Penang Island. Island in Malaysia, Asia

Penang Island

Island in Malaysia, Asia

Penang Island Photo © Christopher Harriot

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Penang Island

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	Betong fishing pier - Penang Island
Pulau Betong fishing pier - Penang Island. Photo by
Located on the Western coast of Malaysia, Penang Island is rich in history and is a mixture of Eastern and Western culture. When it was occupied by the British East India Company in 1786, this 28 square-kilometers island was called the Prince of Wales Island and its capital city, George Town. It was labelled such to commemorate the Prince of Wales, who later became King George the IV.

Prior to the British occupation, it was part of the Malay Sultanate of Kedah (Wikipedia Article). The Sultan agreed to have the British control the island under the promise that they will be protected against their Burmese and Siamese enemies. However, the promise was left unfulfilled and the Sultan tried to regain control of the island. He was unsuccessful; instead he received a yearly stipend of 10,000 ESP from the company.

The island progressed after it was discovered by the British, making it a seaport that is the center of trading between different countries. When the British left, development had slackened. At present, Penang is a tourist attraction, with popular beach resorts such as Batu Ferringhi and fishing villages like Teluk Bahang. It is also the technological center of Malaysia, similar to the Silicon Valley.

Visiting Penang Island is equivalent to witnessing a blend of the old and the new, with the modern buildings standing next to the historic structures. There are modern skyscrapers as well as Chinese and Indian temples. George Town has also been declared as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The island is a hodgepodge of people from different countries and races; hence it also offers a wide variety of delectable cuisine.

miami beach ..of penang island - Penang
miami beach ..of penang island. Photo by gigibiru_kukunings

Tourist Destinations and Attractions

George Town
The streets of George Town, both narrow and wide, are a hustle and bustle of numerous activities. The houses are colorful and are a predominant residence of the Chinese. The street foods of Penang are also a must-try for those who want to experience authentic local culture. Eat Chinese, Malaysian or Indian food together with people from all walks of life. George Town also has various interesting museums, such as the Peranakan Museum (Wikipedia Article). It reflects the life of the Peranakans, the rich and prominent Chinese people who are also called the Straits' Chinese. The museum is housed in an elegant ancient mansion, with over 1,000 valuable antiques on display.

The Penang Hill tour brings guests back in time as they witness the sight of magnificent colonial mansions. Penang Hill is 821 meters above sea level so expect the tour to be breezy and energizing. To get to high altitudes, tourists can ride a cable car or trek through the Botanical Gardens for three hours.

Batu Ferringhi Beach is a crowd favorite on the tropical island. The white sand of the beach runs along a stretch of the coast that is relaxing and enjoyable, especially when watching the sunset. There are many resorts and hotels nearby, as well as water activities to participate in.

The Penang National Park presents guests with the pure waters of the Pantai Kerachut beach and Meromictic lake (Wikipedia
	Article). The area is ideal for family picnics, fishing and swimming. Island hopping can also be done by renting a boat. At the edge of the sea stands an ancient lighthouse that was built in 1883.

During its heyday, many Chinese have settled in Penang to conduct businesses. They have built structures along the docks and they are called the Weld Quay Clan Jetties. The five main clans are Lim, Chew, Tan, Lee and Yeoh clans. More than a hundred years old, these water villages are preserved to reflect that it was once an economic splendor.

For nature lovers, a side trip to the Teluk Bahang Butterfly Farm can be fulfilling. It features a live museum of various butterfly species and a breeding research center. In 2008, it was visited by British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

極樂寺 Kek Lok Si Temple
	- Penang Island
極樂寺 Kek Lok Si Temple - Penang Island. Photo by Cindy

How to Get There

Penang can be reached by air through direct flights from Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and more. Another option is to take the North-South Expressway and then through the Penang Bridge to cross to Penang Island, or get off at Butterworth and ride a ferry to Penang Island. Tourists can also get to Penang by riding a ferry from Langkawi, which will take around three hours and twenty minutes. For tourists who want to leisurely travel and enjoy the countryside, they can take the railroad train, with a travel time of around six hours.

One can stay there overnight or up to five days in Penang Island to maximize the experience of what the island has to offer. At George Town, tourists can participate in guided walking tours for RM 50 ($16) per person. Bicycle or trishaw packages are also available. Another way to travel within the island is by hiring a cab, however they are known not to use the taxi meter. Buses are also available from the main terminal at Pengkalan Weld and KOMTAR.

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Author: LisaN505. Last updated: Sep 09, 2014

Pictures of Penang Island

nature....bontanical garden penang island - Penang Island
nature....bontanical garden penang island - Photo by gigibiru_kukunings

A view of the Penang Golf Course. - Penang Island
A view of the Penang Golf Course. - Penang Island. Photo by stratman² (2 many pix!)

Scenery of the Bayan Baru township, Penang. - Penang Island
Scenery of the Bayan Baru township, Penang. - Penang Island. Photo by stratman² (2 many pix!)


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