Penang, the feted UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, witnesses the meeting of west and east culture. “The Pearl of the Orient” is completely wonderful – the history, architecture, street arts – especially its scrumptious food that includes char kuey teow, asam laksa and nasi kandar. November until February is the best time to visit Penang because it will not be as hot and humid compared to other months.
Without further ado, here is our list of the top 10 places you should visit in Penang.
Batu Ferringhi Beach
There are more than a dozen beautiful beaches that stretch alongside the island of Penang, and the most prominent one is Batu Ferringhi. This adventure-filled beach offers multiple activities for adrenaline junkies such as parasailing and jet-skiing. Or you can even horse-ride on the sandy golden beach. Here is an interesting one, there is a helicopter tour to view Penang from Batu Ferringhi beach. Isn’t that amazing? After these activities, relax and enjoy the scene from one of the foot reflexology and fish spas available around the area. There is also a wide range of food choices from local to international at the various pubs and restaurants along the coastline.
Batu Ferringhi Night Market
When you talk about Penang and Batu Ferringhi, you should never forget its night market. This open-air bazaar is one of the major attractions in Batu Ferringhi you must not skip if you are around. There is a lot to see and buy while you stroll, from souvenirs to a variety of fake goods. If you are good at bargaining, you can get these items at lower prices. It is a fun place to hang out at night and is an even better place to find street food. How can you forget the street foods when you talk about the night market right?
The crisp air of Penang Hill has been attracting people to it since back in colonial times. The climate is suitable for people to walk through trails or view the panorama. On a clear day, you can get a magnificent view of George Town and even the north of Kedah. It is especially spectacular at night. A Hindu temple and a mosque are available at the peak for those looking to connect with the divine. To get to the top, you can go for a 3-hour hike, but most people prefer to go up the Penang Hill via a funicular trip that oversees a lush jungle, rainforest animals, and colonial bungalows.
Fun fact: it is the steepest tunnel track in the world and the longest funicular track in Asia.
Penang State Museum and Art Galleries
The Penang State Museum and Art Galleries establishment keep national and state treasures such as daggers, furniture, jewellery, costumes, and paintings of old Penang, among others. There are two sections in the museum – the permanent and the temporary exhibit – showing historical exhibits and events in Penang. For example, one section recounts a bloody riot between Chinese secret societies in 1867. Appreciate the state’s heritage at this splendid establishment at a meagre entrance fee of only RM1.
ESCAPE theme park
Just half an hour away from George Town, you can escape the hectic city life at one of the best theme parks in Malaysia. The ESCAPE theme park has exciting outdoor rides and attractions such as water slides, bungee jumping, and flying fox set in lush tropical foliage of Penang. The 29-acre park has a variety of activities and obstacles suitable for a wide range of age groups, energy levels, and abilities. It can be as thrilling as a free fall jump from a 20-metre high platform or a less frightening rope swing at a lower elevation. This theme park is especially suitable for a family outing and team building to have fun and enjoy the thrilling obstacles in nature.
Penang National Park
The Penang National Park house over 400 plant species and 150 bird species at its 23 square metre territory. Visitors may do various activities in the wild such as jungle walks through the wide range of terrains and landscapes or fishing and sunbathing on the quiet golden sand beaches. There are private guides and boat operators to take you to beaches around the park notably Pantai Kerachut that has clean meromictic lake. Adventurous travellers can hikes, walks, and camps to get to the quieter and more secluded shores around the park. You should give the smallest national park in Malaysia a go because you know what they say, great things come in a small package.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
One iconic scene in “Crazy Rich Asian” was filmed at Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. It was when Constance Wu who played Rachel Chu and Malaysia’s own Michelle Yeoh who played Eleanor Young go head to head in a mahjong match. The UNESCO heritage award-winning buildings is a traditional Chinese mansion built in the 1880s with 38 rooms, five courtyards, 220 timber-framed windows. The courtyard house with traditional Hakka and Teochew style architecture retains a vintage interior design with antique furniture, but it is now a four-star hotel. Join the daily tour for an insight into how the mansion came to be and the heritage of Cheong Fatt Tze.
Kek Lok Si Temple
Kek Lok Si Temple located in Air Hitam is the biggest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and South East Asia. The temple holds various carvings, sculptures and murals with millions of buddha images. A 36.5-meter high bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin and a seven-tier Ban Po Thar pagoda is the main attraction of this temple. There are also prayer halls, pagodas, bell towers and a tortoise pond inside. Monks and Taoists striving for immortality come to the temple as a retreat. On Chinese New Year, the building lights up with thousands of bright hanging lanterns. The site will be almost magical.
Penang’s Dark Mansion is an art museum showcasing 3D images with glow in the dark effects where visitors can interact with and take creative photos. The transfixing optical illusions use special light effects that transition from day to night. The small museum integrates artworks with science and technology, and it is great for kids. Visitors can paint their body and face with fluorescent paint that would glow in the dark. You do not have to worry if you come alone because the museum staff will help you take photos.
Book Dark Mansion tickets here (accessible via mobile phone for now).
Penang Snake Temple
The unusual Penang Snake Temple will be good for a quick stop before leaving because it is only located 3km from the Bayan Lepas Airport. It is a small Chinese temple with various species of snakes from the non-venomous python to the highly venomous viper pit. However, no one has ever been bitten by those snakes before.
There is a big incense burner at the temple that somehow tranquilizes the snakes and makes them almost motionless. The entrance is free but the temple welcomes donations.
There are so many things to see and enjoy in Penang, so why not CatchThatBus today to one of the best cities in Malaysia – Penang!
Featured Photo Credit: Trip.com