Imagine a city, its skyline punctuated by minarets, Mughal-style domes and skyscrapers, its colourful, food-stall-lined streets shaded by a leafy canopy of banyan trees. Historical Canvas Today's KLites are separated by barely a handful of generations from the tenacious Chinese and Malay tin prospectors who founded the city, carving it out of virgin jungle.
Located at the intersection of Asia’s great kingdoms and and Europe's powerful colonial empires, the island of Penang has long served as the link between Asia’s two halves and an important outlet to the markets of Europe and the Middle East. This history has resulted in a culture that is one of Malaysia’s most diverse, cosmopolitan and exciting.
Combine three distinct and ancient cultures, indigenous and colonial architecture, shake for a few centuries, garnish with a burgeoning tourism scene, and you've got the tasty urban cocktail that is George Town. George Town's most apparent – and touted – attraction is its architecture.
Clifftop temples, dam-flooded wilderness, a mining town now famous for chicken with beansprouts – Perak's highlights are as intriguing as they are varied, but somehow this rugged Malaysian region has never seized its share of the limelight. Time spent unpeeling Perak's layers will reward you richly.
Kedah & Perlis
The states of Kedah and Perlis represent a rural idyll that is central to the Malay identity. Limestone pillars thrust up through emerald paddy fields, which contribute to the harvest of over half of the country’s domestic rice supply. Not that many foreigners see this. In fact, most travellers would draw a blank if you asked them about ‘Kedah’.
For travellers’ purposes there are essentially two Kedahs: the tropical island of Pulau Langkawi and its surrounding islets, and the rural, little-visited mainland Kedah, known as Malaysia’s ‘rice bowl’. Langkawi is the stuff of tourist brochures that don’t skimp on descriptions such as ‘sun-kissed’ and ‘paradise’.