Penang is one of the most-visited states in Malaysia. Known also as the Pearl Of The Orient, this state consists of the island as well as a narrow strip of the mainland coast known as Seberang Perai (Province Wellesley). The population of 1.3 million people has been enjoying a time of economic growth in the past decades as many multinational companies have built their factories here.
A second bridge linking the mainland Batu Kawan to the island Batu Maung is now available for vehicles to use. Try using it if you haven't and you will enjoy a scenic journey along this 24km bridge. If you do not have your own transport, you can take the Penang buses which are quite regular and reliable.
Many foreigners have chosen this state for their retirement under Malaysia My Second Home programme as they can find plenty of good food at reasonable price, beautiful beaches are there for them to unwind, hills to sweat it out and not to mention the hospitality of the people.
The historical city of Georgetown, the capital of the state was recently inscripted as historical cities under Unesco's World Heritage Sites (WHS) in July 2008. Many of the residential and commercial buildings that were built in the 18th century during the British era are still in existence today. The areas that have been given this status are:
The popularity of this island is clearly seen with "The New York Times" readers voted Penang as the No.2 must-visit destination for 2009. The top spot was taken by the city of Beirut in the survey "44 Places To Go in 2009". The report also mentioned that adventurous foodies are now turning to this state where the city-run hawker is a favourite dining place. Popular dishes such as "Char Koay Teow" cost less than US$2.00 per plate.
This island is easily accessible by air with daily international flights from Singapore, Bangkok, Medan, Xiamen and Taipei. It is usually cheaper to travel during normal Malaysia working days.
Rapid Penang, the Government-owned bus company is the first in the country to provide a high speed WIFI service. For a start, the free service will be on on two routes. They are route 101 (Batu Ferringhi-Weld Quay) and 401A (Balik Pulau-Airport-Weld Quay). Look out for large stickers with WIFI sign for these services.
Effective 11 Dec 2011 every Sunday from 7am to 5pm, cars will not be allowed on some streets to allow cyclists, those taking a stroll, joggers, skaters and other activities to be done here. Known also as "Car Free Day", the Church Street Ghaut will be closed. Some stretches of Beach Street, Bishop Street and Church Street will also be closed. Take time off and enjoy your walk on these historical streets of Penang. You may want to take the trishaws if you are too tired to walk.
If you have the time, try going for a hike in the National Park which is located at the north west of the island. To unwind and relax by the beach, book yourself into one of the many hotels along Batu Ferringhi.
There are two main tourist information centres that you can stop by to get some advice, brochures, maps, events and the latest information. One is located at Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown and the other one at the International Airport Arrival Hall.
Tourist Information centre
No 10 (Ground Floor), The Whiteaways Arcade, Lebuh Pantai, 10300 Georgetown.
Mon-Fri (9am-5pm), Saturday(9am-3pm), Sundays & Public Holidays(9am-1pm)
Tel: +604 263 1166
Tourist Information Counter
International Arrival Hall, Main Terminal Building, International Airport, 11900 Bayan Lepas.
9am-5pm daily. Closed on Public Holidays.
Enjoy the coastal scenery as you hike into this park. You can also hire a boat to take you to the more secluded beaches on this park.
Walk leisurely at the heritage sites in Georgetown and see the murals and caricatures here.
Visit Chew Jetty, the biggest clan jetties here. This jetty is located at Weld Quay, Georgetown and is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Museums in Penang
Here is a detailed listing of over 20 museums on the island. Many have been established only in the past few years.
This is the place to visit to discover the history of Penang and the cultures of the various ethnic groups.
Located in Georgetown, it was at this fort that Captain Francis Light first set foot on this island in 1786.
The popular beaches are located at the north of the island. Teluk Bahang and Batu Ferringhi beaches are easily accessible. Most hotels are located alongthese beaches.
Located at Batu Maung Hill, south east of Penang Island. It was built in the 1930's by the British to protect the island from the invasion of enemies. Explore the underground tunnels and ammunition storage rooms while you are here.
Visit and ride the oldest hill station in Malaysia. On a clear day, you can see the bridge that connects the mainland to this island and even Langkawi Island.
See the over 4,000 live butterflies from 150 species in this farm. Get an educational insight into the other insects feature here.
While touring the island, remember to drop by Balik Pulau and try the favourite delicacy of most locals and tourists, the signature Assam Laksa.
Drop by and try the famous cendol and ais kacang at Lebuh Keng Kwee, off Penang Road.