RMCO Travelling Guide: Penang
Penang is also known by its other name, the Pearl of the Orient. It is split into two parts: the mainland, which is on the Malay Peninsula, and Penang Island, which is about 11 km away from the Peninsula. The two are joined by Malaysia’s two longest road bridges, Penang Bridge and the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge. The Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge is also the longest bridge in Southeast Asia, spanning about 24 km. Compared to Kedah, Penang is only about a tenth of the landmass, but more than half the population size of Kedah, which makes for a more densely populated place. However, Penang still has many interesting places to visit that don’t have as many people.
Tropical Spice Garden
Over on Penang Island, the Tropical Spice Garden sits on the site of a former rubber plantation. Cut off from the hustle and bustle of city life, you can walk through the garden and take in the 500 over species of flora and fauna across eight acres of secondary jungle. This hearkens back to Penang’s history as a spice island. There are also live guides and audio guides for hire to guide you along the trek through the jungle. Apart from that, there are also cooking classes available for anyone looking to learn how to cook with spices.
- Entrance fee: RM12 for adults; RM10 for senior citizens and students; RM8 for children ages 4–12; RM30 for family package (2 adults + 2 children)
- Opening times: 9 AM–4 PM Mondays to Fridays; 9 AM–5 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Last admission 3:15 PM
- Contact: 012-423 6797
- FlyKLIA Exclusive Promo: quote “#HATIBUMITSG” at the ticketing counter when purchasing on-site for a special package of RM15 for one adult + audio guide (NP: RM12 + RM18). Promo is valid for three months from date of publication. Promo only for residents outside of Penang as the “Penang-lang 50% Off” campaign already entitles Penang residents to a 50% discount at the park.
Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi
Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, or Khoo Kongsi for short, is the grandest clan temple in the country. It is the former clanhouse of the Leong San Tong clan that was rebuilt in 1906 after the original clanhouse which was built in 1851 had burned down after being struck by lightning. It had even survived the Japanese bombing during World War II, although the Chinese opera theatre in the courtyard had been destroyed. As a testament to its survival, a lamp post outside the old meeting hall still has shrapnel stuck in it to this day. Today, it serves as a museum showcasing intricate architecture and stone carvings from the 19th and early 20th century. They even host Chinese opera performances during the seventh lunar month. Do check out the calendar on their website for any particular events that may be held on the day of your visit!
- Entrance fee: RM10 for adults; RM1 for children; free for children below 5 years old.
- Opening times: 9 AM–5 PM
- Contact: 04-261 4609
Snake Temple & Snake Farm
Featured in the 8th leg of The Amazing Race 16, the Snake Temple in Penang is popular for harbouring many snakes. Most of the snakes here are the beautiful green-and-yellow pit vipers camouflaged among the trees, but they have a variety of other snakes in the snake farm that is set up in the temple compound as well, such as pythons and cobras. Snake shows are performed on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Entrance fee: admission to the temple is free; admission to the snake farm is RM5 for adults and RM3 for children, with RM2 discount for MyKad holders.
- Opening times: 6 AM–7 PM for the temple; 9:30 AM–6 PM for the snake farm
- Contact: 04-643 7273
Countryside Stables Penang
Want to come up to some horses and feed them with hay? Countryside Stables Penang allows its visitors to get close to its stable of about 30 horses from various breeds, including Arabian horses, ponies, miniature horses, etc. They also have donkeys and deer as well. Countryside Stables has hosted champion racing horses in the past as well, until the decline of horse racing in Malaysia. Visitors can also buy buckets of premium hay imported from Australia to give the horses and other animals there a treat. You might be intimidated by the large teeth that the horses have, but you will find that they know to avoid biting your fingers as they eat out of the palm of your hand.
- Entrance fee: RM5 for adults; RM3 for children.
- Opening times: 2 PM–7 PM
- Contact: 012-408 0678
If you love cats, you will be delighted when you visit the little-known Cat Beach in Penang that is located at Teluk Bahang, the northernmost point of Penang Island. While you’re there, you can pet and play with the cats, and you can even adopt them if you feel a connection with them. The Cat Beach was founded by an American woman by the name of Teviot Fairservis in July 2014 together with a local fisherman named Mr Nana. Cat Beach was founded as a shelter for cats that operates on a no-kill policy as opposed to other shelters that are forced to kill animals when they are full. Unfortunately, this meant that while they originally started with 80 cats in 2014, there are now hundreds of cats roaming the beach freely, and they continue to care for the cats as best as they can, relying on public donations and volunteers.
- Entrance fee: Free
- Opening times: 11 AM–4 PM; 6 PM–9 PM
- Contact: 017-575 3419
Nada Natural Farming
Nada Natural Farming doesn’t sound like a place for food, but it is in fact a cafe that gets their ingredients right from the farm that they operate on the premises. The dainty little cafe and farm provides a beautiful backdrop against the hustle and bustle of city life in Penang. They also have unique drinks like Roselle Hibiscus Mint to keep you hydrated as you bask in the evening sun watching the sunset by the Sungai Burung river. Due to the RMCO restrictions, it is advised for you to contact them for availability.
- Address: Lot 646 & 647, Jalan Kuala Sungai Burung, Balik Pulau, Penang
- Opening times: Friday to Sunday, 4 PM–8 PM
- Contact: 010-403 7988
The word “campur” means “mix” in Bahasa Malaysia, and indeed, the creations in this cafe hidden along Armenian Street can only be described as a unique mix of various cultures, featuring items such as Penang Nasi Lemak Chicken Toast and Coffee Campur Biscuits Dip Kaya. They also feature special Nyonya drinks like Kopi Kuih Tai Tai and Nyonya Butterfly. So for a unique culinary experience, be sure to visit Campur when you’re in the area!
- Address: 16, Armenian Street, 10300 Georgetown, Penang
- Opening times: 9:30 AM–7 PM
- Contact: 018-9698018
Nasi 7 Benua Koo Boo Cafe
Nasi 7 Benua refers to the seven continents in the world, represented by this restaurant’s unique offering of seven different scoops of rice in a single plate: nasi hujan panas, nasi kacang, nasi lemak pandan, nasi lemuni, nasi minyak, nasi putih, and nasi tomato. You then get to choose from a wide variety of dishes like curry fish, fried chicken, vegetables, etc. like when you are eating nasi kandar.
- Address: Taman Tunas Muda, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang
- Opening times: 11 AM–4 PM.
- Contact: 017-496 2652
You can fly directly to the Penang International Airport located in Bayan Lepas, which is in the southeastern tip of Penang Island.
Travelling by bus is the cheapest option, and there are many options to choose from if you are to travel to Penang by bus. However, it is very time-consuming as it can take anywhere between 7 to 10 hours to travel from Johor to Penang, not accounting for traffic on the road, and you’ll have to make sure you have booked the correct Penang destination as the Penang Sentral bus station is in Butterworth on the mainland rather than Penang Island, which is where the Sungai Nibong bus terminal is.
It is possible to travel to Penang via ETS, but the ETS will only take you to the mainland rather than Penang Island. For that, you will have to cross over, either via taxi or via the ferry.
Kimberley Hotel Georgetown
Kimberley Hotel Georgetown is a 3-star hotel in a historic pre-war building located right in the capital of Penang Island less than 200 metres from the centre. It has two excellent suites for families of four—the Wellesley Suite and the Raffles Family Suite—and its convenience of being so close to the town centre really makes this one of the best accommodations available that is affordable at the same time. They are currently offering a Buy 2 Free 1 deal for the ala carte menu on Fridays at their café, Auction Rooms Georgetown.
- Contact: 04-263 6688
- FlyKLIA Exclusive Promo: enjoy discounted room rates by using the code “FLYKLIAxKIM” when you book online at https://kimberleyhotel.com.my/. Promo is valid until 31 October 2020.
Magpie Residence is rated one of the top 10 inns in George Town, and it has received many highly positive reviews from visitors from as far as Germany. It’s just outside of the “buffer zone” but it takes only a 5-minute walk to the old town. For its affordable price, you get a lot more out of what you pay for than most other places.
- Contact: 016-401 2396
- FlyKLIA Exclusive Promo: Get 20% off every night by quoting “MRKLIA” when you book directly with Magpie Residence by calling 016-401 2396. Promo is valid for three months from date of publication.
Armenian Suite Hotel
Armenian Suite Hotel has many options available for travellers, including single-person capsules up to a quad or family room. One of the key highlights about this hotel is its location on Armenian Street, which makes it quite a good place to stay in as Armenian Street is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is where one could find the famous “Children on a Bicycle” mural by Ernest Zacharevic. The hotel itself is very affordable given its location, and it is within walking distance from various heritage museums, including Khoo Kongsi.
- Contact: 04-261 1281
And there we go, those are some of the places in Penang that we thought it best to highlight to our readers on where to visit. Are there any other places in Penang that you think we should talk about? Let us know in the comments down below!
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