Back when the distinction between governments, armies and companies was less precise, the British-based East India Company sailed into Penang harbour and took over the 28-sq-km island as its first settlement on the Malay peninsula, a move intended to break Dutch Melaka’s monopoly of the spice trade.
What evolved on the formerly unpopulated ‘Betel Nut Island’ was a bustling port. Entrepreneurs of every imaginable ethnicity, most notably Chinese, flocked to this new land, creating wealth and cultural hybrids. Like many company settlements, Penang wilted after the collapse of the British Empire. Today it’s become the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Malaysia although this high-tech world is scarcely noticeable to the casual traveller. Beyond the capital Georgetown’s heat and decay are beach resorts, such as Batu Ferringhi, and the sleepy Malay fishing village of Teluk Bahang.
Best places to stay in Pulau Penang
Cambodia travel guide
Ascend to the realm of the gods, Angkor Wat. Descend into hell at Tuol Sleng prison. With a history both inspiring and depressing, Cambodia delivers an intoxicating present.
How to find your favourite hawker stall in Penang
Finding the best places to eat in a foodie town is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a Lonely Planet author. My technique in most cities is to ask those in the know, then check out the places that get mentioned the most. Then I go and eat. A lot. But in Penang, Malaysia my system went awry. Enter the hawker stall...
Kuala Lumpur, Melaka & Penang travel guide
Imagine a city, its skyline punctuated by minarets, Mogul domes and skyscrapers, its colourful, food-stall-lined streets shaded by a leafy canopy of banyan and rain trees.
Penang: Malaysia in miniature
There’s a place in Penang, south of Little India in Georgetown, where you can find good food, sport on the TV, a pretty temple and somewhere around the corner, the soul of the island. Hyperbolic? OK, a little...
Kuala Lumpur Melaka & Penang - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Penang starts here. You'll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on Kuala Lumpur's food scene.
Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple Afternoon Tour
Explore Southeast Asia's largest Buddhist temple, Kek Lok Si, perched against a hill slope in Air Itam. Marvel at the statue of the Goddess of Mercy and the 30 meter high Pagoda and take a stroll through the Penang Botanical Gardens located at the foot of Penang Hill on this 4-hour tour.
Penang City Tour
Penang has perhaps the largest and well preserved colonial-era old town, with excellent examples of Chinese clan houses, colonial homes, public buildings and private mansions. Visit Little India and exciting Chinatown, and make a stop at the world famous Royal Selangor and the Penang Museum. Before the day is over stop at Wat Chayamankalaram to see the big reclining Buddha.
Live the dream in Penang's heritage hotels
Georgetown, the capital of Pulau Penang (Penang Island) in Malaysia became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2008, preserving an area that holds the largest number of pre-war buildings in Southeast Asia - louvered shop houses, white colonial buildings, gold leaf-encrusted Chinese temples and palatial mosques...
Kuala Lumpur Melaka & Penang - Penang (Chapter)
Penang is one of Malaysia's most tolerant, cosmopolitan and exciting destinations. Its capital George Town is a dynamic and atmospheric place, and there are a range of activities to enjoy across the island, including hiking through jungles at...