Have you ever thought of when you have a short time to stay in a city either for transit stop over, or visit for purpose like business trip, attending event yet still want to squeeze in some time and eager to explore around? If you come across to Penang, do you ever think of this is just a connecting stop for you before you hop on other places in Malaysia or is it worth for you look for a to spend a day or two in this vibrant island? Living in this place since I was born, I would say Penang has more than that to offer.
Listed by CNN Travel as one of the best 17 places to visit in 2017, Penang island is a vibrant place that can cater for different budget of travellers for cultural and food tour. I like to emphasize travel in Penang also is a unique experience for you to discover place with a mix culture of past and present living which still can witness today.
Here I can recommend some of the places to visit for short tour in Penang. Example if you landed on the island or finish for business call at night, have a good rest first and start your day in next morning! As I said Penang has more than that to offer, the itinerary below consist of some place of interest to visit from morning till evening time. The proposal of the Penang tour takes about 10-12 hours.
Head to Ayer Itam market, one of the most popular markets in Penang. Early days, farmers who stay nearby will bring their vegetables fresh from the farms on the hill slopes and sell to the locals. The place has developed since 19th century as small village and today is one of the most happening morning markets in Penang. The crowds start building up as early as 6am is a place for you to buy fresh materials not only typical vegetables, poultry and seafoods but also rare reptile such as python. There are many hawker stalls surrounding the area, being recommended by CNN Travel as one of the Top 20 Best Street food in 2016, kick start your Penang tour with a local breakfast!
Pampered yourself with local breakfast at any tradition coffeeshop and get to know what the citizens usually having in the morning. After the breakfast, we heading to the 1st destination, Kek Lok Si Temple.
Kek Lok Si Temple, also called Temple of the Supreme Bliss is the first landmark you going to see when on the journey towards Ayer Itam market. Standing on the hillside and overlooking the Ayer Itam area is the most famous Chinese Temple in Penang. Said to be largest Chinese temple in Malaysia, the temple blends of Buddhism, Taoist as well as Chinese rituals and folk’s belief began the construction since year 1891. The temple from original 4 hectare establish to current around 12 hectare and the expansion continue until today. Over here, you will visit different prayers hall, the iconic Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddha which list in many travel magazines as introduction of Penang and Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) Statue. The temple is a focal point of festivals of the Chinese community in Penang. The Chinese New Year celebrations are particularly impressive. For 30 days following Chinese New Year, the temple remains open until late at night whilst thousands of lights turn the scenery into a sea of light. During the festival days, the complex is decorated with thousands of lanterns representing donations offered by devotees.
After visited the temple, we will proceed to another famous attraction nearby the area, Penang Hill. We will go by taking the air-conditioned funicular train from the down hill direct to the top. Used to be a place for short retreat during British colonial period, once reached the top station, it is about 750 meters above sea level. Indulge yourself in the fresh and cooling air and take a stroll around this place while also enjoying the bird eye view towards the city and Strait of Malacca.
Upon come down from Penang Hill, take a break with wide selection of hawker food, restaurant or quaint café for lunch.
Penang used to be under one of the British colonies for more than 150 years before fell to Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, the capital city of Penang, George Town is the city that you couldn’t miss it. Listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site since year 2008, the city presents a unique architecture and townscape which still maintain much of the historical building during British colonial era until today. Over here, the city represents both tangible and intangible heritage such as different religious building, language diversity, living style, cuisines and the others.
Visit Street of Harmony, the street less than 700meters but it has 4 different religious building established along this area, you could amaze different peoples from different races can living together since then. Take a opportunity to visit Pinang Peranakan Mansion to understand the life of Straits born Chinese who are the descendants of Chinese immigrants, the architecture of the mansion as well as thousands of artefacts, antiques and jewellers.
Take a break by dropping any of stall and enjoy Malaysia signature drink Teh Tarik / Pulled Tea and have some local snacks. Alternatively, dropping by any one of the café in town by sipping a cup of coffee and enjoy the dessert. There are many café in George Town and I am more than happy to recommend to you!
Approaching to the dusk hour, we visit the clan jetties. Used to be resting place for the Chinese labor but eventually become their seaside settlements were divided into different surname-based clans and there are still people living until today.
We wrapped up the day by dropping at any hawker centre to enjoy the street food or visit the night market (subject to availability).
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