- Encounters with locals
- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Park and garden
- Place or Religious Monument
- Sustainable Tourism
- Unesco World Heritage
- Off the beaten track
Penang, a little island that's reached by a bridge, will appeal to all travellers on holiday in Malaysia! Even though it's accessible by train, bus and car, arriving by plane offers spectacular views of the island and its surrounds.
The island's small, so you can easily explore it by car or public transport. A trip to the beaches at Batu Ferringhi, as well as the night market, will give you a wonderful taste of Malaysian life and makes the island perfect for a romantic getaway. Close by is Georgetown, the island's capital. You'll love strolling through its old town, where brightly coloured, colonial houses line the streets! I set out to find the numerous murals that are dotted around town; it's a great way to explore the area whilst have fun at the same time.
Finally, no trip to Penang would be complete without sampling some local dishes! Malasia's renowned for its electic character, which is reflected in its cuisine. There are lots of street stalls where you can pick up oriental dishes that blend Indian, Thai and Malaysian flavours. It's a mouthwatering delight! Make sure you try some Cendol when you're in Georgetown. This traditional favourite is a creamy dessert of red beans and brown sugar on a bed of crushed ice. The best place to find some is on Penang Road - you'll easily spot the stand, thanks to the permanent queues!
I spent several days on Penang Island when I was in Malaysia. The capital, George Town, has many cultural sites to visit, such as the Kek Lok Si Temple and the Kapitan Keling Mosque, and there are interesting places to eat to be found in the island's Little India and Chinatown districts.
There are also beaches on Penang (e.g. Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang), though I didn't find them to be amongst the most beautiful in Malaysia. Due to the effects of local industries on the natural environment here, the water is quite dark and dirty. It's a real shame. In fact, it's for this reason that I actually preferred both Pangkor Island and the Perhentian Islands to Penang.
Of course when coming to Penang, you must not miss out a visit to Georgetown , my favourite Malaysian city. It has one of the most beautiful colonial architecture heritages in Southeast Asia and its old centre is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. I also suggest you visit Kek Lok Si temple, one of the biggest in Southeast Asia and a symbol of the country.
The rest of Penang island is hardly visited, at least by European tourists, but reserves some good surprises like many near-deserted beaches and numerous fishing villages. Several ecotourist initiatives exist on the island that make it possible to stay with the inhabitants and take part in local life. Penang guarantees a journey off the beaten track.