Taiping

Perak, Malaysia, Town

Taiping Town in Perak, Malaysia
Taiping is the largest town of Perak state, nestled at the southern foothills of the Bintang Range about 70km away from Ipoh city. This pleasant tourist destination offers visitors an abundance of nature activities courtesy of surrounding rainforests, waterfalls and mountains, including the Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill), a popular highland resort area and colonial hill station. The Lake Garden is also one of Taiping's iconic attractions, being the largest park of its kind in Malaysia. Within town, many historical buildings and heritage landmarks from the Colonial Era can be visited, as the British once used Taiping as a state administrative center until after the War.

In Peninsular Malaysia, Taiping is also the wettest spot with an unusually high rainfall reaching 4000mm annually. The abundantly humid climate has led to a diverse and prolific growth of native flora, including rain trees, ferns, lianas and shrubs that thrive in surrounding rainforests along with a varied range of wildlife. Subsequently, hiking, bird watching and jungle trekking have become popular activities among locals and visitors, who arrive from places as far as Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to enjoy its inherent serenity and appreciate nature. Meanwhile, the Bukit Larut mountains that overlooks Taiping, which lies perched at its foothills, are a popular highland resort area to enjoy cooling weather with average temperatures as low as 21°C. While Taiping can be visited anytime of the year, the highest rainfall occurs during the monsoon months from October to January.
How to Go
Taiping town can be reached by using the North-South Highway, about 70km north of Ipoh or 90km away from Penang if travelling south of the Peninsular. From Kuala Lumpur, it is a distance of 280km away, or three to four hours by car. Major bus stations at Kuala Lumpur (KL Sentral and Puduraya), Ipoh and Penang also provide coach rides that will stop or pass through Taiping (or Kamunting, 6km away from town). By flight, the nearest international airports are at Penang and Ipoh; you'll need to catch a taxi or bus to complete the rest of the journey. Finally, there is the North-South railway line where you can ride a train and exit at Taiping station.

History
Taiping begin life as a little settlement called Larut, with the discovery of tin in 1848 by a Malay chieftain. The opportunity for fortune quickly attracted droves of miners from mainland China, who established a large township by 1870. Soon, a series of civil wars arose between different triad groups, each with their own side of the state royalty. Seeing their business interests threatened (and an opportunity to exert political dominance), the British intervened in 1874, leading to the 1874 Pangkor Treaty. The British divided the mines between the triads and introduced the Resident system; affairs of the state were administered under the mandatory counsel of an appointed British representative.

To commemorate the event and cement the truce, Larut town was renamed 'Taiping' (meaning 'Everlasting Peace' in Chinese). Ushering an era of relative peace, many historic 'firsts' of infrastructural and urban development were achieved at Taiping, including the first railway station, lake garden, hill resort, school, prison, museum, government buildings and port (Port Weld). It was even the capital of Perak until 1937, when it was moved to Ipoh. Eventually, when tin deposits ran dry and economic activity stalled, Taiping regressed into the sleepy town that visitors see today.
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