Taiping is a town in Perak state, Malaysia.
The name Taiping is made up of two Chinese characters 太 (tai - 'great') and 平 (ping - 'peace'). The discovery of tin deposits in the area in the 19th century attracted settlers from China, who were organised into two feuding groups around the Cantonese Ghee Hin(義興) society and the Hakka Hai San (海山) society. British intervention in the early 1870's put an end to the feuding and the town, which used to be known as Klian Pauh, acquired its present name. The British made Taiping the administrative centre for the state of Perak in 1875. The town served this function until 1937 when the state capital was moved to Ipoh.
The town sits on a coastal plain at the foothills of the Bintang Range. This topography is responsible for the copious rainfall for which the town is known. An umbrella is not needed though as most of the time; it is just a drizzle. Locals do not wonder whether it will rain on a particular day; they wonder what time it will rain.
Taiping Airport (IATA: TPG, ICAO: WMBI consists of a dilapidated wooden terminal building dating back to 1929, and a short runway only capable of handling small turboprops. There are no scheduled flights into Taiping, so flying in is only an option if you have your own aircraft.
The nearest airport served by commercial flights in at Ipoh, about an hour's drive away, whose sole commercial fights are twice daily flights from Singapore. Penang is slightly further, about one and a half hour's drive away, but is served by more destinations, with domestic flights from most of the major cities in Malaysia as well as international flights from regional destinations. Alternatively, you can head to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which is about four hour's drive away, but is one of the major air hubs in Southeast Asia.
Taiping is easily accessible from the PLUS North-South Expressway. From Penang (90 km) Kamunting is the nearest exit, whilst Changkat Jering is the most convenient exit from the motorway if you are travelling north from Ipoh (70 km).
Taiping is well connected to the rest of Peninsular Malaysia by express buses, which arrive at and depart from the long distance bus station at Kamunting (6 km from the town centre) as well as Simpang (7km from the town centre). Buses also travel direct from Taiping to Singapore and Hat Yai.
Southbound buses usually depart from Kamunting and call along Simpang (Medan Simpang) to pick up a few more passengers from Simpang before heading to the highway via Changkat Jering interchange. Bus tickets are available from counters located at Medan Kamunting and Medan Simpang.
You can drive from Kamunting direct to Selama town about 40 minutes through Jalan Pondok Tanjung.
Keretapi Tanah Melayu (formerly known as Malayan Railway) operates a number of daily services along the main north-south line which stops at Taiping station. The train departs Butterworth at 8:10 AM. The train station is a stone's throw from the bus station. One service, the Ekspres Langkawi, connects Taiping with Hat Yai.
The compact town center is easily explored on foot. For trips further afield (e.g. to Maxwell Hill, the long-distance bus station at Kamunting, the Matang Mangrove Reserve), taxis are available for hire. Stage buses fan out in all directions serving the suburbs and the rural hinterland.
Bicycle is a good option to explore Taiping. Most hotel and Zoo Taiping have bicycle renting facilities.
Walking time from the town's main entrance to the zoo is 17 minutes, to Maxwell Hill and Coronation Pools 30 minutes but 25 minutes once you know the short cut through Lake Gardens.
- Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) - a quiet hill station with an altitude of 1036-1250 m. Access is along a narrow single-track paved road on a fleet of dilapidated four-wheel drives run by the municipality (RM 6 round trip) Accommodation is available in a couple of resthouses and a small number of bungalows(RM 50-RM 150).
- Taiping Lake Gardens - public gardens created out of abandoned surface tin mines. A series of interconnected ponds surrounded by flower beds, lawns, flowering shrubs and trees and playgrounds. Famous for a stretch of road lined by century-old rain trees (Samanea saman) whose branches arch down to the water's edge. Zoo Taiping is located here.
- Taiping Zoo and Night Safari Taiping firstname.lastname@example.org  - the first zoo to be established in Malaysia. Packed at weekends with day-trippers from out of town.
- Daytime zoo: adults RM12, child (3 to 12 years) RM8, discounts available for school groups, senior citizens (55+), tourist groups (20+ pax); open 08:30-18:00, feeding times 10am and noon.
- Night safari: adults RM20, child (3 to 12 years) RM10, discounts available for senior citizens (60+) and tourist groups (20+ pax); open 20:00-23:00 on weekday including public holidays, 20:00-24:00 on Saturdays and eve of public holidays.
- Museum Perak - This museum is the oldest museum in Peninsular Malaysia. Entry RM5 for foreigners.
- First Galleria Taiping - is a private museum dedicated to showcase the many firsts throughout the history of Taiping. Housed in a restored former government office building from 1891, it is minutes away from several of the some 30 colonial public buildings in Taiping.It showcasing Taiping historical firsts in many areas of civic life, achieving a succession of "firsts" -- first police force, railway, turf club, Anglican Church -- in then Malaya. The number of firsts varies, but 33 seems to be widely accepted. Admission fee.
- Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve - A short tour around a forest of mangrove trees. On the way from Taiping town area to Kuala Sepetang, look for it on the right hand side on the long stretch of straight road.
- Charcoal Kilns at Kuala Sepatang - See how charcoal is made in the kilns. You can buy pretty blocks of the charcoal in a little shop in Kuala Sepatang.
- Fireflies River at Kuala Sepatang
- Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary
- Coronation Pools next to Maxwell Hill parking lot. Clean river water from water catchment is piped through this olympic sized pool. No chlorination. No salt. Admission 2R
- Kuala Sepatang 20 minute bus ride from Taiping. Eat lunch at one of the many seafood restaurants along the river. Opening time after 11 AM. Major cockle harvesting area. Walk through any one of the several buildings to the wooden riverfront. Watch the unloading and cleaning method. Watch eagles hunt on the river. Eat street food at one of the local stalls.
A stroll through the town can be a pleasant experience. You are mostly protected from the elements by the arcades on both sides of the road, a typical architectural feature in most Southeast Asian towns. Some of the older buildings have retained their stucco façades with picturesque wooden shutters. Sticking out incongruously amongst these traditional two-storey brick and plaster buildings are more modern buildings, some of them rising four or five storeys.
Enjoy snacks and street food as you wander around town. There are many food stalls set up where you least expect them. Recently more modern cafes have been opened as well and you can retreat to the air conditioned indoors for a while.
The bluish-green hills of the Bintang Range, their summits often shrouded in cloud, are visible everywhere from the town when you look east. As you stroll in that direction, the urban landscape quickly gives way to the refreshing view of the Lake Gardens, with the hills still dominating the background.
Spend time walking through the Lake Gardens and not just around it. It is a great place for relaxing and photography. As you walk on the paths and bridges in the Gardens, more beautiful scenery will unfold. Beware of wild monkeys though, they may try to rob you of any food you're holding. If you're exceptionally lucky, you may see an escaped bird or animal from the zoo. Animals that had escaped (and were recaptured) from the Taiping Zoo include a hippo and a peacock.
A good time to enjoy the Lake Gardens is early in the morning and in the evening, when the sun is more forgiving and locals hang out, exercise or bring their kids to play there. There are boats for rent at one of the lakes. You may rent one and paddle around the lake on your own. Sightings of geckos swimming in the lake are not unusual, but they are not dangerous and do not bother you.
You can buy local fresh fruit.
Hiong Piah - a local traditional delicacy not to be missed.
Taiping is famous for its cheap delicious hawker spreads. Notable among them are:
- Roti Canai - Available in many Indian or Mamak shops and stalls, e.g Bismillah Restaurant, Hawker's Center, A Rahman
- Nasi Briani ex Kantin Polis - in front of the post office
- Laksa - at the Food Court beside the Lake Gardens, Pokok Assam, Kuala Sepetang
- Ice Cream - Food stalls Belakang Bomba
- Popiah - Tai Chien, Prima Coffee Shop
- Wan Tan Mee - Hawker's Centre Stall No36, Larut Matang Food Court, Prima Coffee Shop, Tong Ah Coffee Shop (next to the wet market)
- Char Keuy Teow - Hawker's center, Yew Lee Coffee Shop
- Tim Sum - Kum Loong Restaurant (Jalan Kota - few lots away from Panorama Hotel) and Kong Meng (behind Panorama Hotel)
- Curry Mee - Kuala Sepetang, Prima Coffee Shop
- Cendol - Bismillah Cendol behind Bismillah Restaurant, Ansari Cendol
- Ais Kacang - Larut Matang Food Court, Kuala Sepetang
- Combat Mee Goreng - Larut Matang Food Court
- Mee Jawa - Pokok Assam stall opposite 7-11, opens at night
- Mee Rebus - Pokok Assam stall next to wet market, Larut Matang Food Court
- Satay - Kwan Sheong kopitiam at night, stall near Pokok Assam market
- Nasi Lemak
- Yong Tau Foo - near Fire Station also known as Belakang Bomba
- Peanut soup - larut matang food court
The best reference point for most of the eating places is the Panorama Hotel/The Store shopping centre. The wet market is beside the hotel with the Larut Matang Food Court located behind the wet market. Tong Ah Coffee Shop (with its Wantan Mee) is located beside the wet market. Prima Coffee Shop (there are 2 Primas which face each other - you decide which one you prefer) and Kum Loong Restaurant (Tim Sum) is located a short stroll along Jalan Kota (the road fronting the hotel and the wet market) from the hotel.
- Nyonya Kuih, Larut Matang Food Court. edit
- Taman Tasik Food Court, Corner of Jalan Maharajalela and Jalan Taman Tasik (West side of the lake near where the paddle boats can be hired). 24 hours. This is a very large food court with many vendors with great views of the lake (if you stand up). Signs around indicate everything from laksa, chicken and rice, noodles, western and Thai choices. Large beer cost RM11. Later in the evening the place fills up and sports is played on the large projection screen and several TVs. Great atmosphere for some food and drink. edit
- Loong Kee Bak Kut Teh - a pork ribs based stew served with rice that is famous in Klang but in a thicker taste here.
- The Gate Cafe - Halal local and Western food opposite Hawker's center.
- Mansion 5 - Pub and Western food.
- STG Cafe - Located in the recently built Spritzer Ecopark. Western food and tea from Sabah plantation.
- The Mask - Pub and Western food.
- Double Tap - Cafe with a small menu near OCBC bank.
- MJ - Good menu for Western food. Opposite Prima coffee shop.
- Mountain ice drink ( like ais kacang ) at Larut Matang Food Court
Accommodation is available in a large number of hotels, including:
- Sojourn Beds & Cafe, 54 Jalan Kota, 34000 Taiping, Perak, ☎ +6012 4643443, . Very clean hostel and beds, airconditioning, hot showers, breakfast included, great location in the centre of town, very wonderful staff who go out of their way to help you and have good tips for food, great atmosphere as well. Dorms for MYR 35, doubles also available. edit
- Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, Jalan Bukit Merah, 34400 Semanggol, Perak Darul Ridzuan, ☎ 605 890 8888, . 976 rooms, all equipped with Air-conditioning, Television and Phone. Facilities and services are Water Park, Eco Park and Water pedal boats. From MYR 140.00. edit
- Flemington Hotel - The hotel nestled in the valley & offer breathtaking views of the Lake Garden.The hotel 116 well furnished rooms and suite are tailored to the need of both business and leisure guests.  N 4°50' 52" E 100°45' 01"
- Hotel Meridian - rates start from RM68
- Hotel Seri Malaysia - a little far away from town area but very near to Lake Gardens
- Hotel Furuma Well located near Lake Gardens. Clean. Rates start at RM 80
- New Champagne Hotel - 17, Jalan Lim Swee Aun, tel+fax: 05-806 5060 email@example.com  - rates start at RM70, which gets you an air-con room with double bed, very small TV (cable/movie channels but no remote) and private bathroom (hot shower, cold sink, western toilet). No minibar, no lift. Reasonable value, clean albeit not spotless.
- Panorama Hotel, No. 61-79, Jalan Kota, ☎ (605) 808 4111, . Panorama Hotel is in the center of Taiping. The hotel has 80 rooms was wall to wall carpeting and central air-conditioning. The hotel restaurant has good food as well. rate starts at RM 78.20 Nett. edit
- Taiping Golf Resort, Jalan Bukit Jana, PO Box 4, 34600 Kamunting, ☎ 6 05 883 6700 / 8812 / 8815, . 185 fully furnished units, all equipped with Hot & Cold shower, Air-conditioning and Cable television. Facilities and services are Golf lessons, Outdoor swimming pool and Tennis courts. From MYR 120.00. edit
- SSL Traders Hotel, No.43, Jalan Medan Perwira Satu, Medan Perwira, 34600 Kamunting, ☎ 05-808 0000, . SSL Traders Hotel is a boutique hotel with 118 uniquely decorated modern rooms. RM120.00-RM170.00. edit
- West Inn Taiping, 21, Jalan Kamunting, 34600 Kamunting, Perak, Malaysia., ☎ +6058066888, . One of the latest boutique accommodation in Taiping, West Inn is conveniently located 300m to Tesco and Taiping Sentral. With only 18 well furnished suites, unmatched facilities and services at West Inn are also worth mentioning. From RM48. (4.868777,100.728536) edit
- Tune Hotel, No. 67, Taiping Centre Point,Susur Larut, 34000 Taiping, Perak., ☎ 05-8066 333, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Located opposite Tesco and Taiping Sentral. PappaRich, Domino's Pizza, and Red Gym & Fitness Centre are within the hotel complex. edit
- Vistana Micassa, No.18 & 20,Jalan Taming Sari,34000 Taiping, Perak., ☎ +605-809 1188, . Located opposite of The Larut Matang District office is located at the northern end of the town. Artistically 44 latest modern designed room varies from standard, deluxe, superior, family to executive. From RM93. edit
Cheaper alternatives are available in traditional Chinese-run hotels in the town centre.
- Ipoh, the state capital, known for good Malaysian food.
- Pangkor, known for its quiet beaches.
- Bukit Merah, which houses a theme park and the only Orang Utan Island in the country.
- Penang, a food paradise. Also colored with rich history and many beaches.