About the Pearl of Orient

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 hundreds of years. 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 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.

Where else can you find an old church, a chinese temple, an indian temple, and a muslim mosque 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.

Should one wish to get away from the busy city, the idyllic 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 280 square kilometers, and a strip of land called Seberang Prai on Peninsular Malaysia about 48 kilometers wide.

Since 1985, the island is 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.

 . .. it has more to offer per square mile than any other place in the world
Colourful Penang

If you have never been to Penang, click here to find out:

 • Why Penang is the Pearl of the Orient ( the biased commentary )
Why Penang sucks ( the frank commentary )

Some of the nice things people say about this site.

News Clips
Save The Botanic Gardens campaign
 • Penang tycoon's mansion listed as heritage

If you are contemplating on driving in Penang, think again - for this is the land of Creative Driving and not Defensive Driving!


Warm and humid tropical climate throughout the year. Temperature ranges from 21oC to 32oC (70oF to 95oF). Average rainfall is 255cms (100 inches) throughout the year. August through November are the wettest months.

Bring: swim wear, light clothing and designer sunglasses. Do Not bring: winter clothing, skis, herpes or veneral diseases.

Visitors to Malaysia must possess a national passport or other internationally recognised travel documents. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of allowed stay in Malaysia. For citizens of most countries, no visa is needed for short social visits. Working papers are required for employment in Malaysia.
Import licenses are required for firearms and commercial quantities of gold. Dangerous drugs, pornography, flick knives, certain broadcast receivers, goods from Israel, and man-eating creatures like piranhas are not allowed.

NO to drugs. Drug traffickers are presented with the death penalty in Malaysia.

NO to boobs.While topless sunbathing may greatly improve the scenery of our beaches, it is not tolerated by our moral guardians. It is however, okay for males to flaunt their upper torso.

The Penang International Airport is 16km from Georgetown. Cathay Pacific, Eva Air, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Thai International offer connecting flights.
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.
Road. The North-South Expressway is an excellent freeway linking Alor Setar, in the north of Peninsular Malaysia, through Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru in the south.

1998, being the Year of the Tiger, has not been kind to the Asian Tigers. Instead of roaring to another year of miraculous growth, we are meow-ing and limping along. The currency exchange for the Malaysian Ringgit is pegged at RM3.80 per USD

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