On the way to Penang, you may have passed a big rest stop on the highway with the name of this Perak town on it – but have you tried stopping in Taiping before?
Like many small towns in Perak, Taiping was once a mining town. But once it ceased operations, it was overshadowed by bigger, more touristy cities like Ipoh and George Town in Penang. In fact, few people know that this town actually earned the title of the third most sustainable city in the world, according to the 2019 Top 100 Sustainable Destinations Awards.
Such a shame; Taiping has an abundance of natural resources – scenic mountains, century-old trees overlooking a great lake, and hilly terrain perfect for recreational activities. Join us on a virtual travel adventure that might give you an idea to check out on your next trip to the North.
what to do
Stroll through the lakeside gardens
Lake Gardens is perhaps Taiping’s most iconic attraction. It was formerly a mining area and was converted into a man-made lake and public garden during the British colonial period in 1880. The gardens have been well thought out and are now thriving and are now home to extremely old trees and tropical plants. The gardens are so beautiful that most of the locals enjoy spending time here and many photo shoots and advertisements take place here.
To Bukit Larut
Bukit Larut, also known as Maxwell Hill, is a popular leisure spot in Taiping. At 1,250 meters above sea level, it’s a cool escape from the tropical heat, especially since early morning temperatures can drop as low as 10 degrees Celsius.
You can choose to hike up the mountain – it takes about three hours. Previously, 4×4 jeeps were rented up the mountain, but the service was temporarily suspended due to landslides. Here’s some geography: Bukit Larut is the wettest place in the country – it receives the most rainfall in all of Malaysia.
Walk the Taiping Heritage Trail
This self-guided heritage trail is long, so wear your most comfortable shoes—or you can simply split it up into several smaller hikes. Information on this heritage trail can be found at the tourist information office inside the Taiping Clock Tower, and throughout the tour you will find information boards explaining more about the history of a particular monument or building.
This small town walking tour will take you to more than 40 historical attractions, including the Taiping Market, the Anglo-Indian style Old Beijing Hotel, the historic King Edward VII School, and more. This is the best way to fall in love with Taiping.
Soak your ailments at Trong Hot Springs
Taking a dip in a hot spring might seem counterintuitive given our already hot weather, but you’d be surprised how enjoyable it actually is. There are five mineral-rich pools to choose from, and the spa also has lounge and hydrotherapy facilities as well as proper changing rooms.
Catch fireflies in Kampung Dew
Escape the bright lights of the city and see the natural lighting of Kampung Dew. Of course, we’re talking about fireflies. The river and mangrove area are home to glowworms, and you can rent a boat to the river at sunset to watch their magical glow. It takes 15 minutes to get to the glow worm colony, but once there, you can soak up the beauty of it all. Don’t forget your mosquito net. Locals will tell you that there’s a famous crab noodle stall nearby that’s worth a visit—and then again when you’re hungry after your meal.
where to live
There aren’t many luxury hotels in Taiping, but there are a few solid options that won’t disappoint during your stay in town. Novotel Taiping Is one of a kind, ideally located in the heart of the main town area with mountain views.Another one worth checking out is Grand Baron Hotel It’s close to Bukit Larut in case most of your activities are concentrated in that location. This is a good hotel for those who like to stay away from the main town areas for fear of noise.Finally, for something suitable for a wider group of travelers, try Hermitage Boutique. It has bigger rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and ample parking space for those who drive. Its location is not too bad, close to Taiping Zoo, Lakeside Park and other attractions.
what to eat
As with any other place in Malaysia, you’ll never go hungry or finish eating delicious local food. Not only is there no shortage in Taiping, but there are so many foods to try that you run the risk of not being able to try them all.The first place you need to go is Laru Madang Food Court, which has more than 120 local food stalls. There are two sections: halal and non-halal, so there is a wide variety of local delicacies to try. Most people, locals and tourists, come here for breakfast and lunch, so expect crowds.
If you’re on a national nasi lemak pilgrimage, you can’t miss it muhiba shop, a popular nasi lemak stall. You can customize your nasi lemak according to your own ideas and preferences, from dishes such as fried chicken, beef and seafood to your favorite toppings. Come early as it tends to sell out early.
Another restaurant you should add to your list is Yue Xin Restauranta traditional coffee shop style restaurant (with round marble tables and mosaic floors) featuring Hainanese chicken chops. For the uninitiated, it’s a local dish of crispy chicken thighs with peas, tomatoes and potato wedges, finished with a brown sauce.
For dessert, a chilled bowl of cendol (shaved ice topped with coconut milk, green rice flour jelly, palm syrup and red kidney beans) would be a hit on a sunny day. People would recommend two iconic stalls in Taiping: bismila cendo and Ansari Famous Cendol. The two stalls are very close together, so if you can bear it, try both and see which is better.
(Featured and hero image source: Flickr/ Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi)