Dubbed the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is teeming with culture, heritage, art and mouth-watering street food. Charter a helicopter and experience the charming Malaysian island’s delights from above.
As one of Malaysia’s most-treasured tourist destinations, Penang attracts scores of visitors annually – and it’s easy to see why. The UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site is where east and west and ancient and contemporary worlds collide.
Home to the vibrant capital of George Town, a diverse food scene, ancient forts and temples, pristine beaches and a collection of unique architecture, Penang has something to whet everyone’s appetite.
Here are some of the island’s highlights. Explore them by foot before hitting the skies to enjoy incredible bird’s eye views from the comfort of a helicopter.
Discover George Town
The island’s colourful capital is steeped in history, with heritage and culture lurking around every corner. It also perfectly melds modern Asia, with the city famed for stunning urban art that adorns walls along winding narrow alleys.
The city’s history dates back more than 500 years, when it was a small Malaysian village. Since then, it has expanded into Malaysia’s second largest city while managing not to lose any of its charm. In 2008, it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
The quaint Old Town is steeped in history and dotted with well-preserved ancient attractions and relics perfect for exploring on foot. Alternatively, book a helicopter tour that take in aerial views of George Town, or round out the day with something special and hire a helicopter to soak up sunset views of the city from the sky.
Alternative Views of Penang Hill
Penang Hill stands proud as the first colonial hill station to be developed in Peninsular Malaysia. Comprising Western Hill, Bukit Laksamana, Tiger Hill, Flagstaff Hill and Government Hill, it sits 6km from Georgetown and teeters 821m above the island’s capital.
It is also Penang’s last patch of tropical rainforest, with the delightful array of flora and fauna there protected since 1960. The area is home to viewing decks, trails that snake through jungle, restaurants and tea terraces, temples and a resort.
Most visitors choose to explore the area on foot, catching the funicular train up the hill or choosing to tackle the stairs. Why not get on a high and enjoy unparalleled views of the popular tourist spot from above and charter a helicopter to soar the skies?
Marvel at Kek Lok Si Temple
Nestled atop a hill at Air Itam, Kek Lok Si holds the title of Malaysia’s largest Buddhist temple. Dating back to 1890, the temple was first conceived by devout immigrant Chinese-Buddhist Beow Lean, who bought the site and spent 20 years creating the structure.
The sprawling complex is divided into three areas that are dotted with a series of monasteries, prayer halls, temples and beautifully-landscaped gardens studded with large ponds.
Kek Lok Si’s main draw is its striking seven-storey Pagoda of Rama VI, which boasts 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha. The 30.2m bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, is another popular highlight with visitors. Again, the temple’s ornate beauty and design can be lapped up from the comfort of a helicopter.
As Malaysia’s largest standing fort, Fort Cornwallis offers an interesting insight into Penang’s rich colonial history. Set close to the Esplanade and Penang Clocktower, the star-shaped bastion is home to original structures and artefacts.
The 18th century fort was first built in timber o by Captain Francis Light in 1786 and was upgraded in 1804. The site is home to a chapel, jail, canons, a lighthouse and magazines that attract scores of visitors daily.
After exploring the history-soaked site by foot, why not charter a helicopter or book an aerial tour that takes in Fort Cornwallis and lap up special views of the ancient fort from the comfort of a helicopter.