Penang has so much to see that a visitor will never get enough of time to see all of what she has to offer. So if you coming in to Penang for the first time the best place to start is in George Town itself, which is given the status of the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Stepping into this unique enclave, you feel as if you were stepping back into time. George Town has many old charming but elegant mixed colonial building, temple, mosques, churches and even rows of pre-war shop houses with some hidden in old fashion nook and cranny of alleys and narrow streets. Walking into these hidden quaintly streets like Muntri Street, Love Lane, Armenian Street and Acheeh Street is like walking in a time tunnel of nostalgic nineteen century scenery especially with its faded and peeling paint and crumbling walls.
So how does one start to explore such wide area of classical mixed pot puree culture of this place? The best is put on your most comfortable walking shoes or use the service of local three wheel trishaw, commonly known by the local as “beca”. Within this enclave visitors will able to see, the Pinang Peranakan Mansion ( Baba Nyonya Museum), a typical home of a rich Peranakan from a century ago is recreated to offer visitors a glimpse into their opulent lifestyle, Kapitan Keling Mosque, founded in 1801 with a distinct Moghul architectural look, Yap Kongsi and its surrounding where “Anna & the King” movie was shot, Leong San Tong (Dragon Hall) of Khoo Kongsi the most picturesque temple in Penang, the Sri Mariamman Temple (Hindu Temple), impressive Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (known as the “Blue Mansion” due to its indigo blue walls) and Church of Assumption.
Nearby this vicinity is Little India where pronominally Indian community carry out their business. There are saree shops, accessories, joss sticks and an old mill grinding chilli and spices.
Adventuring out of George Town toward the hills will give visitors different sights. Visitors to the top of Penang Hill at 821m above sea level will get to view some of the grandest colonial mansions and villas (which are now restaurants and guests houses) while enjoying the cool, refreshing air and bird’s eye view of the island. Going up there is by the riding the funicular railway. A short drive away from the Penang Hill stands the majestic Kek Lok Si Temple and the bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy. During Chinese New Year this place is lighted up in the night with thousands of light bulbs which turn the place into a fairyland. In the temple itself is a magnificent seven storey Pagoda which is a harmonise mix of Chinese, Thai and Burmese architecture and craftsmanship.
Back to the city, a quick visit to the “Reclining Buddha” of the Wat Chayamangkalaram which was built in 1845 by a Thai Buddhist monk. Inside the temple one can see the 33-meter gold-plated Reclining Buddha. Dragons, mythical serpents, elaborately decorated shrines and Buddha statues of all shapes and sizes dot the temple grounds. Surprisingly just directly opposite is the Dharmikarama Burmese Temple which is as impressive as Wat Chayamangkalaram.
Penang having a tropical climate offers some of the most spectacular lushly green sights. The Botanical Gardens with matured trees and the Tropical Spice Garden dedicated spice sanctuary while the Penang’s National Park (Muka Head) consist of an eco-attractions like the pristine Pantai Kerachut beach and also a meromictic lake (a body of sea water and fresh water that do not mix) which provide the perfect spot for picnics, fishing, swimming and trekking. The Butterfly Farm with colourful butterflies fluttering freely is also a breeding research centre. This place is indeed an eco-tourism gem.
For the beaches, one can visit the famous Batu Ferringhi, Penang's northern shoreline for its beautiful beaches of golden sand and deep blue seas. In Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang, all these beaches offer wide stretches of glittering sand with scheduled coves created by gigantic rocks in between. It is along this famous coastline that resorts of international standard have sprouted up offering a host of water-based recreational facilities such as the Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Holiday Inn and Park Royal Hotel.
Penang is famous for its beautiful natural surroundings and its historical past. Although it is a small state in comparison to others in Malaysia, you will find that it has a lot of places to explore and every corner you turn to is full of amazement and a joy to see. The local have kept alive their dialects, religions celebration, culture and festivals which makes Penang an extensive heritage enclave.
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Article from visitpenang.gov.my