From tropical rainforest to the urban jungle of George Town, Penang is as eclectic as it is enticing. A blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures have resulted in fascinating heritage sites and a renowned food scene. Those in search of serene beaches won’t be disappointed either, while luxury hotels make the ideal starting point for Malaysian adventures.
Things to do
Penang is home to a host of Malaysia’s rainforest. Penang National Park may be the smallest, but it packs a powerful punch with canopy trails and tucked away beaches. To see virgin rainforest and try a serious hike, grab a map in George Town and set off for Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve. For something a little less strenuous – and slightly more fragrant – visit Penang’s Tropical Spice Garden. Time it well and you could even join a cooking class.
Most visitors staying in George Town take the short trip to Batu Ferringhi Beach. It’s full of life day and night, with the after-dark market a particular draw. Tanjung Bungah is close too, and ideal for watersports enthusiasts. But if you have something a little more tranquil in mind, Penang has plenty of quiet coves up its sleeves. Try secluded Monkey Beach, close to Penang National Park, to share the shore with exotic wildlife. Nature lovers will adore Pantai Kerachut too, where turtles come to nest.
To appreciate Penang’s diverse cultural influences, pay attention to its architecture. George Town’s vivid Blue Mansion was created by a Chinese trader in the 19th-century, and is an intriguing mix of styles. In the same city is Khoo Kongsi, a magnificent clanhouse decorated with vast murals and symbolic carvings. Then there are a host of temples to explore. Make time for hilltop Kek Lok Si, the Temple of Supreme Bliss – a dazzling Buddhist monument.
A fusion of East and West, old and new, where cosmopolitan cities vie for attention with untamed jungle.
Top tip from SLH