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Beautiful Penang is a truly multi-cultural Malaysian destination, brimming with UNESCO World Heritage sites and colourful temples. The island features quiet fishing villages, white sandy beaches, busy marketplaces and religious buildings ranging from traditional churches to domed mosques. Cultures from all over the world have had an influenc Penang as it’s grown and developed, which makes it at a particularly interesting cruise destination. Your ship will dock in George Town, at the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal, where some of the island’s biggest attractions are located just moments away.
Penang’s buildings are its biggest attractions. These include mansions, places of worship and historic shophouses which have a shop on the ground floor and a home above. As soon as you leave the cruise ship, you’re in tourist hotspot George Town. If you have time, take a walk around and enjoy the local street art which has been created by Ernest Zacharevic. You can enjoy beautiful Batu Ferringhi, which is a popular beach where you can sit amongst palm trees or shop at the famous Night Market, or can visit Ben’s Vintage Toy Museum to view a private collection of games and toys with the collector’s family as guides. You’ll have no trouble finding something to keep you occupied, however long your Penang shore excursion:
Penang State Museum
If you’re keen to learn about the island, then the Penang State Museum is the best place to start. Artefacts and exhibitions go into great detail, telling you all you need to know about life on the island and the incredible fusion of culture that makes it so unique.
Kek Lok Si-Temple of Supreme Bliss
This is the largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia, and certainly brings in the crowds. Tourists flock to the temple to view the building itself, and to ride the funicular railway up to the statue of Kuan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.
Penang Butterfly Farm
This attraction’s name doesn’t do it justice. As well as a huge collection of tropical butterflies, it’s home to other insects as well as snakes, lizards, turtles and a range of other reptiles. It’s a big animal attraction, and even features an on-site art gallery and a souvenir shop.
Penang’s markets are the best place to go for typical holiday souvenirs, ranging from keyrings and fridge magnets to bags and items of jewellery. The island’s speciality is the creation of beautiful beaded shoes, which are sold from stalls but can be custom made to order in some of Penang’s shops. Spices and herbs are a favourite with foodies, whilst the Lorong Kulit flea market is ideal for bargain-hunters that want affordable antique and second-hand items. It’s not unusual to see street performers as you walk through local markets. They’re often performing for money, and will put on colourful displays that tend to draw crowds. Stop and watch, if you have time. Should you prefer a more modern shopping experience, you’ll be able to visit one of the US-style shopping malls which house well-known chains and, occasionally, their own cinemas.
Penang is considered by many to be Malaysia’s food capital. It’s an island of variety with authentic foods from around the world, and unique fusions that you won’t find anywhere else. Its Chinese bakeries are famous, and you won’t want to leave without sampling the flavoured breads and traditional biscuits prepared fresh to order. Most cruisers find that rather than sitting in a restaurant, they can move through Penang visiting the hundreds of food stalls to sample a range of flavours.
Traditional Penang dishes include spiced fish, noodles, soups, white rice, prawn fritters and oyster omelettes. Visit one of the island’s fishing villages, such as Teluk Bahang, for the freshest and most flavourful seafood. Desserts range from coconut tarts to the durian fruit that’s unique to the island, and meals can be accompanied by a hot drink of tea.
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