Saturday, January 31, 2009

Penang, Malaysia

Destination: Penang, Malaysia

Special Entry

Penang or Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
also known as the Prince of Wales Island and the 'Pearl of the Orient'.

Founder: Captain Francis Light, 1786
Capital: Georgetown - Named after King George III of Great Britain.


Penang, the inner city of Georgetown in particular is a cultural and religious melting pot with a unique colonial heritage which will transport you two centuries back. As you step out of the inner city you will see modern Penang with skyscrapers reaching the sky, nice beaches and hills. And not forgetting Penang's renowned street food! Penang has it all!

*Click on the links provided for more information.

Before you start exploring Penang proper, head to the Penang State Museum at Farquhar Street to learn more about Penang and her history.

Opening hours :
9.00am to 5.00pm - Saturday to Thursday
Closed: Friday

Admission Fees: RM1.00 (Adult)

So far, I have brought two foreign visitors around Penang and played host to my friends from outstation and at the same time read alot of travel blogs written by foreign visitors to Penang.

Most foreign backpackers were clearly not very well-informed about Penang thus they found Penang to be boring and lack places of interest. They ended up sitting around their budget hotels in Chulia Street drinking beer and chatting with other backpackers.

As a proud Penangite, I would love to play my part in promoting Penang to the world.

Bried Facts

1. State with highest population density in Malaysia.
2. Only state in Malaysia where ethnic Chinese are the majority.
3. State with third largest economy in Malaysia after Selangor and Johor.
4. Home to multinational corporations such as Intel, Dell, AMD, Seagate and Motorola.
5. Cyber-city status and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. 9th most liveable city in Asia - ECA International Location Ranking Survey
7. Has the best street food in Asia - TIME Asia

When is the best time to visit?

Check the events calendar at the Penang Tourism website.

Annual events to look out for:
Penang International Dragon Boat Race
Penang International Floral Festival
Wesak Day Procession
Bon Odori Festival
St. Anne's Festival
Chingay Procession
Hungry Ghost Festival
Nine Emperor Gods Festival

Getting around.

Getting around Penang can be hard work, as buses (has since improved - check out RapidPenang [check the routes on the website]) tend to be infrequent and taxis uniformly refuse to use the meter. Always haggle with the taxi driver and agree on a price before jumping into a taxi. Avoid driving during the rush hours between 7.30 a.m. - 9.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. -7.30 p.m. Motorcyle riders can be undisciplined and tourists should be extra vigilant of them. One of the best ways to sightsee is to walk around Georgetown; but wear light clothes, start early in the morning, and put on plenty of sun-block during the daytime. When crossing the roads, remember to look both ways, even on a one-way street! (motorcycles/scooters/mopeds)

[source - wikitravel]

clockwise from top left: Penang trishaw, Penang ferry, Rapid Penang bus, Penang Hill tram.

The main hub for RapidPenang buses in Georgetown is at Komtar and the secondary hub is at the ferry terminal.

Express/long-distance bus terminal is located at Sungai Nibong, south of the island.

Accommodation - Try here & here

There are plenty of options ranging from budget ones along Chulia Street & Love Lane to highly exclusive hotels and resorts such as the Eastern & Oriental Hotel and Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa.

Places of interests:

clockwise from top left: Queen Victoria Clocktower, Fort Cornwallis, Church Street Pier, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.

clockwise from top left: Penang city hall, Penang town hall, Penang legislative assembly, prewar shophouses.

photo taken from - Homestead Mansion along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Georgetown Inner City which includes many heritage sites and historical buildings such as:
(click on the links!)
  1. Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Penang Base
  2. The 1886 Building
  3. ABN-UMRO Bank (Royal Bank of Scotland at present)
  4. Ban Hin Lee Bank building
  5. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
  6. Church Street Pier
  7. City Hall Buildings
  8. Eastern & Oriental Hotel
  9. Fort Cornwallis
  10. Francis Light's Tomb
  11. The Garage,
  12. Ghee Hiang biscuits
  13. House of Yap Chor Ee (The Sire Museum Restaurant)
  14. Hu Yew Seah
  15. India House
  16. Jewish Cemetery
  17. King Edward VII Memorial Hospital Building
  18. Limburg (KFC Larut Road)
  19. Logan Memorial
  20. Loke Mansion
  21. Malayan Railway Building
  22. Penang Supreme Court
  23. Queen Victoria Clocktower
  24. Standard Chartered Bank Building
  25. State Assembly Building
  26. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Centre
  27. Penang Town Hall
  28. Woodville Mansion
  29. Penang HSBC Building
  30. Homestead
  31. Clan Jetties & Chew Jetty Weld Quay
  32. Pinang Peranakan Mansion
  33. KOMTAR Tower

Places of Worships

  • Clockwise from top left: Khoo Kongsi Clan House, Kapitan Keling Mosque, Dhammikarama Burmese Temple, Church of Assumption.

    Clockwise from top left: Kek Lok Si Temple, St. George's Anglican Church, Hindu Temple, Floating Mosque.

    Clan House/Clan Temples

    Chinese Temples

    Hindu Temples



    Thai Buddhist Temple

    Inner city tour - Try the three-wheeled trishaw for a pleasant experience of an inner city tour. Some of the trishaw peddlers are pretty knowledgeable when you ask them about Georgetown and its history. Take the Penang ferry as well from the island to the mainland and back for the unique experience. It is the oldest ferry service in Malaysia.

    Colonial era schools

    Penang Free School, est. 1816 - The first English-medium secondary school in South East Asia.

    Gurney Drive promenade at night.

    Gurney Drive

    Penang's centre for entertainment, food and shopping where locals and tourists alike throng the promenade after the sunset to eat their favourite Penang hawker food, stock up on pirated DVDs, young couples dating along the promenade, kids running around, shoppers walk in and out of Penang's premier shopping mall, Gurney Plaza, youngsters sipping Cappuccino in trendy cafés or teh tarik in nearby mamak stalls, some getting ready to party in nearby clubs and lounge, ambitious young men gazing at the expensive condominiums along Gurney Drive, luxury cars and sports cars zooming into hotel lobbies....this is the centre of Penang!


    There are also many hotels and resorts such as the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Golden Sands Resort and the upcoming Hard Rock Hotel are located.

    If you fancy water sports activities make sure you make a trip up to Batu Ferringhi!

    There are plenty of restaurants in this area and a night market selling souvenirs and all sorts of paraphernalia.

    Nature Sites

    Only if you have time to spare:
    Chinatown - Roughly bordered by King Street, Stewart Street, Muntri Street, and Campbell Street.

    Little India - Market Street, King Street, Queen Street and Penang Street - all now form the heart of Little India.


    We Penangites have a passion for eating and Penang's food is known all over the world.

    It has been featured in many international magazines and TV channels such as the Discovery Travel & Living. Don't travel all the way to Penang for a BigMac or KFC for goodness' sake. Venture out and explore Penang's exotic and spectacular food, just follow the local crowd!

    Penang's Famous Hawker Food

    [Click on the link to discover some of them]

    Penang Peranakan Cuisine

    BBQ Steamboat
    Golden BBQ Steamboat, Nagore Place
    Jolly BBQ Steamboat, 8-Row

    Check out the following blogs with extensive reviews of Penang food.
    Shiok or Not

    My very own Penang food directory
    -not the most updated one because i've been away for quite a while

    Night Life
    - definitely not as good as KL's but it's definitely picking up!

    Upper Penang Road & Leith Street
    Gurney Drive belt (includes G-Hotel, Gurney Plaza & Gurney Hotel)
    Batu Ferringhi
    Belissa Row
    New World Park

    QE II


    Queensbay Mall
    Gurney Plaza I & II
    AEON Seberang Perai
    Prangin Mall
    Island Plaza
    Sunway Carnival Mall
    One Stop Midlands Mall
    Bukit Jambul Complex
    Penang Times Square - opening soon

    ....[for more check out this website]

    I hope all the above information will be helpful.

    Please utilise the links given

    CREDITS: Links mainly from

    Photos: Kazuo Lim @ PBase Galleries, Jiann Fa, TYW & Victor of


    kennhyn on 6 February 2009 at 16:41 said...

    I think Penang should open a roll of pubs near the beach, for the westerner can chill at those pubs like patong beach.

    Don't get me wrong, I seriously think Penang is boring, but the food is great, got nothing much to offer compare to other city I've been. But non the less, Penang have a very big potential to become tourist attraction, if Phuket can make it, Penang should be more outstanding then that.

    Cheers! viva penang

    jlshyang on 6 February 2009 at 22:07 said...

    kennhyn: Well i think it depends on what you're looking for. You have a point there, it would be great if there's a chain of good pubs and nightlife by the beach at Batu Ferringhi. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the difficulty in getting liquor license or whatnot. I realise some of the existing pubs at Batu Ferringhi close pretty early too.

    I have not personally been up to Batu Ferringhi for quite a while because i don't reside in Penang anymore and my parents' house is not where near Batu Ferringhi but i've heard about a few new cool pubs there such as Sunset Bistro and it's by the beach.

    Otherwise you can check out Upper Penang Road if you want some nightlife or a place to drink though it's not by the sea.

    kl to singapore on 7 May 2013 at 13:45 said...

    Well somehow I got to read lots of articles on your blog. It’s amazing how interesting it is for me to visit you very often.


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