OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUES (OUVS)
Beautiful beaches, delicious food, rich heritage, diverse culture, endless shopping and entertainment options – Penang is famous from plenty of aspects. Embracing modernity while preserving its colonial legacy, this vibrant island state offers the best of both worlds. Penang promises a host of must-see attractions thus making it the perfect place to experience both historic charm and modern excitement.
It also serves as an excellent living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia as well as European colonial influences. The capital’s religious buildings of different faiths, ethnic quarters, languages, festivals and food represent its colourful heritage.
Officially inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7th July 2008, George Town is home to a vast array of distinguished British Colonial Buildings. These represent the British era from the end of the 18th century.
A combination of Eastern and Western influences coupled with timeless architectural styles are reflected in over 12,000 old buildings across the town. These residential and commercial buildings comprise shophouses, government offices and monuments as well as mosques, churches and temples. Covering an area of 2.5 sq km, this World Heritage Site is a delightful destination that can be covered on foot, bicycle or trishaw.
MUST-VISIT HERITAGE SITES
The renowned George Town heritage zone truly encapsulates the essence of a diverse melting pot of cultures in terms of architectural styles. A myriad of styles such as Indo-Malay Palladian, Early Transitional, Neo Classical and so many more bear witness to the unique historical characteristic of this perennial city. The following list highlights some of the sites that simply
cannot be missed.
Known as the largest standing fort in Malaysia, this star-shaped bastion is also one of the oldest structures in Penang. It was built in 1786 and named after Marquis Charles Cornwallis. It features a set of ten-foot high outer walls with an enclosed park within. Among the exhibits inside are prison cells, barracks, munitions storage areas and original flagstaffs.
CHEONG FATT TZE MANSION
Built in the 1880s, this indigo-blue mansion was the residence of Cheong Fatt Tze. This traditional style Chinese courtyard house has 38 rooms, 220 timber-frame windows, seven staircases and five granite-paved courtyards. This estate doubles up as a museum and a boutique hotel. A one-hour guided tour is available.
THE PINANG PERANAKAN MUSEUM
This awe-inspiring mansion is a creation of a typical rich 19th century Baba home. It is home to over 1000 pieces of antiques and collectibles. On top of that, there is an eclectic mix of English tiles, Scottish ironworks, Chinese carved wood panels as well as continental European art and furniture.
THE QUEEN VICTORIA MEMORIAL CLOCK TOWER
Standing at 60 feet, the gleaming white tower commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Each foot represents a year of the Queen’s 60-year reign. It consists of four tiers – the octagon-shaped base followed by two tiers which have four sections with elaborate windows, balconies and working clocks. Roman pillars and a golden dome cupola complete the highest tier.
MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS IN PENANG
Filled with an abundance of attractions, Penang is where amazing sights and exciting activities await around every corner.
KEK LOK SI TEMPLE
Perched on top of a hill in Air Itam, this large Buddhist temple was founded more than a hundred years ago. The landscaped gardens and sacred temples are truly a sight to behold. The eye-catching Pagoda of 1000 Buddhas features a mix of Chinese, Burmese and Thai styles. Among others, there are also the Four Heavenly Kings who guard the North, South, West and East.
At 830 metres high, Penang Hill is the ideal place to escape the heat of the bustling city. An iconic funicular train service is available to transport visitors to its highest point within quick intervals. At the top, sweeping views of the city, in addition to eateries, restaurants, places of worship and the old Bellevue hotel await visitors.
PENANG MURALS & STREET ART
Strolling through the streets of George Town is a great way to discover unique art such as Ernest Zacharevic’s ‘Little Girl in Blue’ (Muntri Street), ‘Children in a Boat’ (The Chew Jetty) and ‘Boy on a Bike’ (Ah Quee Street). Other noteworthy works include Desmond Yeo’s ‘The Awaiting Trishaw Paddler’ (Jalan Penang) and Artists For Stray Animals’ (ASA) ‘101 Lost Kittens’.
PENANG BOTANIC GARDENS
Also known as the Waterfalls Gardens, this verdant and tranquil destination was established by the British in 1884. A popular recreational spot among the locals, it is located in a valley along Jalan Kebun Bunga and features 12 sections which contain a wide variety of indigenous and exotic plant species.
Built in 1850 in honour of Chor Soo Kong – a Buddhist priest and healer, this famous temple is located in Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas. According to legend, he gave shelter to the snakes who then moved in when the temple was completed. The temple is home to a variety of snake species including several Wagler’s pit vipers and green tree snakes.
Set within a 1940s colonial building along Lebuh Pantai, this museum offers an in-depth look at the city’s vibrant food culture. Individual glass cases house larger than life displays of popular street food and traditional Malay, Chinese, Indian and Peranakan cuisines. The three galleries – Info Zone, Wow Zone and Educational Zone promise a fun time for the whole family.
PENANG BIRD PARK
Established in 1988, this is the first and largest bird park in Malaysia. More than 300 species of birds such as kingfishers, exotic sunbirds, vulturine guineafowl and ostriches live in this five-acre park in Seberang Jaya.
BATU FERRINGHI NIGHT MARKET
With more than 100 stalls, this sidewalk bazaar has something for everyone – tasty food, fashion apparel, homeware items, handcrafted bejewelled accessories, artworks and many more. Open daily from 7pm onwards, this lively market is the place to find unconventional items or unique souvenirs.
Located along Gurney Drive, this waterfront shopping complex houses more than 380 stores. Spread across 858,000sqft, this nine-storey mall has various fashion, dining, digital and lifestyle outlets to cater to everyone’s tastes and preferences.
PENANG BATIK FACTORY
Established since 1973 against the tranquil backdrop of Teluk Bahang, the factory complex is divided into three sections namely the art gallery, boutique and workshop. Batik art such as small portraits and tapestries as well as an array of unique batik featuring nature-inspired and abstract designs are available for sale. Visitors can also watch artists drawing, colouring and stamping patterns on fabrics.
ENTOPIA BY PENANG BUTTERFLY FARM
Formerly known as Penang Butterfly Farm, Entopia is a tropical sanctuary – home to a myriad of creatures namely butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, fireflies, lizards, spiders, scorpions and worms. Filled with various educational exhibitions and the famous butterfly farm depicting the metamorphosis of a butterfly, Entopia also has a grassland territory inhabited by small reptiles such as chameleons.
THE HABITAT PENANG HILL
This 10-acre ecotourism site is a haven of greenery and wildlife. The beautiful landscape comprises a pristine rainforest, rolling hills, verdant flora and granite boulders. Vibrantly coloured and intricately patterned, numerous flowers and butterflies can be sighted along the nature trail. The spacious viewing platforms and colour-themed floral gardens further add to the venue’s natural charm and tranquility.
THE TROPICAL SPICE GARDEN
Spread over 8 acres of secondary jungle and set on a hill, this garden comprises over 500 species of exotic flora and fauna. With three garden trails amidst waterfalls and stream crossings, this sizeable garden featuring a myriad of spices, tropical vegetation and medicinal plants is truly a sight to behold.
This spacious theme park is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a thrilling adventure. Specialising in zip-lining, Escape also offers many other exciting and challenging activities that can be enjoyed via its canopy obstacle course, rope course, cave, waterpark, tree swings and balance beams.
THE TOP, KOMTAR
An abundance of delicious dishes and fun activities await at this new food and entertainment attraction. The Rainbow Skywalk and Observatory Deck offer an impressive bird’s eye view of Penang while other attractions include double rainbows that arch into a pot of gold, a hanging musical orchestra and a horseshoe chair.
Located within the Geodesic Dome of KOMTAR, this 40,000 square feet technological hub is filled with over 120 interactive scientific and technology exhibits. In addition to informative galleries covering Electro-Magnetism, Forces and Motion, Information Technology, Life Tech, Optics, Robotics, Children’s Exploration Zone and Penang Transformation Story, it also has an astronomy observatory.
ASIA COMIC CULTURAL MUSEUM
Divided into 9 sections, this 13,000 square feet museum showcases a wide authentic cultural collection of comics and art from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Various original as well as digital and replicated artworks, published books, models, toys and merchandises are also on display.
PENANG HOUSE OF MUSIC
Located in Komtar, this museum celebrates and reflects the diversity of Penang’s rich musical heritage. It houses a permanent exhibition space (the Gallery features interactive displays and listening posts), a comprehensive Resource Centre and a Black Box space for performances, talks and other events.