Exploring the culture in Penang

Rows of Chinese New Year lanterns in front of Kek Lok Si

Rows of Chinese New Year lanterns in front of Kek Lok SiPenang is a unique place, which embraces a fusion of both eastern and western influences. If you’re travelling to Penang as part of a personalised Malaysia holiday, you won’t be disappointed. You should definitely anticipate spending your days taking in the sights and immersing yourself in this fascinating and diverse culture.

Your Penang itinerary

There are myriad things to see and do in Penang so it’s a good idea to go armed with a rough itinerary to make sure that you don’t miss any highlights. Here are some of the best cultural sights and experiences on offer:

Kek Lok Si Temple

Perched on the top of a hill in the small town of Air Itam, Kek Lok Si Temple is a complex of pagodas and temple buildings which celebrate Buddhism and channels influences and traditions from Thailand, China and Burma. The most spectacular sight here is the seven-tiered Pagoda of 1000 Buddhas, which houses a dazzling array of statues made from precious metals adorned with gems. Another jewel in the crown is the statue of the Four Heavenly Kings, which features four statues pointing out to the north, south, east and west, surrounding a memorial to the Laughing Buddha in the centre.

Fort Cornwallis

One of Penang’s most iconic landmarks, Fort Cornwallis, is a symbol of the rich history of Penang. Malaysia’s largest surviving fort, this historic structure was named after Marquis Charles Cornwallis, who was the Governor General of Bengal at the time of construction. The fort was built in the 18th Century by the British East India Company.

Penang Khoo Khongsi

Penang Khoo Khongsi represents a nod to the Chinese influence in Penang’s cultural heritage. This ornate building served as a clan house, which belonged to the Khoo family. The structure is also known as Dragon Mountain Hall and it is thought to be a symbol of good luck and fortune. The exterior features intricate carvings and detailed stone facades, while the interior is decorated with murals depicting scenes from family celebrations.

Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram

This Thai temple, which dates back to 1845, is home to one of Penang’s most visited statues – the Reclining Buddha. Measuring 33 metres, this giant Buddha is the third largest in the world. The temple also boasts a series of smaller Buddhas in addition to a collection of vivid murals, which tell the captivating story of Buddha’s life.