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Travel Logs June 2017

Compulsive Traveler

Penang: The Must Visit in 2017

By Sandra Scott

Georgetown, the capital of Penang, is a cosmopolitan center with old-world touches. There are gleaming white colonial buildings, Chinese shop houses, high-end stores, and street markets. It is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.

Where is Penang you may ask. It is a Malaysian island separated from the mainland by the Malacca Strait. Penang is on several lists of great places people should visit during their lifetime. It is Number One on Forbes’ list of budget places to visit; also it is second on CNN’s list of “The 17 Best Places to Visit in 2017.” It is easy to see why. Everyone will find something of interest to see and do. English is widely spoken and Americans do not need a visa for a stay up to three months.

  1. Beaches: The biggest draw for most foreigners is the warm, sunny climate and the beaches, especially those in Batu Ferringhi on the calm Bay of Malacca. The area is lined with many resorts. There is even a Hard Rock Café Hotel and a Holiday Inn. Vacationers can enjoy swimming, parasailing, and banana boat riding.
  2. Shopping: In the evening there is a mile-long night market in Batu Ferringhi and other locations, offering great bargains – lots of knock-offs. For high-end items from Harley Davidson to Coach bags, head to one of the many malls such as Gurney Plaza.
  3. Getting around: There is a hop-on hop-off bus with two routes that stop at the most popular places, and unlike similar tour buses, it runs until seven p.m. Taxis are reasonable. Trishaws are a fun way to get around. There is a free CAT bus in Georgetown.
  4. Dining: Penang is a foodie’s paradise. The least expensive and most interesting places to eat are the hawker stalls (open air stalls) that sell inexpensive Asian food. Hotel restaurants cater to the needs of Asians and Westerners with a variety of Indian food, plus there is a McDonald’s and Starbucks.
  5. Nature: The Penang National Park is great for hiking and bird watching. Penang was on the Spice Route so it is not surprising that it is home to an award-wining tropical Spice Garden with more than 500 tropical plants and a great cafe. A do-not miss is the Entopia Butterfly Farm. For a great view take the tram/railway to the top of Penang Hill.
  6. History: After British General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington after the Battle of Yorktown ended the American Revolution, he was sent by the English to secure their important seaport, Penang, in Asia. The fort in Georgetown is named in his honor. There are also several historic houses open to the public. The Clan Jetties, a waterfront village on stilts along a wooden pier that has been home to the Chinese for generations, is especially interesting.
  7. Georgetown: The capital of Penang is a cosmopolitan center with old-world touches. There are gleaming white colonial buildings, Chinese shop houses, high-end stores, and street markets. It is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
  8. Museums: Visitors can spent days visiting the plethora of museums focusing on various topics. There are two camera museums, the Upside Down Museum, a history museum, Wonderfood Museum, and many more unique exhibits.
  9. Art: There is a lot of street art, some of which is three-dimensional. The Penang State Art Gallery is a comprehensive collection devoted to modern and contemporary art. One museum is devoted to batik and another to 3-D Trick art. There are several small galleries and Art Point offers classes and more for all ages.
  10. Religion: Many religions have a strong representation in Penang. There are many Christian churches, the famed floating mosque, plus several Buddhist and Hindu temples. There are frequent religious festivals and celebrations.

 

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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