Penang, often referred to as the Pearl of the Orient, is one of the most picturesque and romantic cities in all of Asia. This tropical island lies in the Indian Ocean, just off the north-west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Penang received its name from the Pinang, or Betel Nut tree, once commonly found on the island. Established as the first British trading post in the Far East in 1776, Penang today is a bustling metropolis reflecting a uniquely exotic blend of East and West.
The state of Penang consists of the island of Penang and a strip of land on the mainland known as Seberang Prai.
The Penang Bridge, one of the longest in Asia at 13.5 km, links the two land masses. Penang is also connected by a ferry service to the mainland.
On Penang Island sits the capital, Georgetown, a city steeped in history and tradition yet sparkling with progress and modern development. Certain sections of Penang present a quaint picture from the past where narrow side streets, trishaws, temples and traders plying their goods, seem to belong to a forgotten era. Penang is a shopper’s paradise for goods old and new, at bargain prices.
The island also boasts some of the best food in the region, ranging from fabulous Chinese, Malay and Nyonya cuisines to foodstall favourites like nasi kandar, char kway teow and penang laksa, all of which are cooked in a uniquely ‘Penang’ way.
The elaborate Khoo Kongsi, dating back to 1906, is by far the grandest clan temple on the island, and should not be missed.
Sri Mariamman Temple
This South Indian Hindu temple, which dates back to 1883, must surely be the most lavishly decorated Hindu temple in the country.
Beautiful hotels equipped with spas and pools, line the beach, where massages, watersports and horse-riding activities are on offer.