Taiping is a quiet pensioner's paradise with century-old trees lining its roads. Attractions include a large park around the famous Taiping Lake and the nearby Taiping Zoo. 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 society and the Hakka Hai San 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. Be sure to visit these places whenever you are in Taiping:-
- Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) - a quiet hill station with an altitude of about 1000 m. Access is along a narrow single-track paved road on a fleet of dilapidated four-wheel drives run by the municipality. Accommodation is available in a couple of rest houses and a small number of bungalows.
- 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.
- Taiping Zoo and Night Safari Taiping - the first zoo to be established in Malaysia. Packed at weekends with day-trippers from out of town.
- Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve - forty acres of mangrove forest reserve. You will get to see a variety of flora and fauna in this undisturbed forest.
What & Where to Eat in Taiping?
Taiping is famous for its cheap and delicious food. Some of the famous Taiping delicacies are:
- Cendol - Jalan Barrack. The dessert's basic ingredients consist of shaved ice, coconut milk, starch noodles with green food colouring (usually sourced from the pandan leaf), and palm sugar. Red beans, glutinous rice, grass jelly, and creamed corn are optional additions. Cendol has become a quintessential part of cuisine among the multi-racial population in Southeast Asia and is often sold by vendors at roadsides, hawker centres and food courts. A good thirst quencher and very cooling.
- Fried kway teow -Chinese - Taman Sri Hijau,Taman Sungai Mas (Road side stall),
- Fried kway teow- Malay - Restoran Doli (Jalan Tupai)
- Char kway teow - Pokok Assam night market. Char kway teow, literally "fried flat noodles", approximately 1 cm or slightly narrower in width, fried over very high heat with light and dark soy sauce, chilli, prawns, cockles, egg, bean sprouts and Chinese chives. Sometimes slices of Chinese sausage and fish cake are added.
- Popiah (wet spring rolls) - Prima Restaurant, also Popiah stall (Larut Matang food court). A popiah "skin" is a thin paper-like crepe or pancake made from wheat flour (rice flour is sometimes used) which is covered with a sweet sauce (often a bean sauce, a blended soy sauce or hoisin sauce), and optionally with hot chilli sauce before it is filled. The filling is mainly finely grated and steamed or stir-fried turnip, jicama (known locally as bangkuang), which has been cooked with a combination of other ingredients such as bean sprouts, French beans, and lettuce leaves, depending on the individual vendor, along with grated carrots, slices of Chinese sausage, thinly sliced fried tofu, chopped peanuts or peanut powder and shredded omelette. Some hawkers, especially in non-halal settings, will add fried pork lard. As a fresh spring roll, the popiah skin itself is not fried.
- Nasi Lemak is traditionally a breakfast dish, and it is sold early in the morning at roadside stalls where it is often sold packed in newspaper, brown paper or banana leaf. However, there are restaurants which serve it on a plate as noon or evening meals, making it possible for the dish to be treated as a delicacy. 'Nasi lemak panas' meaning hot nasi lemak is another name given to nasi lemak served with hot cooked rice. Due to its fame and widespread availability, Nasi Lemak comes in different versions if prepared by different chefs. Hotels have nasi lemak on their menu with elaborate dishes, such as beef rendangs and the addition of other seafood, while humble roadside stalls also sell them ready packed, known as "Nasi Lemak Bungkus" which literally means "Wrapped Nasi Lemak" which contain minimal additions. Due to Malaysia and Singapore being multi-racial, both the Chinese and Indians have come up with their own versions.
- Nasi Lemak Special - Jalan Tupai (in front of football field)
- Nasi Lemak - Jalan Tupai (Side of football field, in front of Tupai Petronas)
- Mee Rebus - Larut Matang Market, Prima Food Court, night-Pokok Assam market. The dish is made of yellow egg noodles, which are also used in Hokkien mee, with spicy slightly sweet curry-like gravy. The gravy is made from potatoes, curry powder, water, salted soya beans, dried shrimps, and peanuts. The dish is garnished with a hard boiled egg, calamansi limes, spring onions, Chinese celery, green chillies, fried firm tofu (tau kwa), fried shallots and bean sprouts. Some eateries serve it with beef, though rarely found in hawker centres, or add dark soya sauce to the noodles when served. The dish also goes well with satay.
- Steamed Chicken Rice - Jalan Barrack.
- Wanton mee - Prima Restaurant and Pokok Assam Market, Taiping Hawker Centre, Aulong Food Court.
- Steamboat/yong tau foo/Cucuk-cucuk - stall in front of Cathay cinema.(evening till 8pm)
- Ikan Bakar (Grilled fish) and other seafood (Lake Gardens Food court, Prima) Kg.Boyan Sizzling Noodles (Prima Food Court,Tesco Food Court)