Top areas in Penang
At a time when Dutch colonial forces dominated the Malay Peninsula, the British East India Company arrived on an uninhabited island and began laying infrastructure for a competing port. Merchants quickly streamed in from China and other parts of the world, and the island of Penang was born. Today its international legacy continues as a tourist destination rather than a trading port, and Penang is prized for its beaches, historic architecture, affordable accommodation and amazing food.
Accommodation in Penang spans quaint hotels and inns in historic neighborhoods and luxury beach resorts. The latter are more popular, as most tourists prefer to venture into the colonial enclaves by day, returning to the beaches and resort restaurants and clubs before nightfall.
Penang's capital city, Georgetown, was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status for its fantastic historic neighborhoods. Highlights include Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (which also offers boutique accommodation), Fort Cornwallis and the Old City Hall, the set of which reveal as much about the occupying British as the immigrating Chinese. The hotels in Georgetown are well located for visiting temples and museums.
The newest and most extensive beach resort is at Batu Feringgi. It sits on the northern rim of the island and features an enviable spread of seafood restaurants and boutiques along the beach. So many Penang hotels are found here that competition drives down prices, especially in the off-season.
Penang International Airport is one of the best in Malaysia, and it operates flights to major cities across Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Peak season begins right before Christmas and continues through Chinese New Year, which usually falls in late January or early February. Hotels in Penang charge the highest rates at this time, with the best deals are offered to early bookers.
For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Penang, click on the interactive Penang map on the left-hand side of the page.