Visiting Penang

Photo Credit: Penang by marcustanyiwei is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The following is a guest post from Ryan and Carolyn, a like-minded couple who are travelling the world together. They’re thinking of starting their own travel blog, so they contacted us for some advice. We invited them to write a guest post on our blog so they could experience what it’s like. We hope you enjoy it.

Like Steven and Jenna who’ve had heaps of great tropical travel experiences in the last 12 months, Carolyn and I have had some absolute gems.

We got really lucky in 2017. Surfing the web for new places to travel to, we caught a great deal to visit Malaysia, which included a short stop in a place called Penang. I’ve got to be honest, it wasn’t at the top of our travel list, but that’s what’s so great about travelling – going to new, exotic places and being open to new experiences.

At the time we were considering buying a new car, but instead, we decided to take another holiday! Penang, here we come!

We hooked up a great AirBnB near the centre of the main city in Penang called George Town. We did a bit of research and figured we could find tons of things to see and do within a small area, which limited how far we needed to travel each day. No point travelling further if there are heaps to see and do on your doorstep.

George Town

George Town is the capital city of Penang, located on Penang Island. The British founded it in 1786 as their first settlement in South East Asia and became a trading town throughout the 1800s. It attracted people from all over the world who brought their food and culture with them.

The place has been inhabited by Thai, Burmese, Chinese, Japanese British and countless other nationalities, so there’s this really exotic mix of different buildings, monuments and styles of food. You can almost feel the history everywhere you go.

We spent heaps of time just walking the streets, looking at all the old buildings. At some, you could pay a dollar or two and go on a tour.

Photo Credit: Ernest Zacharevic’s Street Art, Penang Malaysia by elvizlow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tour time

The first day we took a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. It’s such a great way to see a new city and get oriented.

The next day we booked a full-day Penang Island tour so we could check out all the major attractions, without needing to do all the research ourselves. We’ve done these in heaps of places when we’re short on time.

First, we stopped at the Reclining Buddha Temple. Then we went to the Penang Botanical Garden, which had a great waterfall nearby.

For lunch, we stopped off at Hawker Centre for a plate of Nasi Kandar; spiced steamed rice with lots of different curries. Delicious.

After lunch, we took a cable railway car up Penang Hill to get a look at the island. The views were absolutely stunning.

Photo Credit: Penang Hill by khalzuri is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Later we visited Kek Lok Si temple, which had a huge 35-meter-tall statue of the Goddess of Mercy.

Things we loved

The street art was really quirky and interesting. It was everywhere, even where you least expected it. We’d be walking down a little alleyway and there’d be a cool little installation that someone had put together.

We took a few rickshaw rides around the city and down by the harbour. It was pretty hot and sticky so we didn’t mind getting a bit of breeze and giving our feet a rest.

One of our favourite stops was the Pinang Peranakan Museum. It’s an old merchant’s mansion and is full of original items. It’s like you’ve been transported back in time 200 years. It’s a must see if you get to Penang.

As interesting as all the old historical stuff is, sometimes we just needed a dose of modern civilisation. Fortunately, Penang had heaps of great malls to check out.

We only had a few days there, but we’re so glad we took the chance and visited. We probably wouldn’t go back again because there are too many other places in the world like Vietnam that we’re dying to see. But we’d definitely recommend a visit, especially if you’re going to Malaysia.

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