If there's a better microcosm of the exotic east than Penang, we've yet to find it. Located at the intersection of Asia’s great kingdoms and Europe's powerful colonial empires, Penang has long served as the link between Asia’s two halves and an important outlet to the markets of Europe and the Middle East. This is one of Malaysia’s most diverse, cosmopolitan and exciting cultures. It culminates in George Town, Penang Island's main city and an urban centre that delivers old-world Asia in spades; think trishaws pedalling past watermarked Chinese shophouses and blue joss smoke perfuming the air. Yet it would be a shame to neglect the rest of the island's tropical abundance, its palm-fringed beaches and fishing villages, its mountainous jungle and farms growing exotic produce such as nutmeg and durian. And there's even more of the state to explore across in Penang's mainland section, Seberang Perai.