Known for its burgeoning tech industry, Penang is often nicknamed the ‘Silicon Valley of the East’ and it is one of Malaysia’s major economic hubs. However, it is far more than this. A naturally beautiful place with a rich cultural history, Penang is known for being a diverse melting pot of cultures, even by Malaysian standards. And trust us… there is no shortage of things to do.
Penang National Park
The world’s smallest national park is one of the region’s most beautiful destinations. A short drive from George Town, the island’s capital city, the park is a popular traveller’s destination. Filled with an abundance of plants and animals, the park is home to long, beautiful beaches and one of the world’s only Meromictic lakes. While the park caters to a number of different interests, it is particularly popular amongst hikers, offering a variety of trails. The best of these is the Muka Head Lighthouse Trail, along which visitors pass through the utopian Monkey Beach.
Otherwise known as Bukit Bendera, the peak of Penang Hill provides visitors a reprieve from the sweltering tropical heat of George Town. Accessible through funicular railway, Penang Hill is one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations, with several resorts popping up over the years. The stunning views are second-to-none and there are plenty of great hiking trails.
Penang is known for its significant Chinese cultural influence, and Khoo Kongsi is the most notable physical relic of this. Built at the beginning of the 20th Century, Khoo Kongsi is a clan house in George Town known for its distinct, intricately-detailed design. Located in the city’s old town, it is very well-preserved and provides visitors an authentic insight into the Penang of old. A truly spectacular sight, Khoo Kongsi is not worth missing out on.
Arguably the most recognisable building in Penang, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion-more commonly known as the Blue Mansion-dates back to the turn of the twentieth century. Built by Cheong Fatt Tze, a wealthy merchant, the building is known for combining a variety of architectural styles, including Imperial Chinese, Gothic and Art Nouveau, giving it a striking, distinct look. Now both a hotel and a museum, the Mansion is one of the country’s most unique buildings.
Kek Lok Si
Malaysia’s largest Buddhist temple, Kek Lok Si is one of Penang’s most important religious sites. A major pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around South East Asia, Kek Lok Si is an essential cultural destination in Penang. Known for its towering seven-storey pagoda, which features Burmese, Chinese and Thai design influences, the views are spectacular. Accommodating a number of different forms of Buddhism, Kek Lo Si is one of the island’s unmissable sights.
All images courtesy of Visit Malaysia