I am sometimes ashamed when I tell fellow Malaysians that up till last week, I have been to Penang only once in my life.
If you’re also a Malaysian, I know. Please, don’t start.
Penang is one of the more vibrant and tourist-friendly states in Malaysia, not to mention an absolute heaven when it comes to local delicacies. It is not unusual for locals to travel from different parts of the country just to hunt for food in this region because if you didn’t know this already, Malaysians are quite serious when it comes to good food.
Located north of Kuala Lumpur, this place is accessible by most means of transport; the most convenient would be an hour’s flight from the capital or if you’re doing a road trip, it’s a 4 hour drive in good traffic conditions. Almost all the attractions are situated on Penang island instead of mainland; it’s probably best to stay a few days to give yourself enough time to explore and of course, eat to your heart’s content!
I had the chance to come again recently and although I only stayed a grand total of one day, there were quite a few things I managed to see/do within that short period –
Kek Lok Si Temple
There is no way you’d be able to miss out on this Buddhist temple when you’re in Penang. This impressive piece of architecture is situated at Air Itam and its huge statue of Guan Yin can be seen from miles away in good weather conditions. The last (and first) time I came seven years ago, the pavilion that houses the statue was still under construction, so you can imagine my excitement that it’s now open to public. There’s even an inclined lift that brings you directly up to the massive structure!
It’s quite a huge place to explore; it would be worth your time to check out the pagoda on the opposite end of the premises as well. During this time of the year, the entire place is decorated with lanterns as part of the festivities for Chinese New Year.
If you’re up for climbing its many levels, you’d reach the top feeling very dizzy with all the winding steps, but you’d be rewarded with a stunning view of Penang island.
The Khoo Kongsi is one of the few remaining clanhouses in Malaysia that has preserved its elaborate main temple for the viewing of the public.
I was just in awe at how much detail was put into the construction of this building; there’s also a museum on the lower floor that gives you a background of the clan’s family tree, history and layout of the original clanhouses back in the day.
A Hunt for Street Art at Georgetown
Over the last few years, Penang had commissioned various artists to decorate the streets of Georgetown with their street art and I’ve seen so many pictures online taken by other tourists that made me want to see them myself.
Most of them can be found on Armenian Street and I’m pretty sure there’s a map you could get from the information centre; we just decided to use Google to speed things up!
Food, Food, more Food
Tell me, what is visiting Penang without eating your way through the entire day?
From the moment I touched down at the airport, we were on a continuous mission to eat as much as our stomachs could fit, it was great! It also meant us braving the heat to queue with the rest of the crowd who were equally eager to have their share of the famous Assam Laksa at Air Itam, or the Penang Road Chendol.
I don’t think I’ll put an ending to this entry as I’m pretty sure I’ll be back for the Nasi Kandar when I next have the chance!