Taiping got its name from the Chinese word “Tai-Peng” meaning everlasting peace. Klian Pauh, its former name, was changed to Taiping soon after the Larut War in 1874. The town, once the capital of Perak, is also known as the “Heritage Town” due to its numerous old buildings.

The Taiping Lake Gardens was originally a tin-mining field before it became a public garden in 1880. It was the brainchild of Colonel Robert F. Fawker and the man responsible for developing it was town planner, Charles Compton Reade. The 64-hectare abandoned mining field was donated by Chung Thye Phin for use as a recreational park. It was the first public garden in the country.

Rain trees (scientific name Samanea saman) are a major attraction at the gardens. A total of 19 such trees, some over 130 years old, are still standing today. There are ten scenic lakes and ponds altogether.

The Taiping Zoo is the first ever public zoo in Malaysia. It houses over 2000 animals of various species. Watch them in their natural habitats at night for a unique experience.

The setting sun, seen from atop Bukit Larut, 1250m above sea level, is a sight worth watching. Known previously as Maxwell Hill, it is the first hill station in Malaysia. You can either walk up to the summit via a tarred road or take a dizzy ride on a Land Rover for a fee. The distance from base to the top is about 13km (7 miles).

The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve is an eco-education centre. This 40-acre marshland is home to two mangrove tree species namely, bakau minyak and bakau turap.

After a visit to the charcoal factory at Kuala Sepetang, explore the enchanting world of fireflies via boat rides along Sepetang River at Kampung Dew.

A dish not to be missed is prawn noodles (mee udang) at Kuala Sepetang and crab noodles (mee ketam) at Kampung Dew. They are available at eateries in the area. The popular cat fish curry (kari ikan sembilang) and yong tau foo are also available.

Before leaving Taiping, drop by Changkat Jering day market for fruits, Malay cakes (kuih muih) and jungle products. The famous Batu Kurau durians (if in season) will be the perfect takeaway.