Things To Do In Penang
The mesmerizing and intriguing culture of Penang Island is supplemented by its brilliant beaches and serene oceans. The island of Penang is blessed with a variety of natural attractions. It is a tropical haven that offers something for everybody, from lovers of history and nature park fans or for vacationers who simply need to unwind on a sun-splashed shoreline.
Highly regarded as the food paradise of Malaysia and Southeast Asia, Penang Island likewise lures guests with its lovely drifts, street food stalls, and delightful cooking styles. A beguiling combination of Eastern and Western culture, Penang Island grasps the benefits of modern technology, but still treasures its customs, traditions, and old world appeal. An island that once served as the official penal colony of Malaysia, Penang is now one of the top vacation spots favored by locals and international travelers.
When To Go:
Penang Island has a tropical atmosphere which implies high humidity, dry air and occasional downpours all year round. The year's climate is basically divided into two seasons; wet (April - November) and dry (December – March).
The dry season is the best time to visit Penang Island. It is worth overcoming the swarms and forking out for the pricey flights, as the dry season has lower precipitation and period of dampness, and has a more comfortable climate than the wet season. If you like a hassle-free holiday in Penang, visit the island during the summer months of December until March.
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The wet season is regarded as the low season for tourism, because fine weather is positively not to be relied on as the inconsistent climate may have you going in and out of your hotel room and having your travel plans inconvenienced by rainfall and heavy traffic many times each day. If you don’t want troubles while on vacation, avoid the rainy/monsoon months of April until November.
An island that harmoniously combines all types of Asian culture, these are the best places and popular things to do on the captivating island of Penang:
Tropical Spice Garden (Teluk Behang)
Through their website you can book a guided visit to the Tropical Spice Garden and after payment of the surcharge, you can avail of the two-hour lecture at the cooking school that is located inside. Upon arrival you will be greeted by a guide who will define every plant, tree, explain the uses and consumption of traditional spices/herbs and how they are applied to conventional medicine. It is a wonderful experience to taste a lot of leaves, seeds, and unknown fruits that you will find in the fusion dishes that they serve.
After drinking a cup of tea to the chrysanthemum and stevia (30 times sweeter than sugar, for a contribution of 0 calories), the guide will bring you to the cooking school to meet the Master Chef and attend one of his cooking classes. Every classroom has its own booth with dishes, utensils, and ingredients needed to cook three dishes of traditional Malay food. After two hours of instruction, paired with fun and laughter in between, you can feed on the final outcome of your efforts. Everyone who goes to Penang Island must visit the Tropical Spice Garden and attend the lectures at the cooking school. It is a great way to enjoy the experience of cooking with your own hands, using the spices, and trying out the foods after attending the lessons.
Penang Butterfly Farm
Penang Butterfly Farm stands next from the Tropical Spice Garden. It is a great place with many species of butterflies of all shapes and sizes. Besides the butterflies, you can admire many other animals such as iguanas, fresh water fish, beetles and other animals. It has a nice collection with an admission price of 26 RM. It is certainly worth the visit to be enchanted by the colorful and thousands of butterflies. In addition to the myriad of butterflies flying around, there are also a few other animals to see such as lizards, snakes and a small museum with a huge collection of beetles, scorpions and spiders of all sizes.
The Penang Butterfly Farm is an interesting concept; a zoo where 90% of the inhabitants are butterflies. Some can be photographed but not touched. There is also an insect aquarium for those who are interested in insects. The park also grows plants for its resident predators. At the exit there is a gift shop. It is a small butterfly farm, but it leaves a positive impression and a lot of emotions when you sit and observe all the butterflies that are maintained and cared for here. The butterflies are charming and a lot of them are distributed in the whole park, though not very big, but it’s quite impressive and natural. Up to the fish pond and everywhere multicolored butterflies fly. Be sure to visit when you’re in Penang Island.
Adventure Zone (Batu Ferringhi)
The Adventure Zone is less than five minutes around the corner of the row of hotels along Batu Ferringhi and also the place where you can find two food stalls from which you can eat the most delicious dishes. You can see with your own eyes that everything is freshly prepared. It is highly recommended for families with kids. The place is cool and has many toys, ideal for taking the children. On weekends, there are more families that frolic around this entertaining zone.
A visit here is ideal when the weather is fine or when there is no rain. There is free Wi-Fi and lovely indoor activities to enjoy along with the rope challenges to conquer. The kids must wear socks and long sleeves / long pants because some slides can burn on bare skin. There is a discounted admission rate for hotel guests and the coffee at the shop here is really excellent.
Penang Ferry Service
You can take the Penang Ferry Service from Butterworth to Penang Island. The crossing lasts about 20 minutes and is very impressive. Kind of shaky, but it is a nice experience. The only negative part; the journey on foot from the train station to docking of the ferry is a bit uncomfortable. You need to climb an endless row of ladders making walking with a suitcase in one hand a bit complicated. The ferry has a reasonable time of interval and does not take long to make the crossing. As soon as you descend, there are several taxi drivers to take you to your destination.
You may also have this ferry ride as your option to get to the island of Langkawi (3 hours of travel) and other adjacent islands in Malaysia. It is the fastest and most convenient ferry that can conveniently go from one island to another. The ship runs twice a day from – 8:15 and 8:30 (without intermediate stops). It is a great opportunity to get to know Penang Island. Of course you can go on the island of Penang over the 3-4 km long bridge, but depending on where you want to go, the ferry is not only faster but of course much more interesting. For your convenience you can reserve your tickets ahead via the Internet.
Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang)
You can make a hike to the Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang) from turtle beach. The trail is quite a challenge with lots of up and down walks along the rocky cliffs. Make sure you bring enough water because you will sweat excessively. You can see monkeys on the road and on the turtle beach where young turtles are born in the hatchery. These turtles were kept in a tub and released back into the ocean once they are agile and bigger. Although this is the smallest tropical rainforest in Malaysia, it is highly recommended. You can make a one and a half hour trip to the beach on the west side of the park.
For the first hundred meters the path is still paved, afterwards there is a great hike with some pretty steep sections and with more than 30 degrees of humid temperature.
There is nothing on the beach and no boats, so after 2 hours you need to hike another 75 minutes to go back from where the trail started. However, the way will be considerably lighter. If you want a boat from the beach when you go back, you must arrange this in advance, as there is no phone coverage or signal on the beach. The entire trip to the park is a beautiful and challenging experience, don’t miss it.
Penang State Museum and Art Gallery
The Penang State Museum and Art Gallery is an excellent way to learn about the culture of its people. Penang has a very exciting cultural background and here you can experience it and learn a lot. It is a nice museum where they have taken care of history and its own roster of talented painters and artists. It has a low input price and the central location makes it accessible from anywhere around the city center.
The museum is not too big and in a couple of hours you can read and appreciate everything. The only downside is some of the artifacts are not well maintained (dusty and dirty corners). The entrance fee is 1 RM and the historical artifacts are well laid out along the exhibit hall of the museum.
The Camera Museum (Georgetown)
The Camera Museum is very entertaining and highly recommended if you are interested in photographic cameras and accessories. The best part of the museum tour is the guides (there are several of them, but you have to go with the older man). He knows the cameras very well and gives interesting information about the evolution and characteristics of each item. One of the highlights of the visit is when you get to the room where you find a machine gun transformed into a camera by the Japanese during the 2nd World War. It was used to film the points or places that were bombarded by their army. It is an educational museum equipped with a knowledgeable historian guide.
The air conditioned museum is a cool break in the heat of the city. This museum presents the history of smart picture using the photographic devices, the most familiar images and a chronology of steps in the creation of a camera. You can also have the chance to have a tour of your choice. Amateurs and novices must have a look of the evolution of the camera from the first creation until the most modern equipment. It is a small, but cool museum. The connoisseurs of photography will appreciate it most especially if they find that all cameras are still in good working condition. Another plus factor of this museum; the staff is very accommodating and attentive to every visitor’s needs.
Penang Heritage Trust Walks
The Penang Heritage Trust Walks are a fascinating journey through the streets of Georgetown. It is an exciting walking tour activity for children and adults. It is nice to find all the wall paintings on the streets of the capital city. But you need to be aware that some of the murals are not always easy to locate, because they are found in the most unexpected places. Going around in the old town and see these works of art (street art) is great fun.
You will always discover something new that you did not see before. You will get the feeling that it disappears a few times and there is always something new that will come along around the corner. Be sure to either get a good map of this site from the tourist information center or ask a taxi driver to show you around for half an hour or so. This tour is not costly but it is truly entertaining.
If you like India and Bollywood music this is the right place to go. There are lots of small shops and food stalls that you will discover along Queen Street. This street is full of shops and paintings by street artists; there are also good restaurants and stalls where you can eat very well. George Town in Penang Island has been just like all other cities of Southeast Asia, has its own Little India, an area limited to a couple of streets, Queen Street and King Street are both very colorful and noisy, paradoxically, it is one of the liveliest streets that you can find in Malaysia.
There are street vendors and loud music until late evening. Do not miss checking out the shops of jewelers, sellers of spices and fabrics, haberdashery, fragrant flowers, and many small restaurants offering typical Indian cuisine at its finest, but do not believe them when they say "No Spicy!”. In your travel to the center of George Town, do not forget to drop by here, you can have a gastronomic adventure and you will fill your eyes with lots of colors, aromatic scents, and the many beautiful facets of Penang.
The old pier and houses on stilts are very nice with several rooms and the homes where the locals still live. The neighborhood of stilts along Chew Jetty is very well preserved and it is really fun to shoot aimlessly for hours, run into antique stores and craft shops. You will have a very pleasant memory of the town and its inhabitants who are friendly and smiling.
This small area is located in the port of Georgetown. The only attraction is the set of houses built on stilts facing the sea. This area was formerly associated with the clan jetties of the city. You have to walk around the area when visiting this tourist spot, but it does not take long and you will see something different from what is within the historical area of Georgetown.
Penang Time Tunnel
The visit to the Penang Time Tunnel is usually done in two parts; the studious and history lovers discover the history of Penang by a hunt for clues to answer a quiz, the second part involves lots of time for play. Indeed, in the latter, it involves the concept of play because it starts with making fun memories. Once you pay the entrance fee, you can take the pictures you want with your device.
The tour guides are present all along the route to give you further explanations if needed or you can hand them the camera so that everyone is in the picture. The area on the floor is the most fun part. With lots of colorful graffiti you can have fun taking pictures with friends or make your selfie shots more interesting. You can meet locals there who will show you how to pose the most enjoyable way. The tour is definitely worth the time and effort while in Penang Island. It discloses a lot about the history of Penang in a fun and entertaining way. The best part is there are no long lines to wait for to enjoy its interesting features.
A visit to Penang Island not only opens your eyes to its breathtaking sights, it also educates you about its interesting history and wonderful culture. Plan your excursion and adventures wisely so that no attractions will be left out on your travel itinerary. Some tours can be arranged in advance online to avoid being stressed out by long lines and waiting. On Penang Island, you learn many things; Malaysia’s history, the food, the fusion of different cultures, and its friendly people.
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