The northern state is not just a popular getaway among Malaysians but also international tourists who revel in its natural landscape, heritage-filled architecture, and most importantly, local food.
In an article published by CNN Travel on New Year’s Day, Penang was named alongside Antigua and Barbuda; Bissagos Islands, Guinea-Bissau; Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; Chile; Colombo; Dijon, France; Disko Bay, Greenland; Gabon National Parks; Jordan; Lahti, Finland; and Australia's Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert.
The remaining places on the list included Naples, Italy; Ollantaytambo, Peru; Orkney Island, the United Kingdom; Oslo Beach, South Africa; St Eustatius, the Netherlands; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Valencia, Spain; and the US' Yellowstone National Park.
CNN mentioned that the Covid-19 pandemic has left many longing for epic culinary-focused journeys. Naturally, Penang, ranked up there with Asia’s best, was tipped a hot favourite. The write-up also highlighted that this Malaysian island in the Andaman Sea offered a mix of traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes.
"And then there's Baba Nyonya — a.k.a. Peranakan — cuisine, which incorporates regional ingredients and Chinese and Malay cooking methods.
"All of it can be found in hawker centers and shop houses throughout Penang's capital, George Town, which is filled with historic buildings, from old English mansions to classical Chinese shop houses and Islamic mosques."
The Pearl of the Orient also made headlines September last year for its newly minted Uneso Biosphere Reserve designation. “But there's so much more than just food and architecture to sustain wanderlust appetites on this 295-square-mile island,” the article went on to say.
State Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin also shared the good news on his Facebook page with the caption, "Penang is the only Asian representative to make CNN Travel's list of 'Where to travel 2022: The best destinations to go... Rich in various cultures, food, heritage and other key elements that would attract tourists from afar and near, Penang, or also known as the Pearl of the Orient by many, is proud to have made it to the world platform."
Just last month, Penang was named one of "15 Best Islands in the World to Retire On" by International Living, a website that covers global retirement or relocation opportunities.