Penang brims with an astonishing blend of old-world charm, colonial beauty and modernity. Once a historical port, it is better known today as a popular foodie destination and home to a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Savour street food while listening to stories about George Town. Uncover authentic Penang recipes in a local’s kitchen. Learn to make Peranakan beaded shoes, rattan baskets or joss sticks with traditional artisans. Hike in Penang’s lush parks, or discover Balik Pulau on two wheels. The Pearl of the Orient is high on your must-visit list in Malaysia, and it’s not hard to see why!
Georgetown gives off a romantic vibe with its mix of vintage shop houses, colonial buildings, and religious sites, amidst dazzling skyscrapers, quirky cafes and bars. Take time to get lost down narrow lanes in the cultural labyrinth and find popular sites like Khoo Kongsi, Street of Harmony, Chew Jetty and the Blue Mansion. Alternatively, take a breezy ride on a trishaw, get on a Hop-On Hop-Off bus, or join a walking tour with a local.
You can’t get away without tasting street food in our food capital. Don’t just take our word for it – Penang is recognised as a top foodie destination by the likes of Lonely Planet and Forbes. Penang food is influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indian and Peranakan flavours. Be sure to try Assam Laksa, Curry Mee, Nasi Kandar, Char Koay Teow, Cendol, Peranakan kuih and more!
Tasting local food is fun, but why not join a cooking class? You get to experience what it is like to buy fresh ingredients in the market, understand the aromatic secrets of Southeast Asian herbs, and cook up a storm in a local’s kitchen. Now that’s a way to bring a slice of Penang home!
Away from the chaotic heritage city is Balik Pulau, a peaceful land of paddy fields, farms, plantations and mangrove swamps. Bicycle tours and durian feasts are the main highlights here, as you get to simply enjoy the slower pace of life. You can also try activities like riding an ATV, visiting a farm, and visiting a bedak sejuk maker.
Penang is home to beautiful beaches, parks and underrated nature attractions. Ride a funicular train up to Penang Hill or enjoy the view from The Habitat. Take a hike through the Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang, and Bukit Mertajam. Hit the beach or hidden waterfalls in Batu Ferringhi. If you love animals, there’s also Entopia butterfly farm or Penang Bird Park.
Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese settlers who married the locals and adopted their beliefs. This fascinating blend of Chinese and Malay elements give a distinct aroma to their food, as well as gleam in their kebayas and beaded shoes. You can learn about their culture at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, or get to know Babas and Nyonyas who could teach you a thing or two.
What makes Penang unique is that there are living heritages that still exist in the modern world. While some may offer common handicraft like batik, many have dedicated their lives to preserving dying arts. Notable characters you may come across are the joss stick maker, rattan weaver, traditional cobbler and wood carver.
Many people choose to take the ferry as it is a scenic way to cross between Penang Island and Butterworth. While the island may have stolen the limelight, the mainland has its charms too. You can stay in local homestays such as Mengkuang Titi, Kota Aur or Pulau Aman. In the evening, take a boat ride out to the open sea, or to a lesser known firefly spot at Nibong Tebal.
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