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Home | Malaysia | Regions in Malaysia | Northern Region | Penang
Penang

Penang – a world renowned exotic holiday destination – was known, once upon a time, as Pulau Pinang or the “Isle of the Betel Nut”. Listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 2008, this virgin paradise has no shortage of cultural sights and natural scenery.

Nicknamed the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is famous for its soft sandy beaches and is fondly regarded as the food capital of Malaysia. Some of the most interesting sites of Penang include the sandy beaches of Tanjung Bungah, the landscape from the summit of Penang Hill and the vipers in the Snake Temple. The quaint nooks and crannies of Georgetown and the Tropical Spice Garden – the only spice garden in South East Asia – as well as Penang’s many flea markets, pasar malams’, KOMTAR and modern shopping malls also merit a visit.

ATTRACTIONS

1.Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple in Penang
Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple is a South Indian Hindu temple set beside the Penang Bird Park. Built in 1997, it is noteworthy because it has the largest and tallest (72ft) rajagopuram (main sculpture tower) in Malaysia. The RM2.3 million temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Arulmigu Karumariamman.

2. Batu Ferringhi
One of Penang’s most popular destinations (in fact, it’s the second most popular destination after Georgetown), Batu Feringghi consists of a long stretch of soft, white sandy beach along a winding road named Jalan Batu Feringghi, filled with a host of accommodation and dining options.

Its night market is quite legendary, while its waters are popular spots for a range of water sports activities such as parasailing and windsurfing.

3. Bukit Jambul Orchid & Hibicus Garden
Encompassing two hectares of beautifully-landscaped gardens, Bukit Jambul Orchid & Hibiscus Garden is home to an astounding variety of flora and fauna, some of which are unique and can be found only in this part of the world. Other than the obvious – orchids, hibiscus and reptiles - the garden also has a cacti collection, a deer park, a pottery shop, a waterfall and an ornamental Japanese pond. You can even take some of the plants home by purchasing them from the garden shop. Its residents include a 20kg albino python, a 100-year-old tortoise, a pair of Bengal tigers, a talking parrot, 6 arapaima gigas, the world's largest tiger orchid and a green anaconda

4. Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest
Rising 457m above sea level, Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest sprawls over 37 hectares of lush, hilly terrain. This forest reserve is equipped with camping sites and numerous streams pouring into shallow ponds. The four-kilometre hiking trail that leads all the way to the mountain’s summit is extremely popular with hikers and joggers alike. A small waterfall also passes through this area, providing visitors with a refreshing cool dip.

5. Bukit Panchor Forest Park
A small but well-developed recreation park, Bukit Panchor Forest Park is a 8-hectare lowland forest located in Nibong Tebal near Seberang Perai. With flowing river and lush vegetation, the forest provides a welcome respite from the hectic city life. There’s plenty to see and do here, such as unique mangrove life forms, bat caves and a wetland boardwalk.

6. Clan Jetties
Consisting of a row of wooden houses on stilts along a planked walkway built over the water, The Clan Jetties are picturesque fishing villages lined along Weld Quay. The traditional fishing settlements have been in existence since the 19th century, and are some of Penang’s remaining links to its rich and colourful past. Eight clan jetties can be found here – Chew Jetty, Koay Jetty, Lee Jetty, Lim Jetty, Peng Aun Jetty, Tan Jetty, Yeoh Jetty and Mixed Clans Jetty – with Chew Jetty being the biggest and most well-known.

7. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
A boutique hotel that’s one of Penang’s best-known attractions, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is an ornate edifice built in the traditional Hakka – Teochew style. Located at 14 Leith Street, the structure was erected in the 1880s when Hakka merchant, Cheong Fatt Tze commissioned its construction.

8. Dharmikarama Burmese Temple
Built in 1803, Dharmikarama Burmese Temple is Penang’s first Burmese temple. This striking temple with its golden rooftops comprises pagodas, a well, Shrine Hall and Sime Hall, in which a giant Lord Buddha’s statue sits. Also within the temple grounds are a huge Boddhi tree and a wishing pond. A pair of statues called the Panca Rupa – deemed the Guardian Protectors of the World - guards the temple.

9. Dr Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Base
A simple shop lot became the base from 1909 - 1911 for the revolutionary Chinese leader Dr Sun Yat's efforts to modernise China and turn it into a republic. Penang supported Dr Sun's efforts and raised funds for the uprising in China during that historical period. The shop lot is open for visitors wishing to learn more about the historical leader and his activities in Penang.

10. Eastern & Oriental Heritage Building at Penang
Eastern & Oriental Heritage Building is a large colonial-style resort that can only be described as legendary. Known as the E&O to generations of travellers, it is a true homage to the British-Raj era with classy rooms and beautiful gardens. Previous guests include some of world’s most notable glitterati.

11. Fort Cornwallis
Fort Cornwallis at Padang Kota Lama, George Town, is the largest intact fortress still standing in Malaysia. When Captain Francis Light landed in Penang in 1786, on the cape which was then called Tanjung Penaga in Malay, and today known as George Town, he built a simple stockade out of nibong palms.

12. The Kapitan Keling Mosque
The Kapitan Keling Mosque along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (formerly Pitt Street), is one of the best known mosque in Penang. Before the construction of the Penang State Mosque, the Kapitan Keling Mosque was used as the state mosque of Penang, since it is the largest historic mosque in George Town. The Kapitan Keling Mosque was named after Caudeer Mohudeen, the head of the Indian Muslim community credited to have built it around 1800.

The name "kapitan keling" is used to denote the headman or leader of the South Indian Muslim community. The term "keling" is derived from the ancient Hindu kingdom on the Coromandel coast of South India, and the local Hokkien community corrupts the word to derive "keling-na" for Indians in general, particularly those from South India (The North Indians are pooled together with another term, "banggali", though they are not necessarily from Bengal). The title "Kapitan" is a corruption of the English word "Captain", and is used to denote the leader of the community. Similarly, the leader of the Chinese community during that period is called a Kapitan China.

The Kapitan Keling was the first Superintendent of the mosque. He brought in the builders and stones from India for the project. The original mosque structure was a single-storey rectangular building with a sloping roof on all sides and surrounded by a stone bench. It was surrounded by shophouses, with access through a narrow gateway.

12. Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si, or Temple of Supreme Bliss, is the largest and arguably the best known temple in Penang. It straddles a hillside overlooking the town of Ayer Itam and George Town beyond that. It is a temple that harmoniously blend Mahayana Buddhism with Taoist beliefs and other Chinese rituals, creating an amalgam that is uniquely its own. Since the olden days, the hills of Ayer Itam are regarded as important geomantically. Known as He San, or Crane Hill, they are recommended as a retreat for Taoist practitioners striving for immortality.

13. Pennag City Hall
The City Hall located along the Esplanade is a fine building of Victorian architecture built in 1903; a reminder of the colonial era in Penang.
The City Hall faces a historic field - Padang Kota which is a venue for festivals and other large-scale events.
Today, the Hall is still used for period meetings among the Penang Municipal Council Chamber.

14. Penang Khoo Kongsi
Erected some 650 years ago, the Penang Khoo Kongsi is a part of the ‘Goh Tai Seh’ (five big clans) that formed the backbone of the Hokkien community in olden-days Penang. A kongsi (Hokkien for ‘clan-house’) is a building in which Chinese families of the same surname gather to worship their ancestors. These days the primary functions of kongsis are supportive roles as they strive to help with the educations of members’ children, settling disputes and advancing loans. Representing a family’s social and spiritual commitments between extended relations, ancestors and the outside community, the kongsi also acts as an important means of solidarity

CUISINE

Penang gourmet ranges from street food to fine dining but her myriad of flavours are definitely unique to the island state.
With each race offering their own traditional fare, foodies will be spoilt for choice.
Although every culture has their signature dishes, they are also influenced by other cooking styles and have managed to come up with their own special creations that represent a beautiful blend of tastes and spices.

1. Nasi Kandar
Rice served with an unending list of curries and dishes meticulously prepared with fish, chicken, squid, prawns and beef – a hearty meal for those who love aromatic spices.

2. Laksa
There are two variations of the Laksa – one is sour and tangy while the other is cooked with rich coconut milk.

3. Char Koay teow
This flat, fried white noodle dish has been described as a taste of heaven and it is certainly no exaggeration.

4. Kokkien Mee
The Penang version of this dish is craved by many including those who do not hail from the state. The yellow noodle cooked in tasty prawn soup is definitely a local favourite.

5. Nyonya dishes, deserts and kuih
The Nyonya community’s cooking skills are legendary. Infused with herbs and spices, the dishes are a perfect accompaniment to steaming white rice while the desserts and local cakes (kuih) are a sight to behold with their unique soft texture and colourful appearance – sinfully delicious.

6. Rojak
A delicious mix of fresh fruits and vegetables like pineapples, cucumber and water apples with cuttlefish slices. Generously topped with a local prawn paste dressing, it is a heady combination indeed.

7. Bukit Tambun Seafood
Bukit Tambun on the mainland is only a short distance from the Penang Bridge and serves some of the cheapest and freshest variety of seafood in the country! Indulge in succulent prawns, tasty crabs and your favourite fish dish without burning a hole in your pocket.

8. Pasembur
A slightly different version of the Rojak, the Pasembur features a mix of deep fried items and shredded vegetables. The dressing is a peanut-based sweet sauce that will leave you hungering for more.

9. Eurasian food
Sourcing for authentic Eurasian cuisine maybe a bit of a challenge because the community is dwindling in numbers. However, the Little Penang Street Market at Upper Penang Road (only on the last Sunday of each month) and a small Eurasian restaurant tucked away along Kelawai Road serve very good Eurasian specialties. Among the popular dishes are the Debel (Devilled) Curry, pickles, sweetmeat, roasts, patties, spicy Mulligatawny Soup, kedgerees, stews and pies.

10. Bak Kut Teh
Pork ribs simmered in herbal soup, Bak Kut Teh is a well-loved Chinese dish. Often, regulars will request for “extras” like pork intestines and pork skin. Eaten with white rice, nothing beats a steaming hot bowl of Bak Kut Teh!

HOTELS & ACCOMMODATIONS

5- star Hotels

Eastern & Oriental Hotel Panang
10 Farquhar Street, 10200 Penang, Malaysia
Phone: 604 222 2000
Fax: 604 262 6333
Equatorial Hotel Penang
1 Jaln Bukit Jambul, 11900 Penang, Malaysia
Phone: 604 643 8111
Fax: 604 262 6333
Evergreen Laurel Hotel
53 Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: 604 226 9988
Fax: 604 226 9989
Shangri La Hotel Penang
Jalan Magazine, 10200 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 262 2622
Fax: 604 262 6526
Shangri- La’s Rasa Sayang Resort
Batu Ferringhi beach, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 888 8888
Fax: 604 881 1800
Dorsett Penang Hotel
3 Jalan Larut, 10050 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 226 7888
Fax: 604 226 3140
The Gurney Resort Hotel & Residence
18 Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 370 7000
Fax: 604 370 5000
The Northam “ All Suite, Penang”
55 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 10050 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 370 1111
Fax: 604 370 2222

4 star Hotels

Berjaya Georgetown Hotel
1 Stop Midlands Park, Burmah Road, 10350 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 227 7111
Fax: 604  226 7111
City Bayview Hotel
1 Stop Midlands Park, Burmah Road, 10350 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 263 3161
Fax: 604 263 4124
Cititel Penang
66 Jalan Penang, 10000 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 370 1180
Fax: 604 370 2288
Copthome Orchid Penang
Jalan Tanjung Bunga, 11200 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 892 3333
Fax: 604 892 3303
Crown Prince Hotel
Tanjung Bungah, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 890 4111
Fax: 604 890 4777
Hydro Majestic Hotel
Jalan Low Yat, Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone: 604 890 5999
Fax: 604 890 5100
Holiday Inn Resort Penang
72 Batu Feringghi, Penang
Phone: 604 881 1601
Fax: 604 881 1389
Paradise Sandy Bay Penang
527 Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-899-9999
Fax:604-899-0000
Parkroyal Penang
Batu Feringghi Beach, Batu Feringghi, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-881-1133
Fax:604-881-2233
Shangri- La’s Golden Sands Resort
Batu Feringghi Beach, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-886-1911
Fax:604-881-2233
Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya
11 Lebuh Tenggiri Dua Pusat Bandar, Bandar Seberang Jaya, 13700 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-370-7788
Fax:604-370-0555
The Bayview Beach Resort
72 Batu Feringghi Beach, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-881-2123
Fax:604-881-2140

3 star Hotels

Agora Hotel
202-A Macalister Road, 10400 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-226-6060
Fax:604-226-5959
Casuarina Beach Hotel
Batu Feringghi, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-881-1711
Fax:604-881-2155
Hotel Continental Penang
5 Penang Road, 10000 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-263-6388
Fax:604-263-8718
Hotel Grand Continental Penang
68 Jalan Gurdwara, (Jalan Bricklin), 10300 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-263-6688
Fax:604-263-0299
Hotel Malaysia Penang
7 Penang Road, 10000 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-263-3311
Fax:604-263-1621
Lone Pine Hotel
97 Jalan Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-881-1511
Fax: 604 - 881 1282
Mar Vista Resort
1 Batu Feringghi, 11200 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-890-3388
Fax:604-890-3005
Marcopolo Guest House
D-2-3 Jalan Sungai Emas, Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-881 4364
Fax:604-881 1275
Midtowne Hotel
101 Macalister Road, 10400 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-226-9999
Fax:604-229-5149
Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel
33 Jalan Tanjung Bunga, 11200 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-890-8808
Fax:604-890-8333
Pearl View Hotel
Jalan Baru, Seberang Jaya, Prai, Butterworth, 13700 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-398-9888
Fax:604-399-9810
Sri Sayang ( Service Apartment)
188 Batu Feringghi, 11200 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-881-1113
Fax:604-881-1250
Sunway Hotel Georgetown
33 New Lane, 10400 Pulau Pinang
Phone:604-229-9988
Fax:604-228-8899

RESTAURANTS

1885 Restaurant
10 Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 Penang.
Tel: +604 222 2000
Hot Wok Nyonya Restaurant
124E – F, Jalan Burmah
Tel: (604) 227 3368
Kek Seng Coffee Shop
Taxi or fiveminute walk from KOMTAR Tower
Rainforest Café
300 Lebuh Chulia
Tel: (604) 261 4641
Sup Hameed Penang
48 Jalan Penang
Tel: (604) 261 8007
The Sire Museum Restaurant
4 King Street
Tel: (604) 264 5088/263 4359
Amelia Cafe
No. 6, Armenian Street
Tel: +6012 496 7838
Beach Blanket Babylon Bar & Bistro House
No. 32, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Georgetown
Tel: +604 262 2232
History of Chin’s Stylish Chinese Cuisine
Tanjong City Marina, Church St Pier (Next to QE II), 8A Pengkalan Weld, 10300 Georgetown
Tel: +604 261 2611
Suffolk House Restaurant
250, Jalan Ayer Itam, 10460 Georgetown
Tel: +604 228 1109 or +604 228 3930
Golden Thai Seafood Restaurant
69-A Jalan Batu Feringghi
Tel: (604) 811 1236
That Little Wine Bar in Penang
54 Chow Thye Road, Penang
Tel: +604 226 8182

GETTING THERE

Penang is one of the popular tourist destinations in Malaysia and attracts travelers from all across the globe. How to get there to Penang is not difficult to answer as there are several modes of transport making it all easy.

The quickest and comfortable way to get to Penang is by air and flights connect all the important cities of the Malaysia and also important cities of the world. The Penang International Airport is located 20 km from the city center and receives flights from cities of the world.

The travelers can also get to Penang by train though there are no direct trains to Penang Island. The travelers can take a train to Butterworth and there after take a ferry connection to Penang. The ferry terminal is near to the train station.

The other option to get to Penang is by road. The traveler can make use of the Penang Bridge that connects the mainland Malaysia and Penang. The traveler also needs to pay a toll tax at the bridge.

Penang is one of the major tourist attractions in Malaysia. The main attractions include the beaches, scenic beauty and culture with Chinese and the colonial influences.

By Plane

Penang is a busy international hub. There are a lot of ways to get there. Getting to Penang by air is very convenient. Daily flights from major capitals of the region are connected to Penang.

Penang is directly connected with Singapore, Bangkok, Nagoyra, Medan, Xiamen (China) and Madras. The Malaysia Airlines makes getting to Penang by air easier. The airline also operates more than 20 flights daily between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The Penang International Airport connects Penang with the other regions.

The Penang International Airport

The Penang International Airport is about 20 km from the city center. The Penang International Airport located in the south receives direct flights from major capitals in the region. There are taxis that drop passengers to and from the airport. They follow the coupon system by which fares between the airport and various destinations in Penang are fixed. The taxis and limousines are air conditioned and charge higher fare. The Penang yellow Bus Co. operates and hourly service between the Airport and Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay|) in the city between 6.00 am to 10.00 pm daily Malaysian Airlines (MAS) operates more than 20 flights daily to and fro from Kuala Lumpur.

Airlines in Penang
Air travel is the natural choice to get to Penang. Thai and Singapore airlines also offer direct flights.
Name of some famous airlines in Penang include:

Malaysia Airline (MAS), the national carrier, flies between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Their Telephone No: 04-262 0011, 262 1403. address is Ground Floor, KOMTAR, Penang

Air Asia, a budget airline, has the lowest rates for flights from Kuala Lumpur. The telephone numbers are Local: 1300 88 99 33, International: +60 (0)3 7884 9000.
Garuda Indonesia is the national carrier of Indonesia. The have a global network of routes to bring visitors to Indonesia.

Lion Air is a very large carrier, covering about 20 cities in Indonesia, and international connections to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore.

Silk Air is another airline serving Penang. Its contact no. is +65 (0)6 223 8888.

By Road

Getting to Penang by road is facilitated by the opening of the Penang Bridge that links the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia to Penang Island. Driving on the road is the best way of getting to Penang by road. A charge of RM 7.00 is levied on all classes of cars at the tool plaza in Perai on the mainland. You are not required to pay for traveling from the island to the mainland.

Penang is a densely populated island. It gets pretty congested during rush hour in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. The roads on Penang Island are also narrow having been built without foreseeing such a large volume of traffic in the future. To curb this problem, plans are afoot to build a monorail system, similar to that in Kuala Lumpur. The Penang Outer Ring Road Project that is planned to make getting to Penang by road easy by providing ease traffic between the north and south of the island is currently underway.

Other Modes of Transport by Road

Taxis: Cabs are commonly available around the island. Although they are designated by the Authorities to use a meter for transport charges, most do not conform to the standard and it would be best to agree on a fixed fare before boarding.

Buses: Buses ply the major routes around the city and island. The main terminals are located in Weld Quay and in front of the Komtar Shopping Centre in Georgetown. Buses have machines that accept coins to pay the fares.

Trishaws: The three-wheeled trishaw used to be a common sight on the island, but modern times have phased into near non-existence. Today, they exist as a novelty for tourists to enjoy.

Rented Cars: Renting your own car offers you great flexibility and convenience. By paying a deposit, you can take a car to drive around and pay the corresponding rate measured daily.

By Sea

Getting to Penang both from within and outside Malaysia is easy as Penang is well-connected by sea. There are various ferry services in Penang that makes your transport more comfortable.

The Port of Penang
The Port of Penang is operated by the Penang Port Commission. The port has four terminals, one on Penang Island (Swettenham Pier) and three on the mainland. The latter is known as the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT), Butterworth Deep Water Wharves (BDWW), and Prai Bulk Cargo Terminal (PBCT).

Malaysia being the 13th largest exporting nation, the Port of Penang plays a leading role in the nation's shipping industry. It links Penang to more than 200 ports worldwide. Swettenham Pier also accommodates cruise ships.

Penang Ferry Service

There are many cross-channel ferry services in Penang. These services are provided by the Penang Ferry Service and connect George Town and Butterworth. They were the only link between the island and the mainland until the bridge was built in 1985. High-speed ferries to the resort island of Langkawi, Kedah in the north as well as to Medan, Indonesia are also available daily.

From Butterworth, it is necessary to take the ferry to Penang Island. The ferry service is available around the clock for both passengers and vehicles. Tickets are purchased at the Butterworth terminal and the rates are applicable for a return journey.

By Train

You can ride a train from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth through the Government-owned Malaysian Railways (KTMB). From Butterworth, it is a matter of riding a taxi across the bridge to the island. Getting to Penang by Train takes 6 hours from Kuala Lumpur. You can even take the train from Alor Setar in Kedah and even from Bangkok in Thailand.

Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB)
Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) or the Malayan Railway Limited is the main rail operator in Peninsular Malaysia. Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM), or Malayan Railways, connects to both Singapore and Bangkok.

Formerly known as the Malayan Railway Administration (a corporate sole established under Section 4 of the repealed Railway Ordinance 1948), it came to be known as KTMB after the government-led corporation law in 1992. However, it remained wholly owned by the federal government. Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad dates back to the British colonial era, when it was first built to transport tin. Fares are generally reasonable. The low speed of the intercity trains on the narrow-gauge tracks does not usually make them competitive with other modes of transportation.

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