Linked to the west coast of mainland Malaysia by a four mile long bridge Penang is the most well-known of Malaysia's beach destinations and generally considered an ideal choice if you are looking for entertainment as well as a relaxing beach destination. Embracing modernity while retaining its traditions and old world charm, the island is home to an historic capital, miles of dense, tropical rainforest, paddy fields, hills and of course, sun-drenched beaches. Batu Ferringhi, where the majority of hotels are located, is the best beach on the island and sweeps along a stretch of the northern coast of the island. Do take the time to explore the island's capital, Georgetown, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Most visitors flock to Penang to take advantage of its sandy shores and vast open sea. Batu Ferringhi, where the majority of hotels are located, is the best beach on the island and sweeps along a stretch of the northern coast of the island. Watersports are particularly popular although jellyfish are occasionally washed in on some tides, which can affect swimming, however all the hotels have fantastic pool areas and are right on the beachfront.
Do take the time to tear yourself away from the beach to explore the unique charms of the island's capital, Georgetown. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Georgetown's colourful history is characterised by the colonial architecture, churches, mosques, monuments and tumbledown shophouses. While it's easy to explore on foot you may wish to hop on one of the many rickshaws for a sedate journey around the maze of streets and narrow lanes.
The highest point on the island is Penang Hill and a trip up the 2,270 feet funicular railway is a must and on arrival at the top there are several vantage points offering views in every direction. Other attractions include the Snake Temple, where zesty lime pit vipers can be seen coiled around the altar or hanging from the ceiling; and the magnificent Kek Lok Si, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia dominated by a seven-tiered pagoda. Natural attractions include Penang National Park, which although one of the world's smallest national parks, is host to an impressive range of wildlife and is a great place to experience Malaysia's rainforest. Follow the hiking trails that run through the park and emerge onto either Monkey Beach or Turtle Beach, alternatively bypass the jungle and take a boat from the park headquarters to either beach.
When it comes to shopping Penang has a good mix of modern malls, quaint antique stalls and bustling night markets. Don't miss Little India or Chinatown in the heart of Georgetown for a slice of local culture. At Batu Ferringhi, the bustling night market sets up along the Jalan Batu Ferringhi and has numerous souvenir stalls, clothing and handicrafts.
Fondly regarded as the culinary capital of Malaysia thanks to the tantalising blend of Chinese and Malay styles, there are no end of dining options available in both Batu Ferringhi and Georgetown. Humble hawker stalls are recommended for trying out local delicacies, such as Char Kuay Teow and Tar Sau Peah, or alternatively an array of cafes and restaurants offer a superb array of international and traditional Malay dishes. Nightlife options are equally vibrant and plentiful, with many pubs, trendy bars, clubs and karaoke lounges to be found, particularly around Georgetown.
- Fantastic beachfront hotels
- Lovely beaches
- Culture and heritage in Georgetown
- Delicious food