Penang is the oldest British settlement in Malaysia, and with its long history of accepting people from different cultures is at the crossroads of major civilizations. Communities of Arabs, Burmese, Chinese, Eurasians, Malays, Indians, Indonesians and Thais have all come through this island's historic port to make their homes here. Also known as "The Pearl of the Orient", Penang is famous for its history, people, heritage and food.
The capital city Georgetown, named after King George III of England, is an interesting blend of the old and new and can be explored on foot or by pedicab, a popular mode of transport. Sights include Fort Cornwallis, which was built by the British East India Company in 1808, City Hall, impressive Queen Victoria Clock Tower, and the Khoo Kongsi (Dragon Mountain Hall) clan house with its ancient design constructed to capture the splendour of an Imperial Palace. A tour of the city will take you along interesting districts passing colorful shophouses, elaborately roofed temples, churches, and famous colonial landmarks. Penang Road is home to the 100+ year old Chowrasta Market. Besides the usual items available in any wet market such as fruits, vegetables, fish and meat, there are stalls offering books, clothes, shoes, and kitchenware. Due to the multicultural nature of the city there are also a number of temples and religious sites for all faiths, including the Buddhist Wat Chaiyamangalaram with its 33m reclining Buddha, Kapitan Keling Mosque, and the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple in Little India.
Georgetown is also the perfect place to try some of Penang's famous food. Often referred to as the food capital of Asia, Penang’s large Chinese population is reflected in the multicultural cuisine. A mix of traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian foods dominate, with plenty of other Asian styles creeping in to make up the eclectic and always delicious Penang cuisine. This is a place in which to walk and eat. The street food is well known to be the best in Malaysia, which puts it in the running for the best in the world. While its slowly being phased out in many of the big Asian cities, Kuala Lumpur included, the street food culture still thrives in Penang.
Of course, the food is not the only thing that makes Georgetown stand out from the crowd. Graffiti is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Malaysia. However, after a visit to Georgetown, you can guarantee that the multitude of artworks scattered across town will be one of your most enduring impressions of the place. Often incorporating real objects from their surroundings, these artworks are beautiful, amusing and occasionally moving, and they add a modern, yet decidedly Malaysian flair to this historical city.Back to experiences in Malaysia