Places of Interest in Taiping

Taiping, a city in Perak is not as famous as Ipoh, the state's capital. For a short weekend getaway, very few Malaysians would likely choose to come here. Instead of Penang, Ipoh and Melaka, Taiping offers something different apart from its local cuisine. I never thought I would fall in love with this place during my virgin visit last month. Since it is not a popular place among local and Singapore tourists, we have no issue with the traffic in the town thus traffic jams rarely happen. This applies to the parking as well. I did some research before travelling to Taiping since I don't have any friends in Taiping who can bring us around. These are places of interest in Taiping that one should not miss. 

1. Taiping Lake Garden

Taiping is also well-known for its lake garden (Taman Tasik Taiping). The lake garden has a long history of over 140 years old. The idea of the lake garden was the brainchild of Colonel Robert Sandilands Frowd Walker and developed by Charles Compton Reade. The place is initially an abandoned tin mining ground. Some of the trees or plants are planted there since 1884.

Places of Interest in Taiping

The road where I stand was previously accessible by car. Now it has been closed permanently to protect 31 century-old trees. The road was then named Raintree Walk in 2017. One can rent a bike to cycle around the lake garden. The rate starts from RM5 for 30 mins depending on the type of bike.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Raintree Walk

The rock garden is one of the spots in Taiping lake garden. The rock sculptures in this section were believed to date back to the 1970s. It is believed that the inspiration behind some of the sculptures was the hugely-popular Japanese superhero television series Ultraman. 

Places of Interest in Taiping
Rock Garden

Places of Interest in Taiping
Rock Garden

This lake garden has become a stopover place for migratory birds to rest and nest. I luckily stumbled on 2 Parakeets resting atop a tree in front of Flemington Hotel. It was not able to be seen clearly with the naked eye as they stood very tall in the trees. I was first attracted by their non-stop noise and thus spotted them with my camera.

Places of Interest in Taiping

The storks were busy finding food in the shallow ponds.

Places of Interest in Taiping

On our way back to the hotel, we chanced upon this unique scene at the lake garden. The egrets were seen resting on the tree branches in the middle of the lake. The tree they landed on was lit up like a Christmas tree.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Egrets at night

2. Taiping Zoo and Night Safari

Taiping Zoo is the oldest zoo in Malaysia which is officiated in 1964. As far as I know, this is the only zoo in the country that also operates at night. The night safari programme is introduced in 2003 and continue until now.

Frankly speaking, there are some rooms for improvement for the zoo to make the night safari more interesting and lively. First, I would like to comment on the safety of the parking in front of the zoo. It was so dark and felt really unsafe to walk to and from the zoo. Secondly was the tram ride around the zoo. The staff just showed us that the animal on your left or right side pointing with his torch light without much explanation of it. He seemed to rush and I did not have any chance to snap a photo from the tram. He dropped us at the Elephant Peek next to the exit and went off in the dark. The tram was only about 15 mins ride. I felt like it did not worth the ticket price at all.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Taiping Zoo & Night Safari

After we had been left near the exit point, we were trying our way to get another round of tram ride but we could not find the way as it was dark and the exit point was some distance away from the entrance. So. we decided to walk around the zoo on our own.

We saw not one but a few Black-Crowned Night Herons standing still at the trailside hunting for food. They were not scared of us or flew away when our tram passed by.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Black-Crowned Night Heron (Burung Puchong Kuak; 夜鹭)

Places of Interest in Taiping
Barred Eagle Owl

Places of Interest in Taiping
Leopard cat

Entrance fee for night safari: 
Adult: RM20
Children 3-12 years old; senior citizen 60 years old and above: RM10
Open every night: 8-11pm

3. Museum Perak 

Museum Perak in Taiping is the first museum in Malaysia. The museum has retained its original design which is Moorish (India) and English. The building was constructed in 1883 with an order by Sir Hugh Low, a British Resident of Perak, the first phase was completed in 1886, the second phase in 1889 and the last extension work completed in 1900. Leonard Wray, a botanist and geologist was appointed as the first curator of this museum. Aerial view of the museum is a L-shaped building which was assumed to have been constructed according to the name of its first curator Leonard Wray.

Outside of the museum was a statue of Colonel Robert Sandilands Frowd Walker which was financially contributed by the Sultan of Perak and Johor, Chinese miners and staff from the Malay States Guides Regiment in memory of his 31 years of service in Perak and the Federated Malay States. He successfully settled the Chinese miners' labour disputes in Perak and in view of that the Chinese community in Taiping presented him with a sword for his contribution. The British government also appreciated him for settling of Malay rising issue in Bota and rebels in Pahang.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Museum Perak Taiping

This slab grave from the stone age reconstructed here was one of the three found in Sungai Kruit rubber estate, Sungkai in 1927. Discovery in the grave and its surroundings includes the iron tools, one of which has sickle-shaped, and the other has the same appearance and shape as the one found in Kelang and other places. Broken pieces of pottery were found with shoddy craftsmanship. Visitors should not miss the chance to visit the exhibits outside the museum.

Places of Interest in Taiping
slab grave from stone age

The museum is a 2-storeys building. The first part in front of the entrance of the museum building is mainly about the history of Taiping. Here you could request permission from the staff to gain entry into the library which is hidden behind the wall.

In 1874, the British administration centre was transferred from Hilir Perak to Klian Pauh and the name was changed to Taiping which means peace in the Chinese word. In the same year, Larut War ended with the signing of the Pangkor Treaty.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Taiping history 

The second part of the museum is the collection of zoological specimens. The specimens are arranged and exhibited in an interesting diorama that mimics their natural habitat in a wooden cupboard. 

I was amazed at a saltwater crocodile's bone which is 24 feet and 8 inches in length. The specimen was found in Matang, Perak in 1915. It is believed the crocodile bone specimen is the longest ever found in Asia. Other must-sees in this part are the python's bone specimen, threatened species Bearcat (Binturong) and Malay Weasel (Pulasan Tanah) specimens. All the animal specimens are real and collected throughout the year in the region according to the staff.

Places of Interest in Taiping
crocodile specimen

Entrance fee to the museum:
Adult: RM2
Senior citizen & OKU: RM1
Children under 12; Student with uniform; ICOM members: Free

Adult: RM5
Children 6-12 years old: RM2
Children under 6 years old; ICOM members: Free

Opens every day except Monday for the first week of every month:9am-5pm

Places of Interest in Taiping
Taiping Prison

Opposite the Museum Perak is Taiping Gaol Prison established in 1879. It is the first prison and oldest modern prison in Malaysia. It was known as Taiping Gaol at the beginning of its establishment. The place was once been used as a detention centre by the Japanese from 1941 to 1945.

4. Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut)

One of the popular attractions in Taiping is Maxwell Hill or currently known as Bukit Larut. From the lowest part of the hill to the peak, it is around 14.4km or 1449 m above sea level. The hill is accessible by 4WD at the entrance and the public has to line up as early as 6am for a ticket which is inclusive of the 4WD ride. However, due to the rainy season and the occurrence of landslides at some parts of the hill, the authority decided to disallow the 4WD ride until further notice. Nevertheless, the hill is still open to the public who want to challenge themselves to hike up. The hike could take approximately 3 hours according to frequent hikers, whereas the ride only takes 30 mins.

Places of Interest in Taiping

The hill is founded in 1870. It is the oldest and smallest hill resort in Malaysia. The name Maxwell is named after its first British Resident assistant in Perak, George Maxwell. The British Nobles have built their vacation houses on the hill and up to today some of the houses are still there. The cottage, a bungalow at the peak was built in 1890 based on British architecture with a beautiful garden and scenic view. 

British introduced tea planting at 650 m above sea level but it was later abandoned. The Tea Garden House in the middle of the hill (6 km; 656 m above sea level) used to be part of the tea farm on the hill.

Interestingly, ladies in those days were carried in sedan chairs to the peak since it was not accessible by vehicles.

Places of Interest in Taiping

Regretfully, we did not hike up Maxwell Hill during our visit as it was already late evening (needs at least 6 hours to hike up and down). We hope that we could visit this place again when is accessible by the 4WD.

5. Chang Chun Pu - AunTong Coffee Mill

Chang Chun Pu is located at the Aun Tong Coffee Mill. Chang Chun Pu is now developed as a tourist attraction as the concubine of Sun Yat-Sen and himself stayed in this house once upon a time. The entrance to the Chang Chun Yuan is free of charge but one needs to go inside the Aun Tong Coffee sales gallery to enter from the back of the house.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Chang Chun Pu

The living room in the house is open to visitors while other rooms are closed. Aun Tong coffee mill was founded in 1933 and was the oldest coffee mill in Malaysia. However, there was no relationship between the owner of the coffee mill with the descendants of Chen CuiFen and Sun Yat-Sen.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Chang Chun Pu

1874- Chen CuiFen (陈粹芬) was born in Hong Kong
1885- Sun Yat-Sen (孙中山) married 18 years old Lu MuZhen (卢慕贞) under their parents' arrangement
1891- CCF met SY-S
1893- 19 years old CCF and SY-S are lover relationship
1897- SY-S met 15 years old Asada Haru (his maid) in Japan during exile, AH believed to be his concubine
1902- Asada Haru passed away, SY-S was very sad
1904- SY-S married 16 years old Japanese lady, Otsuki Kaoru
1905- CCF & SY-S moved to Japan
1906- Otsuki gave birth, SY-S already left Japan and never returned; She was unable to contact SY-S for many years, and due to financial constraints, she gave the 5 years old daughter to a businessman; She had a short marriage with a banker but ended with divorce; The last marriage was with a monk.
1907- CCF & SY-S travelled to Vietnam
1894-1911- CCF became SY-S's personal assistant for revolution work and daily needs
1911- CCF went to HK to stay with SY-S first wife, LMZ
1912- SY-S became President; LMZ with her daughters departed to Shanghai then Nanjing from Penang to reunite with SY-S; CCF had tuberculosis and went to HK to recuperate. She quietly disappeared from the sight of SY-S.
1914- SY-S fell in love with 21 years old Soong Ching Ling (宋庆玲) (26 years gap) who was his secretary and the daughter of his best friend
1915- Sun Yat-Sen married SCL in Japan, divorced his first wife and broke up with CCF; CCF came to Malaya and adopted an infant girl named Su Zhong Ying (苏仲英) (later changed to Sun Zhong Ying)
1925- SY-S died
1928- CCF & SZY were invited by Chiang Kai-Shek (蒋介石) back to Macau
1937- SZY married Sun Yat Sen's grandnephew in Italy
1939-1941- The owner of Aun Tong factory rented this house as his office and residence
1942- The owner of the Aun Tong factory bought the house
1960- SZY died
1962- CCF died in HK

Places of Interest in Taiping
Portrait of Sun Yat-Sen and Chan CuiFen (concubine)

The wooden door partition at the back was said to be a valuable item gifted by Sun Yat-Sen to Chen CuiFen. The son of Chiang Kai-Shek came to Chang Chun Pu to purchase the door partition knowing its value after the passing of SY-S. The owner of Aun Tong coffee mill at that time refused him even though been offered a great amount of money.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Inside Chang Chun Pu

6. Spritzer EcoPark

Spritzer EcoPark is a bit distance away (south) from Taiping town. The park is located opposite the Spritzer mineral water factory. The hotels we stayed at were supplying water bottles manufactured by Spritzer. Indeed. I could say their branding and Marcom teams are quite successful in penetrating the local market. We could see the signboards of the food stall, school, shop and etc were printed together with the Spritzer logo on them.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Spritzer EcoPark

This gigantic rock was named Megacrystic Biotite Granite. It is 200-214 million years old now and has undergone an erosion process along parallel vertical joints leaving the column-like structure. The rock belongs to Maxwell Hill intrusive and is part of Main Range Pluton.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Cactus Rock

A major fun of the Spritzer Ecopark is its 18-hole mini golf course in the nature park, where anyone can try golf for a small fee.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Mini golf course

Spritzer EcoPark is a recreational park open to the public. Anyone can walk in to play mini golf, jog, exercise, or badminton.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Antique Wood Garden

7. Kuala Sepetang Charcoal factory

Kuala Sepetang is about 30 mins to the west of Taiping town. It is previously known as Port Weld in colonial times. There are about 20 charcoal factories around the area. This factory is established in 1930. It is strategically located in the Matang mangrove reserved forest which is the largest single mangrove forest in Peninsular Malaysia.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory

The charcoal is made from a tree known as Bakau Minyak (Rhizophora apiculate) which grows to 30-40 meters in height. The State Forestry Department has allocated a plot of the forest for harvesting. Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve covers 40.288 ha and 51.5km of coastline from Kuala Gula to Bagan Panchor in the South. After cutting down a tree, they will replant it with a new tree on the same ground. After 30 years, they will come back to the same ground for harvesting.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Canal beside the factory

The canal at the side of the factory is used to carry the bakau tree from the swamp forest. The Bakau tree is a very dense wood that it would not float in water because of its high water content. The owner said don't try to hug a bakau wood during a flood as you might sink into the water due to the low air sac in the wood. Some logs would float while some would sink. The wood blocks could only be transferred from the mangrove forest to the factory during high tide which is only 14 days in a month.

The charcoal-making process is time-consuming, it needs 32 days approximately. Instead of burning the wood in the kiln, they smoke the wood using high heat to remove the high water content. The logs are inserted into the igloo-shaped kiln in a standing position with a stone at the bottom to allow heat circulation. The entrance of the kiln will be sealed and only leave a small hole to put in the fire. However, there is some gap between the fire with the logs.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Smoking process in the kiln

The first stage of charcoal production involves 10 days of continuous fire burning at the hole. The worker has to top up the wood so that oxygen would not leak inside and burn the logs. At the end of the process, the water from the logs would be dried out. After 10 days, they would seal the hole again to make it smaller so that less oxygen gets in. At this point, the smoking process begins. The fire turns smaller and continues for 14 days. But the temperature could reach up to 220-240°C due to accumulated heat. When the process is completed, the worker put down the fire and seals the whole kiln. The cooling process takes 8 days.

To understand better the conservation work, there is Matang Mangrove Forest Eco-Learning Centre nearby to visit. However, it is closed temporarily for visitors.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Port Weld

We then drove to the Kuala Sepetang fishing village to have a look. Kuala Sepetang is previously known as Port Weld (named after Sir Frederick Weld). This is where we came across the Port Weld signage by KTM in front of a shop lot. It was recorded as the first railway in Malaya which was established in 1885 by British Resident Sir Hugh Low. The purpose of the railway was to link the tin mine in Larut, Taiping with the nearby port. The total distance of the railway from Taiping to Port Weld is 13.1km involving a total cost of  £7000. However, most of the things were destroyed during World War II and the remaining became history.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Perak State Railway at Museum Perak

Even though we could not witness the railroad and harbour port at Kuala Sepetang, the coach first used in railway transportation operations from Taiping to Port Weld is exhibited in Museum Perak, Taiping. The coach was built in 1897 and is 125 years old now.

Places of Interest in Taiping
Amelia Mary Earhart, the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, also holds many first fly solo records in the US, stopped at Taiping Aerodome to refuel on 20 June 1937. She was reported to be disappeared during her second attempt to fly around the world on 2 July 1937. However, there is controversy about the mural regarding the fact.

Places of interest in Taiping that are recommended here could be limited as we did not have enough time to explore it yet. Hence, we wish to come back to the rain town of Malaysia in the nearest future.


  1. Nice garden :D Have a great weekend :D

  2. Oh very good photos
    The nifht safari sounds great

  3. Some places that even Taiping folk do not mention or bother with... - Straight on ahead there is a deadly cliff. - Visit at around 6:45PM for some awesome scenery. - Awe-inspiring at night. - The former New Club Swimming Pool. Used to be English Swimming Pool, or affectionately dubbed Jungle Pool. No relations to Coronation Pool. - Where else can you find an open space like this? - Beautiful British houses left to rot. - Abandoned train track that leads to... - First railroad in Malaysia (to Port Weld), now an underused road. - A place from a bygone era. To see how it changed, copy the coordinates, go to Google Earth and use the time slider. Your jaw will drop. - There is no plan whatsoever to resurrect this heritage administrative building. It was briefly mentioned in the papers. - A crossover bridge "borrowed" from Bukit Mertajam. - A little known old railway bridge - Ngah Ibrahim's old house - An abandoned hotel that many swear is haunted, so they come at night to fulfill their deranged fantasy. - Ignore the mistitle. This place will give you hours of fun feeling "LOST" (like the old TV show). - This place is most likely gone for good. It was torn down for restoration at the turn of Covid. There was a sign that shows a completion date. There's an anniversary coming up. To this day the ground is still vacant.

    Taiping used to be full of nostalgia. But heritage doesn't look "cool" to the Gen Z, so at the first chance they get, they tear everything down and either build something bland over it or simply leave them be.


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