Penang is surprisingly well placed for day trips around much of northern Peninsula Malaysia, as it is close to many appealing cities, towns, beaches and island attractions. Langkawi is a popular group of islands numbering no less than 99 and situated some 30 km (19 mi) off the coastline of north-westerly Malaysia, where their coastal attractions are within easy reach of Penang and much visited.
Day trips and excursions are also eminently possible to Malaysian locations such as Alor Star, Butterworth, Ipoh, Kota Bharu and the Perhentian Islands. Even the attractions of Hat Yai in Thailand are within reach of Penang, where sights to see include the Ton Nga Chang Waterfall, and the Wat Hat Yai Nai – a huge Buddha statue measuring around 15 m (49 ft) high and just over 34 m (15 ft) in length.
Alor Star serves as the state capital and is a large city, currently called home by more than 300,000 residents and lying on the western coastline of the Malaysia peninsula. Known for its cultural attractions and paddy plantations, sightseeing opportunities within Alor Star include the State Art Gallery (Balai Seni Negeri), the contemporary Royal House at Lorong Shariff, the towering Menara Alor Star, and also the Zahir State Mosque, which is reputed to be amongst Malaysia's finest.
Hat Yai is located directly to the north of Penang and actually resides within southern Thailand, in the Songkhla Province, where it is the fourth-biggest city within the whole country. There are a number of tempting attractions spread around the city, such as the Hat Yai Municipal Park, which serves as an important recreational space.
The Malaysian city of Ipoh is the capital of the Perak station and around some 140 km (87 mi) to the southwest of Penang Island. Ipoh has grown up around the Kinta River, which today is divided into the Old Town and the New Town areas. The Old Town district of Ipoh is known for its large lake, Japanese garden and recreational attractions, all of which are to be found within the Coronation Park. The acclaimed limestone caves of Ipoh also deserve a mention, with the cave temple of Kek Lok Tong being a must-see.
Pulau Langkawi is the biggest of the Langkawi islands and features a population of more than 40,000 people. Tourists flock to Pulau Langkawi in their droves, to take full advantage of the glorious sandy beaches, the tropical scenery, and the endless nature-based attractions. Popular island beaches include the Burau Bay, the Pantai Cenang and also the Pantai Kok.
Seberang Perai is the name of the region located directly to the east of Penang and is literally just a matter of minutes away, across the connecting bridge. The number one attraction within Seberang Perai is the town of Butterworth, where much of the action takes place. Particular favourites within Butterworth include the Penang Bird Park, which contains in excess of 300 different species of birds, originating from throughout Southeast Asia.
Taiping is within the state of Perak and on the westerly coastline of Peninsula Malaysia, being around a 90-minute drive from Penang. Those who make the effort to come to Taiping will find attractions in the form of the Lake Gardens, Taiping Zoo and its Night Safaris, the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve and the elevated Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) hill station. Food in Taiping comes cheap and is usually very tasty and memorable.