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Penang

Northwest Coast, Malaysia

Photo Credit: Tourism Malaysia

Founded by the British in 1786, the trading port of Georgetown on Penang welcomed Indian, Chinese, Peranakan, and Eurasian communities, all of who stayed long after Malaysia declared independence. It’s this ethnohistoric mix (and resulting UNESCO World Heritage status) that makes Penang a worthwhile Malaysian destination for tourists looking for culture, architecture, and great food.

Echoes of the colonial era can still be found in Georgetown’s shophouses, City Hall and Fort Cornwallis. The considerable Chinese/Peranakan cultural influence lives on through the Khoo Kongsi clan house, Kek Lok Si Temple, and the Kuan Yin temple, the latter a node in Georgetown’s “Street of Harmony.”

Penang’s nature-based attractions can be found at a remove from Georgetown: among them the Penang National Park, the Penang Botanical Gardens, and the beaches of Batu Ferringhi.

A growing number of tourists come to Penang via the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal, which can accommodate some of the world’s most prominent cruise vessels.