The Penang dragon boat racing festival is one of the highlights of Malaysia’s cultural scene. In addition to its rich cultural history, the Pearl of the Orient, as Penang has been referred to by European travelers, has also become one of South East Asia’s hot party holiday destinations. You should definitely check out this ancient and culturally rich Malaysian city, if you are planning to go for some party holidays in the East.
The Dragon Boat Race
The Penang dragon boat race is the perfect blend of beautiful Malayan culture and adrenaline-pumping action. A Malayan myth claims that the race was first started when a Chinese poet named Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River. The poet’s best friend paddled across the river to get his body back before it was lost in the river. This event is believed to have happened on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, as per the Chinese calendar. Even today, the memory of Qu Yuan and his friend is honored at the annual Duanwu Jie Festival.
Today, the Penang International Dragon Boat Racing Festival is held yearly at the Teluk Bahang Dam. Despite the modern trappings, the festival’s symbol, which is a Chinese dragon with a head of an ox, the antlers of a deer, a horse’s mane and a fish tail, is still a colorful and exhilarating symbol of ancient Malay.
The modern version of the Penang dragon boat race was first held in 1956. This race now attracts top competitors from around the world, as any team that is a member of the International Dragon Boat Federation can compete. Teams even come from the United States and Europe.
Each race team has a maximum of 22 participants, who must move together in perfect synchronization to win the race, making this a truly moving spectacle of human strength and stamina.
Where To Stay And Party?
The most convenient place to stay is near Batu Ferringhi, which is only a comfortable distance away from the Teluk Bahang Dam. The dragon festival lasts three days, which gives you a lot of time to check out the nightlife.
Penang has a thriving club scene with several great party venues. Many of the clubbing establishments have large dance floors that also double as socializing venues. The weekends, in particular, see a heavy crowd in all the city’s many bars, discos, pubs, karaoke lounges, and nightclubs. The best place to find the hottest party destinations in town is definitely the area between the famous Eastern & Oriental Hotel and the Cititel Hotel. Located nearly around Upper Penang Road in Georgetown, the area has an eclectic mix of trendy bars, state-of-the-art nightclubs, and old-school English pubs.
To conclude, Penang is definitely climbing the list of Asia’s hottest party holiday destinations. Try to schedule your party holidays to coincide with the dragon race festival, to get an authentic taste of Penang while partying. Be sure to book your accommodations early, if you are planning to attend the race, since most of the best hotels will be fully booked in advance.