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Last updated : Nov 2009
Penang and Langkawi
Penang and Langkawi - TravelPuppy.com
Penang

The island of Penang, known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, sits just off the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia. A large number of tourist facilities have been added, which have spoilt heaps of the island’s main beach charms. Some of the beaches popular with resort developers, especially Batu Feringgi on the north coast, have been invaded by jet skis, private hotel stretches of sand and numerous touts and hawkers.

Despite this development to the north, the rest of the island is still a tropical haven that is surrounded by palm trees and sandy beaches. It is also the key international gateway to northern Malaysia. Its natural harbour was what first attracted the British to Penang in the late 18th century. The port is still 1 of the most important in Malaysia today. There is frequent ferry service available between the island and the town of Butterworth on the mainland.

Georgetown

Georgetown is Penang’s main settlement and is a developing area where Chinese, Indian, Malay, Thai and European cultures combine. The architecture in the space of a few miles takes in a British colonial style to Chinese stilt houses.

The major shopping area is on Canarvon and Campbell Streets. Worth a visit are Fort Cornwallis, a British 18th-century fortress, Khoo Kongsi, an old Chinese clan residence,Penang Museum and Art Gallery and a number of temples, churches, and mosques throughout the town.

The 1st class laksas and unusual Penang dishes are reason enough for visiting. Many meals are enjoyed outside at the ubiquitous food stalls.

Rest of Penang

Penang is more than just beaches. The most unique tourist attraction is the Snake Temple, swarming with venomous snakes. Apparently their poisonous threat is countered by heavily drugging them with incense. Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple houses a massive gold-plated reclining Buddha. At 33 metres long, is believed to be the 3rd largest in the world.

The Penang Bird Park in Seberang Jaya is a place for over 400 species of birds, ideal for bird lovers and horticultural admirers. The park's aviaries are pleasantly designed with waterfalls and gardens ablaze with flowers and tropical greenery, located among man-made islands. Many varieties of orchids and hibiscuses can also be found.

The Penang Butterfly Farm in Teluk Bahang houses more than 100 species of butterflies and insects, and it is open daily.

Penang Hill is set amidst the island, with a 700 metre or 2,300 feet peak, where tourists who don't mind the long queues for the cable car are rewarded with beautiful views and jungle walks.

Langkawi

Located north of Penang, Langkawi consists of 104 islands. The largest island, Langkawi is a free port and the only island with tourist facilities and duty-free shopping is available. International chain hotels and resorts have opened as the government and developers flood into what is set to become the country’s premier island resort. The island’s coves, inlets and lagoons make it great for all water sports. Horse riding and golf is also available. Flights to Langkawi depart from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Alor Setar. Langkawi can also be reached by road and sea.

Kelantan

The state of Kelantan is on the Malay-Thai border in the north, whose capital Kota Bharu is a vibrant, colourful city, very much the archetypal South East Asian border town. Kelantan boasts clean and unspoilt beaches which are ideal for diving, swimming and fishing, and hosts a number of cultural festivals, some of which are unique to the region. The birthday of the Sultan (Puja Umur) is celebrated with a week long festival, starting with a parade in Kota Bharu. An art unique to Kelantan is the Ma’yong, a mixture of opera, ballet, romantic drama and comedy, originally a form of court entertainment.