Penang (Pulau Pinang)

Penang, Malaysia

The Malaysian State of Penang consists of an Island and a Peninsula connected by the two longest bridges in the country. George Town, Penang's Capital, has become a major tourist destination in Malaysia due to its colonial architecture, its connection to WWII and its many green spaces, which include everything from formal botanical gardens to tropical jungle.

George Town has a stunning mixture of European and Asian influences. A part of George Town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, in part because of their maritime urban settlements known as Clan Jetties. While George Town's architecture is striking, the old streets around the Lebuh Acheh historical enclave hold the most significance due to the old Chinese Shophouses, the British Colonial Mansions and Clan Houses and a number of Temples. George Town's most significant historical building, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is one of only three mansions outside China built using traditional Feng Shui architectural principles and an early 19th Century Chinese Temple dedicated to the Goddess Kuan Yin.

The Clan Jetties are one of the most significant historical areas in Penang. A traditional village consisting of structures and houses built on stilts right over the water. The Clan Jetties are a very unique type of water settlement created by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th Century. Originally, they consisted of a single structure used as a sort of small warehouse. Over the years, families or clans took over certain industries and unofficially claimed a certain area of the dock, with each clan getting bigger and building more huts along the way. There are now six jetties on the waterfront all of them still home to Chinese descendants.

The Habitat Penang Hill is a rainforest experience that takes you into the heart of the jungle and lets you feel all the sounds, colours and smells up close. The first contact with nature is through the 1.6 kilometre long nature trail, which cuts through the ancient forest, over rolling hills and far above the Andaman Sea all of which you can see from several lookout points along the way. For even more stunning views of the surroundings, take the Langur Way Canopy Walk, 15 metres up in the air and 230 meters long, gently curving around and through the trees. Or you can try the ziplines for an up close experience of the jungle. For those wanting to catch a glimpse of George Town, as well as the surrounding jungle, nothing beats the Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk, a circular platform with 360 degree views, the highest point on the island.

Batu Ferringhi Night Market is open until midnight every day, with over 100 stalls and tons of character it is the perfect place to pick up traditional souvenirs, including Batik prints, lacquer plates and delicate paper lamps. You will also find restaurants and food stalls that line the streets as well.

The Penang Hill Funicular was built in 1923 and completely overhauled in 2010. The Penang Hill Railway, which has the world's steepest tunnel track, climbs Penang Hill and offers beautiful green open views over the city. Originally taking 30 minutes, it now takes anywhere between 5-25 minutes, depending on the stops made to the top.

Kek Lok Si Temple is home to a seven tiered Pagoda, which is over one hundred years old and the largest Buddhist Temple in Malaysia. It houses over 10,000 Buddha statues and a 37 metre tall bronze sculpture of Kuan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of compassion. Around the main statue the tallest statue of Kuan Yin in the world there are 100 smaller statues of the Goddess, each two metres tall. The Temple is considered a main pilgrimage destination and attracts Buddhists from all over Southeast Asia.

You won’t have to go far to enjoy the powdery soft sands and turquoise waters in Penang as the Batu Ferringhi Beach is just steps from the heart of the city, a perfect place to escape for a few hours, soak up the sun, parasail or rent a kayak to explore the coastline. Along the roadside the beach is lined with a mix of great accommodations, live music entertainment venues and plenty of dining options.

The Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm is divided into two main sections consisting of Natureland and Cocoon, this enormous glass conservatory is home to over 15,000 free flying butterflies that live amongst waterfalls, lush tropical greenery and recreated natural features. Trails crisscross through the greenhouse, offering lots of chances to see the butterflies in their natural environment including small caves, a wild garden, a backyard area and more.

Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque is a white and blue Tanjung Bungah, featuring an impressive towering minaret, built on pilings and stilts along Tanjung Bungah's Beach. A beautiful terrace that wraps around parts of the building gives a 360 degree panoramic view over the sea and the City of Penang.

Khoo Kongsi is an ornate Chinese Clan House, highly ornate and richly decorated in reds and golds. Khoo Kongsi is famous for its stunning sculptures of dragons and other beasts that adorn the roof. There is also a Museum about the Khoo Kongsi Clan on the first floor of the Temple. The Central Hall on the second floor, is decorated with ink frescoes of legendary heroes.

Penang's most famous landmark is also the largest Fort in the country. Although only one outer wall with cannons remains from the original 1786 Bastion, there are enough structures left behind it to give you an idea of the massive size of the original Fort. Stroll through the well cared for green lawn to find the remains of prison cells, a chapel and a storage area that was once used to keep ammunition. A bronze statue of Captain Francis Light, who originally ordered the building of the Fort, welcomes tourists as they enter through the gate.

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