Malaysia and Borneo
The first foothold of the British on the Malay peninsula, Palau Penang is a laidback and fascinating place to visit. The island’s main city George Town is a vibrant mix of Indian, Malay and Chinese influences that came with the immigrants who arrived in the golden age of trade whilst the rest of the island is a delightful series of coastal parks, beaches, temples and sleepy fishing villages that offer relaxed exploration.
George Town was established in 1786 by a trader from the British East India Company, the city you see today sprawling out from old Fort Cornwallis. The area around the fort today makes up the city’s well-preserved colonial core which is UNESCO-listed – the grandiose City Hall and Queen Victoria Clock Tower are must sees. Close by you’ll find the atmospheric old streets of Chinatown which are perfect for leisurely wandering – you’ll come across plenty of markets, traditional shophouses, temples and delicious cuisine. Other neighbourhoods to visit include Little India and the Muslim Quarter, both of which are vibrant and fun to explore. Head out into George Town’s suburbs to find a serious of tranquil temples, including Wat Chayamangkalaram and the Botanic Gardens.
A picturesque 40 minute drive around the coast from George Town, Batu Ferringhi is Penang’s biggest beach resort. A stretch of white sand and palm trees backed by a strip of big hotels, shops and restaurants, Batu Ferringhi is a great place to relax after touring the city – whether it’s just for a day or for several. Bear in mind that it does see a large number of dap trippers for George Town at the weekend. The night market here is excellent especially, as in most of Malaysia, for the food!
Malaysia’s most recently instated national park, Penang’s covers 1,213 hectares of land and sea and is home to a number of different habitats including mangroves and beach. From the carnivorous pitcher plants to mouse deer, dolphins and monitor lizards, 417 species of flora and 143 species of fauna can be found here whilst a number of turtle species use the beaches to lay their eggs. There are two excellent walking trails through the park which offer a glimpse at its many natural features, as well as a 15 metre high canopy walk. The beaches are considered Penang’s best.
Overlooking the popular Batu Feringgi Beach and set amongst lush tropical gardens the Rasa Sayang Resort is a stylish, classic resort. As well as anticipating guests' every need, the hotel is also an elegant showcase for some wonderful artefacts of Malaysia's rich heritage. Enjoy the award winning dining options, lounge around one of the swimming pools and have a round of golf.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.