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GUIDE TO PENANG

Guide to Malaysia

Penang is state in Malaysia and it is located at the North of Peninsular Malaysia. It is composed of 2 parts – Penang Island itself and Seberang Perai, known as the Mainland of Penang.

The neighbouring states of Penang are Kedah in the north and Perak in the south. It is relatively near to Thailand as well.



PENANG

Penang is often known as “The Pearl of the Orient”, composed of an island and the mainland. Penang is considered as the economy hub of the north, concentrating trades and industrial, where many people of the north choose to land their career in the state.

Because of its famous UNESCO Heritage status, Penang is also consider as the art & culture hub, with perseverance of maintaining heritage practice, local existing businesses and art. There are many interesting places to visit and things to see in and around Penang.


OUR CULTURE

Malaysia’s population mainly consists of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians & indigenous tribes. There are also many Indonesians and Filipinos here, along with people of all nations working and doing business.

The official language of the country is Bahasa Malaysia (which means the Malaysian Language) and English. However in some schools, Chinese and Tamil are also taught. Getting around using English is easy in Malaysia‘s larger towns. It’s not so easy in some of the more remote districts, and learning a few words of Bahasa Malaysia is very helpful.

Mandarin is taught in schools but in conversations people will also speak Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka and other Chinese dialects. The principal Indian language used here is Tamil.

Malaysia allows freedom of worship. The official religion and the one practiced by Malays is Islam. Among other races, you will also find Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, and Sikhs.


CLIMATE & TIME

Climate
The climate in Malaysia is generally hot and wet. Day temperatures are between 28°C and 35°C.

It is a little cooler at night and immediately after rain. Relative humidity is between 60%-73% year round. An umbrella is a must as rain can be intense. There is little seasonal change.

Time
Malaysia's standard time is +8 hours ahead of Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). As the climate is stable all year round we do not observe Daylight Savings.


CURRENCY

The unit of currency is the Ringgit Malaysia (nearly always abbreviated to RM, or sometimes MYR). 1 ringgit is broken down into 100 sen. We use RM1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 bills, and 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen coins. Malaysians sometimes refer to the RM as a dollar. Make sure you know which kind of dollar is being discussed!

New Currency Control
With the introduction of new currency control measures, travellers have to declare the money that they are bringing in or taking out of the country.

Under the new foreign exchange control measures, both residents and non-residents of Malaysia are allowed to carry ringgit notes amounting to not more than RM 1,000 into and out of the country. Non-residents are allowed to take out of the country an amount less than or equivalent to the sums they declared upon entry.

Everyone who enters Malaysia is required to fill in a declaration form known as the Travellers Declaration Form (TDF) and submit it to the immigration authorities when arriving in or departing from the country.


OTHER TOWNS

Surrounding Penang, there are few North Malaysian states that one could go to pay a visit. To name a few, Kedah and Perlis are famous of its paddy field scenery, and Perak with its local heritage, the natural caves and food-hunting.


THE LAW

You won’t find anything surprising about Malaysian laws. Capital punishment is in force here. Based on Section 39B (2) Dangerous Drugs Act, 1952, the punishment for dealing drugs is the death sentence. Refrain from offending anyone and behave well at parties and in public places: the guy who complains might just be sensitive to noise, but he could also be the Chief of Police.

Muslims in Malaysia have to adhere to the Syariah Law. This Islamic Law forbids a Muslim man and a Muslim woman to be alone together in a private place. This is called ‘khalwat’ (close proximity) and carries a jail sentence.

As this is an Islamic country, it is advisable to avoid any extreme public displays of affection such as kissing or necking. Again, the message is: err on the side of caution.


FOOD & ATTIRE

Food is most talked about by tourists and visitors of Penang – the diversity of culture, local heritage had influence many types of local cuisines that are a fusion of Malay, Chinese, British and Indian origins. Cendol, Char Koey Teow, Lobak, Pasembur, Rojak and many more are some local favourites. Baba Nyonya dishes are with mixes of local spices as well.


PRECAUTIONS

Malaysia has its fair share of creepy-crawlies like snakes and scorpions but you’re unlikely to meet them in town. Far more dangerous are the Hepatitis A and B bugs: make sure you’ve had your jabs.

Another local nasty is the mosquito, which is a vector for some serious diseases. The most famous is the Aedes mosquito, whose bite can carry dengue fever. Burn coils, use repellents, and make sure there are no pools of still water in and outside your accommodation where these critters can breed.