Penang Malaysia is my homeland and the city I love most. Penang (Malay: Pulau Pinang) (Chinese: 槟城) is one states of Malaysia located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia and by the Malacca Strait. It has two parts namely the Penang Island where the capital city of Penang – George Town is. The other half is Penang Mainland named Seberang Perai, formely Province Wellesley. The city got its name from name from the Malay word Pulau Pinang, which means island of the areca nut palm.
All the residents here are being called as Penangites. Penang’s population exceeded 1.9 million in year 2016, third largest human development index in Malaysia after Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. In addition, we are also one of Malaysia’s most diverse, cosmopolitan and exciting cultures city.
In today blog, we are going to cover things to do in Penang, food in Penang, reason why you should visit Penang and so fun facts about Penang! So, if you are travelling to Penang Malaysia, hopefully this guide gives you a good peek.
Penang has been awarded with numerous recognition from various top publications and travel guide book or website. Most notable recognition from the world is Penang is known as “Food Paradise of Asia”. Penang is an authentic taste of real Asia, where laid-back charm is woven into a tapestry of culture, heritage and natural beauty. The number one thing is we Penangite proud of is food, whenever we travel abroad and study elsewhere, everyone of us misses Penang food!
If there’s a better microcosm of the exotic east than Penang, we’ve yet to find it. Lonely Planet
Things to do in Penang
Lack of ideas what are the things to do in Penang? Fret not, we got you covered. In this travel guide, we are going to showcase top places to visit in Penang as well as things to do in Penang. As a local, we are going to assure you this is gonna be fun. Okay, without further ado, let’s see our top recommendations on things to here in Penang.
#1 Visit UNESCO World Heritage Zone
Penang has earned UNESCO World Heritage Sites on July 7 2008. An old historical and picturesque area is located in the heart of the UNESCO Heritage Zone in downtown George Town. What is so special about it? The area contains a melange of late 19th century colonial and settler architecture. Look at photo above. Quoted from Penang Heritage City, The capital city, George Town, has the most number of pre-war buildings in all of South East Asia which are still pristine.
a. Fort Cornwallis
Fort Cornwallis is the largest standing fort in Malaysia and a star fort in George Town Penang Malaysia. Fort Cornwallis was in 1786 and worked as a defensive structure against pirates. However although it was initially built for the Royal artillery troops and the military, it served an administrative function rather than an actively defensive one. A piece of history, truly visit-worthy if you’re travelling to Penang. We think that it’s a pleasant way to spend a bit of time away from the hustle & bustle of old town.
b. St George’s Church
The next thing you can do in Penang is pay a visit to St George’s Church. Built in 1817, it’s one of the oldest building in Penang as well as Southeast Asia’s oldest Anglican church. Indulge yourself with the awesome Greek’s architecture and design. In addition, the building itself is striking in its beauty and simplicity. It’s completely white inside and out, and contains few religious icons. A lovely sea breeze wafts through the church keeping you cool.
c. Penang State Museum & Art Gallery
The next stop is Penang State Museum & Art Gallery. Built in 1821, it is one of Penang’s most beautiful heritage landmarks. A place for you to know why Penang is so unique. One thing worth mentioning is the presentation on Penang’s history is super engaging and informative. Truth to be told, what really makes this place a must see is the outstanding display of artifacts from the groups that have made Penang home – Malay, Chinese, Indian, British and so many others. Also, it is only 1 Ringgit entrance fees, and it is right in the center of town, so there’s no excuse not to visit!
d. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Built in 1880s by Hakka merchant Cheong Fatt Tze based on the principles of Feng Shui. Spotting Cheong Fatt Tze is not a hard quest. The mansion’s indigo-blue outer wall makes it a very distinct building in the area. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has been featured on CNN, BBC and NST, all of the media was amazed by its stunning building.
e. Khoo Kongsi
One of Penang’s most lavishly decorated kongsis, this spectacular clan-house is one of the most impressive in George Town. It’s known as the stunning ancestral hall in Penang, a testament to the influence the Chinese have had on this island’s culture. Moreover, get ready to inspired by its cool architecture and wonder workmanship of the building. Trust me, you’ll love me and thanks me later.
f. Kuan Yin Temple
Built in 1728, Kuan Yin Temple (Goddess of Mercy Temple) is one of the things to do in Penang recommended by TripAdvisor. It’s an iconic and oldest temple in Penang that should be in your bucket list. Loved by Penang’s local as well as tourist. The temple is especially popular on temple days. Thousands of Chinese Taoist will come to workship there. Another good point you should visit this place is the small garden in the rear of the compound brings a peace, calm, serenity and is worth a break there to absorb the feeling of devotion expressed here.
g. Penang Peranakan Mansion
Voted as #1 things to do in Penang by TripAdvisor, this place is a good place for you to experience authentic Babas and Nyonyas culture. The Peranakans, also known as the Babas and Nyonyas, was a prominent community of acculturated Chinese unique to this part of the world. It allows visitor to grab a glimpse of the opulent lifestyle, customs, item (furniture, pottery, dresses, gems, golden and silver jewelry) and traditions in those days.
h. Cheah Kongsi
One of the top choice historic building in George Town by Lonely Planet. Any Cheah clan here? Cheah Kongsi is home to the oldest Straits Chinese clan association in Penang. It’s a well preserved clan house in the heart of George Town Penang. If you’d love to understand how the clan members spent their days in the past, this is the right place for you.
i. Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Built it 1833, Sri Mahamariamman Temple is one of the oldest temple in Penang Malaysia. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Subramaniam.
j. Jubillee Clock Tower
If you’re in the vicinity of Fort Cornwallis, which we mentioned above, you can’t really miss this clock tower. It’s located at the intersection of Light Street and King Edward’s Place. It was built in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’ 1897 Diamond Jubilee. How tall is the Jubilee Clock Tower? It’s sixty feet tall, one foot symbolizes each year of Victoria’s reign.
#2 George Town Street Art
The next activity you can do in Penang is strolling down George Town street and catch Penang beautiful street art.
Street art by Ernest Zacharevic
In conjuction with Penang’s George Town Festival, many of the Penang’s old walls gained a new lease of life. Many thanks to the talented Lithuanian Ernest Zacharevic that has left a very unique sign on those walls. It’s not only are appreciated from tourists, but also by the locals too.
Take an amazing tour around George Town to discover the beautiful and unique painted arts by Ernest Zacharevic.
Where all those street arts? Show me!
a. Kids on Bicyecle
b. Old Motorcycle
c. Boy On Chair
d. Old Man
e. Broken Heart
f. Kungfu Girl
g. Trishaw Man
i. Jimmy Choo
j. Win Win Situation
k. Mr Five Foot Way
l. One Leg Kicks All
k. Narrowest Five Foot Away
l. Bullock Cart Wheel
m. Cheating Husband
n. Tok Tok Mee
o. Wrong Tree
p. Too Hot
q. Ting Ting Thong
For full Penang street art or mural location. Get the Penang street art brochure here. Prepared and presented by Tourism Penang.
#3 Penang Hill
Penang Hill is one of the interesting place in Penang. One of the amazing fact about Penang Hill is it is the oldest British hill station in Southeast Asia, dated late 1700’s. It’s one of the popular attraction in Penang as it attracts more than 1.36million in 2014. Be prepared for a breathtaking view on top of Penang Hill, the highest point in Penang offers great panoramic views of the city. You can also dine at highest cafe in Penang, Kopi Hutan.
Love Lock at Penang Hill
Launched on Valentine’s Day in 2014, the lover’s promenade hosts the promises of eternity for couples who seal their affection with creatively-decorated padlocks. So, what are you waiting for? Bookmark this now and go with your love one.
#4 Kek Lok Si Temple
It is said to be the largest temple in Malaysia.