One of Malaysia’s most popular cities amongst tourists, Penang is a delightful blend of the traditional and the modern. A place you must definitely stop by while in Penang is George Town, the state’s capital. The inner city of George Town was recently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so visitors should enjoy a leisurely stroll down the streets to experience the eclectic Straits architecture reflecting the region’s colonial past.
The unique and colourful colonial buildings and street corners in George Town demonstrates the multicultural heritage of the area, as well as its former role as a trading port connecting the East and the West. You could join in on a guided walking tour organised by Penang Heritage Trust, or a bicycle or trishaw tour offered by Metro Bike.
Another spot popular with the visitors and locals is Penang Hill, which stands at 821m above sea level. To reach Penang Hill, you can either take a 30-minute cable car ride up from the funicular station in Air Itam or trek up the hill via the Botanic Gardens in a three-hour hike through the rainforest.
Besides cool and refreshing air, the vantage point that Penang Hill offers allows you to get a panoramic view of the city. You will also be able to see some grand colonial mansions, which have since been converted to restaurants and guest houses. At Penang Hill, you will also find other attractions such as the Owl Museum and the Cliff Café.
The Owl Museum houses over 1,000 rare and exotic owl-themed artefacts originating from more than 20 countries. These artefacts have been crafted out of a variety of materials such as crystal, buffalo horn, sea shells, and even recycled materials. It is also the first museum in Southeast Asia dedicated to owl-themed arts and crafts.
Hop over to the Cliff Café when you are done to enjoy a wide array of local food, drinks, and snacks prepared by long-time residents of Penang Hill. The Cliff Café is situated in an idyllic environment, with the lush greenery of Penang Hill.
A trip to Penang is not complete without having a taste of the street food from the roadside stalls and coffee shops here. Penang street food encompasses influences from Chinese, Malay, and Indian cultures. If you happen to be visiting during the durian season, you might also wish to try the Bali Pulau durians in Penang.
Getting Around Penang
There are different modes of transport you can use to make your way around in Penang. The most common and convenient is the public bus, especially after recent improvements. You might wish to purchase the Rapid Penang Tourist Passport, which offers a week of unlimited travel on all Rapid Penang buses. There is also a free shuttle bus service for tourists that will bring you around popular places within the inner city of George Town. Taxis are also available, but note that taxi rides are often unmetered. For a more interesting way of getting around the city, have a trishaw ride on one of the modern becas found in Penang. If you prefer having your own ride, cars, motorcycles and bicycles are available for hire from stores in areas such as Chulia Street and Batu Ferringhi.
Getting To Penang
Daily flights to Penang are readily available from both full-service carriers as well as budget airlines such as Air Asia and Firefly Airlines. You could get from the Penang International Airport to the city centre via bus services. Alternatively, you could drive down the North-South Expressway, which connects the major states of peninsular Malaysia to Penang. Other ways of getting to Penang are the ferry and the railway.
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Airports near George Town
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