Penang is a Malaysian state that is a very popular tourist destination. It is apparently one of the most well-developed parts of Malaysia, and also full of history and culture. Georgetown is its capital and was founded by the British. As such, it contains countless remains of Malaysia’s colonial past. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is brimming with history, as well as beautiful nature.
Many old colonial buildings, churches, and an entire British fort still remain, which makes Malaysia’s colonial history ever-present, moreso than in a modern metropolis like Kuala Lumpur. However, there are also Chinese and Indian influences all over the place. It is a very unique and interesting mix of cultures, and you could walk through Georgetown’s historic center for hours and discover interesting sights wherever you look.
There is also a lot of street art to be found in Georgetown. Most famous is this mural called ‘Little children on a bicycle’, which appears to be swarmed with tourists constantly. It’s a nice piece of art, but not something I’d pick out as one of the top attractions of the city by a longshot. Shows what I know about art, I guess.
Penang Hill is a nice site with a great view of the surrounding areas. There are also multiple religious sights on top of the hill.
The Clan Jetties are another must-see attraction. They are old settlements at the waterfront built on stilts by Chinese settlers. People still live there, so try not to disturb them too much. It’s a fascinating place to visit either way. You can find out more about it here.
For me, the most impressive sight was definitely the massive Kek Lok Si temple, supposedly the largest Buddhist temple in all of Malaysia. It is certainly the biggest Buddhist temple I have ever visited and probably the most impressive. You can spend hours just walking through it as it goes on forever alongside a hill and there is always something else to discover. The view from the top is fantastic.
There is also a famous Snake Temple near the Penang airport, quite possibly the only of its kind worldwide. It is filled with live vipers(!) that just kind of hang out all over the area. They have apparently been de-venomed and supposedly are kind of in a trance from the smoke of the burning incense. Still, quite the unique and fascinating place.
Of course, you can also take some pictures holding various snakes here, if that’s your thing. Having a viper placed on your head is definitely an…unique experience. It wiggles around a lot and makes you quite ticklish. Afterwards, my mind was made up: Snakes are cool as fuck.
Finally, the Botanical Gardens are also worth a visit. Lovely nature, but I became enamored with one thing more than anything else.
Look at them monkeys!
It was my first time seeing monkeys ‘in the wild’ and I kind of lost my mind and probably took a hundred pictures while trying not to disturb them as they were quite shy.
As is turned out, I hadn’t seen nothing yet.