Once exotically known as the Island of Pearls (Pulau Mutiara), Penang has developed a reputation for its timeless beauty and alluring personality. The mere mention of its name conjures images of quirky street art, eclectic hawker food, and quaint Peranakan buildings.
While Penang is rich in history and nostalgia, you’ll be glad to know that much of the bustling city is also edible and Instagrammable – both quintessential experiences for the modern traveller.
Let the PARKROYAL Penang Resort team bring you around on a tour of some of Penang’s most interesting places, sights, and sounds.
Street art is ubiquitous in this city, and understandably one of Penang’s top tourist attractions. People love to pose with these charming murals, admire them, and “Instagram” their finds. Two must-sees are “Little Children on a Bicycle” by Ernest Zacharevic, at Armenian Street, and “Brother and Sister on a Swing” by Louis Gan, at Step by Step Lane.
(For more tips on Penang art, read our art lover’s guide to Penang art or download this step-by-step walking guide.)
If you fancy a back-to-nature feel, the place to be is Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm. Located in Teluk Bahang, Entopia is home to more than 15,000 free-flying butterflies at any one time. It is the largest butterfly and dragonfly garden in Malaysia. Attend its nature workshops to witness the release of newly-emerged butterflies, hear first-hand knowledge from professional insect breeders, and learn about its resident lizards – especially relevant if you’re travelling with kids to Penang.
Another great place to explore is Little India, Penang. There is street art to be discovered, restaurants to indulge in, and Indian silk and other knick-knacks to drive a bargain for.
Insider Tip: Little India is located close to the Armenian Street street art sites, so it’s a good idea to cover them both at the same time.
Get directions to Armenian Street
A Penang holiday would not be complete without a serving of Penang famous chendol, a sweet dessert made of a mixture of coconut milk and palm sugar, topped with wriggly strands of bright green jelly. To savour yours, head to Chowastra Market and look for a street-side cart parked opposite Joo Hooi coffee shop, with a signboard that says “Penang Famous Teochew Chendul.” The queue here is perpetually long but as the saying goes: good things are worth the wait.
Since you’re near Joo Hooi Coffee Shop, you might as well tuck into some serious Penang hawker fare – the Char Kuay Teow, a flavourful dish of flat rice noodles that is fried with sinfully-rich lard, is smokingly good.
But wait, there is more. Penangites love their Assam Laksa, and at Sin Hwa Coffee Shop (located at 329 Jalan Burma), the good folks have mastered it to simmering levels of perfection. This rich, reddish, and seriously addictive dish comes with thick rice noodle immersed in a broth that is spicy, sour, and savoury at the same time.
If you’re visiting the Georgetown area, you’d be glad to know there are places for you to dine like a king. For a list of recommendations of Penang’s fine dining establishments, read this post on where to dine like royalty in Penang.
Get directions to Chowrasta Market
One of the most relaxing things to do in Penang at night is to unwind and dine at Top View on the 59th floor of The Top Komtar. Enjoy 360-degree views of Penang while tucking into a Penang international buffet or a 5-course degustation. After dinner, head further skywards to the Rainbow Walk on level 68 and experience what it’s like to be walking on air for the first time, 249 metres above ground.
After all the sightseeing, it’s time to reinvigorate both body and mind at St Gregory’s Spa, PARKROYAL Penang Resort. The award-winning spa offers a range of therapeutic treatments such as the Balneotherapy Hydrobaths, which draws on a powerful water massage therapy to enhance the healing properties of herbal and flower extracts to purify the body, or the Malaysian Local Spa Experience, which is a traditional Malay urut (massage) that relaxes the nerves and mind.