Tanjung Tokong is a northwestern suburb of George Town and a part of the contiguous northern beach resort belt that also comprises the suburbs of Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi. Urbanisation of of the former fishing village in the last few decades has led to the mushrooming of skyscrapers and high-rise residences here.
It is believed that the first Chinese settlement on Penang Island had been established in Tanjung Tokong four decades before Captain Francis Light set foot on Penang Island. Tanjung Tokong remained a quaint fishing village until the 1970s, when residential developments commenced in Tanjung Tokong. Tanjung Tokong was also hard hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
More recently, land reclamation off the coast of Tanjung Tokong has created additional land for suburban development, although the price to the surrounding ecology was no less negative. It led to the irreversible siltation of Gurney Drive, the most popular seafront promenade in George Town.
Tanjung Tokong includes the residential neighbourhoods of Mount Erskine, Fettes Park and Hong Seng Estate.
The name Tanjung Tokong is believed to have originated from the Tua Pek Kong temple, where the founder of the first Chinese settlement on Penang Island was buried.
The Chinese were believed to have established their first settlement on Penang Island in Tanjung Tokong. Zhang Li, who was fleeing the hardships of Qing dynasty rule, intended to migrate to Sumatra, but rough weather pushed his vessel to Penang Island instead. His arrival preceded Captain Francis Light's founding of Penang Island by 40 years. He then founded a settlement at Tanjung Tokong. He was buried next to the Tanjung Tokong Tua Pek Kong temple and deified as Tua Pek Kong (in the Hokkien dialect), a Malaysian Chinese god.
For a long time, Tanjung Tokong had been a relatively quiet fishing village. Then, the coast of Tanjung Tokong north of the Tua Pek Kong temple consisted of white, sandy beaches interspersed with boulders. To the south of the temple, the terrain consisted of mudflats and mangrove swamps. The village comprised of wooden houses built haphazardly along the coast. Tanjung Tokong was also popular amongst local Penangites as a place to escape the bustling city life, enjoy delicious seafood and swim in the clear, calm seas.
The Guillemard Reservoir, known as Bak Knia Tee ('Spectacle Pond' in Hokkien), was constructed in 1929. It was named after Sir Laurence Guillemard, the Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1920 and 1927. The engineering team was led by J.D. Fettes, whose name was immortalised in Fettes Park.
To the south of Fettes Park lies the Mount Erskine area, which was named after John James Erskine, a member of George Town's committee of assessors in 1810. Most of Mount Erskine is occupied by a Chinese cemetery that has been in existence since the early 19th. century.
To the north of Fettes Park is a hilly area called the Vale of Tempe. Named after the gorge in Greece where, in Greek mythology, was the favourite hunting ground of the god Apollo and the Muses, it is reputed to be one of the most haunted areas on Penang Island. Jalan Lembah Permai, which straddles the area, is notorious for road accidents.
Tanjung Tokong was one of the areas hit hardest by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, washing several fishing boats further inland and destroying a seawall near the Tua Pek Kong temple.
Since the 1970s, the urbanisation of George Town began radiating out towards Tanjung Tokong. The first apartments in Tanjung Tokong were low-rise, such as Villa Saujaze and Excel Court. Greater development projects followed in the 1990s, such as the Marina Bay Condominium and the Island Plaza shopping mall. The mushrooming of residential high-rises in Tanjung Tokong, many of which cater for the affluent, has transformed Tanjung Tokong into an upmarket suburb of George Town. Low-cost and medium-cost apartments were also built in Tanjung Tokong, including the Palm Court Apartment and Taman Tanjung.
Other than the mushrooming of residential high-rises in Tanjung Tokong, land reclamation has been ongoing off its shores. This has the effect of expanding Tanjung Tokong's coast outward, permanently changing the original curve of the Teluk Ayer Rajah bay and blunting the tip of the cape that gave Tanjung Tokong its name. In addition, the ongoing land reclamation has not only caused the siltation of Gurney Drive, turning the popular seaside promenade into a mangrove swamp, but it also disrupts sea currents, negatively impacting local fishermen who may eventually be forced to turn to other occupations.
The reclaimed area, named Seri Tanjung Pinang, is undergoing development into an affluent neighbourhood with commercial centres such as the Straits Quay shopping mall and the newest Tesco hypermarket on Penang Island. The Straits Quay was opened in 2010, followed by the Tesco hypermarket in 2011. The Straits Quay shopping mall, in particular, has an integrated marina for visiting yachts and boats.
Currently, the second phase of the Seri Tanjung Pinang reclamation project is underway. The project involves the creation of 760 acres of man-made islands and 131 acres of the Gurney Drive foreshore. These additional lands will be handed over to the Penang state government for the development of a new expressway, a new Gurney Drive promenade and a parallel linear park for public recreational purposes. This project will further alter George Town's coastline and has received much criticism over its environmental impact.
Another anticipated project is the Penang Transport Master Plan, in which the proposed Tanjung Tokong Monorail Line will connect residents and tourists in Tanjung Tokong with Gurney Drive and the heart of George Town.
The Straits Quay marina is one of the most famous attractions in Tanjung Tokong. Designed with the backdrop of the impressive colonial architecture of the Straits Quay shopping mall in mind, the marina features 40 pontoon berths that can accommodate boats of up to 25 metres long, as well as a seafront promenade. A water limousine service and a boat cruise service are also available for more affluent tourists to enjoy the view of George Town from the sea.
The Glass Museum in Tanjung Tokong has Malaysia's longest glass artwork. Different techniques in creating glass ornamentation, such as fused glass, sandblasted glass, stained glass and glass overlaying, are showcased in the museum.
Less well-known are the World War 2 relics along the coast of Tanjung Tokong. The relics were coastal defences erected by the British, such as bunkers, pillboxes and a look-out tower. The derelict relics are located along the shore near the Tua Pek Kong temple and the Sea Pearl Lagoon Cafe.
Tanjung Tokong was the first Chinese settlement established on Penang Island. Numerous Taoist and Buddhist temples around Tanjung Tokong are evidences of the suburb's Chinese heritage.
The most famous one has to be the Tua Pek Kong temple. It was here that Zhang Li, the founder of the Chinese settlement of Tanjung Tokong, was buried. Today, Zhang Li is better known amongst Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese as Tua Pek Kong, a revered local Chinese deity.
Other Taoist and Buddhist temples in Tanjung Tokong are as follows.
- Heong Sun See temple
- Chooi Bee Keong temple
- Ngor Teik Keong temple
- Hong San Si temple
In addition, the Mount Erskine Hokkien Cemetery occupies most of the Mount Erskine area. It dates back to the early 19th. century.
In a fine example of Malaysian religious tolerance, just opposite the Heong Sun See temple is a Muslim mosque, Masjid Tuan Guru. The mosque is situated within a Malay village, Kampung Tanjung Tokong, which is reported to be under the threat of further urban development.
The Sri Muneeswarar temple is a Hindu temple located not far away from both the Heong Sun See temple and Masjid Tuan Guru.
Fettes Road is particularly famous for the Fatty Loh Chicken Rice Restaurant.
Other than that, among the eateries available in Tanjung Tokong are as follows.
- Tsunami Seafood Cafe
- Sea Pearl Lagoon Cafe
- Viva Local Food Haven
- Palace d'India Restaurant
- Seawind Beach Cafe
- Marina Suites at Straits Quay
- 118 Residence Island Plaza
- Straits Quay (YC's Apartment)
- Quayside Residence (Penang Holiday Lettings)
- Hotel Sentral Seaview
- 8 Boutique by the Sea Hotel
- Baan Talay Homestay by the Beach
- Gurney Zahra Inn
- Homme Residence Straits Quay
- Stella Maris Retreat Centre
The oldest shopping mall in Tanjung Tokong is the Island Plaza. This upscale mall consists of a podium block and an office building.
The Straits Quay shopping mall, opened in 2010, is impeccably designed in colonial-style architecture. The mall, which is located within the Seri Tanjung Pinang area, has among its major tenants the Royal Selangor pewter firm. The integrated Straits Quay complex consists of both the mall and the marina, making it Penang's only seafront retail marina.
The following year, Tesco's newest hypermarket was also opened in the Seri Tanjung Pinang area, not far from the Straits Quay.
Getting to Tanjung Tokong
From the George Town city centre and the adjacent suburb of Pulau Tikus, Rapid Penang buses 101, 103 and 104 pass through Tanjung Tokong. Whereas routes 101 and 103 merely transit through Tanjung Tokong Road, the main thoroughfare in Tanjung Tokong, bus 104 serves residents in Mount Erskine and Fettes Park.
If you are coming from Teluk Bahang or the suburbs of Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah, you can use either bus 101 or 102. Bus 104 also brings commuters from the neighbouring suburb of Tanjung Bungah to Tanjung Tokong.
Those from the south, such as the Penang International Airport, the Sungai Nibong express bus terminal, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) or the suburbs of Gelugor and Green Lane, can take bus 102 to get to Tanjung Tokong.
Tourists can take the Hop-On Hop-Off bus to get to Straits Quay.
102 : Penang International Airport - Bayan Baru - Sungai Nibong express bus terminal - Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Batu Uban entrance - Gelugor - Green Lane - KOMTAR - Kelawai Road, Pulau Tikus - Tanjung Tokong Road - Tanjung Bungah Road - Batu Ferringhi - Teluk Bahang
104 : Midlands Park, Pulau Tikus - Burmah Road, Pulau Tikus - Kelawai Road, Pulau Tikus - Bagan Jermal Road, Pulau Tikus - Mount Erskine Road, Tanjung Tokong - Pepper Estate, Tanjung Tokong - Mount Erskine Road, Tanjung Tokong - Fettes Park, Tanjung Tokong - Evergreen Road, Tanjung Tokong - Jalan Gajah, Tanjung Tokong - Tanjung Bungah Road - Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bungah - Jalan Loh Poh Heng, Tanjung Bungah - Jalan Azyze, Tanjung Bungah - Lorong Lembah Permai 3, Tanjung Bungah - Lintang Lembah Permai 1, Tanjung Bungah - Jalan Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah
Free Pulau Tikus Loop : Gurney Plaza (Kelawai Road entrance) - Tanjung Tokong Road - Fettes Park, Tanjung Tokong - Mount Erskine Road, Tanjung Tokong - Burmah Road, Pulau Tikus - Pangkor Road - Kelawai Road, Pulau Tikus - Gurney Paragon (Kelawai Road entrance)
Penang State Government
N.22 Tanjong Bunga State Assemblyman : Teh Yee Cheu (Democratic Action Party)
N.24 Kebun Bunga State Assemblyman : Cheah Kah Peng (People's Justice Party)
N.25 Pulau Tikus State Assemblyman : Yap Soo Huey (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.048 Bukit Bendera Member of Parliament : Zairil Khir Johari (Democratic Action Party)