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Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Penang

Penang Island, once known as the Pearl of the Orient, is one of Malaysia's most densely populated urban centers. George Town, its bustling capital, showcases the island's long history as trading port and former British colony, as well as the multicultural influence of its tightly knit immigrant communities. Proud of their glittering, modern skyline, Penang Islanders also treasure their heritage: Colonial relics, faded Chinese shophouses, and Buddhist temples line the cobblestone streets of George Town's central UNESCO World Heritage zone. To capture Penang’s diversity, a guided tour is highly recommended. Absorb sweeping panoramas from atop Penang Hill; visit Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple; and relax on the white sands of Batu Ferringhi beach. Stroll through historic Fort Cornwallis and the riotously colorful streets of Little India and Chinatown, and visit the fascinating Penang Museum. A tasting tour of the island's famous food stalls is a must: try the creamy, spicy coconut laksa (noodle soup), prawn fritters, and slow-cooked pork. Nature lovers can explore Monkey Beach and the uninhabited islands of Penang National Park on a day trip, or snorkel and swim in the azure waters of Pulau Payar Marine Park. From Penang Island, many travelers head to Langkawi by boat, or back to the mainland to tour the rolling green hills of the Cameron Highlands. If you have some in Seburang Perai, the peninsular half of Penang State, visit Penang Bird Park, the largest and oldest aviary in Malaysia.
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Kek Lok Si Temple
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100 Tours and Activities

Translated from Hokkien the Kek Lok Si Temple, or 'Temple of Serene Bliss', sits majestically on a hill, a focal point of the local Chinese community, generous donations mean this temple continues to grow.

The 7-story white & gold pagoda is the largest Buddhist temple in SE Asia, its design - Chinese Octagonal base, Thai middle tier and Burmese crown - reflects its respects to Mahayana and Theravana Buddhism.

On the hillside above is an impressive 100ft (30m) bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.

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Fort Cornwallis
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When Captain Francis Light landed on this spot in 1786 and took the island from the Sultan he built a wooden fort, Fort Cornwallis, to defend it against the French, Kedah and pirates during the Napoleonic Wars.

Rebuilt in 1808 using Indian convict labour it is the largest and most intact fort in Malaysia. Once protected by a great moat this was filled in after a malaria outbreak in the 1920s.

The famous great cannons guarding Fort Cornwallis date back as far as the 17th century.

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Snake Temple (Hock Hing Keong)
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Snake Temple (Fu Xing Gong) may not be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, but it’s certainly one of the strangest. True to its name, this small Chinese temple in Penang is filled with Wagler’s pit vipers and tree snakes perched on trees and wooden frames throughout. The smoke of the always-burning incense, combined with midday heat, renders the snakes largely immobile, but visitors are still advised to avoid handling the reptiles.

According to local legend, snakes began entering the temple on their own shortly after it was built in the mid nineteenth century, and the monks at the time allowed them to stay. The monks will tell you that the snakes are “blessed,” and that’s why they’ve never bitten anyone.

The temple itself is free to enter, but for a small fee, you can also tour the onsite snake farm where it’s possible to see several species of snakes and handle a few of them under expert supervision.

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More Things to Do in Penang

Penang Hill Funicular Railway

Penang Hill Funicular Railway

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37 Tours and Activities
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Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

30 Tours and Activities
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Komtar

Komtar

7 Tours and Activities
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TeddyVille Museum

TeddyVille Museum

5 Tours and Activities
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Penang House of Music

Penang House of Music

4 Tours and Activities
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