When you think of an Asian destination, you might not think of Penang immediately – but the state is an underrated gem that will make you never wanna leave. The cultural heritage and old-school charm intertwine with modern, young-spirited attractions. To get the most out of the vibrant state, here are 10 best places to visit in Penang.
- George Town’s Streets
The streets of George Town are lively, breaming with hawker food stalls, historic architecture and townscape, numerous houses of worship that demonstrate the city’s multiculturalism, as well as unique street arts that you can’t find elsewhere. The city was also officially recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, proving the city’s cultural significance.
- Penang Hill
A series of hills 821 metres above the sea level, Penang Hill promises a panoramic view of the island and a cool getaway from the tropical heat downtown. To get there, you can take the historic funicular train which has been run since 1923 – or you can hike instead through the hiking trails about 7 kilometres long.
- Penang National Park
It is reportedly the smallest national park in the world at 2,300 hectares wide, but Penang National Park certainly feels big. The park is also surrounded by great attractions and natural wonders, such as the pristine Pantai Kerachut (with turtle sanctuary), Meromictic Lake (where sea water and fresh water meet), Tanjung Ailing, Muka Head lighthouse (built in 1883) and more.
- Kek Lok Si Temple
Situated on an Ayer Itam hill, this Buddhist temple has been an institution for the Malaysian Chinese community since early 20th century. The combination of a Chinese octagonal base, middle tiers of Thai architecture design and a Burmese crown demonstrates the temple’s embrace of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. The temple also features a large fish pond, gardens and 12 animal statues symbolising the Chinese zodiac.
- Batu Ferringhi
As the most popular beach destination in Penang, Batu Ferringhi is not to be missed. The numerous hotels and dining places around the area allow visitors to explore the seashore comfortably. A lot of water sports are also hosted on the beach, including jet skis, parasailing, banana boats and more.
- Penang State Museum and Art Gallery
Located downtown, Penang State Museum offers plenty information on the island’s history and culture at just RM1 (AU$0.30). Pictures and artefacts such as porcelain, costumes, jewellery and furniture will help you learn more about Penang and Malaysia. The art gallery, on the other hand, features the best works of artists from Malaysia and around the world.
- Penang Bird Park
The first and largest of its kind in the country, Penang Bird Park features more than 3,000 birds of over 300 species. With beautiful landscapes and collections of diverse flora, visitors are allowed to hand-feed and take picture with the birds!
- Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
If you’re in town for one night, consider staying at the iconic Cheong Fatt Tze mansion. The blue building, which was first constructed in the 19th century, mixes the architecture styles of Hakka and Teochew. The mansion has been recognised for its Chinese heritage conservation and luxurious, historic look.