There is more to Penang than its popular chendol/cendol, Armenian Street and heritage. We explored outdoor activities that will make you challenge yourself while seeing Penang from a different angle. Hint: high above, deep in the forest and in a dark place.
Insects: Tropical Spice Garden
Enter a quaint forest while enjoying the breeze, nature and fragrance. The Tropical Spice Garden is home to many local and foreign plants.
Guides there are informative and will point out different plants to you. I learnt that Star Anise is high in steroids and though it does not improve performance, it can be detected in athletes’ urine tests. How intriguing.
One of the four giant swings in Penang hangs here.
You might be able to see some wildlife as these forests are natural and extensive. Firstly, we managed to spot this Wrangler’s Pit Viper.
Did you know that you can identify the sex of this species by looking at the size and colour? Males are generally smaller and have red markings on them. On the other hand, females, like the one pictured below, are green and yellowish.
Secondly, there is also a resident bee’s nest in the garden. The bees make the funnel with tree resin and a apply a fresh layer to disinfect themselves upon entering.
These bees are helpful pollinators and do not sting you. However, they can enter your hair, ears or nose to pull on your hair and irritate you if you disturb them.
Thirdly, you might also be able to catch some monkeys in action. There are two main species of monkeys here, the good and the evil. The naughtier monkeys, Long Tailed Macaques, might even try to snatch your belongings.
The Lango Monkeys are the gentler ones pictured below. These monkeys are shy creatures that hide from humans that make too much commotion.
You can buy fresh spices in the gift shop as well as take up cooking lessons on Tuesday through Sunday. The classes have 10 individual stoves and counters where you can learn how to make predominantly Nyonya cuisine.
Enjoy a 45-minute express audio tour cost RM29, RM 17, R23 and RM23 for adults, children, seniors and students respectively. The live guided tour takes over an hour and costs RM49, RM25, RM39 and RM39 for adults, children, seniors and students respectively.
For those who really hate creepy crawlies, there is Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm, that has about 50 species of butterflies, a small fraction of over a thousand species found in Malaysia. A self-taught entomologist (someone who studies insects) opened this in 1986.
The friendly butterflies fly close by as they are used to humans, but please watch your step because the butterflies like laying on the ground.
Foreigners will be charged RM65 for adults and RM45 for seniors and children. MyKad holders pay RM49 for adults and RM29 for seniors and children.
Heights: The Gravityz @ Komtar
It is hard to miss Komtar, the tallest building in Penang and the sixth tallest building in Malaysia. The world’s highest reopen course lies on the 65th level at The Top @ Komtar.
The view is breathtaking from the inside but it is especially gorgeous from the outside.
This is the wonderful view when you step outside. Yes, onto the edge of the building with The Gravityz, a new attraction that just launched on 10th February 2018.
The course is a 360 walk around the building and it includes six different challenges. The challenges are the confidence path, high bench, a great bridge, x-point (lookout area), z-wire (zip line) and g-rocky (balancing).
The zip line was cool as it has no floor or net support below like most zip lines. Surprisingly, the scariest was actually the g-rocky as you have to go hands-free. One writer had a fear of heights but she managed to complete the whole circuit. She did so thanks to the guides’ encouragement, the stunning view and the fun of the process.
For the fainter hearted, there is the rainbow walk on the 68th floor. This U-shaped transparent glass walkway that lets you see all of Penang.
If you just want to soak in the view, there is a restaurant on The Top with indoor and outdoor seating. As a diner, the entrance fee is included in the 5-course dinner package for RM198.
Tickets for The Gravityz are like airline fares that fluctuate based on season and they range from RM90 to RM399. People from Penang can enjoy a special rate of RM79 with a free T-shirt.
Another alternative if you prefer something closer to the ground but equally enjoyable, ESCAPE is a playground for everyone, with a ropes element course and a 4.5-hectare water play park with over 20 rides. You will forget about any fear when you’re sliding down or monkeying around.
It truly is for everyone as their price list states that it is free for future kids (0-3), RM90 for junior kids (4-12), RM136 for big kids (13-60) and RM90 for super kids (61-100+). Purchase your tickets online to enjoy a 15% discount.
The one and only Ghost Museum in Penang is a 3-storey museum that has ghosts from all over the world. This is truly a museum, with information about the different countries and free props for photographs. All visits will come with a free guided tour too.
The first floor houses Malaysian, Chinese and Egyptian ghosts and the second floor has Japanese tales, pirates and Dracula. The Zombie Attack is a new attraction on the third floor.
This is not a haunted house so there won’t be anyone waiting to jump out from a corner. Interested parties should come when they transform into a haunted house on one night only – Halloween.
Adults will have to pay RM28 while seniors, children and students pay RM16.
If you’re interested in visiting Penang, you can stay in one of these hotels and fly directly via Malindo Air. They offer 25kg and 10kg baggage allowance for check in and carry on respectively. Best of all, they have extra leg room. Malindo Air has 4 flights to KL and 1 flight to Penang daily.
Pictures by Carissa Wong.
Ready to go? Here are 4 new and improved hotels in Penang.