Penang is one place in Malaysia that is loved by the tourists for various reasons. Some love it for its serene beaches, while some adore it’s amazing culinary scene; the Penang tourist attractions never cease to create happy memories for the travellers.
Here are some of the most interesting destinations that offer a perfect blend of modern and cultural aspect of Penang waiting to be explored.
1. Kek Lok Si Temple
The largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, Kek Lok Si temple is beautifully placed at the top of Air Itam hill. The amazing temple houses many beautiful monasteries, small temples, prayer halls, and stunning landscaped gardens. Divided in three different zones, the temple has special souvenirs and refreshments section too for the tourists. The temple has huge statue of the Goddess Kuan Yin fondly called as the goddess of mercy. Visiting the Kek Lok Si temple is definitely one of the best things to do in Penang for it fills you with a feeling of complete bliss and the design speaks volumes about the Chinese art and architecture.
• Built in 1893, it is the largest temple complex in Southeast Asia.
• It has millions of astonishing Buddha images and eloquent sculptures and carvings worth admiring.
• The temple is regarded as a centre of Buddha teachings and Chinese culture.
• Special events and festivals are organised every year attended by thousands of tourists and devotees from around the world.
2. Penang Hill
Also known as Flagstaff hill, the Penang hill was discovered almost immediately after the British settlement, the hill served as the favourite area of the high level officers to cool off some heat, before artificial air conditioners came into picture. The ridge on top of the hill is also called the strawberry hill because during the time of the British settlement, the area was cleaned up to grow strawberries. The view atop the hill is rewarding for all your senses. You can see as far as the Langkawi hill and north of Kedah but the most delightful scenery is that of the Georgetown. Visiting the hill at night and seeing the lit up Georgetown view is one of the Penang’s best things to do.
• A favourite place for the birdwatchers, the ill and its surrounding area has over 100 species of bird’s inhabitancy.
• Using the Penang hill railway is nothing short of a joyride. Constructed in 1923, it is one of the oldest funicular systems of the world.
• There are various food courts and gardens located around the hill. There’s a police station, mosque, a Hindu temple, and a post office too that essentially works as an exhibit for the tourists now.
3. Cheong Fatt Tze mansion
One of the best known Penang things to do is to visit the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion built in a traditional Hakka- Teochew style. The mansion turned a boutique hotel belongs to a wealthy Chinese trader who despite all the odds rose from rags to riches and built his mansion in the traditional Chinese style courtyard style. Having five granite paved courtyards across 38 rooms, 220 window frames, and 7 staircases; the beautiful indigo mansion today serves as a hotel that ideally depicts the Chinese style architecture and beauty.
• The mansion was so beautiful and culturally rich that it was purchased by his descendants to safeguard it from any future demolition or modernisation.
• The entire estate of Cheing Fat Tze mansion doubles as a museum and a bed and breakfast hotel that allows he guests to spend a night at this cultural place.
• The mansion won the prestigious UNESCO Most Excellent’ Heritage Conservation Award in the year 2000, and various other awards till date.
4. George town
The multicultural capital of the Malaysian island of Penang, George town is vibrant, bustling with energy and an offers an eclectic mix of beautiful British colonial buildings, and Chinese influenced structures. The second largest city of Malaysia is a must visit if you’re a lover of great food and colourful festivities. The city has multi-cultural influences of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, European, and Buddhism. You can find a host of architectural buildings situated in the city and a heritage that dates back to the 18th century.
• The city has some famous constructions such as Penang city hall, Fort Cornwallis, Queen Victoria clock tower, Dharmmikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple and more.
• The city of Georgetown is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in the year 2008.
5. Batu Ferringhi night market
No matter whether you are an avid shopper or not, Batu Ferringhi market is not a place you can miss out. From CDs, DVDs, jerseys, artworks, t-shirts, footballs, and many antique items are on sale. But be prepared to haggle hard and don’t just accept the prices given to you. Even if you don’t have to shop, you must visit the place to enjoy the lively atmosphere, colourful stalls, and desperate sellers always ready to haggle till the last dollar.
• One of the best places to find souvenirs at exceptionally great prices including handbags, watches, clothes, jewellery, accessories, and more.
Penang Street food
Penang is known for its street food and exceptionally delicious hawker stalls at steal away prices. People often go to the popular hawkers to eat, however, don’t only go by the popular names and try to find out the best on your own as some of the really good ones have no name at all but some of the island’s most amazing dishes emerge from their pans and pots. An eclectic mix of Malay, Indian, Thai, and Chinese delicacies, Penang is every bit a foodie’s paradise, of course if you’re a non-vegetarian. If you cannot wait to find out the best of the food stalls on your own, some well-known names like the Mee Goreng at the Bangkok street, Asam Laksa at the Air Itam, Lor Bak at the Kheng Pin Café and more can be trusted for good food.
• Also known as the Hawkers paradise, the Penang street food is famous across the borders up till Singapore as well. The hawker buzz as seen in the Penang street food is seen nowhere else.
• Some most famous hawker stall dishes are char kway teow, prawn noodle soup, curry mee, and assam laksa.
Penang is a shine jewel in the glittering crown of Malaysia and tourists visit this trinket to explore the best of its beaches, islands, cuisine, culture, traditions and heritage. Visit the island city for its never ending charm and cool vibe.