With a unique culture and heritage that stems from Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences, the island of Penang and its capital George Town are a living museum charting an intriguing history. The island, sometimes referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, boasts a fusion of the East and the West, a mix of the old and the new and some of the best cuisine Malaysia has to offer.
- The island’s main stretch Batu Ferringhi Beach is a hive of activity and a bit of shopping at the night market is a must
- You can experience Penang’s rich cultural heritage in the capital George Town, a UNESCO-listed city showcasing the diverse Chinese, Malay and British cultures
- Reflecting the multi-cultural nature of the island is the cuisine and you can sample mouthwatering dishes at from the numerous hawker stalls
Best time to visit Penang
Malaysia experiences a tropical climate year round, but weather conditions can be very different between east and west. The west coast beach resorts of Penang and Langkawi are best experienced from December-April.
Penang holiday highlights
Located off the west coast of Malaysia, the island of Penang is famous for its excellent local cuisine, its bustling night markets and its UNESCO listed capital George Town. In the late 18th Century George Town was founded as the first of the Straits Settlements, a group of South East Asian British territories which included the Malaysian states of Malacca and Dinding, and Singapore. The town grew and became an important trading centre attracting Chinese, Indian and Malay traders that were seeking their fortune and was finally declared a city in 1957 by Queen Elizabeth II.
As you wander through along the city streets, witnessing a number of architectural styles dating from the 18th to the 20th Centuries, you will feel as if you are peeling back the layers of the city’s history. As well as an array of British architectural varieties, George Town plays host to mosques and Chinese and Indian-style temples. The resplendent temple of Kek Lok Si, or the ‘Temple of Supreme Bliss’ is the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia and is dominated by a magnificent seven-storey pagoda built in a blend of Chinese, Thai and Burmese designs.
Panoramic views of the island and George Town can be enjoyed from the top of Penang Hill, which can be reached by a funicular railway or a three hour hike beginning in the city’s botanic gardens. At 851 metres above sea level, the peak provides a cool and refreshing break from the heat of the city below.
All of our featured resorts are located alongside the island’s most popular stretch of beach in the former fishing village of Batu Ferringhi. Each night the Jalan Batu Ferringhi road comes alive with people dining and drinking at the many restaurants or browsing the clothing, art and crafts and souvenir stalls at the nightly market. Sharpen up your bargaining skills, sample the mouth-watering dishes from the numerous hawker stalls or just soak up the atmosphere and relish in this unique Penang experience.