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Streaked Spider-hunter Arachnothera magna ©Laurence Poh Website

Penang is a state in Malaysia, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia after Perlis, and the eighth most populous. A resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite.

he state is geographically divided into two sections:

Penang Island:
an island of 293 square kilometres located in the Straits of Malacca with an estimated population of 721,500; and

Province Wellesley (also known as Seberang Perai in Malay):
a narrow hinterland of 753 square kilometres on the peninsula across a narrow channel whose smallest width is 4 km (2.5 miles). It is bordered by Kedah in the north (demarcated by the Muda River) and east, and Perak in the south and has an estimated population of 796,500.

The body of water between Penang Island and Province Wellesley is the North Channel to the north of George Town and the South Channel to the south of George Town. Penang Island is irregularly shaped, with a granitic, hilly and mostly forested interior, the highest point being Western Hill (part of Penang Hill) at 830 metres above sea level. The coastal plains are narrow, the most extensive of which is in the northeast which forms a triangular promontory where George Town, the state capital, is situated. The topography of Province Wellesley is mostly flat. Butterworth, the main town in Province Wellesley, lies along the Perai River estuary and faces George Town at a distance of 3 km (2 miles) across the channel to the east.

The greater metropolitan area of Penang consists of highly urbanized Penang Island, Seberang Prai, Sungai Petani, Kulim and the surrounding areas. In terms of population, it is the second largest metropolitan area in Malaysia after the Conurbation of Kuala Lumpur (Klang Valley). According to National Census 2000, the population of this urban area in is about 1.6 million. As for the Conurbation of Kuala Lumpur, the population in 2000 is about 4.9 million while the population of Johor Bahru is 1.5 million. Currently, the population of this urban area is approximately 2 million.

This urban area is referred to as the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) under a repackaging of the Ninth Malaysian Plan (a five-year national development plan) which was announced earlier. The NCER is one of three development regions identified in Peninsular Malaysia, other development regions being the South Johor Economic Region (SJER) or Iskandar Development Region (IDR) and the East Coast Development Region.

There are a number of small islets off the coast of Penang, the biggest of which, Pulau Jerejak, is located in the narrow channel between Penang Island and the mainland. It was previously a leper and penal colony, but is now a tourist attraction. Other islands include:

Pulau Aman - Pulau Betong - Pulau Gedung - Pulau Kendi (Coral Island) - Pulau Rimau.

Penang enjoys a year-round equatorial climate which is warm and sunny, along with plentiful rainfall, especially during the southwest monsoon from April to September. The climate is very much dictated by the surrounding sea and the wind system. Penang's proximity with Sumatra, Indonesia makes it susceptible to dust particles carried by wind from perennial but transient forest fires, creating a phenomenon known as the haze.



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Useful Reading

*Field Guides & Bird Song

For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering Malaysia as a whole - please see the Malaysia page of Fatbirder


Malaysia Nature Society - Penang Branch


As an effort to broaden our base and have better interactions amongst the branches, MNS Penang members can take part in the activities of our neighbouring branches Kedah and Perak and vice versa. Please call the relevant person in charge. Members must always bring their membership card along if they want to join these trips. Some fee may be charged depending on the activity.

Trip Reports


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Penang Mutiara Beach Resort


Penang Mutiara Beach Resort heralds a new standard for Asian resort hotels. Located on a prime beachfront at Teluk Bahang, otherwise known as the glowing bay, it nestles in 7.3 hectares (18 acres) of landscaped tropical greenery. All 438 of its spacious rooms enjoy sea and garden views. Here in this paradise of comfort and luxury, it has been claimed that nothing is unusual…


Birding On Bike


My name is Hakim from Penang. I started birding in 2008… doing thesis for my undergraduate thesis in Terengganu. After the university day had passed, I continue birding in my area… firstly I start with nothing, no binocular, no camera and nothing. Until the day I invite Dave Bakewell to my area, he loan me a pair of binoculars…

Reflections of Wings & Inspiration


I started birding back in my teenage years and it immediately became one of my main passions in life. However, it was only after more than a decade of birding that I decided to try and keep my colourful and memorable experiences alive through photography…

Other Links

Bird-watching in Penang


…bird watching spots in Penang are Penang Hill, and the coastal road opposite Pulau Jerejak, where one can spot migratory birds like the curlew, sandpiper, plover and redshank during migratory season which begins in October…