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About Penang
PEARL OF THE ORIENT - PENANG

Source: The Official Website of Tourism Penang by The Penang Tourism Action Council


Introduction

Widely known as the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is one of Asia's most famous islands. Its natural beauty and exotic heritage have been attracting curious visitors for centuries.


Travel guides have referred to it as "... a place of mysterious temples and palm-shrouded beaches", while literary giant Somerset Maugham is known to have stayed on the island and spun tales about the romance of the white planter in South-East Asia.


Penang today is very much an amalgam of the old and the new – a bustling port, a heritage city and an industrial base. Perhaps it has more to offer per square mile than any other place in the world. For sheer variety of locales, cultures and foods, Penang is hard to beat. In it's capital Georgetown, modern skyscrapers rise from one of Southeast Asia's largest collections of intact prewar buildings. Manufactures of sophisticated electronic goods compete for space with wet markets and old temples. Where else can you find a century-old church, a Chinese temple, an Indian temple, and a Muslim mosque all within a five-minute walk from one another? Likewise, tall urban structures stand beside the red-tiled roofs of Chinatown and "Little India" is just across the road, while the Malay kampungs lie on the outskirts. The seamless melding of the many peoples of Penang is best reflected in the delicious hawker foods (available around the clock) and the adherence to traditions and customs. Festivals abound throughout the year.


Should one wish to get away from the busy city, the idlyllic beaches and soothing hills are but minutes away, while the industrial free trade zone, the "Silicon Valley of the East", and the international airport are equally accessible.


Penang or its Malay name of Pulau Pinang is made up of a turtle-shaped island, a total of 292 square kilometers, and a strip of land called Seberang Prai on Peninsular Malaysia about 48 kilometers wide.


Since 1985, the island has been joined to the mainland by the Penang Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world. Alternatively, travellers arriving from the mainland can hop onto the ferry and take a 20-minute ride across. There are also international flights that connect directly to the international airport on the island.

Location

Penang is popularly known as Pearl of the Orient and also dubbed as Silicon Valley of the East. Bounded to the north and east by the State of Kedah and to the south by the State of Perak, it consists of a turtle-shaped island and a coastal strip on the mainland called Province Wellesley (Seberang Prai). The island measure 292 square kilometers and is situated on the north-western coast of the Malay Peninsula at the entrance to the Straits of Malacca while the mainland measures 738 square kilometers. The capital of Penang is George Town.


The island and mainland are separated by a channel 3 km wide at the narrowest point and 13 km at the widest. They are linked by the 13.5 km Penang Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world, and a ferry service.


Ferry service at the Raja Tun Uda terminal (on the island) operates from 5.30 am to 1.00 am while that at the Sultan Abdul Halim terminal (mainland) operates from 6.00 am to 12.30 am.

Climate

Penang's climate can be described as equatorial, a pleasant mix of warm, sunny days and occasional cooling rain storms, with August through November being the wettest months generally. Average rainfall is 255 cms (100 inches) throughout the year. Humidity is usually high, and the temperature varies between 21o and 32o Celsius (70o to 95o Farenheit).

Population

Penang has 1,469 million people, of which over 678,000 live on the island. The population is multi-racial, young and almost equally distributed between male and female. The racial breakdown is as follows: Chinese 43.0 percent, Malay 40.9 percent, Indian 10.0 percent, others 0.8 percent and non-citizens 5.3 percent.

Languages

Although Malay is the national language, English is also widely used, particularly in business and the tourism industry. As Penang was (and still is) a meeting point of many cultures, other languages and dialects are also spoken and understood - these include the various Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien) and Indian (Bengali, Hindu Malayalam, Punjabi and Telegu) dialects, as well as smatterings of Thai, and some European languages. The Alliance Francaise and Goethe Institute for example, offer courses in French and German respectively.

Religion

The official state religion is Islam, but freedom of worship is observed. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism and other religions are freely practiced – Muslim mosques, Buddhist and Hindu temples, and Christian churches are commonly found throughout the island. Visitors can expect to be amazed by the diversity and profusion of festivals and other religious celebrations which occur regularly throughout the year.

Attire

Depending on activity. Generally you can't go wrong with clothes made of light cotton or other moisture absorbing fabric. Swim wear, sunglasses and sun block will come in handy for days on the beach. Flip flops and strappy sandals are the most comfortable footwear for walking and sightseeing. Unless you can afford to launder your clothes daily, don't bother with socks. Some classy establishments in Penang observe a dress code, so if you plan on dining there, don't leave that designer gown, suit and shoes behind.


Please note that there are NO nude beaches in Penang. Public nudity, in general, is frowned upon by the locals.

Economy

The economy of Penang is multifaceted, diverse, vibrant, thriving and growing. Not depending on any one sector for its growth, Penang's economy continues to thrive even during economic slowdowns. This can be attributed in part to the excellent infrastructure and transportation facilities. With an international airport, an excellent port for ships, access to the North-South highway and the railroad, Penang is an ideal location for the manufacturing sector as demonstrated by the presence of several international companies.

Getting there

1. By Air

The Penang International Airport is about 10 kilometers from George Town, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Firefly, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Southern China Airlines, and Thai International offer direct and connecting flights.


2. By Rail

Butterworth is a major station on the north-south railway from Singapore to Bangkok. The ferry terminal to Penang island is within walking distance from the station.


3. By Road

The opening of the Penang Bridge linking the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia to Penang Island has facilitated driving to Penang. A charge of RM 7.00 is levied on all classes of cars at the toll plaza in Perai on the mainland. No payment is required for traveling from the island to the mainland.


4. By Ferry

From Butterworth, you need to take the ferry to the island. The ferry service is for both passengers and vehicles. Tickets are purchased at the Butterworth terminal for the journey while no fare is charged for the return trip from the island.

Moving Around

Penang's public transport system is there and moving around by taxis, buses or trishaws may be a fun and inexpensive way of catching the sights.


1. City Taxis

Most city taxis do not use the meter. You may either insist on the meter being turned on or agree on the price before you move off. Taxis normally charge between RM3.00 - RM6.00 for short distances within the city.


2. City Buses

Most buses use coin machine to collect fares. The main bus terminal are Pengkalan Weld (ferry terminal), Prangin Mall and KOMTAR (ground floor). RapidPenang Launched on 31 July 2007 by the Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Rapid Penang marked a definite improvement to the public transport system. Easy-to-read signoards were put in place. A manned helpdesk distributing maps and schedule booklets was set-up.


3. Trishaws

A trishaw ride is one of the best ways of seeing Penang. Besides the novelty of traveling in this open-fronted three-wheeled vehicle, trishaws allow visitors the opportunity of doing the sights at a more leisurely pacestopping at any point to snap pictures or buy souvenirs. There is no standard fare and it would be wise to agree on the price before you step on the trishaw. For extended sightseeing, it is advisable to hire them by the hour.


4. Car Rental

If you wish to venture further afield at your own leisure, it might be a good idea to drive around yourself. Most major international and local car rental companies offer a good choice of vehicles and packages. So, arm yourself with a valid international driving license and a reliable road map and set forth for the adventure of your life. Remember that traffic travels on the left side of the road and that the speed limit varies on all roads.


5. Rent-A-Motorbike / Bicycle

Motorcyles and bicycles also offer inexpensive and fun ways of exploring the island. Stores along the hotel stretch of Batu Ferringhi and in the city offer them for hire.

Restrictions

Import licenses are required for firearms and commercial quantities of gold. Please note that Malaysian laws provide the death penalty for drug trafficking. Other forbidden items are pornography, flick knives, broadcast receivers of a certain frequency, goods from Israel, and animals like piranhas. For more information please visit the Malaysian Customs and Excise website at http://www.customs.gov.my.

Miscellaneous

In general, Malaysians are gentle and discreet people. Please be considerate to your hosts. Blatant displays of affection like French kissing, groping, fondling, caressing etc in public are a definite no-no. What you do in private is entirely up to you. In the open, go easy on that smooch.


If you visit a mosque or temple that is not usually on the tourist maps, it is a good idea

to request permission from the caretaker on the premises. Moreover, they will often be able to tell you more than any tourist book.

Most credit cards are accepted at hotels and restaurants, but if you travel away from

the cities, you will need cash.

Many banks have ATMs that are connected to international networks such as Cirrus

and will issue cash in the Malaysian currency (the Ringgit).

Smoking is prohibited in air conditioned public places by federal law. You will risk

fines of up to RM 500.00 (not to mention the ire of non-smokers) if caught.

Keep your passport handy, but in a safe place. It is your only form of identification and

is also required when changing money at banks.

International driving licences are required should you desire to rent an automobile to

drive in Malaysia.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a major offence and can involve steep

fines as well as detention.

The wearing of seatbelts while driving are compulsory.

When it comes to motorbikes, expect the unexpected from the drivers.

Crash helmets are compulsory while riding motorbikes.

Malaysia's traffic system still consists of "roundabouts" (traffic circles) and they are

found almost everywhere.

Medical assistance is available in every town and city at clinics, or at local hospitals.

Local pharmacies can often provide assistance for minor illness or the proper

material needed for minor injuries. You will need a doctor's prescription for any purchase of antibiotics.

Contact Information

List of regional and international Tourism Malaysia offices and their contact details


PENANG TOURISM ACTION COUNCIL
56th Floor, KOMTAR, 10000 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: 604.262.0202
Fax: 604.263.1020
Email: enquiry@tourismpenang.gov.my
Website: http://www.tourismpenang.gov.my


MALAYSIA TOURISM PROMOTION BOARD
Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism
17th Floor, Menara Dato' Onn, Putra World Trade Centre,
45, Jalan Tun Ismail, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 603.2693.5188
Fax: 603.2693.5884 or 603.2693.0207
E-mail: tourism@tourism.gov.my
Website: http://www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my

Note: Dream House Properties takes no responsibilities for any mistakes made above and does not

guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.