Taking your kids to learn some history and culture in Southeast Asia is a wonderful thing. But, you can’t forget that they’re still kids.
Penang, Malaysia is a great place to start an educational trip to this amazing region. But most kids will last only a few hours on the muggy streets of George Town looking at the UNESCO buildings (but entice an extended stay out of them with a tri-shaw ride and by tallying up all the street art they can find). And you’ll need a break from making sure they keep out of the path of motorbikes and don’t fall into gutters in this city with few sidewalks.
So, where else do you take them, and where should you stay so that they can get in some kid time?
The island of Penang is a manageable size and easy to circumnavigate by bus or car (although there is some traffic). Staying out at Batu Ferringhi beach is a great option for families who want a mix of culture, fun and relaxing.
Consider the PARKROYAL Penang, part of the Pan Pacific hotel group: it is right on the beach and has lots of features that both parents and kids will love.
Once you’ve settled in to the PARKROYAL Penang, wandered around the clan jetties, Fort Cornwallis, and the historic buildings in George Town, here are some recommendations for a mix of kid-friendly culture and fun on the island of Penang:
- ESCAPE Adventureplay Theme Park: a theme park, but one that relies on people power, so kids will burn off their energy climbing, zip lining, leaping, caving and “zoom bugging”. www.Escape.my
- Tropical Fruit Farm: over 250 types of tropical and sub-tropical fruits from around the world to learn about and sample. www.tropicalfruits.com.my
- Toy and Wax Museum: after exploring the world’s largest private collection of toys, challenge the kids to find the carnivorous plants in the adjoining heritage garden. www.toymuseum-heritagegarden.com
- Penang Youth Park: wading pools, swings, slides, bridges, a giant chess set, and even monitor lizards and monkeys.
- Penang Butterfly Farm: learn about the fauna of Penang with more than 50 species of butterflies, plus frogs and insects. Wear bright colours and you’re likely to wear some butterflies too. www.butterfly-insect.com
- Floating Mosque: this beautiful mosque is large enough for 1500 worshippers and has a 7-story minaret. Great way to teach kids about different religions.
- Kek Lok Si Temple: the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, plus kids can feed the turtles and fish, and ride in a cool glass elevator.
Blog and pictures by Johanna Read