Penang, widely known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient,’ attracts millions of tourists every year due to its natural beauty, delightful food, and multicultural heritage. Located on the north-west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Penang is also a popular medical tourism destination. Most medical tourists are attracted to the state’s affordable and high-quality medical treatment. With hospitals accredited by international organizations, a wide range of excellent healthcare services, world-class medical professionals, with no waiting times, Penang has contributed more than 40% in revenue to Malaysia’s medical tourism market. The most sought after medical procedures are cosmetic surgery, eye care, and dental surgery. Pantai Hospital Malaysia and KJP Penang are some of the more popular medical centers in the state.
George Town, Penang’s capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has the largest collections of pre-war buildings in Southeast Asia and is the best place for tourists who wish to learn history. Those who want to indulge in the state’s nature should visit Batu Ferringhi and Penang Hill. Batu Ferringhi is one of the most popular destinations in Penang that offers a white sandy beach, a night market, and a range of water sports activities, including windsurfing and parasailing. Penang Hill is the last patch of tropical rainforest in the state. Tourists can ride the Penang Hill Railway to get to the top of the hill, which offers incredible views to George Town and the mountains of Langkawi. Other places that tourists can enjoy in the state are Kho Kongsi, Tropical Spice Garden, and Snake Temple.
Penang International airport serves daily flights serves both domestic and international destinations, including Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, and Taipei. Budget airlines such as AirAsia and Firefly are available for a more affordable option. To get around Penang, tourists can opt for several public transportation types, including trishaw, free CAT Bus, Rapid Penang Bus, taxi, and Grab (an online hailing app similar to Uber).
Nationals of most countries can enter Malaysia without a visa for up to 90 days. Citizens of China, India, Sri Lanka, and several other countries need to apply for a visa in advance before entering the country. eVisa Medical is available for selected foreign nationals.
Penang experiences a year-round tropical rainforest climate. The temperatures stay constant throughout the year, ranging between 25 to 32°C. The rainy season starts from April to September and October to early November. During the rainy season, the weather can get very humid. November to February is the dry season with sunny weather.
- Local Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is the official local currency, and 1 USD is equivalent to approximately RM4.17.
- Money & Payments: ATMs can be found easily around the state. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and established restaurants. Tipping is not necessary.
- Local Language: Malay is the official language, but many locals can speak English.
- Local Culture and Religion: Islam is the official religion, but Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Christianity are also practiced.
- Public holidays: Penang celebrates major religious holidays such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, Vesak Day, Deepavali, and Christmas.