Interstate travel has received the go-ahead. Why not take advantage of that with some day trips to neighbouring attractions from your base in Penang?
The most liveable city in Malaysia, one of the top places for retirement in the world, a UNESCO world heritage site to boot and the list of enviable accolades rolls on like the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” Penang really is. If you live in Penang, why will you ever want to leave the island? Not when you have been confined to domestic travel prohibition for the past 6 months, I suppose. And so, to help you extinguish that cabin fever of yours, here is a stack of day trips you can embark on from your residence in Georgetown. Play your cards right, you can strike 2 of these in a single day.
The list of 7 unforgettable interstate day trips you can embark on from Penang begins here:
The old capital of Perak, before it was superseded by Ipoh, has plenty to offer. The verdant lake garden flanked by manicured gardens, imposing rain trees well over a century old, the compact but exceptionally curated zoo, and rustic attractions like Antong Coffee Mill and the heritage trail, can all be done in 6 to 8 hours, leaving your hour-long drive back to Penang fulfilled. Maxwell Hill may be too much of a stretch for a day trip, but if you intend to spend the night in town or up amongst the clouds, you might want to throw in the Night Safari too.
The mangrove forest has long offered transitory respite for migratory birds from as far north as Siberia. Bring along high-powered binoculars or a superzoom camera to catch these avian creatures in their element. There are several islands dotting the estuary and a boat ride can be organised for the observation of these endangered bird species.
There are plenty of angling opportunities in the vast lake forming the piece de resistance of Bukit Merah. Children might enjoy the water theme park, but orang utans will be swooning over naturalists at the Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island Foundation. Elevate your nature experience with a side trip to Kuala Sepetang for a mangrove tour, an excursion to a charcoal factory or a scenic boat ride for a chance encounter with crocodiles and dolphins. Stay for dinner in the sleeping fishing village before heading home.
Off the beaten path and well into the hidden nook, Kuala Sangga is a fishing village seemingly forsaken by modern society. The sole means of transport to and from this impenetrable stilted settlement is by boats from Kuala Sepetang. Houses numbering in the dozens rely on self-power generators and rainwater for sustenance. There is a primary school – somehow surviving the remoteness and impossibility – and a church.
The outgoing type goes to Yan for a climb up to the summit of Gunung Jerai. The somewhat demanding hike consumes around 6 hours. If that’s unpalatable to you, you can also consider alternatives like bringing along your own mountain bike for the several trails carved on the mountainside. There are other less strenuous activities. Admire the endless swathes of paddy fields and take a stroll on the pedestrian-friendly 2.3 km-long Bunting Island Bridge connecting the town with the islet.
Bukit Hijau Recreational Forest
2 hours east of Penang Island lies the 7-tier cascading waterfalls with just as many pools. Instagram photo-ops are aplenty, as well as numerous picnic spots spread all around the crystal clear and uber-cool water. If you have your hiking gear with you, challenge yourself to a 3km ascent to the summit of Gunung Inas at 1,454m above sea level. Another worthy sight located not too distant away is the Sungai Sedim canopy walk.
Bukit Perangin waterfalls
A stone’s throw away from the Malaysian-Thai border, Bukit Perangin waterfalls mesmerise with beautiful, misty spray as opposed to a torrential cascade characterising other waterfalls. The water here is so soothingly gentle that you can walk up to the underhang of the waterfalls for the perfect picture. On the return leg, stop by Alor Setar for its myriad of touristic attractions like the Alor Setar Tower and the one-of-a-kind Zahir Mosque.
This is a bonus and doesn’t count towards the 7 interstate day trips from Penang. Off mainland Penang and sandwiched by the island, Pulau Aman (whose sovereignty rests with Penang) is where well-versed locals head to for their seafood fix. The only way to get in is via a boat departing from Batu Musang Jetty, off Batu Kawan. What to do here? Not much that you can’t accomplish with your appetite.
Hero and feature image credit: Leio McLaren on Unsplash and rahuulphotography/Instagram
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur