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Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

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penang lanternsI don’t know if it’s just me, or maybe it’s because I live in Australia now and it lies in close proximity to Asia, but Malaysia is sure becoming one hot destination these days.

Forget crowded, backpacker overrun Thailand, Malaysia has the tropical climate, cheap prices, and food that scream “holiday getaway” (part of the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship involves travels in Malaysia).

Even this month, our lovely sponsors, Travel.com.au, have released some super deals for getting from Australia to different parts of Malaysia, so I thought I might write a little about Malaysia myself — Penang in particular.

>> See the current Malaysia travel deals with Travel.com.au

Penang is one of the more touristy parts of Malaysia, and for good reason: It’s quaint and diverse. Here are some of the things you can do if you were to take a trip to Penang.

Chicken Rice Balls

Chicken Rice Balls

Eat loads of Malaysian food. Then digest and do it all over again.

The main reason one might travel to Malaysia would be for the food, and that is a side of that tourism I have experienced on a few levels — both during my travels there last year (see the Malaysian food and drink I experienced), and during the Malaysia Kitchen promotion I worked on.

Dine in the markets for cheap food.

Night markets are all the rage, and compared to restaurant dining, the prices are unreal. We really enjoyed the hawker food market at Gurney Drive.

Coffee Ice

Coffee Ice at the Markets

Drink Malaysian coffee or teh terik.

If you like sweet, then these Malaysian drinks will suit your palette perfectly. Coffee and tea frothed with sweetened condensed milk is on the menu.

Drink a tower of beer at a street bar while watching a sports game.

Even though it took us an hour or two to realise that all the good bars, the ones watching sports games without being drowned out by loud slow-rock ballads from the late 80s, were actually awesome places on outdoor patios where you hang out in the evening — and share a tower of Tiger beer.

View from cafe at Tropical Spice Gardens

View from cafe at Tropical Spice Gardens

Visit the Tropical Spice Gardens and hang out in the cafe.

I found the Tropical Spice Gardens to be a peaceful retreat (except for the thousands of blood-hungry mosquitoes) and the cafe up the hill is perfect for downing a refreshing drink and looking out across the ocean nearby.

Hang out in a plush hotel. Swim in the fancy pools and indulge in the buffet breakfasts.

Being a cheaper country to travel in, you could maybe afford to indulge in some higher class hotels. I had a magnificent time dipping in the pools of the Golden Sands and the E&O while in Penang.

mansion houses

Mansion Houses

Get a glimpse of the good life by viewing some of the mansion houses.

We spent a day going around to various temples and mansion houses while in Penang, and they were places of ornate beauty.

Dive into the colonial history at Fort Cornwallis.

Whatever you do, do not go in the blazing heat of the day. We were sweltering while trying to walk into the open rooms to learn the history of the fort, and in the end, I don’t think I got much out of it!

Penang Hill Sunset

Penang Hill Sunset

Go to the top of Penang Hill to watch the sunset.

An afternoon on Penang Hill is a lovely way to welcome the sunset. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even walk up the hill instead of paying for the train.

Take a cooking class.

We didn’t take any cooking classes while in Malaysia. I think Pat has us covered in that department. If you want to take cooking classes, apparently the Golden Sands Resort offers some classes, as well as the Penang Homecooking Class.

Walk along the Clan Jetties.

One interesting trip we took in Penang was to walk along the clan jetties. Imagine your home on the stilts of a jetty, out over the water. We walked down the planked “road” of Chew Jetty, peering into people’s homes but not fully understanding that people actually live there. Strange place, and an even stranger place to find a guest house (yep!).

Snake Temple

Snake Temple

Survive a trip to Snake Temple.

Snake Temple intrigued me from the first time I read about it in a brochure. When we arrived and saw all of these snakes — highly venomous snakes — just hanging around on trees and on the alter area, I thought they were fake at first! Motionless to the distant eye, I had to get up close to see the small movements to prove I was wrong. Creepy!

Hang out in Old Georgetown, an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.

Georgetown is Penang’s capital city and the city that holds pieces of history tucked in with it’s modern flair. It is here that you can visit the Fort of Cornwallis, take a day visiting temples and mansion houses, and eating like mad.

What else is there to do in Penang that should be added to the list?

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Take a trip to Penang, Malaysia
Right now, Travel.com.au have package deals to Penang from Australia starting at $999. You can also book into a 4-star hotel in Penang from just $43 per night.

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One Response to Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

  1. PaulT February 9, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    Cool blog. What was the price of the Tower beer. I hear drinks are quite pricey.

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