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Penang is an island and a state in Malaysia on the north-western coast of the Malay Peninsular, situated by the straight of Malacca. The capital city George Town and Penang Island are highly developed and have been a favourite with tourists for a long time.
The George Town skyline seems to hover above the misty, hazy blue of the Sea and its skyscrapers and Penang Bridge, its imposing colonial style City Hall and hustle and bustle of Beach Street or the stunning architecture and gleaming whiteness of the Kapitan Keling Mosque reflect the country’s deep-rooted respect for diversity and heritage.
Penang has a year round tropical rainforest type climate with warm and sunny spells interspersed with heavy showers during the Southwest Monsoon season, which lasts from April to September.
Among the plentiful Penang tourist attractions are the islets that lie just off the coast within a short ferry ride of the main Penang island. The Isle of Jerejak (Pulau Jerejak) is a great place to visit for a mini adventure with the family or alone – there are jungle trails and even a Spa resort on the islet.
The Malayan people are friendly and tolerant of other religions and this is reflected throughout Penang. Visitors will find a Jewish cemetery and Taoist temples like Kong Hock Keong Temple or Methodists churches.
Throughout the state architecture is one of the most stunning Penang tourist attractions that will stay with visitors for a long time. The sheer variety of styles, both historic and futuristic, is quite overwhelming. The needle like 65-storey KOMTAR tower in the centre of George Town ranks as Penang’s tallest building, but just a short distance away in Downing Street one finds the colonial style buildings occupied by banks.
Just as the architecture reflects Penang’s diversity, so do the arts. There are numerous museums and art galleries, like the Penang Museum and Art Gallery in George Town, which is home to photography, relics, maps and all things relating to Penang and its inhabitants. The Penang Toy Museum is one of the most charming Penang tourist attractions. Situated at Tanjung Bungah, the museum houses some 110,000 toys, bears, dolls and other children’s paraphernalia collected through the ages. Indeed, this is the largest toy museum in the world and neither small nor grown up visitors will find it easy to tear themselves away from this magical place. Some 100,000 people visit the museum every year and there’s even a Chamber of Horrors, where Chucky toys wield knives and grin their toothy grins at visitors.
For something a little more exotic among the Penang tourist attractions one should try an evening at the Chinese Opera, which frequently performs in Penang, mostly in the Hokkien and Teochew versions. They usually perform during the Hungry Ghost Festival, typically held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar according to ancient Chinese tradition.
The many festivals held throughout the year – depending on which religion, culture or ethnic background they originate in – are rooted in anything from Chinese tradition like the above Hungry Ghost festival or the Chinese New Year, or the Hari Raya Haji celebrated my Malayan Muslims or the Saint Anne’s Novena celebrations and Feast Day, which attract thousands of Catholic visitors every year.
But the star prize of all of Penang’s tourist attractions has to go to the food! No matter what one’s tastes might be at home, in Penang taste buds spring truly to life and the sheer variety of dishes is utterly amazing. It has reputedly the best street food in Asia, if not in the world and the best places to go for a gourmet’s tour are the stalls at Gurney Drive, New Lane, New World Park, Pulau Tikus and Penang Road to name but a few.