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Penang, renowned as the Pearl of the Orient, is a state on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Penang is rich in culture and history with a unique mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and British influences. Hailed as the food capital of Malaysia, Penang has become a popular destination with plenty on offer for those who visit.

Georgetown is the capital of Penang. It is a favourite spot for tourists as it has many attractive pre-Second World War houses and shophouses, as well as 19th century churches, temples, mosques, and colonial buildings. George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site (it was inscribed as one of the Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca together with the city of Melaka).

Air Itam is a largely residential town just west of the capital. The area is often visited by tourists heading to Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Temple but is also home to some exceptional local food. Batu Ferringhi is located on the northern coast of Pulau Pinang. This area is home to white sandy beaches and luxurious hotels. A favourite spot for both locals & tourists. To get your hands on some souvenirs, check out the night market opened from 8 pm until midnight. The nearby resort town of Tanjung Bungah and the fishing village of Teluk Bahang are also included here. Simpang Ampat is a small town famous for its nearby seafood at Bukit Tambun and Batu Kawan. The nearby island of Pulau Aman is a popular weekend getaway and also famous for its seafood.

Penang International Dragon Boat Festival is staged annually since 1979 and has successfully attracted teams from all over the world including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Canada, and the USA. The event is now usually held at the Teluk Bahang Dam. Penang Botanic Gardens were established by Charles Curtis of Britain way back in 1884; it's generally known as the Waterfall Gardens by the local community because of a little waterfall located within it. The garden hosts an annual international floral fest as well as a world music festival.

Penangites live to eat and will eat anywhere, provided the food is exceptional. Often some of the best food can be found along the side of a busy road or even down an inconspicuous alleyway. Nasi Kandar is literally white rice with anything else you want with it. Typical side dishes to add include curries, fried chicken or fish, prawns, squid, hardboiled eggs and vegetables and it's often completed with splashes of various curry sauces. Many Penangites have their own favourite stall, and some stalls are open 24 hours, so ask around for their recommendation.

Assam Laksa is a far cry from the sweet, coconut Singapore version. The broth of this noodle soup is packed with tamarind, lemongrass, galangal and flaked fish and is typically garnished with pineapple, mint, onion, prawn paste and a generous helping of chili. The combination is utterly unique, powerful and will have the uninitiated breathing fire.

Char Kway Teow is the ever popular stir-fried flat rice noodle dish found throughout Malaysia and Singapore, often mixed with prawns, cockles, bean sprouts and vegetables, with an egg mixed in on request. Exceptional versions of this dish can be found all over Penang, with the best typically coming from roadside stalls, hawker centers and coffeeshops, or kopitiams.


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