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Penang Island

An island of 285 sq km in area, off north-western coast of peninsular Malaysia, Penang island is known as the Pearl of the Orient. The British established their first trading post of the Far East here in 1786. Georgetown is the headquarters. The island is known for its beaches, ideal for all types of water sports. The 13.5 km Penang bridge which links the island with the mainland is an engineering marvel.

The places of interest in Georgetown are Khoo Kongsi, a clan house of intricate carvings built by Chinese craftsmen, Kapitan Keling Mosque, Sri Mariamman temple, Fort Cornwallis and Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram, a Buddhist temple with one of the world's longest reclining statues of Buddha. The town has discotheques and night markets. One must bargain while shopping.

Elsewhere in the island are Penang Hill, Key Lok Si temple, Butterfly Farm, Botanical Gardens, Snake Temple, Penang Bird Park and the northern shoreline beaches like Tanjung Bunga, Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang where international resorts have come up. While for privacy one may go to Teluk Duyung, Monkey, Pantai Keracut or Pantai Mas beaches, for swimming one may reach the Pasir Panjang beach at the south-western tip of the island.

HOW TO REACH: Penang has an international airport, near the city. Taxis have fixed rates to specific points. Penang bridge is the road link with the mainland. There is a round-the-clock ferry service for passengers and vehicles from Butterworth on the mainland, to and fro. It takes 6 hours from KL to Butterworth on the mainland by train. Rail journey is more comfortable and it enables sight-seeing. In Penang, taxis, buses, trishaws, cars, rent-a-bike, cruise coaches etc are available.

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