- Location: In north western coast of Malaysia in Malay Peninsula
- Attraction Type: City
- Significance: Pearl of the Orient, Food capital of Malaysia
- Best Time to Visit: November to April
- How to Reach: By flights to Penang; by road from all cities of Malaysia in Malay Peninsula and from Thailand; alternatively by boat from Butterworth, and Langkawi, or by train from Thailand
- Nearest International Airport: Penang Bayan Lepas International Airport
Penang, affectionately called the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, is a vibrant Malaysian city where Eastern traditions blend harmoniously with western modernity, and the Malayan heritage embraces contemporary lifestyles at the same time. Penang in Malaysia is a harmonious amalgamation of multiple races and cultures creating an enlivening tapestry about the city. George Town locality of this city is a declared UNESCO Heritage Site and is thronged by tourists throughout the year.
George Town, with its impressive buildings of timeless appeal and priceless cultural significance, has history written in its every nook and corner. Here each building is a virtual page from history and carries a cultural or social legacy. Another building of particular importance is Jade Emperor’s Temple in Air Itam dedicated to Thee Kong. Kek Lok Si temple overlooking Air Itam town is Malaysia’s largest Buddhist temple. Popularly famous as the ‘Temple of Supreme Bliss’, it becomes a fantasy land in the evenings after being illuminated by dazzling lights. A gold-plated reclining Buddha in Wat Chayamangkalaram is another important landmark of this city. The temple premises intricately decorated with Buddha statues, dragons, and serpents teems with visitors during the local Krathong and Sonkran festivals.
The flora and fauna of Penang City are not only attractive but well preserved. Penang is home to the only spice garden in Asia. Tropical Spice Garden, the only of its kind in South East Asia, has a plantation of over five hundred plant species. A garden cafíé nestled among this thick foliage of ferns, flowering plants, shrubs and trees is the perfect venue for a spiced tea drink. Teluk Bahang Butterfly Farm with its museum and breeding center is another must visit place in Penang. The Chor Soo Kong snake temple is remarkable for its Wagler Pitt vipers believed to protect the deity.
Penang Hill or Strawberry Hill over 800 meters in elevation is famous for its magnificent colonial buildings and mansions. A funicular train ride to the top of Penang Hill is a popular attraction. Hiking to the top through the Botanic Garden is also thrilling. The fishing villages of Balik Pulau and Teluk Bahang are perfect places to mingle with local people and share their day-to-day experiences. Nightlife, particularly in Upper Penang Road is distinctive and lively. Karaoke lounges, bars, night clubs with live bands, and all night coffee shops provide throbbing entertainment after sundown.
Dining and Accommodation
Penang, the dining capital of Malaysia, offers cuisines appealing to all tastes and preferences. In addition to signature recipes, innovative items with varying quantities of spices and ingredients make dining in Penang an exhilarating experience. Char Koay Teow — a noodle preparation, Hokkien Mee — a prawn with noodle recipe, Nasi Kandar — a spicy aromatic item of fish, beef, prawn, and chicken, and Rojak — a heady preparation of fresh fruit, vegetable and cuttlefish slices are few of the signature items of Penang. Bukit Tambun seafood is a specialized variety served in restaurants near Penang Bridge.
Accommodation in Penang is available to suit every requirement of its visitors. If you prefer staying in a high-end hotel you could select from Parkroyal Penang, G-Hotel, Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resprt and Spa, and Equatorial Hotel. In case you are planning to stay in a mid-range accommodation then you might choose from The City Bayview Hotel, Hydro Majestic Hotel, Sunway Hotel George Town, or Crown Jewel Hotel. For a budget accommodation your selection might be made amongst Aurora Apartments, Baba’s Guest House, Krystal Suites, and Park Motel.