Penang, an island located at the north of Malaysia, filled with vibrant culture while advancing towards modernity, is a place that you need to visit when you come to Malaysia, especially for those who are interested in culture.
1. Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si, a temple with a name that translates to “Ultimate Happiness”, stands at the foothill of a mountain in Ayer Itam, Penang. One of the largest Buddhist temples in Malaysia, Kek Lok Si is divided into 3 sections over a land area of 10 acres. Comprising of Chinese, Thai and Burmese design that goes back to the 19th century, this temple is a symbol of the strong Buddhist influence in Penang.
Kek Lok Si is beautiful by day and even more so at night when the temple is lit up by thousands of lights, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
2. Khoo Kong Si
The surname Khoo, combined with the word “clan” in Hokkien, Kong Si, forms “Khoo Kong Si”, meaning the Khoo Clan Association in full. Funded by 102 businessmen of the Khoo family, this building was built as a place to gather for important matters in the Khoo clan in the past. The structure, embellishment, carvings and beams show how the Khoo clan was a huge influence in Penang. Its grandeur also reflects the rich history that the Khoo clan holds since the 19th century.
3. Clan Jetties
The Clan Jetties is another location filled with Chinese history that is among the places to visit in Penang. The Clan Jetties are houses built on different jetties according to family names, and residents are still living there until this moment. Among the jetties, the Chew Jetty is the longest and the most popular, leading residents to set up stores in front of their homes that sell snacks and souvenirs in their effort to earn an income. Apart from the old wooden houses, the jetties offer good views of the ocean while you get a taste of the residents’ way of living.
4. Little India
Located within Lebuh Queen, Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Gereja and Lebuh Pantai, upon entering Penang’s Little India, it’s like stepping inside the scene of a Bollywood movie. In the centre of the square, all you see are colourful shops, signboards and decorations on both sides of the street. Little India is definitely a good place to tour to experience the Indian culture in Penang. Moreover, it’s a place occupied with Indian traditional cuisine and Indian fashion, so you get to shop and eat in a totally different environment.
5. Penang Botanic Gardens
The Penang Botanic Gardens is situated further inside the island, away from the bustling city centre. Also known as the Botanic Gardens by Penangites, it has been transformed from a quarry to a horticultural garden by the British in the year of 1884. The 29-hectare garden contains a variety of flora and fauna such as the Cannon Ball Tree, Slipper Orchid, Black Lily, Pinang Palm (which contributed to the name of Penang) and many more. This is a nice place to relax with nature if that’s on your itinerary.
6. Batu Ferringhi Beach
You’ll find a calm and relaxing beach in Batu Ferringhi, which extends as far as 4km on the northern part of Penang. Hotels and resorts are constructed along the beach, therefore some parts of it might be closed for hotel guests only. Despite that, the beach is usually full of operators that offer water sports such as parasail, banana boat, jet ski and even horse riding! Casually strolling along the beach is also an option if this is your preference. Restaurants and pubs line the beach, so it’s easy to just stop by for a drink or dinner anytime you’d wish.
7. Avatar Secret Garden
Thai Pak Koong is a temple in Tanjung Tokong that’s located next to the ocean, with a watchtower that offers a good view of the sea. By day, the Thai Pak Koong temple is just like any other Buddhist temple; devotees conduct their prayers with joss sticks following a certain procedure. By night, the Thai Pak Goong transforms into a stunning spot for photos. One of the newest addition to the list of Places to Visit in Penang, the garden behind the temple is lit up by thousands of hanging LED lights, creating a scene that’s just like the Tree of Souls in the blockbuster movie, Avatar.
8. Street Art
With rising significance in the state, the Penang street art which was started by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic, has now become a prominent feature of Penang. Some of the famous street art in Penang done by Zacharevic and various artists are the “Little Girl in Blue”, “Boy On A Bike” and “Little Children On A Bicycle”. In 2012, Zacharevic was commissioned to create paintings on the walls of old architecture around Penang depicting the lives of people there. The creative and realistic paintings are slowly becoming a symbol in Penang, therefore these are local gems that you shouldn’t miss out!
9. Dhammikarama Burmese Temple
Bearing the title of the only Burmese Temple in Penang, the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple showcases an architectural design that’s truly of Burmese culture. From the outer view, this temple has a notable difference compared to local Chinese temples, which can be seen from its golden roof that’s designed with Burmese elements. The Dhammikarama Burmese Temple also houses several different statues of Buddhas and mythical creatures that come with interesting backgrounds and myths.
10. Kapitan Keling Mosque
The Kapitan Keling Mosque is another symbol of Penang’s long history, as the mosque is said to be built by Indian Muslim traders in the 1800s. Painted in cream, this spacious mosque comprises of a remarkable Moghul dome, with Moorish and Islamic characteristics implanted in the structure of the building. In the past, “Kapitan Keling” is the name used for leaders of the Indian Muslim community. Although non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the worship hall, but you’ll still be able to admire the high gothic arches and the grand interior of the Kapitan Keling Mosque.
11. Penang Hill
Located in the inner part of George Town, in the lush tropical forests of Penang, the Penang Hill offers various attractions depending on your interests. The peak of Penang Hill is now a popular tourist attraction, as it offers beautiful views of the city in the day and also at night. At the foot of Penang Hill, you can either take the Swedish-made funicular train up to the top, or go for a hike along different trails that begin at different locations. The hike itself rewards you with interesting flora and fauna that you may miss out on the train ride.
12. Penang National Park
For visitors who are up for jungle trekking, you should definitely add the Penang National Park to your list of Places to Visit in Penang. Named one of the smallest parks in the world, the Penang National Park is free for everyone. Along the trail, you can find trees that are decades old like the Meranti and Chengal; and wildlife such as the squirrels, otters, lizards that you may spot if you’re lucky. Additionally, activities like boat cruising, swimming, picnic and fishing are offered at certain beaches along the trail. A visit to the meromictic lake is also a must as it’s the only one in the country.
Other Places to Visit in Penang:
If you found that any other places in Penang that must visit, comment on below let us know now!