Penang Malaysia is time for a true adventure, something a little different. Coined as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ aspects of Penang stand out as a stark contrast to Kuala Lumpar.
Penang is full of history, home to mansions, impressive churches, cemeteries and cultural shops. Several of these historical sites are still in use, having been repurposed or running since being built. Malay colonies are abundant, an authentic ‘Kampung’ village district. Some of the most elaborate temples, such as the Snake Temple and Thaipusam chalk-marked roads, spread across the island, adding to a fascinating manufactured topography.
Penang was affirmed as UNESCO world cultural heritage site, and many Chinese family houses are also used as temples or are reconditioned to become boutique hotels. One notable example is the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion. Remnants of the British administration are plentiful, and Fort Cornwallis happens to be the most significant preserved fort in all of Malaysia.
Penang airport may not seem much to look at from the outside, but it’s ahead of its game with mod cons in place and USB charging ports around every corner. Direct flights to Penang are not so common, especially if it’s an international flight. However, there’s quite a bit to do to kill time when you arrive at the airport, such as the usual duty-free outlets, cafés and restaurants, and premium passenger lounges. You can quickly get hold of a rental car from Penang International Airport, or there’s an abundance of taxis available. Penang airport can handle around 6.5 million passengers yearly, particularly since the second terminal was opened to cater to the increase in passenger traffic.
Things to do in Penang
After arriving in the heart of Penang, one of the first things you’ll notice is the Dharmikarama Burmese temple. The artwork there is simply unique, and the sheer amount of colour is enough to blow you away. Nothing compares to its dominating presence when the magnificent structure is right before you. After some keepsakes on your memory card and you’re all photographed out, what better to tempt your taste buds with the odours of wonderful delicacies? The good news is that Penang is known explicitly for some of the best food in Malaysia.
If you’ve heard of the local hawker cuisine then you’ll know how popular Gurney Drive outdoor food court and Kooky alleyway restaurant Line Clear are for the best Char Koay Teow in the region.
If you fancy a view with ambience then Feringgi Grill is a must. The dishes showcase modern culinary tastes, and the mouthwatering food can be cooked right before your eyes. The Feringgi Grill, which is part of the Shangri-La hospitality group, offers diners a warm and cosy ambience with views of majestic rain trees.
George Town Penang
Another thing you’ll want to get a photo of is when you get a famous Trishaw ride. This is great fun and a terrific way to get from A to B. You can ask the driver to take you around the sights and get all of this done within the hour. It costs you around RM30 per hour, but the best thing about taking a trishaw ride is that you can always negotiate the price with the driver.
Before comfortable taxis and buses were designed and available, thousands of trishaws moulded Penang’s transportation system in the 1950s. Sadly today, the numbers dwindled to 200 trishaws in George Town alone, which is now a part of the city’s living heritage. Also, don’t forget the Clan Jetties and Pengkalan Weld, which is a great way to see some of the original architecture in the local town.
Stepping back in time and weaving your own rattan baskets is something you may not get a chance to do too often. Unfortunately, artisans of this calibre are dying out, so it is great to sit down and learn how locals learned their craft and ask how many baskets they can make daily. Conversing with the humble locals will only add to your positive experience of this incredible island.
Penang is filled with an abundance of exciting places, and we haven’t even mentioned the plethora of museums, street art and studios.