Taiping - City of everlasting peace
In Perak, Taiping is probably my favorite city. Taiping was founded in the middle of the 19th century. At the time Taiping had a blossoming tin industry. When in 1885 the railway between the fast growing city and Port Weld was finished, Taiping became much more assessable . It was the first railway in the Malaysian peninsula.
However, by the end of the 19th century the administrative center of Perak slowly moved up to Ipoh. Taiping's' importance was briefly resumed during the Japanese occupation. It became then the headquarter of the Japanese military administration of Malacca and Sumatra. During those day, many schools were turned into army bases.
Nowadays Taiping is a relaxed town with a few though very nice tourist attractions:
Taiping is worth to spend a few days and explore the town and surrounding:
The Taiping Zoo is the only zoo in north Malaysia. It is a well set up zoo with most animals living in an environment as natural as possible.
The magnificent Lake Gardens are the place to be in early morning when people practice tai chi, have a morning walk/jog or simple come back in the later afternoon to enjoy a cool and pleasant stay.
Behind the Taiping zoo, there's a nice afternoon piece of jungle to explore. You can do a river trekking from behind the zoo to the famous Burmese Pool, a popular picnic place for locals and a good swim. More about the river trekking here.
Maxwell Hill or Bukit Larut was founded in the 1880's by the then William Edward Maxwell, the Assistant Resident of Perak. Legend goes ghosts and wandering spirits wander around. It's a great place to spend a day in the coolness of the Taiping hills
Charcoal Factory, Mangrove Forest and River Cruise Kuala Sepetang
Kuala Sepetang is 15 km west of Taiping city center. You will need your own transport to go here. It's worth the effort. Visit Mr. Chuah's Charcoal Factory, have a lunch in the town center and take a boat to explore the mangrove forest. You can ask in the restaurants if fishermen have a boat available or go to the forestry, just before you arrive in Kuala Sepetang on the right side for a 2 hour boat ride.
The over 100 years old Perak Museum is located near the Lake Gardens and opposite of the Taiping Prison. The building started already in 1883 but it took 20 years before it was finished.
It is a reasonable small museum with 4 main halls. The halls contain artefacts about wild life and plants in Perak, pre-historic finds of the region, economy and ethnology.
The museum is still completely intact with the exception of the herbariums section has changed over the years.
You can visit the museum everyday from 9.30-12.00 hr and from 14.30-17.00 hr except on Fridays when the museum in the afternoon opens at 14.45 until 17.00hr. Free entrance.
Accommodation and food in Taiping
There are several good hotels in Taiping. Cheapest of them all is the old traders Peking Hotel with very basic (and run down) rooms for about RM 40. A much better option is the Legend Inn in Taiping, which is conveniently located in the city center. The similar price Panorama Hotel is also a good value (although the rooms have little Panorama). Both hotels accept your bicycle in the room. Both hotels have rooms for RM95 and up.
My favorite meal in Taiping: ho kien mee (prawn mee) with a glass of
ambra at a food court next to the Lake Gardens
Food is plentiful in town. Close to the Legend Inn you will find the biggest food court with Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes, all cheap, all excellent. Try kuay tow soup, nasi lemak or mee rebus. Local specialty is cold red bean soup.
In other parts of the city center you will find equal excellent restaurants and food courts.
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Penang to Taiping via Kulim and Selama
Ignored by mainstream tourism, this road is beautiful, quiet hardly longer then using the trunk road. Check out why:
15 km west of Taiping is a Mangrove forest reserve and a charcoal factory. Mr. Chuah lead us around in his family factory in Kuala Sepetang. It was worth both of my visits there
Taiping to Ipoh
Two roads are possible to cycle from Taiping to Ipoh, one is the #1 going to Kuala Kangsar and north out to Ipoh, the other leads through Bruas.
A third one goes from Kuala Kangsar south to join the Bruas - Parit road.
55 km on the way from Taiping to Ipoh lies the little town Bruas, once the center of a kingdom, now no more than a drab on the road. But there's 5 km north of town a beautiful spot to visit ...
Ipoh to Teluk Intan
It's a virtually unknown piece of Malaysia that few explore. I find it a beautiful and inspiring ride. Have a look: