Penang. The pearl of the orient. Penang is divded in two parts. The Island and the mainland. In this posting, i will share what the island can offer you. From beaches, sparkling waters, and a laid back island feel coupled with a big city experience. Penang is also known for its food and anyone who loves to eat will truly find a culinary paradise here, much of which is down to the mix of influences in the city.
Penang enjoys a large Chinese, Malay & Indian community. So it is not a surprised for you to find a fantastic and diverse food scene that includes fiery curries, toothsome noodles, and a plethora of street food delights. All of this is encircled by gorgeous architecture and the traditional center.
Penang’s capital, Georgetown, has been accorded a listing as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. This means that you can explore pretty ancient buildings as well as museums, forts, gardens and temples. Visitors to Penang will certainly not be short of places to visit and sights to check out on a trip here.
Let’s check out the best place to visit in Penang:
1. Fort Cornwallis
If you are in Penang for the first time, this is a must place to visit. Fort Cornwallis is one of the most famous sights in Penang and dates from the 18th century. It was built by the British East India Company under the direction of Sir Francis Light who was the founder of Penang and was designed to defend the city in case of an attack from the water.
The fort is still in good condition and from time to time you can see the maintenance work is progress.
2. Kek Lok Si Temple
Kek Lok Si Temple is famed for being one of the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia and as such you should make sure not to miss it if you are travelling to Penang.
Many Buddhist devotees consider this to be an important pilgrimage site and you can spot the beautiful towering Kek Lok Si Pagoda as well as the statue of Guanyin.
The statue is constructed in the shape of the Goddess of Mercy and stands at a height of 36.5 meters and the entire temple complex is built in a range of styles. As such make sure to look out for the Chinese base, Thai style mid-section, and the Burmese inspired top level.
3. Visit to Kapitan Keling Mosque
It is situated on the corner of Buckingham Street (Lebuh Buckingham) and Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling). This is the first mosque in Penang and built in the 19th century by the Indian Muslim traders in Georgetonw. The Kapitan Keling Mosque is also the largest in town. The complex is surrounded by low walls and topped with Moghul-style copper domes.
“Keling” is a Malay term for people of Indian origin, nowadays considered offensive but not so considered at the time when the mosque was built. The “Kapitan ” was a representative of the Indian community, like the “Kapitan Cina” for the Chinese community.
4. Explore Little India
Little India represents a small section of Penang but it is certainly not to be dismissed because of its size.
As you walk around Little India look out for shops selling gorgeous colorful saris as well as perfume emporiums and incense shops. Other venues blast Bollywood music onto the streets and this is also one of the best places in Penang to sample some street food.
These include deep fried pastries such as samosas and this is also a great place to find one of the most famous drinks in Malaysia which is Teh Tarik or a kind of tea made with condensed milk and poured from one cup to another in order to create a thick foam head.
5. Take a Tram Ride to Bukit Bendera
Penang Hill is without a doubt one of the top attractions in Penang and towers to a height of 812 meters above sea level. The hill offers some much needed respite from the fierce heat of the city and getting there is part of the fun.
Penang Hill is serviced by the Penang Hill Railway which is one of the oldest funicular systems in the world and once you get to the top you can take in the amazing views across to Langkawi and Kedah.
There are also a range of nature trails here if you like hiking and you can also trek to the hill from the neighboring Botanical Gardens if you fancy a workout. 🙂
6. Butterfly Farm
Anyone who likes flora and fauna should check out the Butterfly Farm in Batu Ferringhi. Its worth travelling to this Butterfly Farm. Here you will find an amazing 4,000 butterflies and 120 different species, all of which flutter around in a large and colorful garden.
Some of the species here include rare finds such as Yellow Bird Wing butterflies and Indian Leaf butterflies and the farm also works as a conservation center which is focused on breeding and caring for the habitats of these endangered species.
7. Trishaw Ride
One of the best ways to see Penang in an afternoon is to use one of its traditional modes of transport in the form of a colorful trishaw. The trishaws are either operated by a small motor or by pedal power. It is also usually covered in interesting design features such as fairy lights or flowers.
Riding in a trishaw also gives you to opportunity to check out some of the less visited parts of Georgetown and most drivers also act as guides and will fill you in on all the history of the areas you visit. But please be reminded that you are advice to ask for the price before you start your trip to avoid issues or argument on the pricing upon completion your ride.
8. Visit Khoo Kongsi
Khoo Kongsi is another one of Penang’s most iconic attractions and used to be a clan-house in the days of old. Nowadays the home has been turned into a museum and you will find gorgeous architecture here as well as elegant stone carvings that have a heavy Chinese influence.
The home was built in the 19th century and has a number of breathtaking signature features such as a large temple altar that is decorated with gold leaf and inlaid with ancestral tablets.
You can take a tour of the house and if you happen to be in town at the right time you may even be able to watch a Chinese Opera show here as several performances take place throughout the year.
Is that ALL?
Obviously no. There are plenty other interesting place to explore & visit. Ill share with you in the next posting.