Penang, the Pearl of the Orient, is a fascinating fusion of the East and West. The state embraces modernity while retaining its traditions and old world charm, which are reflected in its harmonious multiracial populace and well-preserved heritage buildings. Long regarded as the food capital of Malaysia, it also entices visitors with its beautiful coasts and scrumptious cuisines.
Comprising the island of Penang and Seberang Perai, its seat of government is located in the bustling city of Georgetown. Travelers can select their accommodation from among various well-appointed hotels, five-star resorts and budget inns located throughout the state.
Places of Interest
It is one of the grandest clan temples in the country. Clustered in its square are an elaborately embellished temple, association building, a traditional theatre as well as several 19th century row houses.
Kek Lok Si Temple
Reputed to be the biggest Buddhist temple complex in Southeast Asia, the temple stands majestically on a hill in Air Itam. It boasts the beautiful “Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas” which blends Chinese, Myanmarese and Thai architecture.
Built in 1850 and dedicated to the deity, Chor Soo Kong, the temple is a sanctuary for pit vipers said to be “servants” of the deity.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Featuring 18th and 19th century Chinese architecture, this stately mansion comprises beautiful bedrooms, libraries, ceremonial halls, courtyards and gardens. It also houses a rare porcelain collection, sculptures, carvings, tapestries, embroideries and antiques.
The fort was built on the site of Sir Francis Light’s historic landing in 1786. Originally a wooden stockade, it is now a concrete structure and currently houses cannons, a history gallery, café, handcraft and souvenir centre as well as an open-air amphitheatre.
Built around the remnants of a British fort, this 20-acre museum contains several installations above and below ground where old war relics are stored. Visitors can weave though a complex to view barracks, old cookhouses, lock-ups, tunnels and ventilation shafts.
Hundreds of old prints, paintings, clay, stone and porcelain ware as well as other historical artifacts that highlight the important periods in Penang’s development can be found here.
Kapitan Keling Mosque
Built in early 19th century, the mosque features an ochre yellow façade and a dome-shaped minaret reflecting Moorish Islamic influence.
Acheen Street Malay Mosque
This vernacular-style mosque, also known as Masjid Melayu, features an octagonal minaret and a Moorish arcade. It was built in 1820 on land donated by Syek Sheriff Tengku Syed Hussain Aidid.
Large and well-preserved, its numerous clan houses, shophouses and temples provide a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of early Chinese immigrant settlers who came here in the 1880s.
This quaint India town dates back over two centuries and boasts the 167 years old Sri Mahamariamman Temple. Worth browsing here are the unique pre-war terrace buildings.
Pinang Peranakan Mansion
Contained in this mansion are elaborate traditional costumes and accessories, lovely porcelain pieces, furniture, works of art brought in from China and Europe as well as artifacts related to the history and colourful lifestyle of the Baba Nyonya people of Penang.
St. George’s Church
The church is one of the oldest landmarks in the city and was named after the patron saint of England. It features a memorial canopy dedicated to Captain Francis Light.
Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram
A unique Buddhist temple with Thai, Myanmarese and Chinese architecture, it houses a 33-metre gold-plated reclining Buddha said to be one of the longest in the world.
P. Ramlee’s House
Originally built in 1926 to commemorate the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Malaysia’s foremost entertainer, the house features the life history of the late singer, actor, composer and film director. The various exhibits include his personal memorabilia and also items belonging to his family.
Malaysia’s first hill station. Penang Hill is 830m above sea level. Ascend to the top by hiking up or by traveling in the funicular train which has been operational since 1922 and enjoy the cool climate as well as the fantastic view at the summit.
The Toy Museum showcases an impressive collection of over 100.000 toys, models, collectibles and dollhouses. It is the first of its kind in Asia and the largest in the world.
Penang national Park
The park offers excellent hiking trails which lead to secluded beaches at Teluk Duyung, Muka Head and Pantai Kerachut. It also has a turtle nesting site as well as a unique meromictic lake.
Tropical Spice Garden
Visitors can get a feel of plants, birds and insects in a tropical environment at this eight-acre garden which has over 500 exotic varieties of plants.
Tropical Fruit Farm
Spread over 25 acres of hilly terrain, the farm produces over 200 tropical and subtropical fruits including durians, lychees, mangoes, guavas and several lesser known varieties.
Penang Butterfly Farm
The farm spans 0.8ha and is home to 3,000 living specimens from over 50 species of colorful butterflies, frogs, scorpions and other insects.
Penang Bird Park
The park spans 5 acres and houses some 800 birds from all over the world. It is beautifully landscaped and featured a walk-in aviary, ponds and ornamental plants.
A favourite haunt for food enthusiasts, this coastal road is famous for hawker foodstalls and restaurants offering a mouth-watering selection of Penang specialities such as asam laksa, hokkien mee, chee cheong fun, pasembor, rojak and various other delicious local delicacies.
Shopping, Dining and Entertainment
Penang is a shoppers’ paradise for goods old and new at bargain prices. There is a wide choice of electronic and electrical goods, cameras, clothing, batik, souvenirs and antiques. The island also boasts some of the best food in the country. An exciting choice of entertainment including concerts, dramas, cultural performances as well as sports and recreational activities are available throughout the state.
Penang is easily accessible by air as it is served by airlines plying international and domestic routes. Travelers can also choose to travel by road via the North-South Expressway. Upon reaching the mainland, a short drive across Penang Bridge or a 20-minute ferry ride is all it takes to get to Penang Island. Getting to Panang via rail is possible too as there are regular rail services to Butterworth from major town in Peninsular Malaysia.
Tourist Police, Tel: 604-899 3222
Penang heritage Centre, Tel: 604-261 6606