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Penang Island

Malaysia's insider take:

Penang has both gorgeous beaches and a rich history. Under British rule since 1786—when its then sultan gave it up in exchange for protection against his Siamese enemies—the island is the oldest British settlement in Malaysia. Its capital, George Town, was once a busy port that traded tea and opium with India and China. In early 2008, its importance as a commercial and cultural crossroads earned the town an inscription on UNESCO's World Heritage List, along with Malacca, another historic Malaysian seaport. Today, George Town is a vibrant, multiethnic town with well-preserved colonial-era buildings, modern high-rises, and excellent street food. The Chinese who migrated here built row houses and temples: Check out the Khoo Clan Temple on Cannon Square, a Chinese Baroque masterpiece (

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