Things to do in Penang: The Blue Mansion vs The Peranakan Mansion

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There are lots of things to do in Penang with kids. In fact, the entire country is a great family travel destination, but this particular little island off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia is an especially great place to  learn, eat and play.

Things to do in Penang: The Mansions

If you’re only in town for a week or less, then you’ll never  have time to see and do all that the island has to offer, In this case, you have to make decisions: what Penang attractions are going to be the most enjoyable for your family?

Out of all the interesting places in Penang, there are two historical sites that share a few similarities: the Pinang Peranakan Mansion and the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. Both are fascinating places to visit in Penang, and if you have the time, visit them both.

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However, is your time in Penang limited? Are your kids getting burnt out on historical sightseeing? If that’s the case, then this post is here to give you the pros and cons of these two Penang attractions.

To be clear, despite being similar places of interest, both the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and the Pinang Peranakan Mansion are great things to do in Penang and both worthy of your time. However, if you have to choose one, here are a few pros and cons to consider.

Why visit these mansions?

In keeping with Malaysia’s UNESCO heritage, both the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and the Pinang Peranakan Mansion are the restored former residences of Chinese Malay merchants, and the color and detail in both are truly awe inspiring. Both offer a window into a fascinating era of history, in a place where multiple cultures coexist in a unique way.

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion — Things to do in Penang

This exquisitely restored building is a recreation of the home of a rich Straits Chinese merchant. What does “Straits Chinese” mean? These were often wealthy Chinese traders who settled in places like Penang, Singapore, and Malacca. They maintained Chinese traditions with considerable integration into Malay society. The cultural mix produced amazing art, architecture, jewelry, and food, to list only a few items.

Once you pay for your tickets, you are free to walk room to room. Every square inch seems to be a riot of ornate details. The walls, the floors, the furniture are only the beginning. The first time we went, we hired a guide we hired for the day, but I returned five months later with visiting friends and we had just as good a time despite missing details here and there. In fact, my friends noted the Peranakan Mansion as the most interesting place in Penang.

  • Admission is 20 Malaysian Ringgit. Children under 6 free
  • Open every day 9:30am to 5pm
  • Official Website

Where to eat near the Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Little India is minutes away, and a walk through this part of town is easily one of my favorite things to do in Penang.

If you like Indian food, then check out NR Sweets just around the corner from the mansion. It’s an Indian dessert shop, but also has a cheap and fantastic vegetarian place in the back. The menu is in English and has pictures. You don’t have to be vegetarian to love it.

The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion — Things to do in Penang

Also known as the “Blue Mansion,” the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is also a boutique hotel and restaurant. More well-known than the Peranakan Mansion, the Blue Mansion focuses primarily on the man Cheong Fatt Tze himself and his family.

There are only three 45-minute tours are available each day: at 11:00am, 2:00pm, and 3.30pm. In order to ensure you get in, I suggest arriving early or possibly purchasing tickets ahead of time. To tour the Blue Mansion you must stay with your guide and with the group. You can walk freely through the rooms of the Peranakan Museum, but at the Blue Mansion, you must stay with the guide.

Perhaps we had a less enthusiastic guide, or perhaps the afternoon heat got to us, but we found ourselves falling asleep as she spoke. I followed up later and read what I missed. As I suspected, it is indeed a fascinating slice of history. However, only some kids are going to appreciate his story after waiting around for 45 minutes.

  • Admission: 17 Malaysian ringgit per adult, 8.50 per child under 12 years.
  • Three tours available daily: 11:00am, 2:00pm, and 3.30pm
  • Official website

Penang with Children: Cheong Fat Tze Mansion

Where to eat near the Cheong Fatt Tze Museum

One of our family’s favorite hawker centers sits just next door to the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. Red Garden has one of the wider varieties of food available in Penang. For example, you can find Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, and Philipino stalls in addition to the usual Chinese, Indian and Malay options. The beer ladies here are a little pushy, but a smile and a confident order is the way to go.

Our Verdict

Both of the Blue Mansion and the Peranakan Mansion are super interesting places in Penang and great learning opportunities for child and adult alike. That said, if you only have time for one, then we suggest the Peranakan Mansion. There’s much more to see inside. Moreover, the freedom to walk through at your own pace is the deal-maker. This goes double for those looking for what to do in Penang with kids.

While stunningly beautiful from the outside, the rooms on the Blue Mansion tour seem somewhat empty by comparison. In contrast, the Peranakan museum is stuffed with ornate ceramics, glassware, and intricately carved furniture.

If you and your children prefer history and story to visual stimulation, the Cheong Fatt Tze is the ticket. Stick with the guides and ask questions and you’ll be satisfied. However, if you’re traveling with little ones, then go to the Peranakan Mansion because you are in more control of when you enter and when you leave.

Can you recommend things to do in Penang with kids?

Have you been to Penang with kids? What Penang activities did you enjoy? If someone asked you what to see in Penang, what would you recommend?

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