Where East Meets West
Good food, heritage sites, and pristine beaches. All this awaits you in Penang, Malaysia. Located on the northwest coastal side of Malaysia, Penang is one of the smallest states in the country. This tropical island paradise boasts of sunny and warm weather most part of the year, with southwest monsoon rains during the months of April to September.
George Town: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
On July 2008, Penang’s historic capital city, George Town was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.” Take a walk down George Town’s illustrious history or ride the local triksaw and discover the city’s rich architectural heritage. One of Penang’s landmarks is Fort Cornwall with its star-shaped alignment of its ten-foot walls. Inside those massive walls are the century old structures such as prison cells, harbor light, chapel and other armaments.
The Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower is another towering attraction in George Town. Other places of interest are Penang’s first mosque Kapitan Keling Mosque known for its crowned copper domes and low walls; Oldest Anglican Church in Southeast Asia St. George’s Church with its Grecian columns; stately mansions and residences such as Penang Peranakan Mansion and Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion showcasing the opulent lifestyle of the wealthy as well as the best of Chinese architecture, customs and traditions; and temples and shrines such as the colorful Sri Mariamman Temple featuring distinctive South Indian architectural design, the oldest temple Kuan Yin Temple with its classic Chinese style of wavy rooftops and dragon stone carvings.
Penang National Park: Pristine Water and Turtle-Nesting Beaches
Penang’s three most popular beaches: Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi, and Teluk Bahang are located at the city’s hotel and resort belt. You might want to visit the more secluded Muka Head and Monkey Beach within Penang National Park. Other beaches in the area are: Teluk Bahang, Teluk Tukun, Tanjung Aling, Teluk Ketapang, Pantai Kerachut, Teluk Kampi and Pantai Mas.
Aside from its beautiful beaches, Penang National Park is also a sanctuary to various butterfly species with its Butterfly Farm in Teluk Bahang. The national park also houses the Penang Bird Park, the Penang Botanic Gardens, the Tropical Fruit Farm, the Bukit Jambul Orchid and Hibiscus Garden, and Tropical Spice Garden.
Five-Star Hotels to Affordable Hostels
Like any cosmopolitan city, Penang offers a wide array of accommodation from its five-star classy hotels to mid-range hotels, backpackers’ hostels and budget guesthouses. Choose what suits your budget. Places to stay include Sunway Hotel, Holiday Inn Resort, Golden Sands Resort, Lone Pine Hotel, Eastern and Oriental Hotel, 100 Cintra Street, Malibu Café, Oriental Hotel, Grand Continental Hotel, and YMCA International Hostel.
Good food, Great Night Fun, and Shopping Spree
Recognized for its street foods by TIME magazine in 2004, Penang offers a diversity of eastern cuisine with a mix and twist of Malay, Indian, Thai, and Chinese. You can savor all these local delicacies at Pulau Tikus, New Lane, Gurney Drive, Chulia Street and Penang Road. Another place enjoy the gastronomic delights of Penang is Kayu Nasi Kandar. This place offers delectable Indian and Malay dishes at reasonable prices. Take a feast on chicken tandoori, fish curry, and vegetarian dishes.
For those posh romantic candle-light dinners, go to 1885 at the E&O Hotel and enjoy a sumptuous dinner of roast duck and sea bass with truffle sauce. For small bites of snacks and sweet cravings, there is Bake ‘n’ Take, a small cafe that serves sandwiches, cakes, rolls, and other light snacks. If you want a place to enjoy the night away, there is Bagan Lounge for romantic evenings of jazz, great food, and fairy lights.
Before you head back home, do not forget to visit Queensbay Mall for souvenirs and other items. With its 2.5 million sq. ft area, the 9-storey Queensbay Mall is the biggest shopping place in Penang. It houses five-storey, 500 shopping outlets. Another shopping haven in Penang is Gurney Plaza with over 300 outlets and cinema complex with 12 halls. You can also visit Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (KOMTAR), the first multi-level shopping complex or Penang Times Square, both are at George Town. Also, worth visiting are bazaars and night markets like Chowrasta Market and Campbell Street for local produce, souvenirs, and textiles.
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