Known as the “Pearl of the Orient”, Penang is one of the most famous island destinations in Asia with its natural beauty, colorful heritage, gracious hospitality and affordability. It is the one-stop destination for all travelers with a wide variety of restaurants, sidewalk cafes, discotheques, night markets, department stores and pristine beaches.
Known locally as Pulau Pinang is composed of a turtle-shaped island with an area of 285 square kilometers and a landstrip called Seberang Prai 48 kilometers wide.
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Getting to Penang
The island is highly accessible. Since 1985, the island has been joined with mainland Peninsular Malaysia with the Penang Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world. As a result, you can rent a car, motorbike or a taxi to get there. Tip: if you do choose to take a taxi going there, make sure you negotiate with the driver regarding the rate you will be paying to make sure that you are not going to be overcharged when you get to Penang. For those on a budget, there are plenty of buses that would be able to take you to Penang. Malayan Railways, which travels to and from Kulala Lumpur, Singapore has a stopover in Penang as well. In addition to you take a trip with the Bangkok – Butterworth Express by Thai Railway Network.
There are a number of ferries that bring tourists to Penang on a regular basis. The trip only takes about 20 minutes, giving you more time to enjoy the wonder and splendor Penang has to offer.
Malaysia Airlines as well as other international airlines have regular flights to Penang. Some of these airlines offer vacation packages as well, so it would be best to contact your travel agent beforehand.
Penang has hundreds of hotels and resorts for tourists. Some of the best hotels and resorts in Penang are the Copthorne Orchid Penang, Ferringhi Mutiara Apartment, Holiday Inn Penang, Hotel Equatorial Penang near Bayan Lepas, Lone Pine Hotel Penang, Eden Fairway Condominium Penang, Persiaran Gurney Hotel Penang, Seri Malaysia Hotel, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort or at the Shangri-La’s Golden Sands Resort Penang.
A Thai Buddhist temple situated on a 5-acre site, Wat Chayamangkalaram is home to the third largest reclining Buddha in the world. Many of the urns containing the ashes of dead family members and relatives are stored in the many niches located behind the reclining Buddha. Wat Chayamangkalaram is also home to be the highest pagoda structure in Malaysia, which is nine storeys high and measuring 165 feet. Huge statues of the mystical Naga serpents that link heaven to earth are found all over the complex. Admission is free. Taking pictures are not allowed inside the main temple itself.
The state mosque of Penang, located around a site measuring 4.5 square hectares in the suburb of Greenlane, is considered to be one of the most magnificent mosques in the country. It houses a chandelier situated in the prayer hall that measures twenty by sixteen feet. In order to visit the mosque, make sure that you first obtain permission from the State Religious Department. There is a dress code being observed here as well, so make sure that you dress appropriately.
Penang State Museum
The museum hosts a wide variety of paintings including eight of the ten original oil paintings of Capt. Robert Smith. It also contains various collections of Baba Nyonya porcelain, furniture, jewelry, costumes and other state treasures whose qualities are unsurpassed in beauty and historic value.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
The mansion is reminiscent of the 18th and 19th centuries and one of only three remaining buildings still standing located outside China. Its ancient tiled roofs, cobbled courtyards, russet brick walls and steel spiral stairways, rare collections of porcelain, sculptures, carvings, tapestries, embroideries, lacquers, bronzes and other antiques are enough to take anyone back in time.
Fort Cornwallis and King Edward Circus Clock Tower
Penang St. George ChurchFamous for the 60 foot clock tower built at the entrance of the fort which was presented in 1897 to Queen Victoria on her diamond jubilee with each foot signifying one year of her reign, these structures were originally wooden structures surrounded by cannons which the British retrieved from pirates. The fort’s main cannon called Seri Rambau dates back to 1613. According to local belief, women will be able to conceive a child if special prayers and flowers are placed inside its barrel.
Penang Hill is a popular rendezvous spot for both local people and tourists. Standing 830 meters above sea level, temperature drops down to about 18 degrees Celsius and offers a wonderful panoramic view of Georgetown and the coastal regions of mainland Peninsular Malaysia.
Forest Recreation Park
This is a beautiful park located on the northwest part of Penang, covering 100 hectares. It hosts several freshwater pools, footpaths, rest huts, a children’s playground and a forestry museum which houses tropical timber products and preserved insect species.
This botanical garden is the only one of its kind in Malaysia. It covers an area of 30 hectares and surrounded by forested hills. It is home to a wide collection of tropical flora and fauna. It includes its own replica of the Penang Bridge, a library and rhesus monkeys.