Penang is one of thirteen states in the Malaysian Federation. It is located on the western-northern cost of the country and is dotted with attractive beaches. The state of Kedah lies to the eastern and the northern side of the island and the Straits of Malacca and Sumatra are located to the west. The State of Perak lies to the south of the state.
Penang is one of the smallest states of Malaysia and it enjoys an equatorial climate. The weather remains humid and warm at almost all times of the year. There are no particular cold or hot seasons in the state. Rainfall happens throughout the year, but the period from September to November receives the maximum amount of it. The climate is at its best from the months of April to September because of the southwest monsoon. The climate is very much moderated by the wind system and the sea.
Penang is spread over an area of 293 sq KM and is divided into two sections – the Seberang Perai and the Penang Island. The Seberang region is also known by the name of Province Wellesley. Some of the most famous islands in Penag are listed below:
- Tanjung Bungah
- Tanjung Tokong
- Teluk Bahang
- Air Itam
- Batu Ferringhi
- Bayan Lepas
- Sungau Pinang
Penang consists of some famous islets located in the outlying areas of the coast. The biggest islet is the Pulau Jerejak, which is located between the narrow channel of the mainland and the Penang Island. The island was used as a penal and a leper colony for thousands of years, but is now a major tourist attraction. Some of the other islets of Penang are:
- Pulau Aman
- Pulau Rimau
- Pulau Kendi
- Pulau Gedung
When to go there
Penang can be visited throughout the year so deciding on the time is a bit difficult. As mentioned before, it remains hot and humid through out the year but the plenty of rainfall makes up for the warm climate. A great idea is to visit the state during one of its numerous festivals. Some of them are listed below:
This festival is celebrated either in January or at the start of February. It signifies the beginning of the Chinese New Year and is celebrated with great pomp and gusto.
Although difficult to pronounce, this festival features a unique ceremony where people throw oranges at each other! It is celebrated every year on the 15th day of the Chinese year first month.
This day celebrates the birthday of Lord Buddha and all the temples in the state are fully crowded during this time.
This a festival dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Subramaniam. The highlight of this festival is the ceremony where all the devotees carry kavadis for fulfilling their promises.
This festival is celebrated by the Christian community of Penang from the 26th to the 28th day of July. Various mass processions are carried out from all the churches.
Penang remains hot throughout the year and so care must be taken against sunburns and heat strokes. The heat and humidity can get quite unbearable for tourists coming from western countries as the island has an equatorial climate. It is important to drink lots of water because dehydration is a very common problem for tourists in Penang. The loss of salt through sweat is another problem. Keep yourself well replenished with water and fruit juices at all times. Pack clothes that are suitable for a hot climate.
Mosquitoes are common in Penang because of the climate. They are res0ponsible for diseases like Dengue Fever, Japanese B Encephalitis and Malaria. Make sure to buy an insect repellent containing DEET before getting into thee country for keeping away ticks, mosquitoes and other insects.
You need to carry your Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate if you are coming from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa or from South America.
The local food and water
The food available in Penang is usually high in hygienic and it is safe to consume food from roadside stalls and hawker stalls. However, caution must be exercised while eating or drinking anything while being on the island. Drink only boiled or bottled water. Avoid drinking water from ice cubes, fountain drinks and tap water. Bring a water purifier or iodine tablets with you for purifying the water before drinking.
Following are a few more things to remember while being in Penang
- Do not accept offers of rides from unlicensed taxis and passenger vehicles
- Do not carry any valuables with you if you hire a motorcycle for exploring Penang
- Do not leave behind your valuable things in the room of your hotel
- Do not carry valuables to restaurants and bars
- Do not attempt to walk alone in roads that are not well-lit.
Be careful of thieves who snatch your jewelry and run away. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry while you are out touring the island. Some of these thieves can also come in motorcycles and snatch away your handbag, so do not carry one if you do not really need it.
Be careful in the beaches of Batu Feringhi. There have been instances of tourists being harassed by unregulated boat ski, Jet Ski and other such water sports.
Handshakes are quite acceptable in the island but should only be initiated by a female. The traditional greeting of Penang is the “salaam” which signifies a handshake without any physical contact between two persons. If anybody greets you with a salaam, you should reciprocate it immediately.
Always remove your shoes before entering any temple or mosque. There are some mosques, which do not let you enter without wearing a scarf or a robe. Both the clothing items are offered by the mosques so wear them if you want to enter their premises. Taking photos at religious places is usually permissible but always ask the authority before doing so. The rule of removal of shoes is also applicable to Malaysian homes and you must remove yours before entering any.