Beachy, foodie Penang is a great stopover for visitors to Malaysia. Located just south of the Thai border, this province consisting of a strip of coastline and Pulau Penang boasts quaint colonial architecture, laid-back beach resorts, and fantastic ethnic and fusion cuisine. Here are five fun things to do while visiting Penang:
1) Hit the Beach at Batu Ferringhi
Eat, shop and relax along the beach at Batu Ferringhi. In daylight hours, play in the water or rise above it on a parasail. At night, check into a resort along the waterfront and browse the night markets and food stalls. Batu Ferringhi is on the north tip of the island and can be accessed by public bus from Georgetown.
2) Devour Street Food—And Don’t Forget the Chendul
In Penang, your best options for dinner might be right on the pavement in front of your hotel. Malaysian street food is good all over the country, but Penang’s offerings of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine from roadside stalls are some of the best in the nation. Though there are countless dishes to tempt the palate, don’t forget to have a big bowl of sweet, icy chendul (also spelled cendol) on a hot afternoon. Made with cane sugar, pandan noodles and other ingredients, it’s one of the oddest looking, best-tasting foods in the province.
3) Flutter with the Butterflies
Penang has one of the best-reviewed butterfly farms in Southeast Asia. Located in Teluk Bahang, the Penang Butterfly Farm is a butterfly and insect sanctuary that seems part museum, part zoo, and part research facility. Visitors are allowed to wander among the free-flying butterflies or stop by closed terrariums of insects and lizards and marvel at the diversity within nature.
4) Take a Trishaw Tour
There’s a lot to absorb in Georgetown. In the old colonial district, and by the wharf, most of the buildings have colonnades protecting narrow sidewalks. Pedestrians may have a hard time catching the great facades of these beautiful, pastel-painted buildings while on foot. Taking a trishaw tour of the downtown not only covers most of the highlights of the UNESCO-rated architecture downtown but will also give your feet a rest and your eyes a treat.
5) Get Above It All on Penang Hill
If you’re not used to the Malaysian heat, you might want to head up to Penang Hill for some refreshing breezes and great panoramas. About 800 meters above sea level, this park is a cool, popular attraction for visitors and locals. On top of the hill, have a meal in the restaurant and visit the three houses of worship: a church, a mosque and a Hindu temple. You can get to Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera is the Malaysian name) by taking the funicular from Air Itam or, if you love flowers and don’t mind walking in the heat, you can walk up the hill through the botanical gardens.