Melaka was founded in the 15th century and soon became an important trading port on the route between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It underwent three successive periods of European rule (Portuguese, Dutch and British) before gaining independence with Malaysia in 1957. This historic heritage and a cosmopolitan cultural mix makes Melaka a fascinating town to explore. Attractions of note include the tomb of Huang Kasturi, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia) and the Kampung Kling Mosque but Melaka's highlight is wandering the old, narrow streets, shopping for antiques and tasting the distinctive Nyonya cuisine at the many open air restaurants.
Penang Island, just off the north-western coast of Malaysia, has been dubbed the "Pearl of the Orient". Its capital George Town was an historic trading port and was ruled by the British between the 18th and 20th centuries. With one of the most diverse populations in Asia, it's a fascinating town to wander and explore its rich cultural heritage and sample the huge variety of cuisines available. Sites of interest include Fort Cornwallis (built in 1808 to defend the island) and the Chinese Clan bridge houses built on stilts. Elsewhere on Penang you can visit Wat Chayamangkalaram, a Thai architectural Buddhist Temple which houses a 32 metre reclining Buddha, the majestic Kek Lok Si Temple and the Botanical Gardens as well as numerous villages, beaches and mosques and Buddhist temples.