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Penang Holidays: The Best Places To Experience This Unique City

Have 24 Hours To Spare? Things To Do In Penang To Soak In The City

Diverse and cosmopolitan, yet rooted in Asian cultures, Penang guarantees you a whale of a time. In the last decade or so, this humble Malaysian city has built a solid reputation for its street food, art, heritage, and affordability—it’s even been named the “best place to retire.”

Now that you’re in one of the world’s top holiday destinations, what’s next? Consider these 24-hour itineraries put together by the PARKROYAL Penang Resort team.

At the same time, look out for some of Penang’s other “bests,” as recommended by residents and recent visitors. Read on to find out what they are!

The Best Traditional Coffee in Penang

Toh Soon Cafe
Lebuh Campbell, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Telephone number: +60 4 261 3754
Opening hours: 8:00am to 6:30pm (Monday to Saturday)

This gem could’ve remained as one of the hidden places in Penang. Toh Soon Cafe’s back-alley location is easy to overlook—the fact that it’s practically gained iconic status in Penang for its traditional Hainanese coffee is a clear sign that you should expect the best here.

At Toh Soon, casual coffee drinkers will appreciate how satisfyingly aromatic its coffee is, without leaving behind a bitter or acidic aftertaste.

For coffee aficionados, it is a chance to witness the age-old Hainanese method of brewing coffee, where boiling water is poured over ground coffee held in a tapis, or a simple sock-like cloth filter.

More coffee trivia: If you drink kopi (local coffee) in Penang or anywhere else in Malaysia, it is likely to be a brew derived from the bean of the Liberica coffee plant.

Liberica beans produce harsh and acidic coffee, and they account for only 2% of the world’s coffee production. However, partly due to the Liberica’s relative affordability, it’s the bean of choice for Malaysia—95% of Malaysia’s coffee beans come from the Liberica plant.

Margarine, salt, and sugar are added during the roasting process, to mitigate the harshness and create a “smoother” taste. Read more about Malaysia’s fascinating coffee tradition here.

Get directions to Toh Soon Cafe

The Best Penang Souvenirs to Buy Home

Kwong Heng Loong Sauce Factory
Address: 7, Jalan Pasar, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Telephone number: +60 4 226 5452
Opening hours: 8:00am to 6:00pm

41 Living Story
41, Lorong Love, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Telephone number: +60 4 250 4181
Opening hours: 11:00am to 7:00pm

Want to bring home something that will not only change your perception of taste, but let you keep a dying tradition alive? In Penang, one such souvenir would be the Kilang Kicap Kwong Heng Loong soya sauce.

Prominent Singaporean food blogger Aun Koh (better known as Chubby Hubby) wrote a glowing review for the soya sauce back in 2006.

“It was... nothing like all the factory-made commercial stuff that we’d been buying and using for most of our life. Where most supermarket soy sauces are simply salty, this hand-crafted sauce had depth,” he said. “It also had a distinct and delicious flavour. The level of salt was strong, but not overpoweringly so. More importantly, we could taste the flavour of the soybeans, something that I had never gotten from factory-made sauces.” (Read more about how the soya sauce is made on Koh’s blog.)

A recent visitor to the Kwong Heng Loong Sauce Factory has also given the sauce a thumbs-up. “It’s got a special fragrance with light sweetness. Makes a great dip for food, or condiments for cooking,” he said. “Seriously good, no other like it.”

If you would rather purchase something more conventional—but not boring—head to 41 Living Story to browse and shop for gifts that represent the best of Peranakan, Malay, and Chinese culture.

“[It’s] a cool little store in Georgetown that carries an array of uniquely Malaysian items,” says Penang expatriate Cimeron Morrissey, “many of which are hand-crafted by local artists, and all are surprisingly affordable.”

Get directions to Kwong Heng Loong Sauce Factory
Get directions to 41 Living Story

Malaysia’s Best Theme Park—in Penang

Address: 828 Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Telephone number: +60 4 881 1106
Opening hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm (Tuesday to Sunday)

ESCAPE isn’t just Penang’s top destination—its founder Sim Choo Kheng is a modern-day Peter Pan, born and bred in Penang.

“A person will not become a complete person if there is one part that is missing—a childhood full of play,” he famously said. “You can’t jump from your four-year-old self, full of wonder, creativity, and curiosity, into the straitjacket of academic goal-chasing. We all need play—and that’s why it’s really time to play!”

It follows that Sim is extremely passionate about the eco-friendly theme park that he opened in 2012, modelled after his most-treasured childhood memories of things to do in Penang. This year, ESCAPE was named “best theme park” in the Malaysia Tourism Awards, and Sim now has a grander vision: “Ultimately, I hope to grow [ESCAPE] into the biggest and most successful playground in Malaysia, and make it the main reason for tourists to come to Penang.”

Thrill-seekers of all ages have already been spending plenty of quality time at ESCAPE, making it one of the most popular Penang attractions. Here’s more good news: visitors can soon look forward to new ways to play. The theme park will launch a new section, Gravityplay (expected at end-2018), which will feature a 1.2 km waterslide—the longest in the world.

From now till 31 December 2019, book a family getaway at PARKROYAL Penang Resort and enjoy 20% savings on your ESCAPE entrance tickets. Enquire with our friendly associates if you have any questions.

Get directions to ESCAPE theme park | Buy tickets

The Best Live Music Venue in Penang

Soundmaker Studio
62, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Telephone number: +60 17 428 7327
Opening hours: 3:00pm to 1:00am (Wednesday to Saturday), 3:00pm to 12:00am (Sunday, Tuesday)


Wish to experience the indie music scene in Penang? Catch a gig at Soundmaker Studio.

Running—and sustaining—an underground music venue in Penang is no walk in the park, especially with authorities that are ever-eager to clamp down on “undesirable” influences. Yet Yew Kuok Cheong, the man behind Soundmaker, continues to pour his energies into this endeavour. Driven by his passion, Yew believes in giving Penang’s budding musicians a space to hone their skills and express themselves.

“I book all sorts of extreme and alternative bands who wouldn’t have a chance on the island’s mainstream stages,” he said in a Penang Insider interview. “Now we can offer a complete platform for musicians, from learning, to [showcasing] their talent by performing on stage. With a bit more… time, more young blood, and the right partnerships, I am sure we’ll make an impact.”

As Yew assured CNN Travel, what you’ll find at Soundmaker is original music and “real” local talent. Make this one of your Penang destinations—you won’t regret it.

Get directions to Soundmaker

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