12 things you should while visiting Penang

March 29, 2010

Copyright (c) 2009 Nowal Khan

Penang or Pinang has been known as one of Southeast Asia’s most excellent tourist destinations for many years now. Aptly called as “Pearl of the Orient”, Penang offers wonderful civilizing tradition and diverse inhabitants which cannot be found anywhere else around the globe. In general, Penang is a great place all by itself and travelers find this small place full of fascinating things to do and many places to visit even on foot. Here are some suggested things you must do while visiting Penang.

01 Climb up Penang Hill: Your trip to Penang should include Penang Hill. This popular tourist spot is also known as Bukit Bendera, referring to its most developed peak, the Flagstaff Hill. The most recommended way up to Penang Hill is through the Penang Hill Railway. This is a funicular railway that will bring passengers all the way up to Flagstaff Hill. Funicular train leaves every 20-25 minutes interval and carries up to 80 passengers per trip. Penang Hill is also accessible by 4×4 vehicles through the “jeep track” which is a tarred road most commonly used by residents of the hill.

There are also trails that one can follow such as Moongate trail, trail from Air Itam Dam to Tiger Hill, trail from Hye Keat Estate and one coming from the Municipality Park. From Penang Botanical Gardens, it will take 3 hours to reach the top of the hill by foot.

02 Shop at Batu Ferringhi Night Bazaar: Batu Ferringhi Night Bazaar is a nightly affair in Batu Ferrunghi starting from 7pm until 1am. After the sun sets in, the whole stretch of Batu Ferringi is transformed into a night market definitely worth checking out. You will find over 1000 stalls in Batu Ferringhi which are lined near the main road. Shopping addicts will surely have a high time sorting out goods ranging from clothes to paintings and everything in between.

03 Enjoy food and sight at Gurney Drive: Gurney Drive is famous for its mouth watering cuisine. Aside from the food, this road is made popular by having the best view of the sunset. Just outside the Georgetown City, Gurney Drive faces the sea of Penang, truly a relaxing experience and quite fulfilling to the stomach as well. Dinners are served in this side of town where most hawker stalls open around 6pm. One can find something to please the palate, for sure. Top 3 recommended dishes to try are: Char Keow Teow, Asam Laksa and Hokkien Mee. Gurney Drive is also home to Gurney Plaza, a shopping center, where you can find popular Malaysian and foreign brands.

04 Be a Shopaholic: With all the shopping centers in Penang, you will never run out of options. Penang is considered as the biggest shopping destination in northern Malaysia with huge department stores and shopping malls in and out of the island. Queensbay Shopping Mall in Bayan Lepas is the largest and longest shopping mall in Penang Island housing more than 400 local and international shops. Gurney Plaza, on the other hand, has the biggest Cineplex in northern Malaysia. Pranglin Plaza is noted for local finds.

05 Enjoy dazzling 360 view of Penang from KOMTAR: During your visit to KOMTAR, go to the 60th floor to enjoy the fascinating 360 view of the Penang Island. KOMTAR is the tallest building in Penang and proved to be an important landmark for the area. This building houses government offices, shopping complexes, hotels and exhibition center.

06 Ride a ferry from Butterworth: A ferry ride from Butterworth is hard to miss since this is the main gateway to Penang Island. All ferry rides to Penang come from Butterworth terminal and provide a great photo opportunity for travelers featuring a magnificent landscape. The ferries run 24 hours a day.

07 Take a Georgetown Heritage Walk: Of course, Penang travel is more or less equivalent to Georgetown Heritage Walk. Georgetown Heritage Walk features century-old, historical sites and religious temples from various faiths. It is located at the northeastern side of Penang Island. Some of its famous attractions are the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Fort Cornwallis, Penang Islamic Museum, Pinang Peranakan Mansion and Queen Victoria Clock Tower.

08 Enjoy nightlife in Upper Penang Road: Your day in Penang is not yet over following gloomy night; check out Georgetown’s nightlife in upper Penang road with live music, DJs and bands. Karaoke is a popular activity, aside from dancing and just plain chilling out. Bring your friends for a round of singing and drinking til wee hours of the morning!

09 Cross Penang Bridge, one of the largest in the world: Penang Bridge is Asia’s longest bridge and it offers a spectacular view of Penang. This bridge is the pride and joy of Penang and a national landmark. It is also a standing symbol of Penang’s economic development. Penang Bridge is host to annual Penang Bridge Marathon.

10 Visit largest Buddhist Temple in Malaysia: The Buddhist temple of Kek Lok Si is situated in Ait Itam and it is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. Kek Lok Si Temple is home to series of monasteries, prayer halls, temples and beautifully landscaped gardens. It is also the best known temple in Penang, Malaysia.

11 Meet Francis Light at Fort Cornwallis: During your visit to historical Fort Cornwallis, you will see the statue of Francis Light. This old star-shaped fort is located at the northeastern coast of Penang and the oldest of three lighthouses in the area. Fort Cornwallis also features the Seri Rambai Cannon as always seen in pictures.

12 Visit nearby Islands: Small islands surrounding Penang are also worth looking up to. Pulau Aman or Island of Peace is a small island that houses the traditional Malay village. Other islands include Pulau Tioman, Pulau Rawa and Pulau Babi Besar. Although there is limited information about these nearby islands, a local tourist guide can help you find them.

On the whole, Penang, Malaysia is a great place to visit due to its almost side-by-side visitor spots, travelers won’t run out of things to do. This list is just a taste of what Penang can offer its visitors and it is not entirely impossible to fell in love with this beautiful island. Truly, a Penang travel is a trip worth remembering!