x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Penang has plenty for the kids

Ask the Expert: A toy museum, a snake temple and a butterfly farm are among the attractions children will enjoy.

We're going on a short family trip to Penang in April. While I'm looking forward to the heritage walks around George Town and my wife is planning a culinary journey around the city, can you suggest any places to see and things to do that the children would really enjoy?

Penang is one of the best places to visit if you have children in tow, not least because it is home to Asia's largest toy museum. Located in Jalan Tanjung Bungah, Malaysia, it has more than 100,000 fun things to check out, and is divided into sections that include a "dinosaur cave" and a "hall of cartoons". Open from 9am to 8pm daily; entrance is 10 Malaysian ringgit (Dh14) for adults and six ringgit (Dh7) for children under 12.

The Chor Soo Kong Temple or snake temple in Batu Maung is famous for the pit vipers (their venom has been removed) that live on the premises. Built in 1850, the temple is full of colourful decorations and has views over Batu Maung village. It is open from 6am to 7pm daily.

Another great place to spend an afternoon is the Penang Butterfly Farm in Teluk Bahang - it doubles as a breeding research centre and recreational park with nearly 120 species of butterflies - 4,000 in number - flying around the lush gardens. It is open 9am to 5.30pm from Monday to Friday and 9am to 6pm on weekends and public holidays. Entrance is 27 ringgit (Dh33) for adults and 15 ringgit (Dh18) for children under 12.

A ride up Penang Hill, a resort about six kilometres from George Town, is worth a day trip. It has hiking and walking trails, botanic gardens, small streams and a couple of old temples. It is accessible by a 5km road or "Jeep track", as it is locally called. Penang Hill Railway, a funicular rail service established in 1923 that connects the various points around the hill, will reopen next month after a year of extensive renovations, and is the best way to get around the hilly retreat.

Don't leave Penang without paying a visit to Wat Chayamangkalaram (open 6am to 5.30pm daily) in Lorong Burmah. It houses a 33-metre-long, gold-plated reclining Buddha, which is quite impressive, but the children will like to wander in the gardens - they are decorated with tiny shrines, and statues of Buddha and mythical creatures.

If you're planning to explore George Town, hire a trishaw - the pedal-powered cycle rickshaws are inexpensive (40 ringgit; Dh48 per hour) and the children will enjoy the ride.

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