Penang Malaysia “The Pearl of the Orient”

Penang nicknamed “The Pearl of the Orient” is a state on the northwest coast of Malaysia. It occupies two parts: an island (Penang Island) as well as a strip of the mainland.Both land masses are connected by two of the longest bridges in Malaysia. 

My first visit to Penang was for a business trip back in 1988 and it quickly became one of my favorite travel destinations. It was the combination of rich history, tasty food and the tropical landscape that captivated me. Penang is now one of the most visited places in Malaysia offering visitors white sandy beaches, beautiful lush green forests, spectacular views from the top of Penang Hill and many historical landmarks from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Georgetown the capitol of Penang is a UNESCO World Heritage site with its narrow streets and well-preserved colonial architecture. The old city center consists of over 12,000 original buildings comprised of churches, temples and Chinese shop fronts from an era when Malaysia was a British colony.

Colonial GeorgetownColonial Georgetown
Chinese RickshawChinese Rickshaw
Cheah Kongsi TempleCheah Kongsi Temple


In 2012, Penang wanted to revive the city streets, so they commissioned Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic to paint 6 wall murals on old walls portraying the local life.Since then, other artists have added their own quirky paintings to his collection. Today, the Penang wall art is one of the most popular attractions with both the locals and tourists.

Boy on the MotorcycleBoy on the Motorcycle
Cat in the Blue WindowCat in the Blue Window
Wo Ai Nee Chinese Malay IndianWo Ai Nee Chinese Malay Indian


The food in Penang is renowned throughout the world. This multi-cultural city with Malay, Indian and Chinese immigrants offers visitors diverse and flavorful food choices. Penang is well known for its hawker or street food.  These are detached food stands offering a homemade local dish usually at a very cheap price.

When I travel, I do my best to eat like the locals. One of my favorite places to eat in Penang is the Viva Food court.  This neighborhood eatery is an open-air restaurant covered by a tin roof.  The perimeter is lined by individual food stalls offering a variety of ethnic dishes my personal favorites being Malay and Chinese. In the middle of the restaurant customers can seat themselves at metal tables with plastic chairs.  These uncomfortable plastic chairs are common in outdoor cafes throughout South East Asia.  However, the food here is so good you will quickly forget just how uncomfortable they really are.

Malaysian Laksa SoupMalaysian Laksa Soup
Food Stall in Viva Food Court Food Stall in Viva Food Court

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