6 of the finest spots to visit in the evolving town of Penang, Malaysia

Home to Penang’s international airport, Bayan Lepas is evolving to become a promising hub for real estate investors

The town’s economic activity ranges from tech and manufacturing to insurance and MICE conventions. MikeFuchslocher/Shutterstock

This scenic seafront town near George Town first landed on the map in the late 19th century when a wealthy family arrived by sea from Sumatra and lost their pet bird. The mishap—according to urban folklore—gave name to the nascent settlement. Bayan Lepas translates as “escaped parakeet”. It had been a rural rice-farming village until the founding of a free industrial zone in 1972 transformed its fortunes. Now a bustling place with by far the largest population in southwestern Penang, the town’s economic activity ranges from tech and manufacturing to insurance and MICE conventions. In addition, plentiful retail options, schools, and a top sports arena ensure that it’s become a magnet for both investors and house-seeking families.

Havana Beach Residences

Ideal Property Group’s sprawling resort-style development draws on a bright palette inspired by Cuba’s Spanish colonial architecture, and comprises a central 50-storey building, with an impressive 1,342 units in total targeted at young families. Offering both communal spaces and private zones, with balcony views throughout and large windows, it promotes good ventilation and natural lighting. Design prowess aside, Havana’s principal draw is its proximity to (super)markets, malls, and facilities serving work, leisure, and living needs. These include multiple schools, the LRT, a free trade zone, an airport, and Asia’s longest sea bridge (connecting the island to mainland Malaysia). A playground, clubhouse, gym, infinity pool, and golfing green enhance the tropical-holiday allure of this city-centre locale.

QuayWest Residence

This ambitious, twin-tower waterfront condominium complex in the Queens Bay area from award-winning developers Asia Green Group houses 1,235 units. It caters to affluent young Penangites with its easy access to key transport hubs, local business areas, educational institutions, and F&B/retail hubs. Akin to a five-star hotel, QuayWest offers imperious views with a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the sea. Towards its centre lies a lush, landscaped garden area filled with amenities such as private cabanas, hot tubs, a gym, and a children’s playground. Units are ready to occupy for those wishing to luxuriate at this project.

2F+ Coffee Roastery

Housed in a greenhouse-like structure with a small garden at its entrance, 2F+ is a decade-old franchise with two Penang cafés and an international branch in Bangkok. Its contemporary interior makes a conducive setting for a young crowd to sample the eclectic range of coffees on offer. Beans hail from South/Central America (Costa Rica, Colombia) and Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya). A venue for serious coffee aficionados, there’s a huge range of superior paraphernalia on sale, while on-site workshops cover subjects ranging from latte art to barista skills for aspiring service staff. But 2F+ also doubles as an all-day eatery with an impressive array of locally inspired comfort food, along with sumptuous waffles and desserts. Pop-up events and flea markets have helped make this the number-one café in Bayan Lepas on TripAdvisor.


With a name playing on the colour foremost in its décor, this seafood eatery and steakhouse was established in 2019. French in spirit but more cosmopolitan in reality, Spink is a true original to Bayan Lepas’ otherwise formulaic restaurant scene. The eclectic menu—sample dishes include oyster sashimi, multiple lobster iterations, and pumpkin spaghetti—demonstrates real creativity, along with a sense of fun injected into the branding (party bookings are common). Aside from a bespoke cocktail area, the owners have installed a “spinning machine” where MYR20 gives diners a potluck gamble on an extra side dish, a novelty designed to lure jaded visitors or guests on a first date. A new hot-pot spin-off is set inside a series of scenic domes at nearby Air Itam.

Queensbay Mall

Spread over two-and-a-half million square feet, Queensbay Mall—equidistant from Bayan Lepas and George Town—is the largest retail space in Penang. Operated by Singapore-based CapitaLand Retail, this shopping behemoth opened in 2006 and runs across five floors. An all-under-one-roof lifestyle space, it houses a comprehensive range of more than 400 stores (including a supermarket), as well as an eight-screen Golden Screen Cinema, plentiful cafés, and restaurants—even a top-floor karaoke joint and a laser-tag facility. Attracting a sizeable number of big-name international brands, the best-known tenants in Queensbay are Borders bookstore, fashion retailers Gap, British India, Timberland, Starbucks, and Häagen-Dazs. The mega mall’s seaside location adds to its appeal as the pre-eminent family shopping destination on the island.

Snake Temple (Hock Hin Keong)

Reportedly the world’s only Chinese temple to be inhabited by snakes, Hock Hin Keong is a unique attraction built in 1805 as a monument to benevolent Buddhist monk Chor Soo Kong, known for his numerous good deeds including healing the sick. Now a pilgrimage site for visitors from across the Chinese diaspora, over the years it’s become notable for attracting species of poisonous pit vipers, who are rendered harmless by the constant burning of incense (as a precaution, the resident serpents have their venom removed anyway). Aside from numerous incense coils and shrines, two brick wells and two giant brass bells hold court, while a snake-breeding centre has also been established there. The temple was also featured on the reality adventure series The Amazing Race.

The original version of this article appeared in Issue No. 174 of PropertyGuru Property Report Magazine. Write to our editors at [email protected].