You find yourself traveling to the bustling area of George Town, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang. When walking down the street, you notice an enormous structure from afar. Towering in all of its glory over the metropolitan heart of the city, the gigantic cylindrical building stands defiantly as a testament of engineering genius and innovation of the Malaysian people. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve just witnessed the Komtar Tower, the once tallest building in Malaysia.
Named after Kompleks Tunku Abul Rahman, the 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia, the tower was an urban renewal effort to improve the area’s image and boost its economy. Originally, the Komtar Tower reached 232 meters into the sky upon its completion in 1986, but a revitalization plan in 2015 brought it up to a dizzying height of 249 meters. This 68-floor structure remains as the tallest skyscraper in Penang nowadays, and the sixth tallest building in all of Malaysia. Its true nature is a multi-purpose complex, where administrative, commercial, and transportation functions are condensed under one roof.
Occupying an 11-hectare area found at the intersection of the Jalan Penang and Jalan Magazine, the so-called Penang New Urban Center consists of a 4-floor podium, three 17-floor housing blocks, and its crown jewel, the Komtar Tower, in the center.
Details of the lower floors
As you would expect, the four lower floors are where the commercial activities take place. Local boutiques and retailers are strewn across the Komtar Penang Mall in an appealing display of catchy music and bright colors. Most of the shops on the first and second floors are specialized in electronic devices, the brands of which you can easily recognize like Nikon, Canon, Samsung, and Apple. The Mall also provides a bus terminal as part of the Rapid Penang Bus System that connects to the entire George Town urban area.
If you fancy yourself as a fashionista, steer your course to the third and fourth floors, which play the host to several jewelry stores and ladies fashion boutiques. You won’t find as many world-class brand names like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, or Prada here, but you will be in for a pleasant surprise.The Komtar Penang Mall is also connected to the Prangin Mall through an outdoor strip, dubbed Komtar Walk. The Prangin Mall is an ideal place for shopping with a more local touch where you can mingle with the native crowds.
Are you feeling tired after going on a shopping spree? Here and there in the mall are various fast food joints such as KFC or MacDonald’s, where you can stretch your legs and enjoy an ice-cold Coke. But if fine wine and lavish dining are what you crave for, there are some international-themed restaurants at levels 59 and 60, a sky restaurant at level 64, and a sky lounge at level 65.
How about the upper floors?
The upper floors serve as the seat of power of some of the Penang state government branches. Having a wide angle, unobstructed view of the entire area, those in charge create visions for a better and more futuristic version of George Town in particular and Penang in general.
Integral to the scenery of George Town, it will be amiss not to mention tons of breathtaking photo opportunities the Komtar Tower has to offer. If you are an avid photographer, don’t hesitate to go to its viewing gallery on the 58th floor. Here it offers a panoramic view of the island in its entirety and a glimpse of the strait connecting Penang to the mainland. The viewing deck is also equipped with some coin-operated telescopes to quench your thirst for discovery. Just in case you need some mementos to bring home, there’s also a souvenir shop available here.
Something you should know about Komtar Tower
However, provided that you’re a true thrill-seeker just like me, you should head to the newest addition to the Komtar Tower on the highest floor. Affectionately called the Rainbow Walk, the glass skywalk boasts to be unique in Southeast Asia. Taking inspiration from the famed Grand Canyon Skywalk in the USA, the Malaysian skywalk is also semi-circular in shape but smaller, with only 16 meters in size.
The rumors say that it used the same glass material as that of the American skywalk. The constructors also brag it can bear the total weight of 16 grown men. Standing on it is not for the faint-hearted though, as the skywalk gives not only a horizontal view of the scenery but also a vertical view of more than 200 meters down below. It is frightening but also captivating at the same time!
In an attempt to blend the old and the new together, the Penang state government has also employed five famous local artists to create the world’s tallest mural painting. It will cover the metallic façade of the Komtar Tower’s bubble lifts. This mural aims to tell the story of Penang’s culture, lifestyle, and natural attractions. It is expected to finish by September 2017, so if you are in the vicinity at that time, make sure you don’t miss out on its new appearance!
The Komtar Tower opens at 10:30 a.m. and closes at 10:30 p.m. That’s plenty of time for you to explore everything it has to offer to your heart’s contents. Just remember to drink lots of water and don’t tire yourself too much trying all of the available forms of entertainment. A fully-charged camera is also a must-have item on this trip.
Have you learned anything interesting so far? Have you decided where your next adventure will be? The Komtar Tower in Penang is maybe what you are missing in your life of discovery. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas for the ideal places to visit in the comment section above.