Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Penang: Places of Interest

There are many interesting places you can visit in Penang, the Pearl of the Orient. Listed here are places that may be worth your while to visit. They are listed in alphabetical order. Clicks on the photos to enlarge them.

Botanical Garden

The 30ha. Penang Botanical Garden has forested hills and wide collection of lush green tropical trees, plants like the Cannon Ball Tree, Candle Tree, Baobab Tree, Argus Pheasant Tree, Ebony Tree, various flowerey plants and ferns. There are also many plant houses, nurseries, waterfalls and lily ponds. The garden is famous for its numerous mischevous Rhesus monkeys roaming freely in the Garden. The garden is popular with the locals who use it for jogging, picnics, wedding shoots, Tai Chi, Xi Gong and line dancing.

Opening Hours : 5am to 8pm daily
Admission : Free
Group tours are available by prior arrangement. Call 604-2270428.
Location: Jalan Kebun Bunga, 10350 Pulau Pinang. The Gardens is located at the far end of Jalan Kebun Bunga, approximately 8 km from Georgetown city. You can reach there by boarding transit link bus No.7.

Bukit Jambul Orchid, Hibiscus and Reptiles Garden

This two hectare park is home to an amazing variety of plants and animals, some of which are unique in this part of the world, including a pair of Bengal tigers, a collection of flightless giant birds like the emu, ostrich and kasawari, a variety of 150 to 200 flowers, about 15 types of snakes,a talking parrot which greets visitors with a cheery "hello!", four giant land tortoises from Seychelles, snapping turtles and six arapaima gigas (one of the largest freshwater fishes).

This park is open from 9.30am to 6.30pm daily with last entry being at 5.30pm.
Snake shows are on twice every Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, at 11.30am and 3.30pm

Location: Persiaran Bukit Jambul, 11900 Penang
Tel: 04-644 8863, Fax: 04-228 5733

Admission Fee: RM10.00 adults & RM5.00 children.
RM1 charge for camera usage.

China Town

China town stretches from Weld Wuay to Lebuh Stewart, Lebuh Muntri, Lebuh Campbell and Lebuh King. It provides a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of Chinese immigrant settlers who came here in the 1880's. There are many clan houses, shophouses and temples in China town. Many traditional trades and occupations which has somehow survived the decades. Among the surviving trades you can observe here are the traditional lantern makers, joss-stick makers and signage engravers whose skills and knowledge have been passed down from generation to generation.

City Hall, Town Hall and the Esplanade

City Hall, PenangThe Penang City Hall, built in 1903 in the typical British Palladian architectural style, is a fine example of a well-preserved colonial building from the hey-days of the British Empire. Next to it is the Town Hall, another handsome colonial architectural relics framing the edge of the Esplanade padang (field). The foundation stone of the Town Hall was laid in 1879 and the main building completed in 1883. It consisted of an assembly hall, a grand ballroom, and a library. Within a short walk from the City Hall is the Cenotaph, the First World War Memorial.

Forest Recreation Park and Museum

This 100-hectare recreation part houses a museum built using various species of wood and other forest products . The museum has on display a collection of forest products as well as preserved insect species from all over the country. There are footpaths, rest huts and flowing streams and is home to countless species of flowering plants, ferns, insects, birds, butterflies, snakes and lizards. Here, you can find information on Malaysian forestry, its industry, products and other forest related matters.

To get there, take the Telok Bahang bus No. 93 from Lebuh Chulia. At Telok Bahang take another bus No 76 to the Forestry Park. Taxis are also available, but make sure you agree to the fare first. This area is located in the district of Teluk Bahang, about 15km from Georgetown.

Fort Cornwallis

Fort Cornwallis, PenangFort Cornwallis was built on the site of Francis Light's landing in 1786. It was built by Francis Light as a defensive measure when he first gained possession of Penang island, is the oldest European structure in Penang. Located in the Esplanade where he first landed on the island, it was originally a wooden stockade and was subsequently replaced by brick, built by convicts in 1804. Today it house an open-air amphitheatre,, a history gallery, a cafe and a handicraft and souvenir stall.

The famous Dutch cannon presented to the Sultan of Johor by the Dutch was brought to Penang after being looted by the Portugese and now stand proudly in Fort Cornwallis.
The Fort is "guarded" by a statue of Sir Francis Light along with some ancient cannons.

You may also see some interactive display of warfare engaged during the colonial days.

Location: Next to the Esplanade

Opening hours: 8,30am to 6.30pm. Admission is RM3 (USD0.85) for adults and RM2 (USD0.57) for children.

Goddess of Mercy Temple

Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) Temple, PenangThe Goddess of Mercy Temple or Kuan Yin Ting is the oldest Chinese temple in Penang, built in 1880s by early immigrants from China. The temple high roof is supported by dragon-entwined pillars, carved from a type of green stone. The statue of Kuan Yin is located in an inner chamber, which depicts a woman with 18 arms, with a countenance which exudes inner peace and worldly contentment. It also stone lions which are said to guard the temple.

The Goddess of Mercy's feast celebrated on the 19th day of the 2nd, 6th and 9th lunar months each year. These events celebrates Kuan Yin's birthday, her initiation and the event of her attaining the state of Nirvana. During these times, you will be able to observe Chinese operas and puppet shows.

Location: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling

Kapitan Keling Mosque

Penang Kapitan Keling MosqueThis mosque built in the early 19th Century is named after the person who built it - Kapitan Keling Caudeen Mohudeen. It features an ochre yellow facade with a dome-shaped minaret reflecting Moorish Islamic influence. Visitors have to dress appropriately with no shorts or bare shoulders, and must remove their shoes before entering. Permission to enter need to be obtained from mosque officials. Opening hours are from 9am to 5.30pm. Admission is free.

Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si TempleThe Kek Lok Si temple, one of the finest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, is located on a hill in Ayer Item. As you approach the compound, you will see large boulders that bear inscriptions of Chinese verses, beautiful sculptures. It is built in tiers, and culmilates with the beautifully crafted Ban Po That Pagoda or "Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas". The pagoda is made of octagonal tiers adorned with numeroous statues of the Buddha. The temple is set against beautiful scenic surroundings and features a turtle pond, gardens, shrines and beautiful sculptures.

Opening hours: 9am to 6pm. Admission is free. Admission to the pagoda is RM2 per person.

Khoo Kongsi

Khoo Kongsi PenangThis elaborate kongsi is by far the grandest clan kongsi in Penang. The ancestors of the Khoo family who migrated from South China built it in 1853 as a clan house for members of the Khoo family. The hall is embellished with intricate carvings and richly ornamented columns and beams of the finest wood which bears the mark of skilled craftmen from China.

18 Cannon Square, 10200 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: 04-261 4609 Fax: 04-262 2591
E-mail :

Opening Hours
Daily, including Sundays and Public Holidays: 9 am to 5 pm

Admission is RM5 (USD1.42) for adults and RM1 (USD0.28) for children.

KOMTAR or Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak

Komtar, PenangThis 65-storey builing is the tallest building dominates Penang skyline and is home to a complex of Government departments, commercial offices, department stores, retail outlets, restaurants, theatres, squash courts and a geodesic dome which serves as a multipurpose hall. It is a 12-sided geometric block on a 4-story podium 232m high. The building is named in honour to the second Prime Minister of Malaysia. The Tourist information Centre at Level 3. On the 55th floor is the Tower Tourist Center which allows visitors to have an excellent panoramic view of the city and on a clear day, you can see the mainland (Butterworth) the Penang Bridge, and even Gunung Jerai (Kedah Peak).

There's a main bus station at the ground floor. From there you can take a bus to nearly any other parts of the island. Most buses use coin machines to collect the fares.

Location: Penang Road

Penang Beaches

Batu Ferringhi beachAlong Penang's northern shoreline are its famous beaches - Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi, Teluk Bahang.

Batu Ferringhi has a several large resort, like Rasa Sayang, Golden Sands, Park Royal, Bayview etc. The main road runs straight along the coast for 3km, along which all the hotels, tourist shop, internet cafe's, motorcycle rental offices and restaurants (House of Kampong, Deep Sea or The Last Drop e.o.), are The main road runs more or less straight along the coast for 3km, on which all the hotels, tourist shop, internet cafe's, motorcycle rental offices, restaurants, Telekom office, post office, police station and clinic are located. After sunset, the sidewalk is transformed into a bazaar of many stalls selling things from food, clothing, batik, watches, pens, cameras and personal accessories. Bargaining is expected.

Getting to Batu Ferringhi is a thirty-minute bus ride from the west of Georgetown on Transitlink no. 202 or Transitlink air-con no. 93.

If you want privacy, there are Teluk Duyung or Monkey Beach, Pantai Keracut and Pantai Mas. These beaches are accessible via the trails in the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve from Teluk Bahang.

Penang Butterfly Farm

butterflyThis 86,000 sq. feet farm houses 4,000 living specimens of over 120 species of colourful butterflies, including some very rare and famous ones, like the Indian Leaf (Kallima paralekta), the endangered Yellow Birdwing (Troides helena) and the Rajah Brooke's Birdwing. You can also see reptiles, scorpions and other insects. The main attraction of the Penang Butterfly Farm are the free flying butterflies in an enormous enclosure where you can inspect the butterflies at close quarters as they flit around their favorite nectar plants.

The Penang Butter Farm is museum with both live and mounted sections, as well as a research centre with breeding and laboratory facilities. It has a lily pond, rock garden and artificial waterfall. It has an exhibition center, souvenir shop as well as an information center. It can supply both dried and live specimens.

At this farm you can also see Malaysia's biggest oil painting at the souvenir shop? Measuring 20 ft by 7 ft, the painting of a lush Malaysian jungle scene by James Lau has earned a place in the Malaysian Guiness Book of Records

Location: No 830 Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11050 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: 604-885 1253 Fax: 604-885 2011 / 885 1741

Visiting Hours
Monday-Friday: 9:00am to 5:30pm (Last Entry at 5:00pm)
Weekend & Public Holidays: 9:00am to 6:00pm (Last Entry at 5:30pm)
Opens daily except half-day on Chinese New Year Eve.

Adult: RM15.00 (RM12.00 + RM3.00 Govt. Tax)
Children: RM7.50 (RM6.00 + RM1.50 Govt. Tax, 4-12 years old)
Camera/Digital Camera Charge: RM1.00 per piece
Video/Digital Video Camera: RM5.00 per piece.

Special Promotion for Malaysian Citizen:
Adult: RM10.00 (RM8.00 + RM2.00 Govt. Tax)
Children: RM5.00 (RM4.00 + RM1.00 Govt. Tax, 4-12 years old)
Discounts are available to school bookings and other large groups.

Penang Hill

Penang Hill Station is Malaysia's first hill station and is 830m (2,730 ft.) above sea level. You can either hike up or use the funicular train. There is a good walking trail up the hill. The trail begins at the "moongate" at Jalan Air Terjun, approximately 300m from the entrance of the Botanical Garden. A hike up to the hill station can take up to 4 hours, but you can enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. It takes about 25 minutes with the furnicular train. The entrance of the funicular train station is decorated with elaborate cast iron scroll-work that reminds one of some English rural railway.

At the hill station, you can enjoy the cool, refreshing climate and a spectacular view. There is also a beautiful flower garden, bird park and picturesque bungalows, which are for rent, and a hotel for those who want to stay for more than a day.

The funicular train service begins at 6.30am and ends at 9.30pm during weekdays and 6.30am to 11.45pm on weekend. Fare is RM4 (USD1.14) for adults and RM2 (USD0.57) for children (return).

Penang Museum

Penang Museum with statue of Francis LightThe Penang Museum has on display hundreds of historical artifacts highlighting the important periods in Penang's development, and include clay, stone and porcelain ware, maps, charts, memorabilia of Malaya's First Prime Minister, Tungku Abdul Rahman. On display also are old prints and paintings of Penang, tracing the early years of its discovery and development.

On display are exhibits of Penang's communities, customs and costumes, historic places such as the harbour, Fort Cornwallis, the streets of Penang, municipal history, the Penang Riots, the Japanese Occupation, houses of worship and traditional trades, enlargements of old photographs.

There are special rooms to display Captain Robert Smith paintings, the William Daniell engravings and the Straits Chinese collections, including a bridal chamber. Also on dispaly is an exhibition of hand-written Qur'ans and old Malay weapons from the family of the late Dato' Haji Fathil Basheer.

Opening hours are from 9am to 6pm, closed on Fridays. Admission is RM1 (USD0.28) per person.

Penang War Museum

This 20-acre War Museum is built around the remnants of an old British fort, taking you through a journey to the past during World War 2 to observe the lifestyle of a typical British soldier and his Asian counterpart. There is a complex of above and below ground chambers where old war relics such as pillboxes, cannons, armaments, uniform and cooking equipments are displayed. You can also visit a complex of barracks, old cookhouses, lock-ups, tunnels and ventilation shafts, ammunition bunkers, logistic centers, cannon firing bays, sleeping quarters and medical health facilitis. There is even a tunnel through which one can go through to the sea to get to the submarines. You can also try your hand at target shooting using paintball guns. There is also a rest area where you can enjoy the hilltop view.

Opening hours are from 9am to 7pm. Admission is RM10 (USD2.84) for adults and RM5 (USD1.42) for children. Further details can be obtained from 604-6265 142, fax 604-644 8015 or 604-6264 142. Or call mobile no 016-4213606.

Location: Lot 1350, Mukim 12, Merah Barat Daya, Batu Maung at the southern tip of the island.

Penang National Park

This park is located at the end of Batu Ferringhi Road, past the Teluk Bahang fishing village at the island north-western tip. It has excellent trails throught the rainforest. Among its other attractions are the Teluk Duyung beach (Mermaid Bay), a bay protected by the Cape of Muka Head and Pantai Keracut.There is a Muka Head Lighthouse built in 1883 by the colonial British. Because a large number of monkeys are found here, it is also called the Monkey Beach.

Pantai Keracut is a white sand beach which is popular with picnickers and campers. Green turtles come to this beach to lay their eggs from April to August while the Olive Ridley turtles come between September and Febuary.

The park contains a meromictic lake, a lake (usually extremely deep, or deep and well protected from wind) which is permanently stratified (having layers of water of different densities) about 1 square metre in size where fresh water from the island stream meets sea water. During dry seasons and low tide, the lake is a mud flat, and during high tide, the lake gradually fills with sea water while fresh water from the stream remains on top of the denser sea water. Certain fish, birds and reptiles which have adapted to such environment live within this area.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Pinang Perankan MansionThe Pinang Peranakan Mansion is also called the Baba Nyonya Museum or the Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee Museum. If you want to see some richly ornate artefacts relating to the history and colorful lifestyle of the Baba Nyonya (Peranakan) people of Penang, this is the place to visit. There are lovely old porcelain pieces, furniture and works of art brought in from China and Europe which were commissioned by the Baba Nyonya families and handed down through the generations. Also on display are their elaborate traditional costumes and accessories. The mansion showcases the luxurious lifestyle of the Peranakans and their many customs and traditions, displaying over a thousand pieces of antiques and collectibles of the Penang Peranakan community.

It was built at the end of the 19th century and is a typical representation of the Straits Eclectic style of architecture, a fusion of Eastern and Western elements – highly favoured by rich Peranakan families of old. The mansion featured full-length French windows and exquisite ceramic tiles on the floors and walls. Solid iron pillars embellished with elaborate and striking Chinese carvings support part of the upper floor.

Location: Church Street, Penang, Malaysia
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm.
Admission: RM10 (USD2.84) for adults and free for children below 12 years.

Saint George Church

Saint George Church, PenangThis Anglican Church, named after the patron Saint of England, is one of the oldest landmark in Penang, and was built by convict labour in 1818. It is the oldest Anglican Church in Southeast Asia.

The Georgian Palladium architecture of the church was designed by Captain Robert N. Smith of Madras Engineers. A feature of the church's architecture are the huge Grecian columns lined outside the front entrance, which remind one of classical Greek structures such as The Parthenon, The Propylaia, the Temple to Athene and The Erechtheion. The pavilion which sits in the lawn also lends a Grecian air to the ambience.

Snake Temple

Snake Temple, Sungai Kluang, PenangThe Snake Temple was built in 1850 in honour of the Buddhist priest Chor Soo Kong. It is a santuary for pit vipers said to be the servants of the deity. You can see the poisonous snake coiled round the columns, beams and potted plants, busking on altars, incense burners, candlesticks, vases and tables, underfoot and overhead within the temple. It is believed the snakes are rendered harmless by the smoke of the burning incense.

Sri Mariamman Temple

This is a Hindu temple with its main entrance and facade decorated with fascinating sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses. Within the compound is an ornately decorated statue of Lord Subramanium embellished with gold, silver, diamonds and emeralds. During the annual Thaipusam festival, the statue is borne on a silver chariot through the city streets to the temple at Jalan Waterfall.

The temple is one of the oldest Hindu temple in Penang, built in 1883.

Tropical Spice Garden

The eight acre Tropical Spice Garden is located in Teluk Bahang, a few minutes’ drive from Batu Feringgi. It has over 500 exotic varieties of flora from Malaysia and other regions including exotic tropical spice, herb and other tropical plants, black lily, cocoa, ylang ylang, ferns, gingers, jungle orchids and rare palms. Explore the place by following three undulating trails leading to 11 distinct Garden Rooms: Water Garden, Cycad Room, Banana/Heliconia Bank, Spice Terraces, Bamboo Garden, Ginger Walk, Sugar Terrace, Ornamental Valley, Croton Wall, Fern Walk and Jungle Trail.

Located within the garden is a pre-war Straits Colonial country bungalow called Lone Crag Villa, which has been converted into a Visitor Centre with a built-up area of about 5,500 square feet where you can savour some of the offerings at the Centre including a Spice Museum with exhibits on the origins of the spice trade, historical spice routes and how spices are produced or processed.

Location: Lot 595 Mukim 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang 11100 Penang
Tel: 604-881 1797
Opens daily from 9.00am to 6.00pm. Last admission at 5.30 pm.
Daily Guided Tours: 9.30am, 11.00am and 12.30pm

Admission fees to the Spice Gardens:
Family (2 adults and up to 3 children): RM28 (self-guided) or RM45 (tour guided)
Adult RM13 (self guided) or RM20 (tour guided)
Child (aged 4-12): RM5 (self or tour guided)
Free for children under 4 years of age.

Admission fees to the Visitor Centre:
RM1 (Free for children accompanied by parents), includes admission to the Spice Museum, Garden Shop, Gift Shop and Spice Café.

University of Science Malaysia (USM) Museum and Art Gallery

This museum cum art gallery is located withing the 239.4-hectare campus of the University of Science Malaysia (USM) located in Gelugor. The museum has on display a collection of Malay and Baba Nyonya cultural artefacts, textiles, prints, traditional jewellery, keris (Malay daggers), artefacts pertaining to archaeology, art, anthropology, ethnography, crafts, science and technology science-related objects. There is also a section which is devoted to the performing arts. The art gallery has a fine collection of paintings.

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday (9:00am - 4:30pm)
It closes from 12:15 - 12:45pm on Fridays
Saturday (10:00am - 1:00pm)
(Closed on the first and third Saturdays of the month).
Admission is free. Permission to enter can be obtained from the security guards at the main entrance.

Mini Bus No. 25 or No. 29 and stop right in front of the university.

Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram or The Reclining Buddha

Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram or Reclining BuddhaThis is a Buddhist temple with Thai architecture and is famous for a 33m gold-plated Reclining Buddha, reputed to be the third largest in the world. At the back of the Reclining Buddha are niches housing urns containing ashes of devotees. It is also the largest Buddhist temple in Penang built in 1845 on five acres of land donated by Queen Victoria to the Thai community.

In the temple grounds there are also many colored statues of Devas, other mythical creatures and dragon-headed serpents are on display. Just across the street from Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram is another temple. the Dharmikara Burmese Buddhist Temple, built in 1805. A pair of elephants guard the entrance. Within the compound are a bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa, a tree under which Siddhārtha Gautama meditated) and wishing pond.

Location: Lorong Burma, or Burma Road in Pulau Tikus,
(To be continued. Under testing)

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