Penang holds an important place in Malaysia’s past, present and future
The capital of Penang, George Town is one of two Malaysian cities on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, having conserved its colonial British heritage from the end of the 18th century. Due to its strategic location on the Straits of Malacca, Penang was a key conduit between East and West. The Peranakan population, or Straits-Chinese, a result of inter-marriage between the immigrant Chinese and local Malay, has left a legacy in terms of architecture, food, dress and culture. Chinese wealth also played a part — just look at the temples, clan jetties, assembly halls and mansions that give this place its character. Penang has a reputation for its mouth-watering hawker fare; travellers shouldn’t leave without trying Penang laksa, char kway teow, rojak and curry noodles.
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When to go
Penang enjoys a tropical rainforest climate with a daily average temperature of 28ºC, with December to March being the drier and therefore hotter months of the year. The wetter months are May to early November.
The Penang World Music Festival takes place in March while the Penang Island Jazz Festival is held in December. Penang Floral Festival, held in May and June, draws many visitors to the Penang Botanic Gardens. The George Town Festival, a month-long celebration, presents world-class performances, art initiatives and cross-cultural community activities.
Flying with Jetstar
Jetstar flies to Penang direct from Singapore daily. Travellers from Jetstar’s other ports can connect via Singapore to reach Penang.
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A free shuttle bus, the MPPP Rapid Penang CAT, plies George Town from Weld Quay to Penang Road, making a total of 19 stops at places of interest. The now-pedal-powered beca (trishaw) is best for negotiating the narrow lanes of George Town; prices should be negotiated before getting on. There are quite a few bicycle rentals in Penang, which allows visitors to sightsee at their own pace. A few examples are Leaf Bike Rental, Metro Bike and Freedom Leisure Cycle Supply.
Travel time 45 mins
Taxi Approx RM38 (fixed rates to other parts of Penang; get your taxi voucher at the airport counter)
Bus Every 25-30 minutes, the Rapid Penang buses all go to George Town; a Rapid Penang Tourist Passport at RM30 will get you unlimited travel on their buses for a week. Fare is RM2.70; takes approximately an hour.