So you’ve sampled the food at Gurney Drive, wandered down the famed mural covered Armenian Street and Chew Jetty, and climbed up the steps to Kek Lok Si. Is there anything else to do while you’re in Penang? Well, the world-renowned holiday destination has a few more tricks up its sleeve. After all, you don’t become a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site for nothing. Fondly regarded as the food capital of Malaysia, Penang is brimming with cultural sights and sounds for you to explore;
1. Spend the night in refurbished heritage buildings
As a UNESCO World Heritage site, there is no shortage of charmingly refurbished spots in Penang. Whether it used to be a home for British colonial officers or quaint buildings with old school architectural influences, experience the best of old and new in any one of the restored heritage buildings. There’s a wide range to choose from, from the budget friendly options to the more lavish selections.
2. Relax in the sleepy fishing village that is Gertak Sanggul
A world away from the bustling city life in George Town lies Gertak Sanggul. A picture perfect representation of a Malaysian fishing village, experience life at a slower pace at this coastal kampung. Located on the southwest coast of the island, expect sandy beaches, palm trees swaying, and fishermen pulling in their day’s catch on the rickety piers.
3. Explore hidden beaches in Teluk Bahang
On the other end of the island, all the way at the southwest is a scenic weekend retreat minus the scurry of tourists in Batu Feringghi. Grab a boat ride to secluded beaches such as the famous Monkey Beach. And if you’re up for more, trek through the National Park to get to the lovely stretch of white sandy beach that is Pantai Kerachut. Coastal villages also dot the Teluk Bahang Area, so look out for great seafood.
4. Get adventurous at the world’s smallest National Park
Despite being the smallest national park in the world, Penang National Park holds an array of interesting activities for guests. With challenging trek routes to test your stamina and plenty to see (bird, monkey, and turtle spotting anyone?) there is also the glorious beach bum life to fall into when you’re tired of all the action.
5. Marvel at wondrous architecture with the Penang Floating Mosque
Also known as the Floating Mosque, the mosque was built in 2004 to replace an older mosque damaged in the major tsunami disaster. Situated along Tanjung Bungah’s stretch of beach, the mosque stands over the sea with its beautiful Moorish design, seven-storey-high towering minarets and 360-degree panoramic view of the sea. Covering an area of over a thousand square meters, the mosque accommodates up to 1,500 people at prayer hours.
6. Lose yourself into the old days in Penang Peranakan Mansion
With over a thousand pieces of antiques and collectibles, the Penang Peranakan mansion is the equivalent of dipping your toe the historical Peranakan culture. A recreation of a typical rich 19th century Baba home, the elegantly restored museum is a testament to the Baba-Nyonya cultural revival. An ornate sight to behold, this heritage mansion houses an eclectic mix of English, Scottish and continental European architectural influences as well as Chinese carved-wood panels.
7. Immerse into a once in a lifetime experience at the Snake Temple Penang
Also known as the Temple of the Azure Cloud or Pure Cloud Temple, the Snake Temple in Penang is home to several venomous Wagler’s pit vipers and green tree snakes. The snakes that roam freely within the temple are believed to be the disciples to Chor Soo Kong, a Buddhist priest and healer. Legend has it that the monk gave shelter to the snakes and they moved in all on their own when the temple was completed after his death. The de-venomed vipers are pretty harmless, but they still have their fangs intact, so we’d advise against picking up the reptiles for a photo op unless offered by the handlers.