Penang, known as the Pearl Of The Orient is made up of the island of Penang and Seberang Perai on the mainland. They are linked by the Penang Bridge which is one of the longest bridges in Asia. Also ,linking the island and the mainland is the oldest cross-channel ferry service in Malaysia. Penang is home to a UNESCO World Heritage City and is one of the top tourist destinations in Asia. It is a melting pot of culture, nature and history, a place where East meets West, a fusion of the old and new. This bustling metropolis is home to modern skyscrapers and historical buildings. Some of the best food in Malaysia is found on the island and where one can experience street food everywhere.
This city was accorded the status of UNESCO World Heritage City in 2008. George town is the capital of Penang and has over 200 years of history, many interesting architectural as well as historical buildings are found here. George Town was the first British Straits Settlement established by Captain Francis Light in 1786. There are many British Colonial buildings, old mosques and Chinese shop-houses in this heritage city.
Fort Cornwallis was erected in 1786 by Captain Sir Francis Light at the site he landed in Penang. The fort was built to protect the base from pirates and other foreign military powers and also served as an administrative base. The fort was originally made of wood and was replaced by a brick structure in 1804. There are some relics at the fort , the most famous being the Dutch cannon. At the site are a history gallery, handicraft & Souvenir shops and an open-air amphitheatre.
CHEONG FATT TZE MANSION
This building is also known as “ The Blue Mansion” because of the indigo-blue colour of its’ outer wall. It was built in the 1880s and belonged to the wealthy Cheong Fatt Tze. The mansion has 38 rooms and was built as a traditional Chinese courtyard house, detail attention was paid to the Chinese art of geomancy called feng shui. English fittings, Art Nouveau stained glass windows and Su Chow Dynasty period architecture combine to make a visit to this mansion an unique heritage experience. Ceremonial halls, gardens, courtyards, libraries and exquisite bedrooms can be viewed during the guided tour. Other displayed items include embroideries, tapestries, sculptures, carvings, antiques and rare porcelain.
PINANG PERANAKAN MANSION
This mansion was the previous residence of the Chinese Kapitan named Chung Keng Kwee and was built at the end of the 19th century. It has been restored to its’ former glory offering a glimpse of the lifestyle of an affluent Peranakan family. ( Straits-born Chinese ) It also gives an insight into the many customs and traditions of the Baba and Nyonya families . Exquisite Chinese carved wood panels, English floor tiles and Scottish ironworks are some of the features in this heritage building. There are over 1000 pieces of antiques, artefacts and collectibles on display in the mansion. Also on display are pieces of art and furniture from Europe and China, traditional costumes & accessories and porcelain pieces. These heirlooms were specially commissioned and have been passed down through the generations.
KEK LOK SI TEMPLE
The Temple of Supreme Bliss was built in 1890 and took more than 20 years to build. It sits on a hill overlooking the town of Ayer Itam and is considered as one of the largest and beautiful Buddhist Temple complex in Southeast Asia. The main pagoda is known as the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas and comprises of 7 tiers. These tiers combine a Chinese octagonal base, middle tier of Thai design with a Burmese crown. There are souvenir shops, gardens, sculptures and a turtle pond in this complex. The temple is really spectacular when it is all lit up at night during the Chinese New Year.
The Clan Jetties are one of the last remaining bastions of old Chinese settlements in Penang Island. The quay was built in 1882 and settlements grew when the waterfront was developed. Wooden stilt houses were built perched over the sea and gradually each jetty was identified by certain Chinese clans. The largest jetty is the Chew Jetty which has the longest walkway, a temple and the most number of stilt houses.
TROPICAL SPICE GARDEN
The Spice Garden is set out over 8 acres of secondary jungle and is located at Teluk Bahang. There are more than 500 types of flora and fauna and more than 100 species of spices and herbs in this award winning garden. Several types of orchids, ferns and rare plants can also be seen in the garden. You can relax at the outdoor café which overlooks the Straits Of Malacca and the beautiful coastline of Teluk Bahang. There are shops where you can get premium spices and also Malaysian gifts.
PENANG BUTTERFLY FARM
The Butterfly Farm was opened in 1986 and is located in Teluk Bahang. It stretches out over eight-hectare and is a conservation centre dedicated to protecting the butterflies and their environment. It also serves as a research and breeding centre, educating the public on conservation of the rainforest and butterfly habitats. This living museum houses more than 4000 butterflies from 120 species , small insects and reptiles such as beetles, snails, frogs and lizards. Some exotic species of butterflies include the Rajah Brooke and the Yellow Bird wing butterfly which is an endangered species.
There are also over 300 plant species at the farm. Also located within the farm is The Tropical Fruit Farm, a 25-acre organic orchard with more than 250 types of fruits in it. Some of the fruits planted here are pineapples, rambutans, mangosteens, durians and West Indian cherries. Farm tours are available and this is a great opportunity to try out some fresh fruits and freshly squeezed juices.
Penang Hill stands at 833m above sea level and is a popular destination for many people. The cool climate and the spectacular view of George Town and the surrounding areas attract many visitors. On clear days, it is possible to get a view of the mainland and the Straits of Malacca, from the Viewing Deck. A funicular train takes visitors to the summit from Air Itam in about 30 minutes. For nature lovers, there are many nature trails for them to explore. The pitcher plant and the Slipper Orchid are often seen at Penang Hill. Love Lock Penang Hill is the place for lovers to profess their eternal love by using decrated padlocks.
QUEEN VICTORIA MEMORIAL CLOCK TOWER
This clock tower was commissioned in 1897 to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it is located south of Fort Cornwallis. There is a Moorish dome on top of this whitewashed tower. There are 4 sections in the tower with a working clock on each side. Due to the impact of bombs dropped around the tower during World War ll , the clock tower leans slightly to one side.
PENANG NATIONAL PARK
The park covers an area of 1226 hectares and is located at Teluk Bahang. A lighthouse was built here in 1883 and there are over 1000 plant species in this park. Also found here is a rare meromictic lake, mangroves, mudflats, dipterocarp forest, beaches and rocky coastline. There are trails for the visitor to walk through the rainforest, leading to secluded beaches and bays where sunsets can be seen. Activities here include birdwatching, camping, and jungle trekking. You can try the Canopy Walk and experience walking among tree canopies.
A variety of wildlife seen here includes the mousedeer, wild boar, monkeys, macaques, civets, squirrels, sea otters and monitor lizards to name a few. The Penang Turtle Sanctuary is located in the park, the secluded beaches are favourite sites for the Green sea turtles and the Olive Ridley turtles to lay their eggs.
Penang is a very popular destination for food lovers. There are many international restaurants here , however it is the local food that locals and foreigners come back for. With so many food courts, stalls as well as coffee shops around, the visitor will be amazed with the endless choices available. From delicious noodles, nasi kandar, Nyonya cuisine, asam laksa, pasembor and seafood, Penang has it all !
Gurney Drive is a famous dining site with many food courts, restaurants and even pubs. There are plenty of hawker fare available in the open air food courts. The visitor can take a walk along the promenade to enjoy the breeze and the sea view after eating.