Famous places to visit in Malaysia: Penang
The last time we had shown you some of the best places to visit in Perak and today, we will bring you all the way to the Pearl of Orient and show you some of the fun places that you can go while you’re there.
Penang consists of Penang Island – where the capital city George Town is located – and Seberang Perai which is on the Malay Peninsula and has the third-highest Human Development Index in Malaysia, after the state of Selangor and the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur.
It has always been a popular tourist destination, both domestically and internationally as it has previously been visited by renowned personalities and figures like Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Queen Elizabeth II and Lee Kuan Yew.
As one of the most famous tourist spots in Malaysia, here are some of the fun places that you can visit while in Penang.
1. Batik Painting Museum
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Housed in an old shop located on Lebuh Armenian within George Town's Heritage area, the museum is the place to visit if you wish to know the history and development of batik painting in Malaysia as it showcases some of the earliest batik paintings done in the 1950s by the 'Father of Batik Painting', Chuah Thean Teng in Penang and the subsequent works by other Malaysian artists. For the readers’ knowledge, Batik is a method of producing coloured designs on textiles by dyeing them, after applying wax to the parts to be left undyed. There are currently a total of 80 batik paintings done by 25 artists which are displayed in the museum, including a small international section. The museum is the only batik painting museum in Malaysia, and is possibly the only one in the world too!
2. Gurney Drive
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A popular seafront esplanade in Georgetown and is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Penang. The place is especially famous for its super huge hawker centre which is the largest one in Penang as a variety of local delicacies can be found there. It is definitely a place to go for if you are in Penang for a short visit, but wish to try out all of the state’s famous and iconic dishes like Char Koay Teow, Hokkien Mee, Mee Rebus, Pasembur, Rojak and more. Nearby Gurney Drive is a famous shopping mall called the Gurney Plaza. Previously the place was known as the New Coast Road, but was renamed in 1952 after Sir Henry Gurney, a British High Commissioner in Malaya who was assassinated by the guerrillas of the Malayan Communist Party during the Malayan Emergency.
3. Snake Temple
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The temple was built in 1850 in honour of a Buddhist monk named Chor Soo Kong who was also a healer. According to the legend, the monk occasionally gave shelter to the snakes of jungle. When the temple was completed after his death, snakes reportedly appeared on their own. Located in Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas, the temple is perhaps the only temple of its kind in the world and has drawn hundreds of locals and foreign visitors daily. Some believers even come from as far away as Singapore, Taiwan and China in order to pray in the temple during Chor Soo Kong's birthday. The snakes are believed to be rendered harmless by the sacred smoke of burning incense, and as a safety precaution, they have also been de-venomed but still have their fangs intact.
4. Kek Lok Si
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Situated in Air Itam, the Buddhist temple is one of the best known temples on the island and is said to be the largest temple in Malaysia. The temple literally translated as the “Temple of Supreme Bliss” and is an important pilgrimage site for many Buddhist followers throughout Southeast Asia. Built over a period from 1890 to 1930, the place features millions of magnificent images of Buddha and hundreds of beautiful carvings, sculptures and murals. But the main attraction of the temple is the striking seven-storey Pagoda of Rama VI also known as Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddha with 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha, and a 99 feet tall bronze statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. The temple is also heavily commercialised with shops at every level.
5. Penang Hill
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Also located at Air Itam, Penang Hill is called Bukit Bendera in Malay and back in the British colonial period, the place was used as a retreat. Now, it is a popular destination to visit especially during hot weather as the hill one of the only cool places in Penang with the temperature ranging from 20 to 25 degree Celsius, definitely cooler than all the other places in the city. It is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate, and the view from the top of the hill is simply breath-taking. The top of the hill is accessible via the Penang Hill Railway from its base station at Air Itam, where the whole journey time can take between five to twenty minutes. The fare for a return ticket for Malaysians is RM10 per adult and RM4 per child aged between 4 and 12. Senior citizen tickets are priced at RM4 per person while for non-Malaysian the fare is RM30 for adults and RM15 for children.
6. Penang Botanic Gardens
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Also known as the "Waterfall Gardens" due to the cascading waterfall nearby, Penang Botanic Gardens was established by the British way back in 1884 from an old granite quarry site. The public park is situated on Jalan Air Terjun in Georgetown. It is a lovely place for a walk and is nice getaway from hustle bustle of Georgetown. The place housed a number of rare plant species as well as garden animals. Some of them include long-tailed Macaques, Dusky Leaf Monkeys, Black Giant Squirrels as well as many insects and butterflies. It is highly advisable for visitors to not bring any food as the monkeys can be quite cheeky and will steal the food when they have the chance. Also, do not try to feed or touch them as they can bite and if you do, you will be fined RM500. Other than that, the park is certainly a calming place for some recreational activities.
7. Penang National Park
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Formerly known as the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve, Penang National Park or Taman Negara Pulau Pinang is a nature reserve located on the north-western tip of Penang Island. The park features a collection of habitats not found in other national parks in Malaysia such as a meromictic lake, wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs and turtle nesting beaches. A lighthouse is located at Muka Head and is accessible through the far end of Teluk Duyung. Through the lighthouse, you can see beautiful views of the sea along with the refreshing sea breeze. The park has nine beaches which are considered among the best in Penang and there is also a beautiful canopy walkway which links the two major trails in the park. All sorts of flora and fauna can be found in the park from rocky bonsai to timber and herbal plants, and animals like dolphins, otters, hawksbill turtles, monkeys, wild boars, wild cats, civets and more.