Penang, Malaysia

The reason exotic Malaysian cruise port Penang leaves such a lasting impression on visitors becomes clear when you visit its National Museum. Superbly laid out with some sumptuous exhibits, it portrays the rich history of the town and of the many and varied peoples and cultures which have played a part in its development: Malays, Chinese, Indian, British - even Armenians. This multi-cultural heritage makes it a fascinating place to walk around. The town centre, Georgetown, is full of interesting shops and lively markets (including a night bazaar) but, although it is also Malaysias top beach resort, there is no question about Penangs major attraction: the Snake Temple. This is full of still-poisonous reptiles but they are so sedated by the temple incense that they spend all their time dozing and are - they say - no danger to visitors. Look out, too, for the Key Lok Si, the largest and reputedly the finest Buddhist Temple in south east Asia.