Long known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, Penang has been an important port and vibrant settlement for centuries. Nowadays this extraordinary island state is a place of fascinating contrasts, where the skyscrapers of George Town rub shoulders with British colonial architecture, traditional Chinese clan halls, and wooden stilt house villages.
Sizzling woks and heritage charm
The sizzle of woks and the scent of mouthwatering street food in the air on bustling New Lane and Chulia Street every evening ensures that Penang is a feast for the senses.
Thanks to a delicious blend of Chinese, Indian and Malay culture, a trip to this fascinating island is one your tastebuds will never forget.
Then explore the fascinating history of George Town, Penang’s urban epicentre, exploring the colonial architecture, as well as Chinese and Indian influence. This rich heritage has been recognised with Unesco World Heritage status.
You can easily spend a day on the Penang Heritage Trail, taking in the British fort, the Clock Tower, the Kapitan Kling Mosque, the Khong Si Clan House and many other cultural highlights.
Foodie heaven in Penang
Penang is not known as a gourmet’s paradise for nothing. Sample different local delicacies as you walk around George Town for a true cultural experience. Malaysia is famous for its laksa and a particular Penang speciality is asam laksa, a spicy-sour fish broth flavoured with tamarind.
Wander through the night markets feasting on hawker fare, as food influenced by Malaysia’s many cultures is prepared before your eyes. Line up at the street stalls for char koay teow, oyster omelette and curry mee, or slurp on a spicy bowl of special Penang laksa as you watch colourful street scenes unfold around you.
Foodies will want to time their visit to Penang, Malaysia, with the Penang Street Food Festival in April. Live music performances and street fireworks are the accompaniment to a frenzy of hawker stall action with every sort of delicious treat from satay and appam to so much more.
Other highlights of Penang
There are so many things to do in Penang. In the southwest of the island you will find Balik Pulau, a surprisingly large area of serene green rice fields and rolling hills, and the tranquil Pasir Panjang Beach.
Spend an afternoon visiting the impressive Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam. Pilgrims visit Malaysia’s largest Buddhist temple from across south-east Asia.
Another option to escape the bustle of city life is Batu Ferrenghi, in the north of Penang Island, where resort hotels, watersports facilities and seafood restaurants line the sands.
Don’t miss The Habitat Penang Hill, an educational rainforest experience with nature trails and treetop walks.
Walk through the tree tops at the Langur Way Canopy Walk, a 13m highest public viewing platform which offers 360-degree views of Penang.
It’s only a three-hour ferry ride from Penang to Langakwi with its beautiful beaches and serene scenery, perfect for a spot of relaxation.