Penang Malaysia at glance
Penang known as the Pearl of the Orient is the most populous island in the northwest part of Malaysia inland. Its capital, Georgetown that was inscribed as the World Heritage Site is a combination of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cultures besides the influences of British. Added that, Georgetown is also known as the birthplace of Baba-Nyonya culture of Malacca and Penang. Its important role as a trading port in the past brings Penang Malaysia as a melting pot of religions and cultures from right across Southeast Asia. Today, Penang is a modern city which draws a huge number of tourists from all over the world. When you are in Penang, let’s take time to enjoy every moment in such a wonderful island.
Top destinations to visit when you are in Penang:
Ranking first in the list is the Streets of George Town that were recognized as the World Heritage Site due to “its remarkably historic colonial towns on the Straits of Malacca that demonstrate a succession of historical and cultural influences arising from their former function as trading ports linking East and West”. Here, you can explore the unique charming of clan houses and buildings, which best represent for Penang’s colorful history and culture. When you are here, let’s spend at least one day to discover a range of tourist spots in this town. George Town is divided into 2 zones including core zone and buffer zone. The core zone which covers an area of 109.38 hectares is the World Heritage site with many clan jetties and shop houses representing for the cultural diversity of Penang. The buffer zone is the place for tourist services and facilities.
Penang hawker fare:
Penang famous hawker fare: Exploring the country by tasting its cuisine is one of the most suggested activity when visiting any place. Penang – the mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian culture gives you great opportunity to discover its wonderful world of culinary art. Some of the must-try dishes will be shared in the later part.
Located at 821m above the sea level, Penang Hill offers visitors some of the most lavish colonial mansions (which now become guests houses and restaurants) where visitors can enjoy the cool, pure air and overviews of the island. To reach the hill, visitors can take a short 30-minute cable car from the train station in Air Itam or go trekking up the hill through the Botanic Gardens – a three-hour hike across the evergreen rainforest.
As a melting pot, Penang Malaysia is a place when visitors can see elaborate Buddhist pagodas, grand churches, Indian temples and magnificent mosques sit near with each other. Top religious places include the St George’s Church (built in 1816), Islamic Kapitan Keling Mosque (built in 19th century), Buddhist Kek Lok Si Temple (built in around 18 century), Snake Temple or Sri Mahamariamman Temple (built in 1850).
Penang National Park is a great place to pay an ecological visit. Some eco-attractions such as the pristine beach Pantai Kerachut gives a fantastic spot for fishing, swimming, picnics, trekking.
The Weld Quay Clan Jetties:
The clan jetties which are home to five major Chinese clans namely Lim, Chew, Tan, Lee and Yeoh, are placed on the backwaters of George Town. Nowadays, the younger who do not depend on the sea for make a living have moved to the inland whereas the elders still stay in the wooden jetties’ laidback lifestyle. The clan jetties now are considered a reminder of the island’s stature as once a crucial maritime seaport and the place where the very first Chinese immigrants who arrived to search for a life-change fortune here about a century ago.
Some flea markets, modern shopping malls and night markets:
Walking down the streets of Kulit, Rope Walk, Campbell and Little India, you are amazed by the long ranges of shops selling traditional items, souvenirs, handicrafts. Let’s spend your spare time wondering those streets, it’s totally worth your time. Try to bargain when you wish to buy things. And it’s time for such a nice and friendly talk with the locals.
Batu Ferringhi Beach
Batu Ferringhi provides a marvelous sightseeing place where you can escape for a while to enjoy such a relaxing place. Spending your afternoon lying down in the beachside, or soaking in the soothing sound of lapping waves and bright sunny rays of this tropical paradise. At night, Batu Ferringhi night market offers you great choices of silver jewelry, wood carvings, crockery.
What to eat when in Penang Malaysia? Here are some foods you should add to your menu:
Char koay teow also called fried kway teow is a dish made from flat rice noodles which are cooked in a charcoal-fired wok with fat supple prawns, cockles, scrambled egg, crunchy bean sprouts, strips of fish cake and chilli paste. If you want to enhance the taste you can enjoy the food with pork lard and even sweet barbecued pork slices which brings you a delicate and unique flavors.
Another option is assam laksa which is a Peranakan popular dish made of vermicelli noodle mix with a spicy, mackerel-fish based broth which has a sour flavor. The yummy soup is cooked by stewing poached mackerel with cucumber slivers, tamarind juice, shrimp paste and bird’s eye chillies.
The next food that should be included in your must-try list is hokkien mee. In Penang Malaysia, hokkien mee (also called hae me) is a spicy dish made of prawn-based broth. In fact, the thin yet flavor-packed broth is made from stewing prawn heads, dried prawns, garlic and other spices. To improve the flavor for the broth, the cook can add pork slices, bean sprouts, fish cake slivers, crispy deep fried shallots and a red chilli paste. When enjoying the food, you may feel largely spicy but still there is an underlying sweetness in the soup, thus making it such a favorite dish among travellers.
Now, it is a crisp dish made from various vegetables and ingredients including cool cucumber slivers, fat squares of tofu, crunchy bean sprouts, turnip shreds, chunks of hard-boiled egg and crispy prawn cracker crusts, drizzled with thick, spicy and nutty gravy. The food is called rojak pasembur. For better taste, you can add more items like some seafood, octopus rings. The food is served on a plate with all ingredients piled up mountain-style, then the sauce is poured generously over it.
Tips when traveling in Penang Malaysia:
Penang is a quite safe tourist destination. However, carefulness is always better. Robbery is not that common but still exists in the city. Remember to always keep an eye on your belongings. Valuable things should never be on show. And you should not walk alone in deserted places.
Customs and etiquette:
When in Penang do as the Penangetti does. Locals are quite tolerant for some foreigner’s ways; however, visitors still should care about some of the important points while visiting any area of Malaysia. While visiting the city, you should dress appropriately. Short skirts, T-shirts should be avoided. Remember to remove your shoes before entering a religious site or residence place. Public affection should be avoided even between married couples. Tipping is not a must, but for some restaurants, the service is added up to 10 percent of service charge.
The local currency is the Malaysian ringgit (MYR). You can exchange money in all areas and better usually offer a better rate than banks and hotels. You should bring some cash when shopping in the markets and some areas like Little India and Chinatown. ATM is often easily found. In some big shopping malls and supermarkets, you can pay by credit cards.
Time to travel:
Malaysia in general and Penang in particular is typically tropical climate with high humidity and fluctuate temperatures. The best time for sightseeing in Penang is from August to November when it is time of rain season. From December to January is the most favorite time to visit when the weather is dry.
In Penang, the public transportation is not that good. Taxis here can be okay. When traveling in Georgetown, you should walk on foot. Or you can try trishaws which are very fun and the riders are also friendly and helpful who can act as a tour guide for your trip. Another option is to try car rental to discover the city on your own.
Now are you ready to pack your luggage and take a journey to the Pearl of the Orient? It is worth your while for sure with that Top tourist places in Penang Malaysia.