Taiping - "City of everlasting peace"
A Brief history
The name Taiping comes from the Chinese word Tai-Peng which means eternal peace. The city's history started more or less in the middle of the 19th century when the different warlords fought over the tin-fields in the Larut district of Perak. Chinese merchants had heavily invested in the tin mines and needed peace. So they pressured Raja Abdullah and several warlords to keep peace and accept the Pangkor Treaty 1874
With the newfound peace many miners and shopkeepers came to the new city and within a year the city counted over 5000 inhabitants. With the growing tin industry, a good infra-structure was important. One of the first roads the was build was the Taiping-Kamunting road.
Then followed the assassination of the J.W.W. Birch at Pasir Salak which was followed by the British sending troops to restore order and punish local chiefs (1875).
Many were killed or imprisoned. Soon Perak's administration was moved from lower Perak to Kuala Kangsar, just 30 km away east of the "city of everlasting peace". The result was that several institutions were established in town, including a gaol, hospital, police force and survey office.
The city was mainly a Chinese town. But at one end of the town there were the British officers detached quarters, the military cantonment and the gaol. At the other end was the Indian settlement at Kota.
River trekking behind the zoo, an amazing experience!
The city streets were kept clean by the Taiping Sanitary Board. The reputation as a clean city as a cool town was enhanced by the cool weather and the water from the nearby highlands.
The city's location was strategic because the nearby hills: Gunung Jijau rise up to over 1500 meter and it's only 20 km from the coast.
Around 1885 the railway between the fast growing city and Port Weld was finished. 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.
The importance of the city 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.
Surkarno and Mohammad, the later president and vice-president of the Republic of Indonesia flew to Taping for discussions of independence in which Indonesia and Malaysia would fall under one flag. The plan never got shape and in 1945, Indonesia declared independence without Malaysia.
After the War, Ipoh replaced Taiping as the capital of Perak. The city remained the "City of Everlasting Peace" with it's exceptional climate and tranquil surroundings.
There is a surprisingly cheap with a good range of hotels available.
My favourite hotel however is the Legend Inn, close to the city center bus station, a very comfortable and very decent priced hotel where, if I visit , I usually stay.
Another option is the popular Panorama Hotel in the city center
If the Legend Inn is full (which happens nowadays more often than not, I prefer to stay in the Panorama Hotel. This hotel is similar to the Legend Inn (though no widescreen TV). Still, an excellent deal for the price.
The best hotel is the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort which presents many attractions and facilities such as the Waterpark; friendly and comfortable accommodation; eco-attraction haven; themed-shopping areas as well as banquet and function facilities. To us, this is the best place to stay.
Places to visit
The Taiping Zoo
The zoo is probably the most famous site to visit in town. The zoo is located close to the foot of Larut Hill (Bukit Larut).
The reason why this zoo is such a success is that it is build in a complete natural setting. And for the visitors of Pulau Pangkor who love to spend a day in a zoo, this is your only choice in North Malaysia.
The Zoo is home to more then 180 species, 1300 individuals. These include: tigers, lions, elephants, hornbills and many more. There's also a breeding station which is successful. Even tigers were breeding. An interesting thing to do are the night-safaris.
The Zoo is daily open from 8.30 to 18.30 hr. Feeding time is usually between 10-12 am. The Night Safari is open from 20.00 to 23.00 hr on weekdays and until midnight on weekends and the eve of public holidays.
Taxis in town bring you to the entrance of the Zoo for about a few ringit. Alternatively, it's a 30 to 40 minutes walk through the awesome Lake Gardens. Recommended!
The Lake Gardens dates back to 1880 and it's one of the oldest in its kind in Malaysia. You will find the Gardens in the vicinity of Maxwell Hill or as it is known in Malay, Bukit Larut.
The Zoo is their located too. It offers a beautiful panoramic landscape. If something in in the city explains why it is still called "The town of everlasting peace", the Lake Gardens fully explain.
Bukit Larut or Maxwell Hill
Bukit Larut is a hill resort, a place to escape the heat of the the lower areas. The former name was Maxwell Hill. It was a popular outing destination for groups, families or singles.
On top of there's a waterfall for some great cool fun. A beautiful and peaceful place.
The Perak Museum
The Perak Museum near the Lake Gardens dates back to 1883 but it wasn't finished until 1903. You will find 4 main halls: zoological, herbarium, parts of the pre-history and economy and ethnology artefacts.
Only the herbarium section has changed. The rest is still intact and extended with more items over the years.
The museum is daily open 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. There is no admission.
The town center is quite small so you will be able to cover most of the interesting buildings on foot.
The General Hospital was founded in 1880 as Yeng Wah (Chinese Pauper). Of the original building there are still some left.
The Old Kota Mosque on Mosque Road build in 1897. It was originally a Hanafi Mosque used by the Indian Muslims in Kota. In the later years it was handed over to the Malay Muslim population.
The Taiping Government offices are located at Kota Road in a large Victorian style building. It was build by the end of the 19th Century.
The Peking Hotel was build in 1929. It was formerly a rubbers dealing association. It's now restored in it's former glory.
Some of the buildings are now cultural heritage, like the Kedai kopi dan rumah tumpangan peace above.
The last to mention, since there's so many nice places, is the Taiping Market Square. The Old Market building also belongs to the cultural heritage of the city. It was build in 1884, the New Market came a year later.
I read it is the best preserved example of a 19th Century Market building. If this is true, I can not say, I know it's still a nice place to explore the local market. And next to the market is a big food market. Here you can try all the delicatessens of the Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine under one roof. At any time of the day there's food available and it's probably the most convenient place to eat (as it is also near the bus station).
Taiping has a long Chinese history. Even the name refers to China. Not surprisingly, the city has quite a few Chinese temples.
With its Chinese history, there are plenty of Chinese Temples in the city
The photo above is a scale model of a ship to be found in a temple on the outskirts of Taiping town, hidden in an urban area. The ship has a specific function in Taoism.
Kuala Sepetang is located about 15 km from Taiping and is an excellent day out from the city. The old name for Kuala Sepetang is Port Weld and dates back to 1877. Kuala Sepetang is a little fishing village which is easily overlooked. But the village is worth a visit for a couple of good reasons.
The people in the village have all something to do with the mangrove forest. This area contains one of the largest mangrove forests in Malaysia. It's also partly a nature reserve and for that reason alone worth a visit.
Cockle fishing in Kuala Sepetang
The entrance of the park can be found just before arriving in Kuala Sepetang town. Opposite of the entrance is the charcoal factory of Mr. Chuah, another excellent reason to visit Kuala Sepetang. Here's more about Mr. Chuah's factory.
And don't forget to have your lunch in Kuala Sepetang town. The restaurants in the main street all serve fish from their own fishing boats and it's hard to get fresher and better fish dishes anywhere.
A day trip to the everlasting city from Pangkor Island is easy to organize. Check our transportation page when exactly buses leave. Alternatively you can take a taxi. The ride should take about an hour and a half.
Traveling by car is also easy. Take the road out of Lumut and follow the direction to Taiping. It's on the boards when you drive out of Lumut. Distance is 95 km.
Taiping in the late 1950's
We, from Pulau Pangkor.com are always curious what Malaysia looked like in the past.
Mr. Brain Paton who was stationed in Taiping send us some awesome pictures.
We had to separate them into two pages:
And here are Mr. Gardiners' memories of Malaya a few years later in and around Taiping:
River Trekking in Taiping
Mostly unknown but worth the effort is a little River Trekking in Taiping. Start at the Taiping Zoo and leading to the Burmese Pool, a real jungle experience!
Best zoo in Malaysia, and an excellent day spending in the zoo and the Lake Gardens.
Nearby Taiping is a mangrove forest. Inside the forest you will find several charcoal factories using the mangrove trees to produce charcoal. It's a great day out.
Ecology Camp in Taiping
Mr. Goh includes the Charcoal factory and a visit to the mangrove forest for his team building activities. I joined. We went to Gua Temperung caves and Kuala Sepetang mangrove forest.
On your bike to Taiping
It's absolutely worth to do, on bicycle visiting Taiping. I do it regularly and wrote about it here:
Gua Tempurung Caves
Spectacular day trip: the Gua Tempurung Caves, not much visited but worth visit.
A little town north east of Lumut/Pangkor has more to offer than most people know!