Built by the British as a fortress in the 1930s, before then being used by the Japanese as a POW camp, the Penang War Museum is now open to the general public, serving as a memorial to its darker days.
The museum is strategically located on the hills above the fishing village of Batu Maung, on the road to Teluk Kumbar on Penang’s southern coast. Sprawled across some 20 acres of land, it’s billed as being the largest war museum in Southeast Asia. The fort was originally constructed in a bid to protect the island from foreign invasion, and today a walk around the site invokes a sense of what once was.
Visitors can take a sombre walk among various displays and historical items, and even venture into the old underground tunnels and ammunition bunkers, which are located nine meters underground. It’s also possible to explore the barracks, cookhouses, and gun emplacements, with plenty of signposts to guide the way.
A trip to the Penang War Museum can be combined with visiting Penang Island’s other major highlights, including the Snake Temple and Penang Bridge.
Because of the location of the Penang War Museum, the easiest way to reach it is to join an organized tour, use your own transport, or take a taxi.
Did You Know? Some of the museum’s underground tunnels lead all the way to the sea, as they once served as access routes to submarines. Be aware that some parts of the tunnels require visitors to crawl through some very narrow, confined sections.