Before I forget all the details, I need to write this once and for all. After all, Penang is worth writing for! So this is the second part of my Malaysia trip last October. So yeah, bear with me as I tell you how wonderful it is to get lost and wander in the beautiful Penang 🙂
We went to Penang via plane, which is a one-hour trip from KL. The Penang International Airport is a bit far from Georgetown proper (about 12 miles south). From the airport, we rode a bus to Georgetown since there are no trains going to the city. Another option is to get a taxi, however, it will cost you around 30RM compared to a bus ride which only costs 2.70RM. I forgot the bus number we rode but, you can have your own research on the bus nos. going to Georgetown, Batu Ferringhi or Butterworth 🙂 You can also ask the locals as they are very friendly and can speak English fluently. And before leaving the airport, I advise you to take some local maps, tourist maps available since it will be useful for your whole trip!
We only have 1.5 days to explore Penang, thus, we made sure we cover all the important tourist destinations in the place. One of my goals during the whole trip was to see the street arts in Penang since the place is known for its historical, artistic and rich culture. These street arts tell different stories about Penang and are scattered all over Georgetown. We arrived on our hostel, Cintra Heritage House, which is located Lebuh Cintra. The place is very cozy and quiet, and just near Lebuh Chulia (one of the main roads and walking distance to Lovelane and Jalan Penang). The staff are also very helpful and kind to us.
After we put our bags down, we looked for a place to satisfy our appetite, as you know, Penang is famous for its delicious food. We found a local restaurant near our place, we bought Hainanese Chicken rice for our lunch, and I tried their iced nutmeg for my drinks. I didn’t take any photos since we’re really hungry already because it’s past noon.
I don’t really have a concrete plan on how we will have our own DIY tour for Penang so I just based it on our current location and the map on my hand. There is a free shuttle bus service, the Penang City Hop on Free Central Area Transit-CAT, which has a route from KOMTAR to Jetty (v.v) and will definitely go inside Georgetown. You just need to find the correct bus stop for your desired destination. This is a bit hard for us since the bus stops don’t have signs and directions (unlike in SG) so better make sure to have a map. For our case, we decided to go by foot in exploring Georgetown. First stop! Lovelane, which is famous for their hostels and coffee shops. As we traverse the streets, we saw a lot of street arts and famous destinations in Georgetown. I won’t go into details on all the places we went because it’s just too many 🙂 let the pictures guide you and one tip I can give you is to be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes because the weather in Penang is a bit hot and you will need to walk a lot!
We reached our second destination which was the Goddess of Mercy Temple, which is a very popular temple dedicated to Kuan Yin. Since we do not practice the religion (Buddhism to be exact), we just decided to drop by and pay our respects.
From the temple, you can decide whether you go to Little India (left facing the temple) or like us, we headed to the opposite direction to St. George Church, Penang State Museum, and Cathedral of the Assumption. These three are very near to each other.
For both Churches, we didn’t have the chance to see what’s inside since it’s closed that day.
The Penang State Museum, also known as Muzium Negeri Pulau Pinang in Malay, has a lot to offer. From their galleries and exhibits, the history and culture of Penang unfold. Take note the museum is open daily from 9-5pm and has an entrance fee of 1.00RM for Adult and 0.50RM for students.
I have a lot of pictures, but I cannot put it all here :)) Anyway, after visiting the museum and the churches, we decided to walk again towards the City hall, Esplanade and Town Hall.
The shots below are taken the next day, it’s a bit sunny when we strolled again at Esplanade after going to Fort Cornwallis.
After strolling and walking, we were stranded for a while because of the rain and just decided to go to Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion or the so called “Blue Mansion”. I think it’s because of the rain, we forgot to go to Fort Cornwallis which is just located on the opposite side of the Esplanade, but no worries, we went back the next day. Heading towards the Blue Mansion we got lost because we did not turn to the right street. I was worried that we will not be accommodated anymore because we were running late since they are just catering guided tours for those who want to visit at specific time slots (11am/2pm/0330pm with an entrance fee of RM16 per adult/ RM8 for children).
But we are still lucky and still early for the 0330pm tour!(yey!) Anyway, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Based on the story from our guide, the owner, the late Cheon Fatt Tze, grew up penniless but, became a historic character in his time. He was known to be one of “China’s last Mandarins and 1st Capitalists” in his era. He was also known to be generous and kind man to his fellow Chinese yet, he was one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in his time. The mansion was already dilapidated when the state decided to acquire the property in the ’90s and began restoring it. It’s a must see attraction if you’re interested in some history 🙂 The Blue Mansion also offers dine-in for lunch and dinner, hotel and caters themed events. (for more info, visit their site!)
After the tour, we decided to go to Gurney drive for some Kuay Teow 😀 We alighted the CAT bus to KOMTAR and from KOMTAR we rode bus 103 to Gurney Plaza. We went to Gurney drive, where in a lot of hawker stores are situated. Of course my main goal there is to try their famous Kuay Teow 😀
The taste is a bit different from Singapore’s Kuay Teow. I cannot really describe the difference, but, I think it’s the spiciness. Their Kuay Teow is spicier and I liked it a lot! (Actuallty, I like Kuay Teow in general :p). After eating, we still want something sweet so we went to McDonald’s for some apple pies then headed to Gurney Paragon Mall for some shopping spree (again! :p).
We didn’t have the chance to go to Wat Chayamangkalaram, which is just near Gurney drive, because it closes by 0530pm. Anyway, we headed back to our hotel and got some rest since we needed to get up early to go to Kek Lok Si Temple and we only have half day to roam around the city.
Early in the morning, after having breakfast, we already checked-out and then left our bags on the hostel as we headed to Kek Lok Si Temple. The temple is a bit far from Georgetown, so we rode the CAT bus to KOMTAR, took a bus to Kek Lok Si (you can ride either 201/203/204/502). I forgot already how much we paid for one way. Anyway, you can always ask the drivers since you need to pay upfront for your ticket before you can sit. And also, another tip, always have small change as they don’t usually accept bills when you commute by bus.
As I’ve said earlier, the temple is a bit far but, you can sense that you are already near when you arrive in a market place and you can see the temple from a far. The temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia and a must-see as my friend said to me. Kek Lok Si Temple houses a 7-storey handcrafted “Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas” and a 30.2m bronze Kuan Yin statue according to Penang traveller’s Map.
Getting to the temple is a bit tricky but as I’ve read in a blog, it’s just easy to get there. You just need to follow the arrow pointing to the way to Kek Lok Si and if you are scared that you’ll get lost, you can just ask some locals and surely you’ll find your way.
We went first to Kuan Yin Statue by using the inclined lift. You need to pay 2RM per pax (one way) as I remember. It’s very hot when we went up however, it’s a nice experience especially when you see how enormous the statue and up until now it’s not yet finished. We strolled a bit then decided to go down again via lift and then went to Pagoda. There’s an entrance fee going to Pagoda, i’m not sure if it’s 2RM per person, anyway, we went up to the highest floor which is a bit tiring. The view, however, pays off. The staircase going up and down the Pagoda is steep so better be careful if you’re planning to go up.
After we went down from the temple, we already planned to eat Assam Laksa, one of the famous dish in Penang aside from their Kuay Teow. Based on my own research, the best assam laksa is located near the Kek Lok Si temple. The store’s name is “Air Itam Laksa”, we ate our lunch, which is so delicious by the way, then we decided to head back to Komtar.
Since we only have few hours remaining before heading back to the airport, we decided to stroll a bit more in Georgetown especially those places we missed. After cooling down in Prangin Mall in Komtar, we went back to Esplanade then to Fort Cornwallis. The place reminded me of Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila (which is more beautiful by the way! peace!) I think all the cities that were colonized back then do always have this kind of fortress. I just can’t imagine a beautiful place being a war zone before.
Anyway, after strolling and taking some photos, we headed towards Lebuh Armenian where some of the famous Penang street arts are situated. The Lebuh Armenian is one of the busiest street, and you really don’t want to miss to visit this place as it is full of artsy and colorful artworks, stores and street arts.
And that’s the end of our Penang adventure. Actually, there’s more to it than what I’ve told you and what we’ve seen. There are still a lot of street arts we didn’t cover unfortunately. Penang has a lot to offer, we even didn’t go to Batu Ferringhi and Butterworth since we don’t have a lot of time. As my friend suggested it’s really better to have your own ride when touring around Penang. Anyway, it was a great adventure- wandering and getting lost at the same time. I really had a fun time doing my own tour in Malaysia. Cheers to more travel! Au revoir! I’ll be back, Malaysia 😀