Penang is often known as “The Pearl of the Orient” and Pulau Pinang Pulau Mutiara. The cultural mosaic of Penang naturally means that they are a great many number of festivals to celebrate. The Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, Hungry Ghost Festival, Qing Ming, and the feast days of various deities. The Malays and Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Haji, and Maulidur Rasul while the Indians observe Deepavali,Thaipusam and Thai Pongal. Christmas, Good Friday and Easter are celebrated by Christians. Buddhists observe Wesak Day while the Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi. Many of these festivals are celebrated in a large scale and are also public holidays in Penang. The Penang Government organises the annual George Town Festival which celebrates the city’s World Heritage Site status with arts and live cultural performances throughout the month of July. The famous Pesta Pulau Pinang is a combination of trade expo, family-oriented carnival and cultural events held throughout the month of December since the 1960s primarily at the Pesta site in Sungai Nibong and other locations in the state.
Penang, long known as the food capital of Malaysia, is renowned for its good and varied food. Penang was recognised as having the Best Street Food in Asia by Time magazine in 2004, citing that “nowhere else can such great tasting food be so cheap”. Penang’s cuisine reflects the Chinese, Nyonya, Malay and Indian ethnic mix of Malaysia, but also shows some influence of Thailand. Its especially famous “hawker food”, many served al fresco, strongly features noodles, spices, and fresh seafood. The best places to savour Penang’s food include Gurney Drive, Pulau Tikus, New Lane, New World Park, Penang Road and Chulia Street, as well as Raja Uda and Chai Leng Park over on the mainland. Penang is also famed for its traditional biscuits such as the tau sar pneah.
Aside from that, Penang is also ranked among top ten greatest street food cities in Asia, according to CNN Go. The most popular beaches in Penang are located at Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi, and Teluk Bahang, and these contiguous beaches are home to Penang’s famed hotel and resort belt. More secluded Muka Head, which hosts a lighthouse and a marine research station, and Monkey Beach – both within the Penang National Park – offer more pristine water. Pollution which has been going on for years taints the beauty of the beaches and increasingly turns tourists away to places like Langkawi and Pangkor. Among the identified sources of pollution include inefficient sewage disposal and unchecked commercial activities.