Bukit Larut

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Bukit Larut

Maxwell Hill
Elevation of 1036 metres at the Land Rover station
Elevation of 1036 metres at the Land Rover station
Coordinates: 4°51′44.28″N 100°47′34.8″E / 4.8623000°N 100.793000°E / 4.8623000; 100.793000Coordinates: 4°51′44.28″N 100°47′34.8″E / 4.8623000°N 100.793000°E / 4.8623000; 100.793000
Country Malaysia
State Perak
1,250 m (4,100 ft)
Time zoneUTC+8 (MST)

Bukit Larut, formerly known as Maxwell Hill (but still often referred to by its latter name), is a hill resort located 10 km from Taiping, Perak, Malaysia. Founded in 1884, it is the oldest hill resort in Malaysia.[1][2] It is approximately 1250 m above sea level. Bukit Larut receives the highest rainfall in Malaysia because it is located in the wettest part of the country.[3]

Maxwell Hill was named after William Edward Maxwell, who was the British Assistant Resident in Perak.[4]

Not as developed as other hill resorts such as the Genting Highlands and Cameron Highlands, Bukit Larut retains a colonial atmosphere with its quaint bungalows and English gardens.

Access is available only by (government owned) resort authority's Land Rovers (private vehicles are not allowed without a permit) although people are free to walk up the hill as many do for exercise (reaching the peak can take up to 3–5 hours). The journey, 13 kilometres from the base to the top of Bukit Larut using Land Rovers take around 30 minutes. Maxwell Hill still retains its colonial origins with its old bungalows and gardens. This hill is ideal for birdwatchers and nature lovers, as the area provides a welcoming environment for the local wildlife.


Temperature at Maxwell Hill is between 15 and 25 °C and can drop to 10 °C at night.

Bukit Larut is one of the wettest places in Malaysia with heavy rainfall all year round that can reach up to more than 4,000 mm (160 in) yearly.


Unlike more developed hill resorts in Malaysia, Bukit Larut has remained pretty much as it was years ago, hence its low impact on tourism. Up on the peak, the cool weather is a welcome to many visitors who are mostly nature lovers and birdwatchers. The appeal of the resort lies in its untouched beauty, embellished with flowers, birds and tree ferns. It is situated in a national forest where the abundant wildlife is protected.

Transport from the base station up to the top is by 4 wheel drive Land Rovers up a very steep and narrow road. The ride up and down is exciting quite like a roller coaster trip. The fee as at June 2017 is Ringgit 10 one way up, with fixed timings for the upwards and downwards journeys.

There are many jungle trails and one of the popular ones is the Gunung Hijau trail. This trail leads to the peak of Gunung Hijau at 1,449 m above sea level. Along the way, one will be able to see many species of birds, the vantage view of Taiping town, the exotic wild orchids, ferns and other flora and fauna.

A few metres below Bukit Larut Rest House is a playground. Nearby it lies a bridge that leads to a watch tower, from where one can have a beautiful view of Taiping. On a clear day, one can even see the coastline all the way from Pangkor Island to Penang.

Tulip cultivation began in 2009 and was then abandoned by 2012

Panoramic view from Beringin rest house


The cottages on Maxwell Hill all carry their own personalities and names. Each cottage had its name relating to their owner or style. Today most of these names have been localised. However some of these cottages are in various stages of deterioration and in need of restoration.

Permai View[edit]

This bungalow is located at 1034m above sea level.


Formerly known as Watson's Rest House. Located at 1036 m above sea level, it is one of the better maintained bungalows on Maxwell Hill. It consists of a living room, dining area, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Rumah Rehat Bukit Larut[edit]

Formerly known as Maxwell Hill Rest House. It is located 1036 m above sea level. The building underwent major renovation in 2010. Unfortunately it was not taken care of and as of 2012, the condition of the building started to deteriorate.


Built in 1906, it was formerly known as The Federal Bungalows. It is located at 1036 m above sea level and is rented out only to VIPs.

Rumah Rehat Gunung Hijau[edit]

Formerly known as Speedy's Chalet. Located at 1113 m above sea level.


Formerly known as The Hut. Located at 1128 m above sea level. It was built in 1889 at a cost of RM2000. It is the only bungalow with a cafeteria - the only operational cafeteria on Maxwell Hill as of 2012.


Formerly known as Treacher. Located at 1143 m above sea level.

The Nest[edit]

The Nest is the only privately managed residence on Maxwell Hill. It was built for Mr John Fraser of the Fraser and Neave fame in 1887, and it still stands today. He also built the High Pines bungalows at Fraser's Hill (not named after him). In 1904, he returned home to England and offered the bungalow to the Methodist Mission of Malaya and Singapore. They accepted his donation and has been running the bungalow as a place of rest and recovery since then. The Methodist Church of Malaysia owns the long term lease to the bungalow and have asked the Taiping Methodist Church to oversee the running of the place. It was used by the Methodist church as a hostel for retreat and church gatherings since then.

The church improved the building about 20 years ago and in the last few years, the building needed some major repairs. Board of Trustees took a decision to invite proposal for the upgrading and operations of the bungalow.

Since October 2016, Liew Suet Fun, a Taiping girl, and Peter Matu, her husband from Sarawak, took residence of the bungalow to safeguard its well-being. It is their residence and it is sometimes open for those seeking a retreat in a natural setting. This bungalow should not be confused with the Speedy Resthouse, about 300m below The Nest.

Sri Kayangan[edit]

Formerly known as The Box. Located at 1242 m above sea level. It was previously the official bungalow for the Sultan of Perak.

Miscellaneous Buildings[edit]

A few buildings are left abandoned. Some of their origins are unknown.

Sri Maha Kaliamman Temple[edit]

The construction of this temple was laid by brothers Mr. Rama Pillay and Mr. Kochdai Pillay who came from South India to work as supervisors here. The temple was believed to be built around the 1890s and is about 120 years old. Later on during the 1900s more Indian workers worked and stayed in Bukit Larut. As the Indian community there was mostly Hindus, they needed a Hindu Temple to pray and carry out religious activities at that time. As such, the British gave them a plot of land to build a Hindu Temple. They were given their basic amenities. At first the Indians there built a small temple with the permission and help of the British. Gradually the British assisted them to build a bigger temple. Most of the materials used were the remaining ones from the construction of the bungalows and rest houses. The British also provided a small building as a nursery for the workers children beside the temple.

This temple was the first to be built on the oldest Hill Resort in Malaysia. The main granite deity Kaliamman (inner sanctum) of temple is about 70 years old. The temple stands on a 2-acre land.

There is a shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappan right beside the temple.


Not long after the murder of British Resident J. W. W.Birch in 1875, William Edward Maxwell was appointed as Assistant Resident of Perak. Maxwell was a distinguished Malay scholar, whom unlike his peers was well versed with the customs and sensitivities of the locals. His timely promotion was initiated to soothe the displeasure among Malays and Chinamen in the Larut area brought on by the rather insensitive Birch. He lived and worked in the Larut area.

At that time, the British were looking for a hill retreat away from the tropical heat for its senior officers. Several hill stations were proposed, including Gunung Angsi in Negri Sembilan, Bukit Kutu in Selangor and Gunung Kledang in Perak, none of which served the purpose adequately. After much search, Maxwell discovered that there’s a hill right at his doorstep, within Larut district that has so far missed his consideration.

The Larut ridge was narrow and the difficulty was the steep climb to the summit. At 1250m above sea level and 13 km from the base of the hill, it was a wonder that the idea of a hill station could have been developed here. It did and by the 1880s, adventurers and famous writers like Isabella Bird and Ambrose Rathborne had the pleasure of visiting the hill. However, in the early years, the road to the peak was really more a rough track. Visitors had a choice of walking, taking a pony trek, or be carried on a sedan chair.

It wasn’t until the mid-1940s that the tarmac road was built and made suitable for vehicles. That was during World War II, when Taiping was declared the administrative center for Perak and Indonesia by the occupying Japanese forces. The Japanese official made Maxwell Hill his residency. He forced the prisoners of war to build the road up the hill. Although the road was only opened in 1948, three years after the Japanese’ surrender, much of it was built through the sweat, blood and lives of ragged prisoners of war. First British Resident, J.W.W. Birch’s bungalow known as The Cottage is located at 1,376m above sea level. This bungalow was built in 1884 and not opened to public because the location was too close to the telecommunication station. The Tea Garden was developed in 1887, and Assam Tea, the earlier tea from Ceylon was planted here before being replanted in Cameron Highlands after the project failed.

A number of economic activities were carried out during the colonial times. Ninety percent of the activities were carried out by Indian labourers who came from India. They were involved in tea, vegetable and flower cultivation, cattle rearing and also in the transportation and construction sectors. They also worked as security guards and general workers in the bungalows and rest houses. As such Bukit Larut was called as The First Indian Style Hill Station at one time. It was estimated that around 120 Indian families stayed in Bukit Larut during the 1900s. The British provided quarters for them.

W.J.G. Warbeck British officer served as overseer of botanical gardens, streets and public buildings at Maxwell Hill in 1883. Maxwell Hill was gazetted as a Permanent Forest Reserve in 1910. The name Maxwell Hill was changed to Bukit Larut in 1979.

Contradictions and unknown origin[edit]

J.W.W. Birch is said to have reached the top of the hill in 1875, as indicated on a commemorative stone found on Birch Hill, which is located 2.5 km above the top of Maxwell Hill. Although the engraving states “THE FIRST ENGLISHMAN TO CLIMB THIS HILL WAS MR T.W.W. Birch , FIRST BRITISH RESIDENT OF PERAK IN 1875” It is believed that there was an engraving mistake as the first British resident of Perak was J.W.W Birch and not T.W.W. Birch.

If in fact, J.W.W. Birch was the first to discover the hill, why did William Edward Maxwell search far for a hill station when there was one discovered by Birch? There are arguments that Birch could not have climbed the hill in 1875, because that is the year of his assassination, but Birch was killed in November 1875 and the month of his climb is unknown.

It is believed that Birch Hill is the upper heights of Maxwell Hill.


Bukit Larut has TV and radio transmitter that covers Taiping, North Perak, South Penang, and even South Kedah.


  • TV1 - Channel 43
  • TV2 - Channel 47
  • TV3 - Channel 41
  • ntv7- Channel 31


  • 89.3 MHz- Lite FM
  • 90.5 MHz- Hot FM
  • 91.3 MHz- Mix FM
  • 91.7 MHz- Suria FM
  • 93.6 MHz- hitz.fm
  • 95.2 MHz- ERA FM
  • 96.4 MHz- SINAR FM
  • 98.2 MHz- Red FM (ended of transmission since May 2009)
  • 100.2 MHz- MY FM
  • 101.0 MHz- 988 FM
  • 102.1 MHz- THR.FM (Raaga)
  • 103.3 MHz- Radio Klasik
  • 104.1 MHz- Perak FM
  • 104.9 MHz- Melody FM
  • 105.3 MHz- Traxx FM
  • 106.1 MHz- Ai FM
  • 107.1 MHz- Nasional FM
  • 107.9 MHz- Minnal FM


  1. ^ Orientations Published by Pacific Communications Ltd., 1977; Item notes: v.8 1977
  2. ^ China By Damian Harper Published by Lonely Planet, 2007; ISBN 1-74059-357-X, ISBN 978-1-74059-357-1
  3. ^ Malaysia Handbook: The Travel Guide By Joshua Eliot, Jane Bickersteth Published by Footprint Travel Guides, 2002; ISBN 1-903471-27-3, ISBN 978-1-903471-27-2
  4. ^ Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei By Charles De Ledesma, Mark Lewis, Pauline Savage, Rough Guides (Firm) Published by Rough Guides, 2003; ISBN 1-84353-094-5, ISBN 978-1-84353-094-7

External links[edit]