GEORGE TOWN: Penang ends 2019 with another feather in its feather-laden cap.
In an article published in ‘The Travel on Sunday’, the Pearl of the Orient was named one of "20 Destinations With the Most Beautiful Beaches (You Can Actually Afford To Go To)".
The Travel is regarded as a world authority on international travel information.
The writer, Kenyetta Henley, said that while the holiday season has a way of wrecking people’s bank accounts that makes summertime vacations seem like a distant fantasy, cheap beach vacation ideas are not limited to the usual exhausted destinations that leave no breathing room between mobs of tourists and piles of trash.
She said that the list includes hidden gems that are highly underrated, despite possessing all the same amenities of established tourism hotspots.
Henley singled out Penang's Monkey Beach at the Penang National Park as one of the best beaches.
She wrote: "Malaysia is a destination known for the ancient temples and delicious food it serves up at a low rate. Penang state is responsible for quite a few of its best beaches, including Monkey Beach in the Penang National Park, where adorable crab-eating macaques roam free, according to Lonely Planet".
Other destinations in the list are Algarve, Portugal; Gozo, Malta; Corfu, Greece; Fort-De-France, Martinique; Marrakech-Asfi, Morocco; Goa, India; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; Paracas, Peru; Bocas Del Toro, Panama; Oregon, United States; Palawan, Philippines; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Kep, Cambodia; Phuket Island, Thailand; Willemstad, Curacao; Hvar Island, Croatia; Grenada; Uluwatu, Indonesia; and Baja California, Mexico.
Meanwhile, in an article by Paula Froelich in the New York Post on Saturday, under the headline "Here are the 12 best countries to retire in", Penang also earned a mention.
Froelich wrote that with an average local salary of US$29,000 (about RM102,000) annually, living in Penang is beautiful and affordable.
“A couple can live here comfortably in Penang (with sea or mountain views) for roughly US$1,990 a month, rent included,” the International Living Retirement Index (ILRI) notes.
“A family of six can dine at a decent local Chinese restaurant and order 10 dishes for less than US$6 per person – beer included – and a man’s haircut will set you back a mere US$3.”
Other countries in the list include Vietnam, Spain, Slovenia, Thailand, Peru, Portugal, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama.
Commenting on the accolades, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that Penang is indeed home to beautiful beaches and famous for its palate-pleasing delicacies.
"Not forgetting the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site and our beloved Penang Hill, a 130-million-year-old rainforest!
"If you're looking for a great vacation spot, then look no further.
"We are even listed as one of the best locations to retire in!" he added.