Distinctly Asian with a dash of British flavour, East meets West in Penang, with its traditional temples, colonial architecture, and world-renowned street food.
The potpourri of Penang's diverse cultures is best sampled through a steaming hot serving of the many cuisines on the island. Constantly voted as one of Asia's best locations for sumptuous street food, the melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European culinary traditions is a stimulating adventure for the tastebuds. Make your way to a street stall in Malaysia's food capital and dig into famed favourites like nasi kandar, char kway teow or laksa.
A large island off the northwestern coast of West Malaysia, Penang is a charming Asian city fused with a dazzling array of well-preserved classical Victorian architecture, mostly found within the capital of the city, Georgetown. Colonial-era buildings like Penang City Hall, Fort Cornwallis and the Penang State Museum make an interesting sight for history buffs and architecture fans alike.
You will be photographing colonial architecture, dunking your coins into the wishing well at the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, and listening to the calls of prayer at the Kapitan Keling Mosque, all in one afternoon on this culturally diverse and harmoniously multiracial island. A must-see is the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, a restored mansion filled with enthralling antiques from around the world which recreates the lavish lifestyle afforded by wealthy Chinese Straits families in the past.
Take a break from the city for a hike or camp in the Penang National Park, where animal lovers can spot a wide range of wildlife from nesting green turtles to the majestic Brahminy Kite eagles. Explore the nearby Penang Butterfly Farm, a tropical fairyland of winged beauties well-loved by both adults and children. And be sure to check out the Tropical Spice Garden, one of Malaysia’s premier eco-tourism destinations featuring more than 100 herbs and spices growing wild.
For some great views over Penang, head to the top of Penang’s tallest building, Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak, shortened to KOMTAR, which has a viewing platform. Most visitors stay in central Georgetown and the city can mostly be covered by foot. The Rapid Penang bus routes provide a convenient way to get to places further away from the city centre. When in Georgetown, look out for the free Central Area Transit (CAT) shuttle bus, which services major attractions in the area.
The island's tropical climate makes it an attractive year-round destination. With its blend of cultures, it is very easy for your visit to coincide with one of the numerous cultural celebrations. Some of the more dazzling ones include the Chinese New Year celebrations in the Kek Lok Si Temple, and Deepavali, the five-day Hindu “Festival of Lights”, held between October and November.