12 reasons to love Penang

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Every month we’ll bring you a rundown of the best places to see, things to do and – of course – foods to eat in various states or areas around Southeast Asia. This is part of an editorial series on reasons to love various places in Southeast Asia. This week: Penang, Malaysia.

Penang, Pulau Pinang, the Pearl of the Orient; whatever you choose to call it, there is no denying that Penang is one charming Malaysian state that never fails to attract visitors.

Here are 12 reasons why we love Penang:

1. Trishaws

Cars and motorbikes are too mainstream. A trishaw ride down the streets of Georgetown is the cool way to get around town.


If you are looking for ways to get around Penang, check out this article: 4 Ways To Get Around Penang If You Don’t Have A Car

2. Penang Bird Park

There are 300 species of exotic birds here, including an impressive collection of hornbills such as wreathed hornbills and helmeted hornbills. 


To all nature and bird lovers out there, please take a look at Get to Know Penang’s Balik Pulau and Malaysia’s First Owl Museum is in Penang.

3. Escape

Check out the ESCAPE Theme Park, an exciting destination with exciting rides and games hosted in a natural environment.



Photo credit: Escape, Facebook

An Expat’s Experiences in Penang: Hash Jungle Running is an article worth reading if you’re into sports and recreational activities.

4. Penang Hill

With a breathtaking view of the cityscape, Penang Hill has one of the oldest British hill stations in Southeast Asia.

penang hill

To learn more about Penang Hill, do look at Exploring the Hilly Slopes of Penang’s Famous Hill and Penang’s Hill Station.

5. The heritage

Penang’s rich history is showcased in many heritage buildings around the island that have been turned into museums.  Indeed, UNESCO deemed Georgetown a World Culture Heritage Site on 7 July 2008.


Photo credit:

Check out A Visit To The Penang Colonial Museum and A Brief Look at Penang’s Exotic Charms and Colonial History to find out more about some of Penang’s museums.


6. Murals

Unique murals painted by local and international artists can be seen on the walls of buildings in Georgetown; one of Penang’s popular traits.

penang street art

To read more on Penang’s art heritage, visit 3 Expat Artists in Penang You Should Know and Penang Heritage and Arty-Facts.

7. Religion

The places of worship of the many religions in Malaysia are beautifully and uniquely designed. They include: the Kek Lok Si Temple, the Cathedral of the Assumption, and the Kapitan Kling Mosque.

penang temple

Check out Fire Walking at Sri Mariamman Temple in Penang and The Legend Behind a Chinese Boat Burning Ceremony in Penang to read about some of the religious legends and traditions in Penang.

8. The food (of course)

A variety of mouth-watering dishes, influenced by several cultures and races in Malaysia, can be found at hawker stalls and restaurants almost anywhere. Be sure to try pasembur (a Malay-Indian salad), tau sar peah (bean biscuits), and cendol.

penang food

An Epicurean Adventure in Penang and The Art of Nyonya Cuisine in Penang talk about some of the best and most popular Penang dishes.

9. The architecture

The city’s old buildings seem to be able to tell stories of historical events and the simple lifestyles of people in the olden days.

penang streets

Peranakan Influences in Penang and The Evolution of Penang’s Suffolk House cover some of the historical buildings that can be found in Penang.

10. The maritime life

The Weld Quay Clan Jetties is a reminder of one of Southeast Asia’s most important ports.

penang jetty

For those who love adventures at sea, check out 5 Malaysian Boat Journeys You Should Take and Sailing Around Penang with Three Expats in a Small Boat.

11. The markets

Whether it’s household items, vintage collectibles, or knick-knacks, nearly anything can be found at the bazaars, street or flea markets.

penang market

To find out more about Penang’s most popular streets, take a look at A Stroll Around Penang’s Armenian, Acheh and Beach Street.

12. The beaches and islands

Although perhaps the Perhentian Islands and the rest of the east coast are more well-known for their white-sand beaches, Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah in Penang have some of the most tranquil scenery in Malaysia.

penang beach

To read more on Batu Ferringhi, check out Here’s What You’ll Discover on A Stroll along Penang’s Batu Ferringhi.

 What do you love about Penang? Let us know in the comments below!

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"ExpatGo welcomes and encourages comments, input, and divergent opinions. However, we kindly request that you use suitable language in your comments, and refrain from any sort of personal attack, hate speech, or disparaging rhetoric. Comments not in line with this are subject to removal from the site. "


Shaman Al

Factual : Penang has since then transformed herself into an exciting, vibrant & wealthy State under the opposition Party. The many developments that took place over there speaks for itself. Why BN can’t do it when they were in power? Your guess is as good as mine…

Ajmel Shakir Jamaludin

Well, to be honest, penang in 2016 is pretty much the same as penang is 2007. I am talking about the island. As for the mainland, the condition is worse now compared to 8 years ago. Mainland penang is also part of penang, unless the current administration thinks otherwise.

Shaman Al

Beg to differ…alot of changes….from 2007 & now 2016. U must be blind not to notice the development on Pinang Island! Tourism is definitely on d rise!

Adrian Yeoh

I personally think the Penang State Gov did a pretty decent job on the development of the Island and revamping the city council to become more efficient.
However,over-development is starting to become a slight concern as the state relentlessly chases for ways to fund the LRT and other development projects(due to the lack of funding by the federal gov).
The same can’t said about Mainland,whilst you can’t deny the state does try to put effort to include development in that side of Penang, progress is rather slow(too slow,in my opinion – the city council MPSP is lagging behind significantly) in comparison.
I think it’s unfair to say the state doesn’t care about mainland Penang,since proper medium cost housing, batu kawan industrial zone,ikea-related development projects and LRT are in the works.(something that Koh Tsu Khoon has never bothered to do in his many years of leadership)

Adrian Yeoh

There’s one thing I disagree. Penang is well known for it’s local food,but chendol, tau sar pneah and pasemburs are not the must-have food. Char Koay Teow,Hokkien Mee,Laksa and Nasi Kandars and to some extend Bak Kut Teh are what local Penangites would recommend. Also, never go to Gurney’s hawker center.(the one in front of Sunrise Tower’s McDonald’s and beside the roundabout) it’s overpriced, mainly tasteless and a poor representation of Penang local food. For those that are not so adventurous,fret not there are plenty of American or Causacian inspired resturants and cafes on every block.


Thanks for the tips Adrian 🙂

Ikechukwu Apugo

@ExpactGo some might even Rate it 90%.

Ikechukwu Apugo many reasons..1 the country is extra corrupt. 2 the human rights are not observed.3 70% are racist


Nobody’s perfect… Where did that 70% statistic come from?

Ho Swee Poh

To know Penang is to love Penang!

Ikechukwu Apugo

Malaysia will never in my life..even transit ticket I reject it in Jesus name


Any reason why Ikechukwu?

Adrian Yeoh

Never in your life?
pretty strange since your profile clearly states that you live in KL and studied at Sarawak.

Ajmel Shakir Jamaludin

Wow…so much hatred towards the country? Anything bad happened to you there eg they caught you with illegal drugs while trying to enter the country?

Neil Oakes

The traffic and over development of Batu Feringhi are 2 reasons not to?


Well if you stay away from Penang the traffic will be better for the rest of us 😉

Tim Tim Liv

Live at penang For six months, great place

PohLin Teh

Penang, the best place to live in Malaysia !

Line Lysdahlgaard

Sidsel Marie Nygaard og Morten Oehlenschlæger

Benjamin Lee

Penang is great island. Lots to do and see.

Aliz Ertler

Bedankt. We hadden precies dit gebied in onze hoofd voor eind maart :-)!

Sarah Holgate

Haha haven’t been myself yet but liked so I could find the article again LOL. I hear very good things though – can get a quick cheap flight or it’s about 4 hour drive I think 🙂 x

Amy Baker

Worth building into my trip Sarah Holgate?

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