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Penang

Penang

Take in the breathtaking sights and experience the taste of Asia in this gastronomical capital of Malaysia. Firefly takes you to our very own food paradise eight times daily.

Penang - Pearl Of The Orient

Penang, “The Pearl of the Orient” lies off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The state comprises a slight strip of approximately 760 sq. km on the mainland known as Seberang Perai (Province Wellesley) and the island of Penang covering an area of about 285 sq. km separated by a channel 3 km wide at the closest point. The Penang Bridge and a ferry service link them.

Georgetown, at the northeastern tip of the island is the seat of administration and is also the commercial center of the state. This metropolis combines the best of east and west as seen in its charming collection of fit old buildings, each bearing the stamp of special foreign influences in its colorful times past. Much of its charm also lies in its famous golden beaches and calm warm seas. Penang today is an alternative island in full blossom - a peaceful playground for worshippers of the sun and the sea with the multi racial population contributes to prosperity of cultural attractions and festivals for visitors to bring home memories of happy times in Penang.

Nature lover, historian or tourist, budget traveler or businessman, here lays the ideal destination for all visitors. Go there and they will prove it to you.

Getting There

The North-South Highway connects Penang to major cities on the West side of Peninsular Malaysia. Travel by highway can take anywhere from 4-5 hours with toll charges in between.

Once you reach Butterworth, which is the entry point to the island. A charge is required on all classes of cars at the tool plaza in Perai on the mainland but no payment is required for traveling from the island to the mainland.

Attractions

Palm-fringed beaches, attractive colonial buildings, mysterious places of worship, and her exciting street life formulate Penang an exotic target to go by travelers and tourists.

A wonderful land of contrasts and variety, there is an interesting blend of the old and new in Penang. See the following for a preview of her appeal.

Penang Bridge

Located in between Seberang Perai in the mainland Penang and Gelugor in the Penang Island.

It is an important bridge linking the mainland Penang to the Penang Island. Built in 1985. The long of the bridge is 13.5 km in which over 5 km is located on the sea. Built to survive earthquake of up to 7.5 Ritcher scale. Middle vertical span of 225m allow ships to pass. It has now a total of six lanes.

How to get there?
The North-South Highway connects Penang to major cities on the West side of Peninsular Malaysia. Travel by highway can take anywhere from 4-5 hours with toll charges in between.

Once you reach Butterworth, which is the entry point to the island. A charge is required on all classes of cars at the tool plaza in Perai on the mainland but no payment is required for traveling from the island to the mainland.

KOMTAR

KOMTAR (Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak), or more accurately KOMTAR Tower is Penang’s tallest building. It is located in the heart of Georgetown. When the skyscraper topped out it was the tallest building in Asia, by the time construction was completed it had however been surpassed by Seoul’s Korean Life Insurance Building (KLI 63 Building). The 65-storey tower is a 12-sided geometric block, 760ft (232m) tall, sitting atop a 4-storey podium. The complex comprises office and retail commercial space as well as public and recreational facilities.

How to get there?
By Bus: Express buses ply the route from Penang to / from Kuala Lumpur and major cities in the country. The main bus terminal in Penang is located next to the Ferry Terminal.
By Plane: Daily flights via Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com, tel:1 300 88 3000 ) to / from Penang to major cities in Malaysia. Penang’s Bayan lepas International Airport is roughly 20km (45-minnute drive) from the Georgetown city centre.
By Taxi: To get to Penang Island, long distance taxi service can be hired at Weld Quay, Penang. Tel: +604-2625721.
By Rail: You can take the train from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, where it stops at the Penang Railway Station, close to the ferry terminal. For more information, visit www.ktmb.com.my or call their call centre at +603-22671200.
By Boat: Ferries can be boarded at Butterworth, in the mainland portion of Penang. Among Ferry Services available are:
Langkawi Ferry Services (Tel: +604-2643088
Ekspress Bahagia (Tel: +604-2636255)
From the Ferry Terminal you can easily get a taxi ride into Georgetown city centre.
Located at Jalan Penang, in the heart of Georgetown City, KOMTAR is accessible from Jalan MacAlister, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Gurdwara and Jalan Dato’ Keramat. All public buses congregate at KOMTAR so you can basically take any bus to come here and to go anywhere.

Penang museum and art gallery

It was built in 1816 and houses a fine collection of historical documents, Malay treasures, Straits Chinese furniture, embroidery and costumes and formerly is the Penang Free School building. It exhibits the fishing, agricultural and natural history of the island and its geographical educational and economic life. The art gallery shows some paintings - and holds frequent exhibitions of works - of local artists. Placed at Farquhar Street, it opens daily from 9-12 noon and 2.45-5 pm. Closed on Sundays and public holidays, free entrance.

How to get there?
By Foot or Taxi
Penang Museum & Art Gallery is in Central Georgetown on Lebuh Farquhar, in between Jalan Masjid Kapitan Kling (Lebuh Pitt) and Love Lane (Lorong Cinta).

Penang Hill

Penang Hill, also known as Bukit Bendera, is 830m high (2,750 foot) and it’s much cooler than in the city below. It’s about 3 degrees cooler than the places near the coast. The station to get to the top is located in Air Itam. The funicular at the railway station takes you to the top and you can enjoy fascinating sight of Penang. The railway was built in 1923 and it takes about half an hour to the top. At the top of the hill, you’ll find a tea kiosk, restaurants, souvenir stalls, a mosque, Hindu temple, and the old Bellevue hotel. The peak offers a magnificent panoramic view of Georgetown, the mainland and Penang Bridge.

How to get there?
By Bus: From Georgetown, take a Transit Link bus or any bus company that can get you into the destination.Express buses ply the route from Penang to / from Kuala Lumpur and major cities in the country. The main bus terminal in Penang is located next to the Ferry Terminal.
By Taxi: To get to Penang Island, long distance taxi service can be hired at Weld Quay, Penang. Tel: +604-2625721
By Plane: Daily flights via Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com, tel:1 300 88 3000 ) and Firefly (www.fireflyz.com.my) to / from Penang to major cities in Malaysia. Penang’s Bayan lepas International Airport is roughly 20km (45-minnute drive) from the Georgetown city centre.
By Train: Train service start at about 6.30am during school holidays and about 7.00 am on normal days, every half hour, until about 9.15pm. On Saturdays, the trains depart at 6.30am every half hour, until about 11.30pmFor more information, please call the Penang Hill Railway Station at +604-828 3263 (Lower Station) or +604-829 9412 (Upper Station).

You can take the train from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, where it stops at the Penang Railway Station, close to the ferry terminal. For more information, call their call centre at +603-22671200.
By Boat: Ferries can be boarded at Butterworth, in the mainland portion of Penang. Among Ferry Services available are:
Langkawi Ferry Services (Tel: +604-2643088
Ekspress Bahagia (Tel: +604-2636255)

From the Ferry Terminal you can easily get a taxi ride to the bottom station of Penang Hill, in Ayer Itam.
A trishaw ride is also an ideal way to negotiate Georgetown’s backstreets.
To drive to Penang, from Kuala Lumpur, get onto the North-South Expressway heading north. Get onto the Penang Bridge then head for Ayer Itam.

Botanical Gardens

Penang’s 30 hectare Botanical Gardens are off Waterfall Rd and are also identified as the Waterfall Gardens after the flow that cascades through them down from Penang Hill, set in an ideal valley-like area surrounded by forested hills. The garden has a collection of both local and tropical flora and fauna. There are hundreds of trees and flowery plants and dozens of plant houses and nurseries, fern gardens and lily ponds. They’ve also been dubbed the Monkey Gardens, due to the many monkeys that appear on the lawn for a feed early each morning and late each afternoon. The gardens also have a small zoo and from there a path leads up Penang Hill.

Beaches

Penang has nice-looking beaches that stretch for miles from Tanjong Bungah to Bungah to Batu Ferringhi right up to Telok Bahang. At Tanjong Bungah, the beaches are suitable for swimming.

At the beachfront in Batu Ferringhi several watersports operators provide sailing and para-sailing gear and speed-boating facilities. Telok Bahang is a striking stretch of traditional Malay homes with a pier made of wooden stakes. From here, visitors can hire a boat to take them to the unspoilt beaches of Muka Head and Pantai Kerachut (Monkey Beach).

Shopping

Penang has always been a shoppers’ heaven. During its freeport days, Malaysians made a beeline for the island in droves to shop for items like electrical goods, cosmetics and clothes. This may sound surprising to some, but certain items like imported perfumes were even cheaper in Penang than Singapore.

Shoppers never failed to leave the island without losing their pockets. Hundreds of retail establishments are positioned tactically and conveniently in and around the city. Although the freeport status was given to Langkawi in the 80s, Penang still remains a preferred shopping destination among locals and tourists.

  • Lebuh Campbell: Chinese jewellers, Rolex watches, luggages, clothes, electrical items and Chinese medicines and herbs
  • Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling: Indian jewellers, money changers and florists
  • Chulia Street: Clothes, antiques, framed art and glass items
  • Bishop Street: Imported clothes, carpets, antiques and banks
  • Penang Road: The entire stretch of Penang Road is lined with shops selling clothes, shoes, imitation perfumes and edible favourites like nutmeg, pickled mangoes, banana chips, cookies and belacan.

There are a lot of popular shopping malls and complexes can be found at Jalan Penang, Jalan Gurney, Persiaran Bayan Indah and Tanjong Tokong.

Shopping tips

Remember guys don’t be afraid to politely ask for a markdown (except at departmental stores, hypermarts and chain stores) if you really want an item because bargaining is still a part of life here. Remember that bargaining involves offers and counter-offers, so be patient and slowly work the price down to something both you and shopkeeper are happy with. But you also have to remember this important thing - don’t bargain if you do not want to buy that stuff.

Shopping calendar

You can find it through our local papers for dates, which vary slightly every year. The mass-media (newspapers, radio and television) will announce and advertise sale carnivals, so keep your ears and eyes tuned for shopping updates. The annual Mega Shopping Carnival is definitely a great deal for almost anything.

Food & Beverages

Foodwise, there’s just so much to choose from in Penang that even locals are confused! The varieties are seemingly infinite. Having a reputation as a food heaven, be it haute cuisine, or cuisine bourgeoise (hawker fare), Penang offers an exciting mix of delicious cuisine to choose.

Penang food is both famous and marvelous. Talk about Penang food, they are more often than not referring to hawker food and coffee shop dining. It’s true that some of the hype is overblown but it cannot be denied that Penang is home for many uniquely delicious chows. Some of the hawkers advertise their cuisine as specialties from another state, like Johor bak kut teh, Ipoh chicken and bean sprouts or laksa Kedah. In short, an infinite variety of dishes are yours to taste.

Hawkers delicious

Penang hawker food can be divided into several varieties, with each being attributable to Penang’s multi-cultural spirit: Nyonya, Chinese, vegetarian, Indian, Malay, Hakka-styled Western, seafood and desserts. Hybrids are also known to exist, and some famous examples are Malay style chicken rice and char koay teow, and Chinese satay and nasi lemak. Prices are cheap and reasonable.

Seafood delight

Fishing is being a major economic activity on the island, Penang is naturally a sanctuary for seafood lovers, and a handful of restaurants have already achieved legendary status among locals and foreigners.

Dessert

Another major role in Penang food is dessert. You will just have to let your eyes and your nose is your channel. A word of warning though - most local desserts tend to be sweet and rich, as coconut milk, flour and sugar are main ingredients.

Chinese cuisine

Chinese cuisine ranges from Cantonese to Teochew to Hokkien to Hainanese to Szechuan cooking. There’s also Penang Nyonya food, which is a blend of Chinese, Malay and some Thai, what is different from the Malaccan or even Singaporean versions. For a touch of luxury, try a five or ten-course Chinese meal at one of the restaurants or hotels in town.

Indian cuisine

Banana leaf rice and nasi kandar is the most popular in Indian foods. Both are hot and savoury with rice being the main staple, and a menu from north Indian tandoori and nan bread, to South Indian rice and capati.

Nasi kandar is famously popular with Penang bites, and many restaurants selling it are well known not only to those on the island but those in other states as well. It is quite common to find people from other states detouring to Penang just to stop for a serving of food of nasi kandar before going on their journey elsewhere.

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