Penang Island, once known as the Pearl of the Orient, is one of Malaysia's most densely populated urban centers. George Town, its bustling capital, showcases the island's long history as trading port and former British colony, as well as the multicultural influence of its tightly knit immigrant communities. Proud of their glittering, modern skyline, Penang Islanders also treasure their heritage: Colonial relics, faded Chinese shophouses, and Buddhist temples line the cobblestone streets of George Town's central UNESCO World Heritage zone. To capture Penang’s diversity, a guided tour is highly recommended. Absorb sweeping panoramas from atop Penang Hill; visit Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple; and relax on the white sands of Batu Ferringhi beach. Stroll through historic Fort Cornwallis and the riotously colorful streets of Little India and Chinatown, and visit the fascinating Penang Museum. A tasting tour of the island's famous food stalls is a must: try the creamy, spicy coconut laksa (noodle soup), prawn fritters, and slow-cooked pork. Nature lovers can explore Monkey Beach and the uninhabited islands of Penang National Park on a day trip, or snorkel and swim in the azure waters of Pulau Payar Marine Park. From Penang Island, many travelers head to Langkawi by boat, or back to the mainland to tour the rolling green hills of the Cameron Highlands. If you have some in Seburang Perai, the peninsular half of Penang State, visit Penang Bird Park, the largest and oldest aviary in Malaysia.