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Things to Do in Penang

Penang Island, once known as the Pearl of the Orient, is one of Malaysia's most densely populated urban centers. George Town, its bustling capital, showcases the island's long history as trading port and former British colony, as well as the multicultural influence of its tightly knit immigrant communities. Proud of their glittering, modern skyline, Penang Islanders also treasure their heritage: Colonial relics, faded Chinese shophouses, and Buddhist temples line the cobblestone streets of George Town's central UNESCO World Heritage zone. To capture Penang’s diversity, a guided tour is highly recommended. Absorb sweeping panoramas from atop Penang Hill; visit Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple; and relax on the white sands of Batu Ferringhi beach. Stroll through historic Fort Cornwallis and the riotously colorful streets of Little India and Chinatown, and visit the fascinating Penang Museum. A tasting tour of the island's famous food stalls is a must: try the creamy, spicy coconut laksa (noodle soup), prawn fritters, and slow-cooked pork. Nature lovers can explore Monkey Beach and the uninhabited islands of Penang National Park on a day trip, or snorkel and swim in the azure waters of Pulau Payar Marine Park. From Penang Island, many travelers head to Langkawi by boat, or back to the mainland to tour the rolling green hills of the Cameron Highlands. If you have some in Seburang Perai, the peninsular half of Penang State, visit Penang Bird Park, the largest and oldest aviary in Malaysia.
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George Town (Penang Georgetown)
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George Town (Penang Georgetown) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts a unique mix of cultures. The beating heart of Penang, George Town offers visitors a heady combination of world-class street food, colorful colonial architecture, and street art. This historic enclave, which can be explored entirely on foot, is also famous for its novelty museums.
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Little India
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Colorful Little India is a three-street community in already eclectic Georgetown that envelops visitors with the sights and sounds of a small street in Mumbai. On Jalan Pasar (Market Street), colorful storefronts scrawled in Brahmi script blare Hindi melodies. The community is of the oldest Indian enclaves in Malaysia and dates to the earliest British settlements of Georgetown in the late 1700s.
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Penang War Museum
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Built by the British as a fortress in the 1930s, before then being used by the Japanese as a POW camp, the Penang War Museum is now open to the general public, serving as a memorial to its darker days
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Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple (Wat Chayamangkalaram)
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Characterized by glittering stupas and fearsome green dragons, the Thai Buddhist Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple (Wat Chayamangkalaram) is one of the most ornate in Penang. The temple’s extravagant exterior alludes to the giant reclining Buddha statue inside, whose position signifies peace and freedom from the material world. Opposite the Thai temple sits a Burmese temple of similar grandeur.
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Khoo Kongsi (Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi Clan House & Museum)
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Hidden in a maze of alleyways in Georgetown sits one of Malaysia’s most important clan houses, the Khoo Kongsi (Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi Clan House & Museum). During Malaysia’s economic boom in the nineteenth century, many Chinese families relocated to Penang and built kongsi, or clan houses, to promote a sense of community.
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Pinang Peranakan Mansion
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A visit to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion provides a good introduction to the history and culture of the Peranakans (also known as Babas and Nyonyas). These Straits Chinese settlers were unique to this part of the world, and adopted certain ways of life from both local Malaysians and the colonial British.
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Kek Lok Si Temple
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Translated from Hokkien the Kek Lok Si Temple, or 'Temple of Serene Bliss', sits majestically on a hill, a focal point of the local Chinese community, generous donations mean this temple continues to grow.

The 7-story white & gold pagoda is the largest Buddhist temple in SE Asia, its design - Chinese Octagonal base, Thai middle tier and Burmese crown - reflects its respects to Mahayana and Theravana Buddhism.

On the hillside above is an impressive 100ft (30m) bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.

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Fort Cornwallis
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When Captain Francis Light landed on this spot in 1786 and took the island from the Sultan he built a wooden fort, Fort Cornwallis, to defend it against the French, Kedah and pirates during the Napoleonic Wars.

Rebuilt in 1808 using Indian convict labour it is the largest and most intact fort in Malaysia. Once protected by a great moat this was filled in after a malaria outbreak in the 1920s.

The famous great cannons guarding Fort Cornwallis date back as far as the 17th century.

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Snake Temple (Hock Hing Keong)
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Snake Temple (Fu Xing Gong) may not be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, but it’s certainly one of the strangest. True to its name, this small Chinese temple in Penang is filled with Wagler’s pit vipers and tree snakes perched on trees and wooden frames throughout. The smoke of the always-burning incense, combined with midday heat, renders the snakes largely immobile, but visitors are still advised to avoid handling the reptiles.

According to local legend, snakes began entering the temple on their own shortly after it was built in the mid nineteenth century, and the monks at the time allowed them to stay. The monks will tell you that the snakes are “blessed,” and that’s why they’ve never bitten anyone.

The temple itself is free to enter, but for a small fee, you can also tour the onsite snake farm where it’s possible to see several species of snakes and handle a few of them under expert supervision.

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Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm
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When Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm opened in 1986 as the Penang Butterfly Farm, it was the first facility of its kind anywhere in the tropics. This living museum showcases more than 15,000 rare, endangered, and indigenous butterflies and dragonflies representing some 120 species alongside 200 species of plants. A multistory indoor discovery center known as the Cocoon lets visitors explore the world of invertebrates through a series of hands-on exhibits and activities. Entopia doubles as a research and conservation center for butterflies, insects, and their habitats.
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More Things to Do in Penang

Penang Hill Funicular Railway

Penang Hill Funicular Railway

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36 Tours and Activities
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Upside Down Museum

Upside Down Museum

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Wonderfood Museum Penang

Wonderfood Museum Penang

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Komtar

Komtar

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TeddyVille Museum

TeddyVille Museum

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Penang House of Music

Penang House of Music

4 Tours and Activities
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