We visited several cities in Malaysia. Although I enjoyed most of them, Penang was my favourite. It is Malaysia’s most visited tourist destination and makes for a great holiday. Due to its well-preserved heritage buildings Penang’s capital, Georgetown, is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. You can alternate your days between sightseeing (there is a lot to see) and relaxing at the beach. These were some of my highlights of Penang.
Penang Toy Museum has over 100, 000 toys from around the world. This makes it one of the largest toy museums in the world. The toys are divided into categories such as the Chamber of Horrors and Chamber of Comic Book Heroes and include life-size figures of famous characters such as Shrek and Superman. It took us a while to find as we had the old address from the internet not the new one it had relocated to. Eventually we found it. My kids spent hours taking photos of all the toys. For me, it was like walking down memory lane as I encountered some old favourites like the Care Bears.
Penang Hill is a hill resort with beautiful panoramic views of Penang. One of its main attractions is the cooler climate at the top which was a blessed escape from Penang’s scorching heat. It can be reached by a funicular railway which is an experience in itself. We managed to get seats right at the front on our return leg and enjoyed the changing scenery as we descended. There is a hotel, and an owl museum at the top.
The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion was built around the 1880’s. Also called the Blue Mansion because of it’s distinct indigo blue colour, it was reputedly the favourite home of a famous merchant Cheong Fatt Tze, also known as the “Last Mandarin and First Capitalist of China”. Guided tours are available and one can stay there as well for a boutique hotel experience. The mansion was featured in various films including the 1993 Oscar-winning French film "Indochine" and was named one Of the 10 Greatest Mansions in The World by Lonely Planet in 2011. For us, it was a fascinating peak into a historic Chinese household.
Batu Feringghi Night Market
Batu Ferringhi beach is popular for its watersports. Since I’m not into watersports, this wasn’t a huge drawcard for me. However, at night, it transforms into a lively night market - a sidewalk bazaar of makeshift stalls selling everything from souvenirs to clothes to leather products at competitive prices. Practise your bargaining skills before you go and be careful, as a lot of the products are fake. And after you’re done shopping, there are loads of restaurants where you can have a delicious meal. We enjoyed the vibe there and found lots of bargains.
Floating Mosque of Tanjung Bungah
We also visited this beautiful mosque, which is Malaysia’s first floating mosque. It was built to replace its predecessor which was damaged in the 2004 tsunami.
We stayed at Naza Tallya hotel which was located between Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi beach. Although it wasn’t one of the fanciest hotels in Penang, it was comfortable and reasonably priced. Our "room" was actually a 2-bedroomed apartment with a balcony overlooking the beach below and phenomenal views of the sea which left me feeling tranquil and serene. We enjoyed the food at the hotel’s restaurant too.
Also worth mentioning is that Penang has a free shuttle bus for tourists that stops at the main attractions in Georgetown. I found this very hospitable of them.