What to See in Penang (Malaysia)
According to All Public Libraries, Penang is a unique island where you can find excellent beaches and unique historical monuments. It is unlike any of the resorts in Asia. The island is located off the northwest coast of mainland Malaysia in the Indian Ocean.
Penang became known to the world thanks to Francis Light, an English merchant, who in 1798 acquired it from the Sultan of Keda in exchange for protection. At that time, the island was completely covered with jungle, and there is a legend that the British hid chests with silver dollars far in the forest so that the slaves would clear the territory faster. Soon the first city, Georgetown, was founded here. To attract people here, any newcomer was supposed to have as much land as he could clear, and Penang itself was declared a duty-free port. As a result, by the end of the 18th century, the number of inhabitants on the island reached 10 thousand people. Merchants and settlers flocked here from Europe, India, Thailand, China and Burma (now Burma is called Myanmar). Some came seeking asylum, others to start life again. In the 30s, along with the rapid development of nearby Singapore, the island began to decline economically. But it also had a positive effect – many buildings of the Chinese and colonial eras have been preserved here, telling about bygone times.
Capital of Penang – Georgetown, a city whose architecture combines sometimes contrasting styles, such as colonial English and East Asian, and ancient temples and old mansions coexist with ultra-modern hotels. The first British construction on the island was Fort Cornwallis. Originally wooden, in 1804-05 it was rebuilt and replaced with stone buildings. And today the fort majestically rises above the sea, as if protecting the island from enemy attacks. The height of the walls of the fort reaches 3 m. Inside you can see the buildings of the 19th century: a chapel, a prison, a lighthouse and several bronze sculptures. Church of St. George, built by prisoners in 1818, is one of the oldest architectural monuments of the city. At the entrance to this majestic English church there is a monument to Francis Light. The Khu Kongsi house was owned by members of the Chinese Khu clan who immigrated from South China. The building, and especially its hall, amaze with the splendor and sophistication of the wooden carvings made by skilled Chinese craftsmen. Shri Mariamman Temple the end of the 19th century is famous for numerous statues of Indian deities, the most valuable of which is the statue of God Subramaniam, decorated with gold, silver, diamonds and emeralds. The statue is one of the most important ritual elements of the annual Thaipusam celebration, when it is transported on a silver chariot through the streets of the city to the temple on Jalan Waterfall. The temple is easily recognizable by its chic gopuram – the gate tower, decorated with statues, carvings and paintings. In Georgetown, it is also worth visiting the Penang Museum, which tells about the history of the island. It contains collections of old photographs, documents, Chinese furniture, embroidery, national costumes and historical items. On the first floor of the museum there is an Art Gallery with an exhibition of works by local artists.
Mount Penang rises to the southwest of the capital. Climbing to its top on the funicular, you get to the observation deck, which offers a breathtaking view of the island lying below.
Today, life on the island is in full swing, mainly due to the development of tourism. There are many nightclubs and entertainment venues, the streets abound with restaurants, shops, various shops, markets and night markets.
The symbol of Penang is the Penang Bridge, which stretches for 13.5 km and connects the mainland and island parts of the state. It is officially recognized as the third longest bridge in the world.
Another symbol of the island is its unique temples. It is worth visiting the Serpent Temple, Kek Lok Si, Chayamangkalaram, Temple of the Goddess of Mercy. In the temple of the Serpents, on certain days, you can see a large cluster of snakes, which, curled up in spirals, lie peacefully on the altar. Kek Lok Si Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Asia. Its appearance combines Chinese, Thai and Burmese styles of architecture. Chayamangkalaram temple holds the third largest statue of the reclining Buddha, reaching a length of 33 m. Temple of the Goddess of Mercy – the oldest temple in Penang, it was built in the early 19th century by the first Chinese settlers and is dedicated to the goddess of mercy Gaunyin. The Penang Cultural Center is located on the northwest coast of the island.. This is a kind of ethnographic museum where you can get to know the rich cultural heritage of Malaysia. Here you will learn about the life and culture of various nationalities living in Malaysia. Folklore ensembles will perform ancient dances and songs of various tribes for you. After the performance, you can walk around the bazaar in search of exotic curiosities and souvenirs. The Cultural Center also has a restaurant serving various dishes of national cuisines. By prior arrangement, the Cultural Center for tourists can organize various national ceremonies, such as weddings and weddings. These are very colorful procedures in which all employees of the Center take part.
Penang also appreciated for the richness of flora and fauna, which can be found in the Butterfly Park, Bird Park, Botanical Garden and Penang National Park. Butterfly Park provides an opportunity to admire more than 5 thousand butterflies of various species, as well as many other species of insects, including a huge bee hive, live scorpions, tarantulas, water dragons, geckos, giant centipedes. The bird park is an area of 20,200 sq. m, home to 400 species of birds. In the Botanical Garden, quiet and cool, on 30 hectares of land you can find almost all types of Penang plants. The garden is also famous for the large number of monkeys living there. Penang National Park covers an area of 2562 hectares and is the smallest national park in the country. Despite this, Penang Park is the only protected area in Malaysia where 6 different types of ecosystems are found: a seasonal lake, wetlands, mangroves, watts (a coastal strip drained at low tides), coral reefs and sandy beaches. There are about 1000 plant species, 143 animal species and 46 bird species. From April to August, green turtles come to the park’s beaches to lay their eggs, and from September to February, the olive sea turtle.
Sandy beaches stretch along the northern coast of the island – it is here that the most famous resorts of the coast are located. Among them is Batu Ferringhi, where the majority of hotels are concentrated. It is worth remembering that there are many jellyfish in the coastal waters of the island. Alternatively, you can choose inexpensive half-day cruises to uninhabited islands, where the water is clear and the beaches are pristine, and you can also go diving. Penang has excellent conditions for sports: there are golf clubs, clubs for tennis, horseback riding and squash. You can go water skiing and motorcycles, go windsurfing and parasailing, rent a yacht.