If you are looking for a versatile destination that can give you a combination of old and new, adventure and relaxation, culture and nature and beaches as well as mountains, then Penang is worth consideration. Known as the Pearl of the Orient, the 2nd largest state of Malaysia has got all these elements in the right proportion. Here are the top suggestions on what you can do in Penang.
Walk the Street of Harmony
Penang is an eclectic fusion of cultures that coexist together and you can experience it as you walk down the unique Street of Harmony in its capital city- George Town. This 800 m stretch will showcase a lovely church, a Chinese temple, a Hindu temple and a mosque next to each other. The religious landmarks were all built around the 18th century and are still in use by the residents of Penang.
Get some beach time
Penang, being an island, has no dearth of beaches; in fact, you might just find yourself staying close to one. You can choose to visit the secluded beaches like Pulau Kendi for activities like snorkelling or the popular ones like Batu Ferringhi for all the other water sports. Do pay a visit to the night market of Batu Ferringhi for good pottery articles and Batik wares.
Chase the butterflies at Penang Hill
A funicular takes you high on Penang Hill and here you can try out a nature trail through the rainforests of Malaysia. Catch a glimpse of the rich green vegetation while enjoying the cool weather of the hills. Be ready to encounter giant squirrels, colourful butterflies and chirping birds. The giant swing at The Habitat is fun to try.
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Visit Chew Jetty
When the Chinese clans arrived in Penang, they converted part of their docks to homes- homes on stilts. Still a part of the city, the Chew Jetty is now not just homes of the Chinese clans but also a great place to shop and enjoy their unique culture. Spare some time to sit in the cafes and chat with the inhabitants there to hear interesting tales of the place.
Embark on a street art tour
George Town has been declared as a Unesco World Heritage Site- not for any historical architecture but for its old walls which reflect some stunning works of art. The best part is that they are not at all passive but very engaging – so much that you will find yourself posing with each of their props. A proper street art tour is recommended, and while you are at it, keep an eye out for the wrought iron artworks along the same walls.
Explore Chinese mansions
Step into Penang Peranakan- the ornate Chinese mansion of Baba and Nonya, now converted into a museum. Other than the grandeur of its interiors, the various dimensions of Feng Shui will also mesmerise you. The ingenious use of mirrors to see the corners, the open courtyard for good vibes, the curved corners of the furniture and the distinct use of colours along with the tales of luck will keep you occupied for at least three hours.
Go on a temple tour
Temple tour in Penang will lead you to the best of two cultures- the Chinese and the Hindu. Climb up the Waterfall temple to see where the South Indian festival of Thaipusam takes place. Head over to the Kek Lok Si temple for its calm Buddhist vibes. While you admire the towering statue of the Goddess of Mercy, you must go in to see its unique pagoda that is made on three different architectural styles – Thai, Chinese and Burmese. It might be a good idea to also tie your Wishing ribbon to the Wishing Tree- you never know when your wish might come true!
Indulge in street food
With such a variety in cultures comes the most delightful mixture in food. The best part- you really don’t have to hunt much for George Town is full of corners with rich street food. Head to Little India if you are craving for the Indian spices or just ask around anywhere for the famous dish of Penang- Char Koay Teow. For Desserts, don’t miss the Apom Manis inspired by the Indian Appams.
Not just the traditional museums, Penang has a selection of some contemporary and fun ones too. Try Teddyville for those cute and cuddly pictures or the Penang 3D Trick Art Museum if you need some laughs. The Yogyakarta Batik Museum showcases the best of this art on canvas while the Wonderfood museum will definitely have you salivating.
Get a bird’s eye view of George Town
With its numerous vantage points, you can quite pick your spot for that stunning view of George Town. For the best experience head to the tallest tower of Penang- Komtar Penang and take the glass skywalk on the 68th floor. You not only get to see what is around you but pretty much what is below you too. Additionally, you also get to spend time at their indoor theme park with mirror maze, 7D theatres and aquariums to entertain you.