Explore George Town and Penang to the fullest during your stay, be it on foot or on a leisurely trishaw ride... with the convenient access to the city’s commercial, government and financial hub, illustrious cultural and Unesco-listed historical sites, quaint shops, bazaars, shopping malls as well as a variety of street foods and pubs, you will never be short of activities to pursue when you stay here.
Here you have a list of what to do in Penang:
St Francis Xavier Church, Jalan Penang
Situated behind the Catholic Information Centre, our neighbourhood church was built in 1867 on a plot of land donated by the Godfrey Family. It is named after the famous 'Apostle of the Indies' - Saint Francis Xavier, who brought Christianity to Malacca in the 16th Century.
Fort Cornwallis, Lebuh Light
The year was 1786 when Captain Francis Light first landed in Penang at this spot. The ramparts overlook the northern Channel and at its north- western point, a 1603 Dutch cannon called 'Seri Rambai' is believed to improve the fertility of women who place flowers on its barrel. Today, only the outer walls of the fort remain and a history gallery and handicraft centre are now located in the fort. Opens daily.
Penang State Museum, Lebuh Farquhar
Open in 1965, it occupies the former premises of Penang Free School which was established in 1816. Housed in only half the building as the eastern half was destroyed during bomb raids in World War II, the Museum reopen in 1997 after a major renovation exercise. It showcases Penang's history, culture, costumes, communities and customs, historical places, municipal history, houses of worship and traditional trades.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Lebuh Leith
Home to Cheong Fatt Tze, the powerful Nanyang industralist who was regarded as the most prominent historic personalities of the East. He arrived as a penniless immigrant to Java who prospered from Dutch contracts in Sumatra and built this mansion as his family home in Penang in 1880. This architectural legacy, a masterpeice of exceptional quality of design and craftsmanship, has been restored by its new owners to its former glory and is well worth a visit! House tours are conducted daily.
Hainan Temple, Lebuh Muntri
Called the Temple of Heavenly Queen (Thean Ho Keong), this temple dates back to 1895 and is dedicated to the goddess Mar Chor, patron saint of seafarers. It is a common temple for the different migrant groups from the Hainan Province in South China. This century-old temple was remodelled with stone carvings and swirling dragon pillars by craftsmen from China to commemorate its centenary celebrations in 1995.
Khoo Kongsi, Lebuh Cannon
The Khoo Kongsi is a gloriously ornate temple and is one of the most impressive buildings of historical and cultural value in the country. Built in 1906, the clan complex was recently renovated and now provides insights into the history of the Khoo Clan, who were amongst the wealthiest Straits Chinese traders of early Penang. Visiting hours: 9.00am to 5.00pm daily. Admission fee is required.
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion, Lebuh Gereja
Peranakan' which means 'local born' in Bahasa Malaysia, is another name for Straits Chinese or the Baba Nyonya community. This mansion showcases the culture, how the Straits Chinese lived in the early twentieth century, from the ornately decorated rooms, dining halls and kitchen to the cooking utensils and equipment used to serve mouthwatering dishes which is a cuisine on its own! This mansion, originally a townhouse, was built in the 1890's by Chung Keng Kooi, a 19th centruy Hakka tin-miner and 'Hai San' (secret society leader).
St George's Church, Lebuh Farquhar
At the corner of Lebuh Farquhar and Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling stands St George's Church, the oldest Anglican church in the country. Built in 1818, it is modelled after a church in Madras, India. The church maintains much of its original setting and conducts services in English at 8.30am every Sunday.
Mahamariamman Temple, entrance at Lebuh Queen
This is the oldest Hindu temple in town, built in 1833. The magnificently sculptured entrance gate is made up of 38 statues of gods and swans. It features the Hindu goddess Mariamman in her many incarnations and the statue of Lord Subramaniam inside, richly adorned with gold and silver, diamonds and emeralds. It leads the chariot procession during the annual Thaipusam Festival. Permission to enter must be obtained from the temple officials.
KOMTAR and Prangin Mall
Located at the end of Penang Road, KOMTAR remains the tallest building in Penang with retail outlets, ranging from handicraft shops, boutiques, sports stores, restaurants, watch shops and duty-free electronic stores offering their goods for your picking. Prangin Mall, just adjacent to KOMTAR, provides plenty of variety for shopping and dining, from restaurants to books to clothes and shoes, is one of the popular shopping venues in the heart of George Town.
Gurney Plaza & Gurney Paragon
Home to many of the international brand names in the retail world, Gurney Plaza overlooks the famous Gurney Drive promenade with over 800,000 square feet of retail space covering 7 floors housing a cineplex, sportswear, electronic goods and appliances, food courts and dining venues, a department store, boutiques, bookstores and lots more.
Its neighbour, the Gurney Paragon, is a mixed development complex offering 700,000 square feet of entertainment, dining, boutiques of leading retail brands and luxury living, promises to be the new premier address in Penang. Also fronting the Gurney Drive, it is built around and is inspired by the former St Joseph’s Novitiate, now coverted into St Jo’s, home to stylish restaurants and cafes infused with Penang heritage architecture.
Located off Penang Road, Campbell Street is one of the oldest and busiest business districts in George Town - an ideal place to purchase gold jewellery, antiques, cheap leather goods, textiles and Chinese medicine.
Centred along Market Street, Penang Street and Queen Street, Little India is a must if you're looking for Indian jewellery, saris, textiles, handicrafts and souvenirs, stainless steel wares, spices and the recordings of the latest Hindi movies and songs. Restaurants serving Indian cuisine, including banana-leaf rice restaurants are also located here.
At over 800m above sea level, Penang Hill offers a cool retreat and a scenic view over the island. Take a cable train from its base to the top or opt for a 3 to 4-hour nature trails hike from the Botanical Gardens. Enjoy the refreshing and cool air, the flora, fauna and the various species of birds there.
Goddess of Mercy Temple, Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling
This temple, also known as the 'Kuan Yin Teng' (in Hokkien dialect), was built in the 1800's to honour the goddess Kuan Yin. It features a sweeping roof with ornately decorated copings and ridges. Young and old devotees converge here especially on special days like the first and fifteenth day of the lunar calendar months to offer joss sticks, flowers, burn sandalwood incense as they pray for heath, wealth, fertility and longevity.
Kapitan Keling Mosque, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling
This monumental mosque, crowned by yellow domes and minarets, is the largest historic mosque in town, founded before 1800 by an Indian Muslim merchant, Cauder Mydin Merican. Built on a site granted by the East India Company, it represents the Indian Muslim community of George Town. Permission to enter must be obtained from the mosque officials. If you’re wondering what to do in Penang, this is a must-see.
(NOTE: It is interesting to note that the Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling is also dubbed the "Street of Harmony" - where along a 2km stretch, you can find four different religions' places of worship; the St George's Church, The Goddess of Mercy Temple, Kapitan Keling Mosque and the Mahamariamman Hindu Temple in the same row - each unique in its own way, but together, represent the religious harmony so evident in the Malaysian culture).