Penang Malaysia – Hidden Treasures

In 2015 I made my first journey to the highly diverse Island of Penang, since then I have returned every year and like any good blogging explorer I have documented my discoveries to share with the world.
Penang is a bustling little Island full of wonder, its rich in ethnicity, culture, language and religion. From its megolithic buildings that reach high to the sky, to its thick tropical jungle there is much to explore so dont be afraid to reach outside the city walls into its less populated areas,  you are sure to find a hidden treasure! 

Penang is quite different from Thai cities like Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya. It has a more westernized infrastructure. What you can expect to see is grungy streets with abstract street art, Muslim, Hindu & Buddhist temples and very large shopping malls. Many of the malls have interesting exhibitions happening like dinosaur museum, durian museum, a seen a strange haunted house (wtf?) and theres also the massive Komtar Tower. 

For anyone traveling to Penang I highly recommend exploring outside the city, bus transport is cheap and can take you anywhere around the Island. If you want to discover something with spiritual value make you journey to Kek Lok Si Temple. To get to the temple you will need to catch the bus to a drop off point then walk up a winding mountain road which in itself is a beautiful experience. Your now out of the city and amongst lush rainforest and enjoying some fresh air. Standing tall is the stunning Kwan Yin Statue at the peak of the temple grounds, an epic monument! Enjoy its beauty and the other wonders that surround it, the rest is for you to discover!

Another Temple I discovered on one of my many visits to Penang is the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, This is the tallest Hindu temple in Malaysia. Make sure you have allot of energy because you will need to climb many flights of stairs to reach the top where the temple resides and offers a breathtaking view of Penang City below. Incense fragrance fills the air as many Hindu people participe in religious traditions, reciting mantras and meditating. Be prepared for the cheeky monkeys that duck and weave around the temple walls looking for offerings of food or a chance to snatch something from your bag! 

Ok, enough of the temples. Its time to check out Penangs natural wonders. The Botanical Gardens are bursting with flora and fauna, lush running waterfalls and places to sit and relax and take it all in. Keep an eye out for more cheeky monkeys though, as there are literally hundreds up to all kind of monkey business throughout the gardens. The beautiful black “Dusky Leaf Monkey’s” singing and playing together is a real sight to see! As an Australian, I am not used to being around monkeys and when about 30 “Long-tailed Macaques” surrounded me I must say my heart was racing and I needed some space, It may be best to travel with a friend. Take your camera and you will be sure to capture some magic in Penangs Botanical Gardens.

Ok, one of my favorite moments while visiting Penang was my trip to Batu Ferringhi Beach, I visited around mid October and to my surprise I had about 1km stretch of beach all to myself! The sun was shining about perfect 33 degrees, the beautiful ocean air smelt divine it cleansed my lungs and the water was luke warm yet refreshing. A splash in the water and a bit of sun baking was a blissful escape from Penang City’s bustling streets. If you are a beach lover I highly recommend setting aside a trip to Batu Ferringhi, its easily accessed by public bus, around 2.70 ringitts and 25 minutes drive from the city bus depot.

This article wouldn’t be complete without a review of Penangs food, if you are lucky enough to travel during June – August you will be in durian heaven. My first trip to Penang was during this time and there were many durian stalls set up around town, the durian was reasonably priced and some of the best I have eaten!

Over the 3 years traveling to Penang I have seen a explosion of Vegan options available. Some of the highlights for me included “Wholey Wonder” a little cafe that makes super healthy hearty vegan pizza’s, smoothies, pastas and all kinds of super food infused goodness! Also check out “Pinxin” a really nice restaurant with high quality asian inspired dished including Tom Yum noodles, currys and more! A trip to Little India town and you will discover many meat-free Indian Restaurants, let Happy Cow on your smartphone locate the rest.

Looking for quality budget accommodation in Penang? 
For 3 years running I have stayed at the lovely 24 Merican Road guest house in Georgetown, there is a reason I keep coming back to this place. The hosts Peter and Mei are a lovely couple that provide a warm friendly environment for you to chill and relax. For anyone doing a Thai Visa Run this place is within walking distance from both the centre of town and the Royal Thai Consulate. Read more about 24 Merican Road here >

That concludes my Penang Adventures for now! 
But I will be back again soon and so this blog will be updated with my new discoveries over time.