Penang Island was one of the best places we visited during our Malaysia trip, supposed to be one of the most expensive places to stay in Malaysia. The island is dotted with colonial heritage, centuries-old temples and is rich in culture, history and lip smacking food that makes it one of the most popular and visited places in Malaysia. This vibrant city has a fascinating story too.
Legend holds that Captain Francis Light cleared land for Penang’s Fort Cornwallis by firing canons filled with gold coins into the jungle, and the locals who used to come to the island to clear the bush used to take the gold coins. The island is now a popular business hub and a major trading hub, connected to the mainland via two bridges.
It took us around 3 hours to reach Penang from Cameron Highland.
While the food in Penang is reason enough to visit but we compile for you some of the top places to visit on Penang island.
1. View from Penang Hill:
Perched at 821 meters high, Penang Hill, or Flagstaff Hill (Bukit Bendera) offers a breathtaking view of the island. Just a 7-minute funicular train ride takes you to one of the most popular attractions of the island. It’s not just about the view but there are also resorts up there which are a welcome break from the lowland heat and are perfect escape on weekends.
At the top, there is small cafe to sit, relax and enjoy the stunning views of the island. Our guide Jeevan said the cafe is considered to be one of the most romantic cafes of the Penang. So, now you know where to take your loved one when you want to pop The Question. You have got an idea 😉
Not just that the peak has a beautiful Hindu temple and mosque side by side sharing same boundary but also a church. Needless to say, Malaysia is truly Asia, a place where all the religions exist in harmony. This makes me fall in love with the country more.
2. Snake Temple:
Also known as Temple of Azure Cloud. This mystical temple is one of a kind built in 1850 to commemorate Chor Soo Kong, a Buddhist monk.
As the name suggest it is not a temple where you have a statue or some sculpture of Snake but a temple where you can find real snakes left open coiling around the pillars, tables and where ever they want to. It might sound scary and creepy. But these snakes do not harm anyone. And some of them do love posing 😉 Kidding not. You can pose with a Python around your neck too. There were so many photographs of visitors pin to the board . Well, I was too scared to even fantasy a snake around my neck and happily settled down with a picture with a fake one 😛 . Jeevan told us that earlier there used to be so many snakes all around the temple but as years passed their population has been drastically reduced. So, visit the temple before all snakes are gone. HURRY !!!!
3. Kek Lok Si Temple :
Popularly known as Temple of Supreme Bliss. Tucked on top of a hill in the town of Air Itam is one of the most beautiful Buddhist temple, decked up with Chinese lantern in red and orange colours hanging all around the temple as part of the Chinese new year. The smell of incense covered the air and silence prevailed in the premises of the main temple.
As we walked up we saw a striking seven-tiered pagoda called The Pagoda of 1000 Buddhas – which houses a stunning collection of Buddha statues. The temple complex is guarded by the four points of the compass – North, South, West, and East with statues of The Four Heavenly Kings and The Laughing Buddha in the middle. Dotted with beautifully-landscaped gardens and sacred temples the sky garden also has a tall bronze statue of Kuan Yin (The Goddess of Mercy)!
4. Fort Cornwallis
Penang has a rich history and a fascinating past, so a visit to Fort Cornwallis is a must. The fort was built for the defensive purpose in 1786, it is set to close to the Esplanade and Penang Clock tower and was named after Marquis Charles Cornwallis.
6. Food Tours:
Eat your way through Penang and experience the real Malaysia through delicious tastings in the original foodie neighborhood – Gurney Drive, sample the diverse cuisines offered by the hawkers. Satiate your taste buds with the incredible range of Penang cuisine – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Peranakan. Malaysian love their food, so for all the foodie’s out there, a food trail through Penang is a must.
Read: A Foodie Heaven, Malaysia
5. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
The blue-walled mansion was the home of an influential Chinese industrialist in the early 1890s, the award-winning Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. The mansion was one of the three traditional Chinese mansions outside of China of the Cheong which is now a UNESCO heritage monument. Built by talented craftsmen from China on feng shui design including has five granite courtyards, 38 rooms, seven staircases and 22 stained glass windows.
In 1989, when Cheong’s youngest son died, the mansion was restored, painted in indigo blue and converted into a 16-room boutique heritage hotel and museum combo. Guided tours take place at 11:00, 13:30 and 15:00, with an entry fee of RM12 per visitor.
7. Take a stroll through George Town’s heritage streets
Walk through George Town’s heritage streets such as Lebuh Armenian, Love Lane, and Lebuh Muntri to enjoy refurbished shop & houses that are now converted to trendy cafes and boutique hotels while some remain antique stores, small businesses, and Chinese coffee shops.
Read: Heritage Walk at Ipoh
8. Street Art in Penang
Follow your trusty map and explore the street art at George town where the old walls have been painted and turned into a piece of art by various painters from all around the country. Some of the famous murals are painted by Ernst.
9. Night Markets:
Stroll and marvel at the street markets at Night Market that starts from the Hark rock hotel. You can find everything in the streets and small shops, from books on Penang history, artists displaying their pieces and locally produced products such as jewellery and clothing, lamps, fashion accessories, bags, shoes, watches and much more. But don’t forget to haggle before buying anything 😉 they might quote an obnoxious price. And if you are not in a mood for shopping then there are a lot of cafes and bar around where you can spend some time. Devour on sumptuous Malaysian food and enjoy the live music.
10. Beach Bumming:
Done with all, now laze around the white sandy beaches of Penang Island at your resort. 🙂 🙂
Not just ten but this tiny island has a lot much to offer. There are many interesting places and things to do like adventure sports and amusement park for kids. You can hop over to Malaysia Tourism Site to check the entire list of attractions at Penang Island.
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Click HERE to find best Hotel Deals at Penang .
The Tales of a Traveler was invited for the Fam Trip organised by Malaysia Tourism.