Taiping Travel Blog› entry 363 of 366 › view all entries
Taiping has typically been a place (for me) that you drive past on the highway and just use as a marker to see how far you are to/from Ipoh or Penang. I knew it had some interesting sites but just did not have much of a draw to it. Naturally, I am like a moth to a flame when it comes to former-glory off-the-beaten-path destinations. So Taiping was not spared in my travels. You get a hint of the town's beauty from the highway in the region with all of its manicured bushes. After exiting, the sites are not very promising though. If you take a bus, you will get dropped off at Kamunting's bus terminal. Taxis to the town cost about RM12 (on the cheap side, I think) and pass through a military residential zone. When you get to Taiping's jail, you have reached the city. Depending on which road you take, you will pass Taiping's Zoo (the first in Malaysia) with its famous night safari and the turn off road to Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill) and its cooler hill station weather.
Both roads into the city, however, will take you through the best attraction of the city, the Taman Tasik Taiping (Taiping Lake Gardens). These former tin mines were flooded and, oddly for Malaysia, kept very clean from litter, sewage runoff, and pollutants. The lake is clean-looking and the grounds are beautiful. Large trees from the periphery road stretch across the lanes to reach down toward the lake. Benches line the lakeside and couples (or tired joggers) make good use of them. There are some boat-like things that you can rent and paddle around the lake in. Plus, the monkeys in the trees can make for some nice photos...if they don't take your camera from you, I suppose. I saw them chasing a squirrel (I pretended they were just playing...but I didn't stick around to see what would happen if they caught it).
The town center itself, which sits at the southwest corner of the lake gardens, has an interesting history dating back to the colonial period. And there is an impressive array of buildings to vouch for it. The more modern buildings in town are uninspiring and desperately in need of a paint job (except for the Pizza Hut and KFC). But the older buildings redeem it to a certain extent. The Larut Matang complex in the center of the city is a popular place for eating and hanging out. There are some nice dishes here that are difficult to find in other parts of the country.