The Most Beautiful Architecture in Penang, Malaysia

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang | © Phalinn Ooi / Flickr
Michelle Leong

Penang isn’t just Komtar and 19th-century townhouses. Check out these other examples of beautiful architecture in the ever-popular Malaysian town.

Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge


More simply known as “The Second Bridge,” this winding masterpiece is 15 miles (24 km) long, making it the longest bridge in Southeast Asia. It connects the southwest of Penang Island (Batu Maung) to the southeast of the mainland (Batu Kawan). You’ll want to see it after sunset — it looks like a snake twisting through black water.

City Hall


City Hall | © MMPOP/Shutterstock
© MMPOP / Shutterstock
Located at the westernmost point of Penang Island, this majestic building is a funky formula of Neo-Baroque and Palladian architectural styles, featuring colonnades, arched windows, and a sharp rooftop silhouette.

Built in 1903 at a cost of $100,000 (that’s $2 million in today’s money), this prime real estate now houses the Municipal Council of Penang Island. Yes, all you parking lot violators — this is where you pay for your ticket.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang
© Phalinn Ooi / Flickr

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

Fondly known as “The Blue Mansion,” this heritage building is the legacy of wealthy 19th-century merchant, Cheong Fatt Tze. It features Chinese “air well” courtyards, English encaustic clay tiles and Scottish cast iron works — a reflection of the merchant’s eclectic tastes, really.

Tour times are at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily. Adult tickets cost RM17 ($4.30). If you can afford it, you might as well stay at their exclusive suites, too. Prices range upwards of RM500 ($126).

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion | © Phalinn Ooi / Flickr | © Phalinn Ooi / Flickr

Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple

Hindu Temple

Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple

Not all that glitters is gold. This ornate South Indian Hindu temple is located in the wilds of Seberang Jaya, the mainland part of Penang. With the largest gopuram (a sculpture tower featuring floral motifs and statue deities) in Malaysia, this gold-gilded temple was erected at the impressive cost of RM2.3 million ($580,727) to serve the needs of local Hindus. Tourists don’t often visit this temple, given its distance from George Town, but if you’re driving in from other parts of the peninsula, this will make an interesting stop-over.

Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple | © Shankar s. / Flickr

Eastern & Oriental Hotel


Patio overlooking the sea at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang, Malaysia | © Eastern & Oriental Hotel
© Eastern & Oriental Hotel
Quite possibly the most expensive hotel in Penang, the “E&O” dates all the way back to 1885. The Sarkies Brothers decided to build this luxury accommodation for the British colonialists and wealthy merchants who passed through the Straits.

Renowned literati have passed through its doors, including Hermann Hesse, Rudyard Kipling, and Somerset Maugham. And why not? With over 100 rooms, a panoramic seafront, and faux cast iron-framed verandahs, anyone could be inspired to write the next Pulitzer.

Kek Lok Si

Kek Lok Si
© Jorge Cancela/Flickr

Kek Lok Si

Part of this temple is currently under construction, but if you don’t mind a bit of scaffolding, then head on up to Air Itam for the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. Cultural Buddhism makes itself transparent here — mythical dragons, Chinese goddesses, and small Buddha figurines line the walls, ceilings and walkways in this complex of temples. You’ll need to take the cable train to the statue of Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy), who stands at 120 ft. (36.57 meters) tall, under an even taller pavilion.

Do yourself a favor, and visit during Chinese New Year when it looks like this:

Display of Lights at Kek Lok Si | © summer/Shutterstock

Penang State Mosque


Penang State Mosque
© Artaporn Puthikampol / Shutterstock
The biggest mosque in Penang isn’t in the old town, a fact that may surprise first-time visitors. Designed by the Filipino architect Efren Brindez Paz, this mosque sits on 4.6 hectares of land. It has a central golden dome bearing the Islamic crest and star, supported by curved arches not unlike the fingers of God. Avoid visiting on Fridays between noon and 3.00 p.m., unless you like getting stuck in human traffic.

Convent Light Street


Convent Light Street

Convent Light Street

The oldest missionary girls’ school in Southeast Asia has a haunting history. In World War II, the Japanese took over this boarding school and turned it into an interrogation base for American Prisoners of War. You can still see the prisoners’ etchings on the walls. It’s been said that the primary school is haunted.

Depending on your luck, you may or may not get past the security guard. Visitors are rarely allowed in during school hours, but if the security guard lets you through, be sure to check out Old Well, the Government House, and the Old Chapel.

Convent Light Street | © Michelle Leong

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Holiday Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article