Malaysia top resorts: Penang  

Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the Orient', the state of Penang lies to the north-west of Peninsular Malaysia, by the Strait of Malacca. Despite being the country's second smallest state, it is its eight-most populous. For this reason, its seaside charm, combined with an urbanized and industrialised economy, have transformed Penang into a tourist destination that is increasingly popular amongst domestic and international visitors, as well as being highly-prized by Malaysia for its income.
Penang's population of just over 1.5 million is as ethnically diverse as they come in this corner of South-East Asia. The common languages, aside from English, include Malay, Penang Hokkien, Mandarin and Tamil. As is the case in any area with such a melting pot of cultures, the end result is a colourful backdrop for any visitors. As well as listening to the range of different languages and dialects baying from street corners and open-air markets, travellers can be assured that a fine selection of ethnic cuisines await in numerous food stalls, cafes and restaurants.
George Town
George Town, the capital of Penang, lies to the north-east of Penang Island. Together with the outlying urban areas, its metropolitan population exceeds 2.25 million inhabitants, making it Malaysia's second-largest. Named after King George III, who ruled Britain between 1760 and 1820, George Town's inner city is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Like the other mixed ethnic areas of the state, George Town has schools catering for all of its diverse citizens – English, Tamil and Chinese, as well as international schools. The city is hugely popular with tourists who are drawn to its unique blend of architecture, mixing colonial-style housing with indigenous and ultra-modern accommodation.
Batu Ferringhi
Northwest of George Town, Batu Ferringhi is accessed by a winding coastal road. Here you will find wonderful beaches, where golden sands seem to stretch towards a hazy horizon. The beaches are lined with many international standard hotels, with the west-facing rooms particularly sought-after. Your choice of activities depends on how active you wish to be. For those of a more sedate nature, there is ample opportunity to just kick back and enjoy basking in the sunshine, cocktails or chilled beers to hand. But for those seeking a more thrilling holiday there are plenty of aquatic pursuits on offer. Bought rides are available that will take you up to coast, either to enjoy the rainforest scenery from a distance, to indulge in some fishing, or to spot whales cruising by en route to southern pastures. Is also a popular option, whether that involves investigating the wildlife in the mangrove swamps, or heading further out to enjoy a spot of surfing.
The Pacific Ocean in this area is known for its abundant marine life, so you may wish to hire the kit and embark on some unforgettable diving excursions. The clear waters are home to numerous species of tropical fish, crustaceans and molluscs. The more intrepid adventurers can indulge in everything from water-skiing to jet-skiing, or even parasailing. At nighttime Batu Ferringhi becomes a party zone, with barbecues on the beach soon sizzling with freshly caught fish, and an open-air bazaar hawking everything from souvenirs to locally-fashioned handicrafts.

 

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