Penang or its official name Pulau Pinang is a state off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. This second smallest state in Malaysia consists of the island and the mainland. The island and the mainland are connected by two bridges.
Penang was acquired by the British East India Company from the Sultanate of Kedah in 1786. The Sultanate of Kedah, at the time had a shaky relations with Siam and Burma and also had to deal with internal Bugis rebellion.
Francis Light, representing the British East India Company took advantage of the situation by promising to assist the Sultanate of Kedah defeat the opponents in exchange of Penang. Penang was governed as part of the Straits Settlements beside Singapore and Malacca.
George Town became the state capital of Penang. It was named after King George III, who ruled the British Empire between 1760 and 1801. It also was the first British settlement in Southeast Asia. It was then was developed into a free port. At the end of 19th century, George Town became one of the major entrepôts in Southeast Asia.
Penang was occupied by the Japanese during the World War Two. Unable to fend the Japanese attack, the British withdrew from Penang and covetly evacuated Penang's European population while leaving the colony's Asian populace to fend for themselves.
British, under the Operation Jurist managed to liberate Penang from the Japanese in 1945. As the war ended, The Straits Settlements was dissolved and Penang merged into the Federation of Malaya.
Penang suffered from economic decline and massive unemployment in 1960's when the free port status of George Town was revoked.The state government at the time changed the economic focus towards hi-tech manufacturing. Thus, successfully recovering Penang's economy until the state is coined the 'Silicon Valley of the East'.
Penang started to grow focus on tourism especially in George Town area since the city's inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
Penang uses Ringgit Malaysia in their daily transaction. The currency is pegged to US dollar. Malaysians in general won’t trade with other currencies even with US Dollar or Great Britain Pound for fear of receiving fake money.
Penang is quite advance with the cashless transaction. So, the travelers don’t have to worry if they don’t have the cash handy. Chances are almost restaurants and shop have cashless service machine. However, if one goes at the market or stall areas, please be mindful to bring cash in small notes. Most of the street vendors don’t have bigger notes.
The power socket in Malaysia is of type G which is the same as British power socket. It has three pins and the standard voltage is 240 V while the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Adapters are cheap and easy to find. If one stays in the hotel, they can request for the adapter from the reception. If the travelers come from countries that has standard similar voltage between 220 - 240V such as the UK, Europe, Australia and most of the Asian and African country, it is safe to use their own electrical appliances.
However, for travelers from US, Canada and most South America. The standard voltage for their electrical appliances is within the range of 100 V - 127 V. If they want to use their electrical appliances, they must use voltage converter.
Malaysia’s official language is Malay Language and the second language is English Language. Due to its multiethnic population, Mandarin Language and Tamil Language are also widely used in Penang.
The travelers shouldn’t be scared to communicate and talk to the locals. Most of them understand English very well. Malaysia is placed second in Asia behind the Singapore and twelfth in the world for its English literacy rate.
Malaysia is located at the middle of the equator line. Hence, the weather in Penang is hot and humid with constant rain throughout the year. There's no need for thick clothes. However, travelers have to prepare a raincoat or an umbrella in case of rain.
It is not obligated to tip in Malaysia. The customers are charged 10% out of their bills for the services. However, there’s nothing harmful about showing a little bit of gestures to those who serve us.
No Smoking Areas
Almost all accommodations abide by the rules of prohibiting smoking in their premises. Starting 2019, all the eatery places indoor or outdoor will be no smoking areas. The same rules apply for public transportation and highway areas.
There are several places the travelers can go find information about Penang. For example,the places like Tourist Information Centre, Penang Tourist Center and Tourism Malaysia. These places provide information about Penang, Guide map and advice on attractions and places to go. Tourist Information Centre and Tourism Malaysia are located at the same area of Lebuh Pantai. Penang Tourist Center is located at Lebuh Light.
The information can also be gathered online. There are lots of website services, whether government affiliate agencies or from service provider regarding the Information on Penang can be found.
The tourist in Penang can purchase a rapid Passport for only RM30. The Passport offers one week of unlimited travel onboard all rapid Penang buses.The tourist can buy the Rapid Passport after showing their valid passport. They need to present the Rapid Passport every time they board the Rapid Penang buses. Some outlets also offer special deal and discounts for Rapid Passport holder. Remember to bring Rapid Passport and the map every where to ensure smooth travel.
The emergency contact in Malaysia is 999. It connects to other emergency services like police, ambulance and fire services.
It is advisable to keep the embassy of the travelers home country’ phone number. The embassy could provide legal help and take care of its citizens' welfare if something unfavorable happened during the travel.
Also, it is very pertinent for the travelers to keep the phone number the accommodation they stay in and always update them on the itineraries and the number to call for emergency purposes. While overall trip in Malaysia is generally safe, bad things happen. This way, the travelers will be assured that someone will be alerted if something were to befall them.