Penang is one of the most lively islands of Malaysia, located at the North-West side of the country. The island features some beautiful nature, long beaches and bubbly cities. It’s not a surprise why lots of tourists visit Penang. Besides, a ferry boat is not the only transport which takes you to the island. Thanks to a large bridge, you can also reach Penang by car or bus.
In this article I will show you five things you should absolutely do or visit when traveling to Penang.
1. Stroll around the busy streets of George Town
George Town is the capital of Penang and one of the biggest cities of Malaysia. Although the city seems quite chaotic, it has nice places. There are many things to see and do in George Town. The city has many Chinese influences and features, besides Kuala Lumpur, the most shopping malls of Malaysia. You wouldn’t be surprise when I tell you that you can easily spend a whole day shopping in George Town.
One of the highlights of George Town, is the famous street art. In general, George Town has some old looking streets. However, the street art which you can find in several streets makes it a pleasure to walk around these streets. Most of the street art is created in combination with a real item, which makes it more lively.
Other things to see around George Town are Little India, China Town, the Clan Jetties and the port of the city. Would you like to read more? I’ve written an extensive city guide of George Town which you can find by clicking here.
2. Pay a visit to Penang National Park
Also for nature lovers Penang is a great destination. Pay a visit to Penang National Park, the smallest national park of Malaysia. It’s located on the North-West side of Penang and is easy to reach by public transport. You can either travel around the national park by boat (there are many beaches located along the park) or by foot. There are plenty of options for hiking around Penang National Park.
Although the park is free to visit, you have to register at the park’s office to get your permit. Here you can also find some more information about the hiking trails you can make.
3. Go up on Penang Hill by train
Penang Hill, also known as Bukit Bendera, is an assemblage of mountains which you can reach by train. The train rides through the whole day, so you can chose whenever you would like to go. Keep in mind that it can be quite crowded, so it’s recommended to visit Penang Hill in the early morning or in the evening.
In around 10 minutes you will get from George Town to Penang Hill, at a height of 735 meters. When you’ve reached the top, you can make some nice walks. On the way, you’ll walk across some amazing views over George Town. Especially in the evening this can give a beautiful image. You can also visit the Owl Museum on Penang Hill.
If you are more like an active traveller, you can also walk to Penang Hill. From the Botanic Gardens it’s an approximately five kilometres walk, which takes around two hours. On the way you can come across several monkeys.
4. See the “beach towns” of the island on the North side
If you’re looking for really beautiful beaches, you can better choose for Langkawi instead of Penang. However, Penang has some long beaches where you can spend a nice day as well. At the North side of Penang, you can find many hotels which are located at the beach. We also stayed in one of these hotels. Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah are two of the popular “beach towns”. Although the towns aren’t that interesting, it’s nice to ride along these towns and take a look (and walk) at the beaches.
It’s also nice to ride along the West Coast of Penang. This side of the island is less touristic and here you can find several local towns.
5. Wander around the Kek Lok Si Temple
The Kek Lok Si Temple (also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss) is the biggest Buddhistic temple of Malaysia. It’s located just outside George Town and features several temples, bell towers, prayer rooms and gardens. You can easily spend here an afternoon wandering around all the areas. At the top of the complex you even have a breath taking view over George Town.
If you happen to be at Penang around Chinese New Year, you should absolutely pay a visit to Kek Lok Si Temple! Around this time of the year, you can find decorations and lights everywhere. The atmosphere will be fantastic and very festive.
Have you every travelled to Malaysia and Penang before? What did you think of the island; do you have any other tips? Feel free to tell us in the comment section below!