Entering the Penang bridge

Earlier described by travellers and visitors from Britain and the rest of Europe as the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is today one of the most visited city in the nation. It is largely urbanised but it also has fishing and farming based villages so the countryside is really very close by. Almost 90 percent of households in the state have Internet connection.

Physically connecting Penang island to the peninsular mainland are the country’s two longest road bridges, the Penang Bridge and the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, as well as a ferry service that provides a leisurely and relaxing ride with panoramic photo opportunities.

Penang has an international airport and a busy seaport. It also has what is dubbed the Silicon Valley of the East, an electronics manufacturing Free Industrial Zone located in Bayan Lepas with some of the world’s hi-tech companies having their manufacturing base in the area. Established in the 70s by the then Chief Minister, Lim Chong Eu, the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone has been instrumental in reversing the state’s economic fortune after it lost its free port status.

A funicular track up to the temple

Also among the biggest economic generators in Penang today are its seaside and recreation tourism sector, and booming medical tourism industry. Georgetown is a financial hub for northern Malaysia and home to famous corporations such as Standard Chartered which was the first bank to be established there in 1875 at Beach Street – so named because of its proximity to the beach.

The old town of Georgetown in Penang, northern of Malaysia, Old Heritage British Colonel Building used for current Penang Local Council in Esplanade

The Esplanade is Georgetown’s popular seafront promenade. When Captain Light first landed here, it was a swamp. His statue marks the spot and for tourists to snap a shot.

The British Council in Penang is located in an interesting building that is the Chung Siew Yin building on Light Street – the street named after Francis Light. Nearby the historic banking district sits the illustrious Eastern & Oriental Hotel, also known by its initials E&O.

Renowned authors who have stayed at the E&O include Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward and Hermann Hesse. Within walking distance of the hotel are the remains of Fort Cornwallis and its lighthouse.

Other landmark buildings within the Georgetown heritage city limits are the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) Temple, Kapitan Keling Mosque, St. George’s Church and Fort Point Hindu Temple.

Beautiful old mansions open to the public and worth a visit are those that used to belong to late Chinese tycoons Lim Lean Teng, Cheong Fatt Tze and Leong Fee.

Penang state government offices are located in the Komtar tower at the epicentre of the city. The Komtar building also features a geodesic dome that is the work of local architect Lim Chong Keat. He was inspired by visionary architect Buckminster Fuller.