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George Town ~ Places to Visit in Penang Island
KL Visitors Guide


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PENANG ISLAND ~ GEORGE TOWN


Though it is an island of rich Chinese heritage, it also has other cultures
mingled in to provide a unique blend of diversity.

Crossing over the scenic 13.5 Km Penang Bridge, you will most probably be inclined to go left to its capital, George Town. There is no doubt that some of best places of interest to visit is within the historic city of Georgetown.


George Town
Located on the north-east corner of Penang Island, George Town is the capital of the state of Penang.

Named after Britain's King George III, George Town was founded on 11 August 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for the British East India Company as base for the company in the Malay States.
He built Fort Cornwallis on the north-eastern corner of the island which became the centre of a growing trading post.

Here you will be able to visit some of the old building and heritage site while exploring its quaint nooks and crannies. The places of interest include Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Khoo Kongsi, Fort Cornwallis, Museum, Temples, Churches and many more. Also you can feast on the many delicacies from hawker street stalls, visit the local coffee shops or one of the numerous restaurants to be found in almost every street that suit all tastes

In George Town, following is probably the best places to visit –

Street of Harmony
Situated along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, the stretch is peppered with various places of worship and devotees wandering out and about. A short walk along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, otherwise known as the ‘Street of Harmony’, draws together the town’s four main religions and provides a quick, easy tour of its different communities
Here, you'll catch the likes of Masjid Kapitan Keling, Kuan Yin Temple, St. George's Church (pictured), Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Little India and Khoo Kongsi at each turn


St George’s Church - Start at the northern end of the street, at the junction of Lebuh Farquar, where the bright white edifice of St George’s Church remains a lasting testimonial to Penang’s British colonial roots. Built in 1816, it was the first Anglican church in Southeast Asia, and architecture aficionados will appreciate its impressive Georgian Palladian design.

In the green lawn at the front, shaded by ancient-looking mahogany trees, is where you can also find a Greek temple-style memorial to Sir Captain Francis Light, founder of British colonial Penang.


Kuan Yin Temple - Few hundred metres to the north of the church is the spiritual centre of the Chinese community and another of Penang’s best-known landmarks, the Goddess of Mercy Temple.

You will smell it before you see it, thanks to an array of giant pink smoking joss sticks in the forecourt. Dating back to 1800, the existing Chinese temple is one of Penang’s oldest surviving buildings and features an extraordinary number of dragons on its carved stone pillars and roof ridges.

The inner chamber, with its hanging red lanterns and 18-armed statue of the goddess herself, is particularly atmospheric at dusk, when devotees come to pray.


Little India -Just next to the temple is a small Hindu shrine and it is testament to Penang’s multicultural diversity that you will see both Indians and Chinese standing in front to make prayers. The shrine marks the next cultural transition, and to the east, along Lebuh Pasar and its neighbouring streets, is Little India.

Covering an area around Lebuh Queen, Lebuh Chulia and Jalan Pasar (Market Street, this enclave features a thriving and vibrant collection of historic attractions - places of worship, shops, restaurants, florists, barbers, astrologers, millers, money changers, textile merchants, jewelers, fruit sellers and herb dealers.

Bright colours, strong smells, loud music, nothing is subtle here. If you get hungry or thirsty, there is no short supply of delicious food and drinks to satisfy you.

The Sri Maha Mariamman Temple - Also situated in Little India is Penang’s oldest Hindu temple which was built in 1833.

However, it was only in 1933 that the temple acquired its present form after undergoing extensive renovations.

The temple’s colourful gopuram (tower) features 38 statues, including the patron goddess Amman in all her various incarnations. Inside, the temple is just as colourful, and the statue of Lord Subramaniam, which is embellished with gold, diamonds and emeralds, is impressive.

The temple is only open in the mornings and evenings and is closed between 12:00 and 16:00, so time your visit accordingly.


Kapitan Keling Mosque - As you continue along the road, the minaret and domes of the imposing Kapitan Keling Mosque appear above the rooftops to the west.

Built by the Tamil Muslim community, it is named after Caudin Mydin Merican, who was the Kapitan Keling – literally, Captain of the South Indians – at the time.

The building is a curious mix of styles, combining colonial architecture with traditional Moorish arches, and its interior features some fantastic stained glass and calligraphy panels.


Chinatown
Chulia Street Penang (Lebuh Chulia) cuts through the centre of Chinatown in the heart of the old part of Georgetown on Penang Island and has been for decades the place where backpackers head to first when they arrive in Penang Island, offering cheap Penang accommodation, with dozens of budget guesthouses and hostels along its path and in the surrounding roads like Love Lane and Muntri Street.

Here you will find places to rent motorbikes, rent bicycles, internet shops, change your foreign currency at one of the many money changers that also act as book exchange shops, travel agents selling bus tickets and flights to all destinations in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and beyond.

Places of interest in this part of town is the Khoo Kongsi clan house (end of Lebuh Pitt, Jln Masjid Kapitan Keling) and the Cheong FattTze Mansion ( Lebuh Leith).


The Khoo Kongsi
The Khoo Kongsi is is a large Chinese clanhouse with elaborate and highly ornamented architecture. The complex boasts a magnificent hall embellished with intricate carvings and richly ornamented beams of the finest wood bearing the mark of master craftsmen from China.

Built on a beautiful courtyard, the clan temple is dedicated to the clan's patron deities and also houses a collection of ancestral tablets.

Founded by Hokkien immigrant workers who came to Penang to seek greater fortune, the clanhouse was set up promote clan solidarity and to foster Confucian core values such as filial piety and respect for the elders.

It is situated at the southwest of Georgetown, and its pivotal building, Leong San Tong, is hidden amidst the crowded gridiron of terrace houses and pre-war shop houses,
 

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
This distinctive blue colour of the mansion was built by the Chinese merchant Cheong Fatt Tze, at the end of 19th century.
The architecture of the mansion however originates from the Su Chow Dynasty Period in China.
Its features include Gothic louvered windows, Chinese cut and paste porcelain work, Stoke-on-Trent floor tiles made of encaustic clay in geometric pieces all shaped to fit to a perfect square.

Artisans were shipped in from Southern China expressly for the project, and building materials were imported from as far away as Scotland.

With both Asian traditions and Western influence adorning the interior, it was Cheong Fatt Tze’s manifestation of success during his lifetime (after all, the man had 8 wives, concubines, hand-maidens, 8 sons and 6 daughters!).

Also called ‘The Blue Mansion’, the distinctive blue colour of the mansion is the result of mixing lime with natural blue dye made from the Indigo plant.

The lime-wash was very effective in a tropical weather as it absorbed moisture and cooled the house whilst dispelling moisture without damage to the structural integrity of the walls.

The mansion is quite famous, having been aired on various international television channels such as CNN, BCC, The History Channel, Discovery Travel & Living as well being a location setting for some movies.

Admission fee RM 16.00 per person
Daily guided heritage tours of the house (in English) at 11am / 2pm / 3.30pm
 

Landmarks ~ Places to Visit in Penang Island
 

Best Way to Visit - 2 to 3 Days to Penang Overland Tours
Overland Tours from K. Lumpur that takes in some leisurely sights along the way and tour around Penang Island.


PLACES & SIGHTSEEING ~ OVERLAND TOURING FROM KL
TOURING NORTH TO PENANGPENANG ISLANDMALACCATAMAN NEGARA
• PANGKOR ISLAND CAMERON HIGHLANDS • LANGKAWI • PENINSULA OVERLAND
 

 

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