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Places of Interest & Sightseeing in Penang

PENANG offers a heady and exotic mix of various sights, cultures, buildings old and new, intoxicating scents and lively sounds within the narrow streets of Georgetown steeped in age-old history. While a conducted tour in air-conditioned comfort might do for some, what better way to absorb all these than to undertake your sight-seeing on foot with the aid of a handy street map.

From Fort Cornwallis, stroll down Lebuh Pantai, the financial sector of Penang with its ultra-modern buildings housing banks and commercial institutions. Then turn right into Lebuh Bishop with its stores of embroidery works, silks, batik and antiques. A left turn takes you into Lebuh King featuring traditional row houses and temples. Another right turn brings you to "Little India" at Lebuh Pasar. This is the place for sarees, Indian trinkets and jewellery. The sweet scents of flowers and incense pervades the air as do the tantalising odours of spicy Indian curries that whet your appetite. Little India is also Chettiar territory where money lending flourishes to this day.

A short walk brings you to the intersection with Lebuh Pitt (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Kling). This street owes its fame to the places of worship of various races Kapitan Kling Mosque, The Kuan Yin Temple and the temple dedicated to the God of Wealth, Tua Peh Kong. After the intersection of Armenian Street, Pitt Street gives way to Cannon Street, so named for the crater in the street said to be caused by the firing of cannons by the British in 1867 to quell the triad riot. A short walk away takes you to the magnificient Khoo Kongsi or Clan house of the Khoo family - a living testimony of fine Chinese architecture featuring ornate carvings and other decorative features.

On the other side of town at Jalan Pintal Tali are junk shops where you may chance upon a rare antique item or fascinating bric-a-brac in porcelain or glass. The main throughfare, Jalan Penang, is lined with pre-war shophouse offering a range of modern goods - from textiles to electronic and photographic equipment. At Lebuh Campbell, the heart of Penang's Chinatown, are traditional Chinese medicine shops offering exotic oriental herbal remedies and jewellery shops glittering with gold.

And if you get tired, you can flag down a trishaw and still continue your tour at a leisurely pace. As for the delights of the city outskirts and the mainland, you still have the option of a conducted tour or a self drive car!

City Sights

Penang Museum and Art Gallery, Lebuh Farquhar
Built in 1821, the Museum houses a fine collection of old photographs, maps, charts and other historical relics. There are also Malay daggers (kris), Chinese furniture, embroidery and painting of old Penang.

The Art gallery on the first floor displays the works of local artists and is the venue for special exhibitions. The statue of Francis Light graces the grounds in front of the buildings.

Opening Hours:

Daily from 9.00am-5.00pm.
Fridays from 9.00am - 12.15pm & 2.45pm-5.00pm.
Kapitan Kling Mosque, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Kling
Named after the Indian Muslim merchant, the "Kapitan Kling" (headman) Caudeer Mohudeen who built it in the early 19th century. It features an ochre yellow facade and dome-shaped minaret reflecting Moorish Islamic influence. Permission to enter must be sought from mosque officials.

Acheen Street Mosque, Lebuh Acheen
Also known as Masjid Melayu, the mosque was built on land donated by Syed Sheriff Tengku Syed Hussain Aidid who came from Acheh in Sumatera. The 1820 mosque features a small window halfway up the minerat, said to have originally been a hole made by cannonball fired during the 1867 triad riots. Permission to enter need to be sought from mosque officials.

Kuan Yin Temple, Jalan Kapitan Kling
Popularly known as the temple of the Goddess of Mercy, it is the oldest temple in Penang. Built in 1800, it is said to have a hidden magical "eye" . The Temple forecourt houses two big iron stoves where devotees burn paper money to help predict the future and grant wishes. They then proceed inside where they light incense and shake joss sticks which reveal the future.

Opening Hours: Early morning to late evening.

Sri Mariamman Temple
, Lebuh Queen
The temple, built in 1883, features fascinating sculptures of gods and goddesses over its main entrance and on its facade. Housed within its ornately decorated interior is the priceless statue of Lord Subramaniam embellished with gold, silver, diamonds and emeralds. The statue figures prominently in the annual Thaipusam festival when it is borne on a silver chariot through the city streets to the temple at Jalan Waterfall.

Opening Hours: Morning to late evening.
Permission to enter must be obtained from temple officials.

St George's Church, Lebuh Farquhar
Built with convict labour in 1818, it is one of the oldest landmarks in the city. The entrance of this stately Anglican Church named after the patron saint of England, features a memorial canopy dedicated to Captain Francis Light.

Khoo Kongsi, Lebuh Cannon
The forefathers of the Khoo family who emigrated from South China built it as a clan-house for members of the Khoo family. It was burned down in 1894 and some believed that it was due to its resemblance to the Emperor's palace. A scaled down version was later built in 1902. The building features a magnificent hall embellished with intricate carvings and richly ornamented beams of the finest wood bearing the mark of master craftsmen from China.

Opening Hours:

9.00am to 5.00pm - Mondays to Fridays
9.00am to 1.00pm - Saturdays.
Permission to enter must be obtained from the Kongsi office.

City Hall Esplanade

Built in the 1880s, this stately colonial building is a fine example of British palladian architecture featuring magnificent Corinthian columns and huge windows. Once the seat of local government, it now serves as a venue for special exhibitions.

Clock Tower, Pesiaran Raja Edward
Towering 60 feet high, the clock tower was presented to Penang by local millionaire Cheah Chen Eok in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Fort Cornwallis, Lebuh Light
The fort was built on the site of Francis Light's historic landing in 1786. Originally a wooden stockade, it was replaced by a concrete structure built by convict labour, in 1804. Today, an open-air amphitheatre, a history gallery and a handicraft and souvenir centre occupies the interior. It houses the famous Dutch cannon presented to the Sultan of Johor by the Dutch and which finally found its way to Penang after being looted by the Portuguese, spent some time in Java and later dumped into the sea by pirates. Opening Hours: 8.30 am to 7.00 pm. Admission: RM1.00 per person.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
, Lebuh Leith
A stately Chinese-type dwelling house representing 18th and 19th century Chinese architecture built in the 1880's by Cheong Fatt Tze, a Guangdong businessman. The interior features beautiful bedrooms, libraries, ceremonial halls, heavy wooden doors,courtyards and gardens. The mansion houses a rare porcelain collection, sculptures, carvings, tapestries, embroideries and antiques.

Komtar, Jalan Penang
The Complex Tun Abdul Razak, a prominent Penang landmark, houses Government departments, commercial offices, department stores, shops and restaurants. The 65-storey complex also contains theatres, squash courts and a geodesic dome which serves as a multi-purpose hall, while the 55th floor offers a panoramic view of the city and on clear days, also of Gunung Jerai in Kedah

Nagore Shrine, Lebuh King
Constructed in the early 1880's, the shrine is a memorial to the Caliph, Syed Shahul Hamid. Faithful devotees may be seen visiting the shrine to seek favors on Thursdays.

On The City Outskirts

University of Science Malaysia's (USM) Museum and Art Gallery, Minden
The museum houses a collection of artifacts on Malay and Nyonya Cultures, textiles, prints, traditional jewellery and daggers (kris). One section is devoted to the performing arts. The art gallery has a fine collection of painting.

Opening Hours: 10.00am - 5.00pm Mondays to Fridays (It closes from 12.15 - 2.45 pm on Fridays) 10.00am -1.00pm Saturdays Permission to visit should be obtained from the security guards at the main gate.

Forestry Museum
, Teluk Bahang
Located within the 100-hectare Forest Recreation Park the museum was built using various species of wood and other forest produce and houses a collection of forest produce from all over the country.

The park features footpaths and flowing streams and is home to countless species of flowering plants, ferns, insects ,birds ,butterflies, snakes and lizard. (Closed for renovation.)

Penang Cultural Center
operates 3 cultural tours daily (expect Fridays) from 9.30 am - 5.00 pm. The cultural tour. which lasts for 2 hours 30 minutes each, is a window to the Malaysian culture. In each of these guided tours, the visitor gets to see - a traditional welcoming ceremony, Malay martial arts demo, a traditional games demo, handicraft demos a long house with blowpipe demo, an exhibition on heritage and a 45 minutes culture show featuring dances from all over Malaysia. The center also provides services like welcoming ceremonies, cultural performances and theme parties. Penang Cultural Center ... an experience in culture.

State Mosque, Jalan Masjid Negeri
The State Mosque features elegant modern architecture and took four years to complete. It can accommodate 5,000 worshipppers for congregational prayers and is usually packed on Fridays. Permission to enter must be obtained from the State Religious Department, Lebuh Pantai. Visitors must dress appropriately and romove their shoes before entering.

Kek Lok Si Temple, Air Itam
The temple, built in 1890, took 20 years to complete. Reputed to be the largest and most beautiful Buddhist temple complex in South-east Asia, it features gardens, a giant turtle pool, shrines and beautiful sculptures. The seven-tier pagoda is a shrine dedicated to Boddhisattva Tsi Tsuang Wang, one of the enlightened who declined to enter Nirvana so that he could help bring others to salvation.
Opening Hours: Early morning to late evening.
Admission is free

Wat Chayamangkalaram, Lorong Burma
The Buddhist temple of Thai architecture houses a 33-metre gold-plated reclining Buddha - said to be the third largest in the world. The niches behind the statue house urns containing the ashes of devotees
Admission is free.

Dharmikarama Burmese Temple, Lorong Burma
A pair of elephants guard the entrance to this Burmese temple. Within the pagoda grounds is a Boddhi tree and a wishing pond. It is the scene of much festivities during the water festival in April.
Admission is free.

Nattukkotai Temple, Jalan Waterffall
The temple is dedicated to the deity, Bala Subramaniam, and features prominently during the annual Thaipusam festival when thousands of devotees throng its premises for the various rites and ceremonies.

Opening hours: Early morning to late evening. Permission to enter must be obtained from temple officials.

Penang Bridge
The 13.5 km spectacularly beautiful bridge linking Penang to the mainland is the longest in Asia and third longest in the world. It features a 225-metre high middle span which allows 50,000 tonne ships to pass beneath.

Balik Pulau Kampung Houses

The traditional Malay kampung houses of Balik Pulau feature elaborate carvings, traditional roofs, long windows and verandahs. The design of these houses are also functional - stilts or posts supporting the house above the ground allows for free air circulation and hence make it cooler.

Balik Pulau
The hills of Balik Pulau abound with clove and nutmeg trees which bear fruit in November/January and July. A visit to the spice garden is a must if you're interested in the spices which brought the early Europeans here.

Butterfly Farm, Teluk Bahang
The farm spans 0.8 hectares and is home to 3,000 living specimens of over 50 species of colourful butterflies, frogs, scorpions and other insects.

It features a lily pond, artificial waterfalls, a rock garden, tunnel and bubbling mud pool. Also included within the farm are a garden enclosure, breeding area, laboratory, exhibition area, souvenir shops and information centre.

Opening hour: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Entrance Fees: RM4.00 Adults & RM1.50 Children.

Penang Hill
The hills of Penang - Western Hill, Tiger Hill, Strawberry Hill, etc. are popular among visitors and locals who flock to the cool hills at weekends and during holidays. A 30-minute journey by funicular rail takes visitors to summit of Flagstaff Hill of Bukit Bendera which offers panoramic views of Georgetown and the mainland beyond said to be especially beautiful at nightfall. A bird park, souvenir stalls, restaurants and a hotel are also available at the mail recreational area.

The funicular rail service begins at 6.30am and ends at 9.30pm Fare: RM4.00 per adult and RM2.00 for children.

There is a good walking track up the hill. It takes 4 hours to reach the top and is recommended only for the more energetic. The jungle trail begins at the 'moongate' at Waterfall Road, approximately 300m from the Botanic Gardens entrance.

The War Museam, Situated behind Penang airport at Beyan Lapas, Former British WWII camp with artillery defences, bunkers and underground weapons stores. Exhibits chronicles how the war affected Penang and its inhabitants and the affects of the Japanese occupation.

Snake Temple
Built in 1850 and dedicated to the deity Chor Soo Kong, it is also known as the Temple of The Azure Cloud. It is a sanctuary for pit-vipers said to be the 'servants' of the deity These poisonous snakes, seen coiled round the pillars, beams and potted plants within the temple are believed to be rendered harmless by the smoke of the burning incense.
Admission is free.

Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens offer peace and tranquility amidst lush green surroundings, tropical plants and the vibrant colours of Penang's flora. The 30-hectare garden also features a waterfall. Created in 1884 by the British, it was meant as a tribute to Charles Curtis, its first superintendent who collected botanical specimens from the surrounding hills - specimens which have since become significant samples in the world's major herbariums. The gardens are also well-known for their bold Rhesus monkeys.

Admission is free.
Opening Hours: 7 00 am to 7.00 pm.

P.Ramlee's House
Situated along Jalan P.Ramlee (formerly Caunterhall Road), is the newly restored wooden house, to commemorate the late P.Ramlee, Malaysia's foremost entertainer. Originally built in 1926 by his father and uncle, the house had previously undergone successive repairs before being taken over by the National Archives as an extension of its P.Ramlee Memorial project in Kuala Lumpur.

The display within and outside the house features the main living areas and also the life history of the late singer, actor, composer and director. The various artifacts include his personal memorabilia related to his life in Penang and also items belonging to his family.

Admission is free.
Opening hours: From 9.00 am-6.00 pm
Closed on Mondays

Kampung Seronok
The name Kampung Seronok' originated from a suggestion by an English Engineer D.W. Grehan who had, on a number of occassions, shared in the joy and merrymaking of the kampung folk, in the days shortly after the Japanese surrender. Situated at Jalan Permatang, it encompasses some 8,025 acres. Its population of 1,055 people are mainly government and private sector employees, factory workers and farmers.

What makes it unique is the fact that it is virtually 'open' to visitors who are free to observe and participate in the various cultural activities, traditional games and rural economic pursuits of the people, showcasinq the intrinsic values of traditional village life.

Penang's Famed Beaches
Penang's northern shoreline is famous for its beautiful beaches of golden sand and deep blue seas. The Tanjung Bunga, Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang beaches offer expansive stretches of glittering sand interspersed with secluded coves within the shelter of gigantic rocks. It is along this famous coastline that resorts of international standard have sprouted up, offering a host of water-based recreational facilities.

However, Penang also has its fair share of secluded beaches where one may escape from the usual holiday-makers crowd. These are to be found off the beaten tracks and accessible only by jungle trails in the northwestern part of the island.

If you crave for privacy, head for Teluk Duyung, Monkey Beach, Pantai Keracut and Pantai Mas accessible via the trails in the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve from Teluk Bahang. The Pasir Panjang Beach at the South Western tip of the island is a good clean stretch for swimming and can be reached after a 25-minute hike over hilly land from Betong.

Batu Maung Fishing Village Batu Maung is a small fishing village at the South-eastern tip of the island, which owes its fame to the beach-front shrine dedicated to Admiral Cheng Ho, the famous Chinese admiral who featured prominently in the history of the Malacca Sultanate. The huge footprint in the vicinity of the shrine is said to be that of the admiral.

Mainland Attractions

Penang Bird Park, Seberang Jaya The park spans 5 acres and houses a fine collection of some 800 birds from over 100 species from all over the world. It is beautifully landscaped and features a walk-in aviary, ponds with ducks and swans, ornamental ponds abounding with water-lilies and Japanese carps and ornamental plants.

Opening hours: 9.00 am - 7.00 pm.
Entrance fee: RM3.00 for adults and RM1.00 for children Cherok Tok Kun Relics, Bukit Mertajam A large, smooth block of granite bearing inscriptions in Chinese, Jawi, Tamil, English and classical Indian (probably Pali) said to have been written in the 4th and 5th century.

Sacred Heart Church, Pagar Teras, Bukit Mertajam
The church, designed after the famous Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris, is now left in ruins. Built in 1882, it used to be the focal point for local Roman Catholics until it was abondoned during the emergency when the residents were resettled elsewhere.

Mengkuang Dam
The Mengkuang Dam, north of Bukit Mertajam, is the biggest in Penang with a storage capacity of over 23 million litres of water. To the public however it is also a splendid recreational area featuring landscaped gardens, recreational and watersports facilities. Its jogging tracks and walking trails are also popular.

We can arrange tailor made tours to your specification or to our own popular destinations. Cost inclusive of vehicle and driver (up to 4 persons per car) RM 200 / £30 per half day (4 hours) with pick up and drop of at your hotel. Please e-mail your requirements for a no obligation quotation.

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