese and Tamil
Coming in to Taiping from Ipoh airport will cost you from RM100 per trip. Within Taiping, getting around is quite easy with a taxi or public bus. However, bus services can be quite erratic. Uber and Grab services are available around Taiping.
Highlights of Taiping
For a small town like Taiping, it has a lot of places to visit which can be a thrill for history seekers. This include:
- Bukit Larut – Formerly (and still is) known as Maxwell Hill, this is a small hill which is a common favourite among visitors to Taiping as well as the locals.
- Lake Gardens – a great picturesque place of nature popular for those who like to indulge in the beauty of the town.
- Taiping Zoo – not many people know this but it is the first zoo in Malaysia which comes with its own Night Safari too.
- Museum Perak – This is the oldest museum to open in West Malaysia. Yet another first for Taiping
- Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve – If you like nature, then the reserve is a great place to visit
- The All Saint’s Church – This is the first English Church to be built in Malaysia. It is a National Heritage Site which is known to still use the pipe organ. The architecture and design here is among the grandest you will see in churches around Malaysia.
- Bukit Merah Laketown Resort – If you are bringing the young ones, head out to this water resort for some good times in the waters
- Perak Prison – You might not be going into this place but it is Malaysia’s oldest prison sometimes known as the Taiping Gaol.
Foods around Taiping
One of the highlights of Taiping is that it has very nice food which have been passed down for generations. Among those that you should try here include:
- Popiah – one of the popular ones here located at Prima Coffee Shop
- Char Keuy Teow – Might not be what Taiping is known for but definitely one of the best in Yew Lee Coffee Shop
- Ais Kacang
- Yong Tau Foo – look for this near the fire engine
Former state capital of Perak
Taiping was once the state capital between 1870s and 1930s but was later replaced by Ipoh. The town started development in 19th century following the discovery of tin-mining area. Large number of Chinese immigrants flocked to Taiping and fought for control over mines. Later on, British officials were forced to intervene to settle the feuds between Chinese immigrants.
Getting to Taiping from Kuala Lumpur
Travelers can get in to Taiping via train or buses. KTM offers daily services along north-south line that stops right at Taiping station. There are also plenty of buses traveling from other parts of country mainly from Kuala Lumpur directly to Taiping. Those who are driving can get to Taiping via PLUS North-South Expressway. Once you reach Taiping, just spend some time and travel on foot to explore this little gem.
Possible to hire a taxi too
However, if you intend to travel further away from Taiping to a number of places of interest, it is best to hire a cab or take a long-distance bus. Strolling around town can be a pleasant and wonderful experience for it is relatively safe here. Check out some old buildings with unique stucco facades built with wooden shutters.
Food recipes since Japanese occupation
As you travel on foot around town, you’ll discover plenty of delicious and delectable local delicacies. Well, since Taiping is famed for cheap yet scrumptious hawker food, you have to:
- Try the thick and doughy Roti Canai at Bismillah Restaurant
- spicy-sour laksa available at food court beside the Lake Gardens
- fulfilling popiah
- Wan Tan Mee
- spicy Curry Mee
- refreshing Cendol
- Mee Rebus
- Claypot Chicken Rice
- Nasi Lemak
- Yong Tau Foo
- and Satay.
Can’t get enough of local delights? Then buy the famous local traditional delicacy, the crispy Hiong Piah as gift for family and friends.
Taiping is famous for its beautiful garden landscape
Your trip to Taiping is not complete without spending some quality time at the captivating Taiping Lake Gardens. Located somewhere near Bukit Larut, this beautiful lake gardens was once a mining site and later developed into a garden in 1880.
The garden is divided into several man-made lakes and ponds namely Alamanda Pond, Island Pond, Oblong Pond, Pavilion Pond, Jungle Lake, South Lake, Swan Lake and West Lake. Remember to head over to Maxwell Hill (commonly known as Bukit Larut). This is a quiet hill station perfect for travelers who would like to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life as accommodation is available here.
Another must visit attraction in Taiping is the Zoo and Night Safari. This very first zoo built in the country is often packed with day-trippers especially during the weekend. Last but not least, Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve is highly recommended for nature lovers as you’ll get to see a large collection of flora and fauna in this forty acres of undisturbed forest reserve.
Traveling around Taiping on foot
Have you travelled on foot? If you haven’t done so, then perhaps you should travel around Taiping on foot to experience the warmth of the local folks and explore in style to see the old colonial buildings. Even though Taiping is a relatively small town, some of the first few buildings you’ll see are the Central Police Station and Taiping Government Offices.
The historical Central Police Station was the state’s first government establishment back in 1879. Before Perak police headquarters moved from Taiping to Ipoh, this building used to house officers and inspector. The construction of this Central Police Station was completed in phases. The Inspector’s quarters and officers’ barrack were only completed in 1890. Those timber buildings survived in harsh conditions for decades.
Sightseers and culture seekers who are looking for more impressive historical buildings should head over to Taiping town where a cluster of remarkable architecture awaits you. In an effort to attract more visitors to this small town, local authority initiated a project to have the buildings restored. Basically, most of the historical buildings were refurbished and improved inside and out. On top of that, local authority also implemented a constructive system to tackle traffic congestion in this rather small town.
Historical sites in Taiping
The Victorian-styled buildings were built specifically for the government. Officiated in 1898, the outstanding architecture no longer houses government office. Instead, it is used as offices for State Secretariat, Treasury, Audit, Education and Forest Departments. Ideally located along Jalan Taming Sari, other historic sites here are such as Taiping Museum and the Taiping Land Office.
Any trip to Taiping is not complete without stopping by at the picturesque Lake Garden. The wonders of natural lake built on old mining site will take your breath away! The old mining pool here has turned into a key attraction – lake. The abundance of blooming flowers and plants with sound of birds chirping and shady trees in the garden is the perfect spot for picnicking.
The captivating park is usually crowded during the weekend with day trippers and local folks. Spread over 64 hectares of land, this well-maintained garden has a beautiful lake, a clean recreational lake and a stunning Japanese garden. Reputed as the green lung of Taiping, if you are looking for a perfect spot to relax and unwind during the weekend, look no further because this lake garden is the right place for you.
Bukit larut or formerly known as Maxwell Hill
Maxwell Hill, also known as Bukit Larut is situated in around Taiping at the northern state of Perak. The hill resort is the oldest found in Malaysia, founded in 1884, is located 1250 meters above sea level. As Maxwell Hill is located in the wettest town of the country, Taiping, it receives the highest rainfall in Malaysia. Named after a British Assistant Resident William Edward Maxwell, it houses some very serene English gardens and bungalows.
Beautifully located about three kilometres away from the town, this is the country’s smallest and oldest hill resort. Because the road up the hill is challenging as it twists through the dense tropical forest, visitors are required to seek the four-wheel drive service to get to the top.
You’ll feel welcome and blissful calm once you reach the top as the soothing sound of birds chirping and fresh air greet you. Weekend trippers who seek to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life should spend the night here as the breathtaking views of straits of Malacca and Pangkor Island will take your mind off what is bothering you.
Not commercialized like Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands
As compared to other more developed highland resorts, Maxwell Hill is not as commercialized and visited and hence still maintain its atmospheric cool impressions. To get to Maxwell Hill, one would have to take a jeep to the peak. Private vehicles are not allowed to enter the hill, therefore one would have to use the only transport mode. Upon reaching the top, the long twisted road will venture through some virgin jungle and cool air. The view at the top are always breathtaking including a possible view over Pangkor Island and Penang on certain clear days.