About Penang beaches
Penang is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular island resorts and with good reason. This Malaysian island paradise has been a trading hotspot for centuries, but these days it is tourists who come to soak up the sun and the history while they explore a varied tropical island.
Penang is a resort island with beaches spread right around much of its fringes. The most popular beaches are to the north, in and around the resort of Batu Ferringhi. You can either just soak up the rays on the beach or engage in the range of watersports, with everything from boat trips through to jet skiing and windsurfing. Quieter beaches are available to the south of the island – there are day trips from Batu Ferringhi or you can hire a car and head south in search of your own beach escape.
Beyond the beach:
Penang’s main town of Georgetown has plenty to keep holidaymakers looking for a change from sunbathing occupied. For a bird’s eye view take the funicular up to Penang Hill. Back at street level, the Chinese influence is obvious from the ornate old merchants’ houses, the excellent regional restaurants and the old houses built on stilts overlooking the water.
Hotels can be a good starting point for finding things for younger visitors to do, with children’s clubs and swimming pools. Batu Ferringhi, as a fully-fledged resort, also has plenty to keep youngsters happy with watersports and boat trips. The Penang Butterfly Farm (www.butterfly-insect.com) can also be an interesting diversion.
Budding Buddhists and fans of dramatic architecture should make a beeline for Kek Lok Si temple (southeast of Georgetown). This remarkable religious edifice lies high up in the hills near Georgetown. You have to negotiate both the hill and an array of cheesy souvenir shops en route to the temple, whose 30m (98ft) tall tower is an unmistakable sight. Regular travellers to the region might be able to make out the various architecture styles at play from Chinese to Burmese.
Head into Georgetown and travel back in time to the days when the British Empire presided over Penang. The Eastern and Oriental Hotel (www.e-o-hotel.com) was the hub of the action. It all feels very colonial and to complete the experience you can have a gin and tonic on the verandah, before retiring to the plush The 1885 restaurant for a sumptuous dinner.