Taiping is a charming old tin-mining town in Perak, northern Malaysia. While not known as a popular tourist spot, it is an idyllic place for a leisurely stopover vacation for travelers to northern Malaysia. Behind its unassuming façade, historic gems abound in Taiping including the first railway, the oldest museum, hundred-year-old rain trees, the first zoo, and the oldest prison.
Taiping is also known as the wettest town in Malaysia. Due to Malaysia’s tropical climate, it is summer all year round in Taiping. However, for easier travelling, the months of June to August may be more convenient due to the slightly warmer and drier weather. Light and cool clothing coupled with appropriate rain accessories is an absolute necessity when travelling in Taiping.
Read on to find out about the things you just have to do in Taiping:
1. Taiping Lake Gardens
Originally a tin mining ground, Taiping Lake Gardens was later converted into the first public garden during the British rule in Malaya in 1880. The iconic rain trees are part of the Taiping Lake Gardens. These massive rain trees lining the lake side were planted over a century ago and their huge branches arch dramatically downwards towards the lake, almost touching the waters.
2. Burmese Pool
The Burmese Pool is a large rock pool along a stream at the foothills of Bukit Larut, a popular weekend nature attraction among locals. Nestled within the rainforest, visitors need to go through the Taiping Lake Gardens, and look for the signboard pointing towards the Burmese Pool. A short drive later, you’ll arrive at a car park at the end of the road. You’ll be required to pay a small fee should you need to park your car. The rock pool is spacious, but mostly shallow, and its water streams in gently via a small waterfall.
3. Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve
Covering an area of more than 40,000 hectares, Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve is recognized as one of the most well-managed expanse of mangrove swamps in the world. Established in 1902, it is the largest mangrove reserve in Malaysia, stretching for 50 kilometres from Kuala Gula to Pantai Remis along Perak’s coastline. About 80% of the reserve is used for coal production under sustainable harvest policies, while the remainder is completely protected for biodiversity preservation. The state of Perak has received various international awards for their excellent maintenance of this mangrove. Explore this coastal habitat by walking along the boardwalk into the mangrove swamp and when night falls, take a boat ride down the river for an amazing view of flashing fireflies.
Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve
Address: Kampung Kuala Sepetang, 34650 Kuala Sepetang, Perak, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Contact: +60 16 319 9833
Website: Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve
4. Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut)
Founded in 1884, Maxwell Hill is a charming hill resort with a nice little English garden and colonial-era bungalows. To ascend the hill, you will have to hire a Land Rover, as private vehicles are not allowed. You can also walk up the hill, and you will find many people doing this as a form of exercise. But keep in mind that the trek up the 13 km hill may take up to 5 hours!
Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut)
Address: Pegawai Penjaga Bukit Larut, Perak, 34000 Taiping, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Contact: +605 807 7241
Website: Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut)
5. Taiping Prison
Originally called The Perak Prison and better known as “Taiping Gaol”, this prison was established in 1879 and is the first and oldest modern prison complex in Malaysia. It was also the largest prison complex at the time. The prison still operates to this day as Penjara Taiping. Driving past the imposing yet forbidding walls, it is hard to imagine the inmates’ lives in the past.
6. Taiping Railway Station
Malaysia’s first railway station was situated in Taiping and was opened in 1885 when the Taiping-Port Weld Railway Line opened. The current modern station is the third railway station to be built in Taiping. The old station has been discontinued and conserved into a small haven of cafes. Now, it is an excellent photo spot and place to go on dates!
7. Perak Museum
Founded in 1883, the Perak Museum is the first and oldest museum in Malaysia (1883). To date, the museum has accumulated over 8,000 artifacts, consisting of cultural collections, nature collections, and archaeological items. There is also a guided tour for those who are interested.
The museum still preserves its original colonial architecture, a striking white Moorish building that sits along Jalan Taming Sari, which is just a short walking distance from Lake Garden.
Address: Jalan Taming Sari, Taiping, 34000 Perak
Price: USD 0.45 / RM2 (Free admission for children below 12 years old and children in school uniforms)
Opening Hours: Opens daily from 9.00 am - 6.00 pm. Closed only on Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Aidil Adha.
Duration: around 2 hours required.
Contact: +605 807 2057
Website: Perak Museum
8. Things to eat in Taiping
Lian Thong Restaurant: One of the oldest restaurants in Taiping, Lian Thong Restaurant is a place for nostalgia with its old-style tiles and décor. Do try its specialty — Bomb noodles — which is a bowl of crispy, deep-fried Chinese Ee-Fu noodles.
Fried noodles at Larut Matant Food Court with Taiping’s famous char kuey teow with fish balls. There are four stalls selling this local specialty here, but do try Stall 63’s version — it is sweet and tasty!
Famous Taiping cendol: Try the amazing Ansari Famous Cendol at a small outlet on Jalan Chung Thye Phin, Taiping.
Taiping: a leisurely stopover
Taiping is a small town often considered Malaysia’s top retirement towns, but is often overlooked as a travel destination. However, Taiping’s colonial tin mining history has bestowed it with rich architecture. Now with the modern convenience of the domestic train system, why not make Taiping your next destination while travelling up north?
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