Top 10 Things to Do in Penang 2014

What to See in Penang

When visiting a destination, some things you can do without, while some things are considered the essence of a place – so much so that to miss them would be as good as not having been to that destination in the first place. The same goes with Malaysia’s heritage island, Penang.

Featuring an interesting and eclectic mix of cultural, historical and natural attractions, Penang offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities. Listed below are ten of the island’s must-see attractions that you must cover in your itinerary if you wish to experience Penang in a short space of time.

Penang Hill Ayer Itam

Penang Hill, or Flagstaff Hill (Bukit Bendera) as it is officially known, rises 821 metres above sea level, providing a welcome respite from the heat down below. One of the most popular attractions in Penang, a trip up Penang Hill is something that is not to be missed when visiting this island; breathtaking panoramic views of the whole island awaits you at the top, as far as the eyes can see. On a clear day, you can even see as far as Seberang Perai. A funicular train takes you all the way up to the top of the hill in half an hour. On top you will find a restaurant, a Hindu temple, a church, a mosque and a snake show where you can take photos with a tame python for a fee. Read More...

Kek Lok Si Temple Ayer Itam

Arguably the largest Buddhist temple complex in Southeast Asia, Kek Lok Si Temple stands on top of a hill in the little town of Air Itam. Founded more than a hundred years ago, its temple complex is filled with beautifully-landscaped gardens and sacred temples. A striking seven-tiered pagoda called The Pagoda of 1000 Buddhas – which combines Thai, Chinese and Burmese styles in one structure - houses a stunning collection of Buddha statues made from all sorts of precious materials. Also can be found within the temple complex are the statues of The Four Heavenly Kings, guarding the four points of the compass – North, South, West and East – with the statue of The Laughing Buddha in the middle. Read More...

Penang Road Georgetown

Penang’s version of Hollywood’s Rodeo Drive, Penang Road is arguably the most important thoroughfare on the island. A mixture of nouveau-riche and old-world heritage, it runs the length from Lebuh Farquhar in the north, to Jalan Gurdwara in the south. Brightly lit, Penang Road is divided into four main sections and is best known for its Upper Penang Road part which acts as the island’s party central. Hemmed in on one side by The Garage nightclub and the City Bayview Hotel, there’s a variety of upscale restaurants, karaoke joints and nightclubs here, plus a number of fashionable boutiques and antique shops. Penang Road is the site for the popular Chowrasta Market as well as the monthly Little Penang Street Market. Read More...

Penang War Museum Bukit Maung

Built by the British army right on top of Bukit Maung, the War Museum bore witness to the fall of the British army in the hands of the Japanese invaders, making it a significant historical point in Penang. The ancient fortress holds a dark story from the time when it was transformed into a Japanese army base; tales of war prisoners being tortured for information colour the walls of the fortress. As a result, Bukit Maung earns the reputation of a haunted location, sending chills down the spines of locals who daren’t go up the hill after dark. Turned into a War Museum by a local three decades later after a period of restoration, the fortress still maintains its underground tunnels and ventilation shafts, ammunition bunkers, logistic centre, canon firing bays, sleeping quarters, cook houses and medical infirmary. Read More...

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion Leith Street

Built on the principles of Feng Shui over seven years from 1896 to 1904 by a team of master craftsmen from China, the award-winning Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion was once the abode of an influential Nanyang industrialist and a first-class Mandarin in the Manchu government, who had made Penang his home in the early 1890s. The house’s beautiful, intricate details and lush interior have been well-preserved and restored throughout the years, representing the best of 18th and 19th-century Chinese architecture, which also happens to be one of the three traditional Chinese mansions left outside of China. Read More...

Fort Cornwallis Lebuh Light

Named after Charles Cornwallis, the Governor General of India, Fort Cornwallis is one of the most well-known landmarks in Penang. The fortress’ 10-feet walls are laid out in the shape of a star, and within those walls, some of the original structures built over a century ago can still be seen – a chapel, some prison cells, ammunition storage area, a harbour light, the original flagstaff and some old bronze cannons, which includes the infamous 17th-century Dutch cannon called ‘Seri Rambai’, believed by the locals to have an encouraging effect on women’s fertility. Originally built out of wood, this historical attraction now houses a tourist information kiosk, a café, and open-air amphitheatre, a history gallery, a souvenir centre and tour guides to show visitors around and provide them with a peek into the fortress’ history. Read More...

Tropical Spice Garden Teluk Bahang

Featuring over 500 exotic species of flora and fauna, the magnificent Tropical Spice Garden is a living museum of botanical wonders spread over eight acres of lush nature conservation land. With 11 garden trails and stream crossings, waterfalls and structures made of recycled organic materials, this award-winning attraction also features a Spice Museum, a Spice Café (where you can get a full view of Teluk Bahang while sipping herbal tea on the open terrace) and a Gift Centre (where you can buy organic gift items and souvenirs which include fresh spices, citronella mosquito repellent, sandalwood soaps, massage oils and perfume oils). Read More...

Penang Tropical Fruit Farm Teluk Bahang

On the hilly terrain of Teluk Bahang, approximately 800 feet above sea level, the Tropical Fruit Farm flourishes with all sorts of tropical and sub-tropical fruit trees, from durians to West Indian cherries. Spread over 25 acres, the orchard was developed for the conservation of rare and exotic fruits, as well as a means to promote local fruits to visitors both local and international. Boasting over 250 types of fruit including some rare and exotic ones originating from faraway lands such as the Caribbean and Central Africa, the orchards also features only organic produce, using organic fertilisers instead of chemicals and pesticides. Read More...

Penang Khoo Khongsi Georgetown

The Khoo Khongsi is a Chinese clanhouse for individuals with the same surname – in this case, Khoo. The clanhouse represents the family’s social and spiritual commitments between extended relations, ancestors and the outside community. Embodying the triumphs of the Khoo family, the Penang Khoo Khongsi – also known as Dragon Mountain Hall – is quite an impressive architectural feat that personifies good luck and wealth. Stone carvings adorn the entrance hall and pavilions, fantastic murals portraying birthdays, weddings and most memorably, the 36 divine guardians sprinkle the interior. Overhead, massive paper lamps cast the abode in an orange glow and stunning ceramic sculptures of immortals, carp fish and dragons dance across the roof ridges. Read More...

Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram Burmah Road

A Thai temple built in 1845, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram houses the giant Reclining Buddha statue. Measuring 33 metres long, the statue is said to be the third largest of its kind. It signifies Buddha’s total detachment from worldly matters during the last days of his life, and the statue is said to be Buddha’s final resting position before he dies. Besides the enchanting reclining Buddha, you can also find smaller Buddha statues in varying guises and positions around the temple, as well as those of Thai deities. There are also colourful murals depicting Buddha’s life story. Read More...


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