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Flights to Penang International Airport, Penang, Malaysia

The Penang International Airport is situated in the Bayan Lepas area and serves as the main airport for the northern region of Malaysia. Although the airport consists of just one terminal handling both domestic and international flights, it is one of the busiest in the country.

If you do not intend to rent a car, the most cost-effective and reliable way of travelling from the airport to other parts of the island is by public buses operated by Rapid Penang. Rapid Penang buses provide an extensive coverage of both Penang Island and Seberang Perai, a narrow hinterland opposite Penang Island, as well as long distance routes out of the island. There is a Rapid Penang ticket counter on the ground floor of the arrivals hall, with fares dependent on where you’re headed. You can also purchase a Rapid Penang Tourist Passport, which allows unlimited travel on its buses for a week.

Although there are taxis on Penang island, be warned that most drivers are not willing to use their meter. One way to ensure that you do not get ripped off is to approach the taxi counter in the airport for assistance, during which an airport employee will ascertain your destination, before issuing a voucher with the correct fare. Without the help of the airport authorities or your hotel, it will be unwise to flag down a random taxi as there have been cases of drivers refusing to honour previously agreed upon prices after ferrying passengers to their destinations.

Another way to get around is by trishaw, with riders often doubling up as excellent informal tour guides. Fares tend to vary so negotiate before getting on a trishaw; it is advisable to hire them by the hour for extended sightseeing.

A melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and British culture, Penang is the only state in Malaysia where ethnic Chinese are the majority. Most locals are able to speak Malay, the national language, and the ethnic Chinese are also able to speak Mandarin as well as various Chinese dialects. The younger demographic are also fluent in English.

Most visitors head for Georgetown, the capital of Penang that was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008. Sightseeing within Georgetown should be done on foot as the area is relatively compact and you wouldn’t want to miss out on street art such as the murals as of Ernest Zacharevic dotting the lively district. The area also contains an assortment of 19th century colonial and settler architecture. Every building represents a page of Penang’s colourful history and every street has a story to tell. Many shop houses are still inhabited or used for businesses, so feel free to ask the proprietors about the building’s history. Cheong Fatt Sze Mansion, Penang City Hall, Khoo Kongsi clan temple, and Pinang Peranakan Mansion are some of the highlights in the area. There are several walking tours you can take if you’re interested in learning more about the eclectic history of Georgetown. These tours tend to be very informative and can sometimes stretch up to a couple of hours, so do dress comfortably, bring a water bottle, and slap on some sun block before venturing out.

Although less famous than its counterparts in other Malaysian states, Penang’s beaches such as Teluk Duyung and Muka Head are popular among the local residents as they are generally isolated and unspoiled. Teluk Duyung, meaning Monkey Beach, has a pre-war lighthouse that provides breath-taking views of the untouched, natural surroundings.

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