Firstly, I wish to apologise for the quality of these photos. I left my camera at home. Luckily, a few photos have been taken from my friend’s camera.
A few years ago while travelling in Japan, I met some people from Singapore who studied in Melbourne. We became friends and thanks to social media – kept in touch. This year I was invited to one of their weddings – in Penang. Seemed like the best excuse to get away so with approval from work, I took some extra days – packed my bag (was weird packing heels) and started mapping out my itinerary.
Read below on some tips for what to do with your time in Penang.
Not really sure on Malaysian customs? Check my Before You Go post!
- You need to download Grab (South East Asia’s version of Uber) before you leave your country and while you have access to your phone number. Once you get to the country, set it up in the Airport – you may need to use Skype to call your bank as Grab is often considered “high risk.”
Getting to Penang.
NOTE: You cannot fly directly to Penang* unless coming from these airports: Kuala Lumpur, Singapore Changi Airport or Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport*.
A good tip: Find a flight you like to KUL (Usually $49 AUD), SIN or BKK and go via AirAsia to get to Penang.
|USA||Scoot Airlines (Hawaii), Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, China Airlines. Philippines Airlines|
|AUS / ASIA||Jetstar, AirAsia, Qantas, Scoot Airlines / Vietnam Airlines, Thai Airways, Malindo Airways, NOK Airlines.|
|EUR||Singapore Airlines, Norwegian Airlines, Qatar Airways, China Airlines, Korean Airlines, Scoot Airlines, Vietnam Airways, Turkish Airlines, Garuda Indonesia.|
From Penang International Airport take the #401E for MYR 1.40.
Runs every 30 minutes or so and will take 1 h 15 min (23 stops)
+ 🚕 Taxi / Grab
Order a Grab in the airport using wifi and it’ll take about 30-40 minutes.
A Taxi will be a flat fare of RM44.70 | 14.75 AUD and a Grab is RM22.00 | 7.26 AUD
Starmartbus have two daily buses that depart to Sungai Nibong in which you can then Bus, Taxi or Grab to Georgetown. | 9 h 45 min |133.61 MYR | $44 AUD | 31.85
take the KBES to Sungai Nibong 4h 46m RM 38 – 40 | $13 – $14 AUD
and then a rapid to Georgetown (Komtar) 15m – 20m RM 1 – 4 | $1 – 2 AUD
Etika Express has buses every 4 hours to Butterworth in which you can then take the ferry below.
⛴️ Ferry: From Butterworth.
⏰ 05:20 – 22:00 (every 20/30 minutes.) 22:00 – 24.00 (every 60 mins.)
💰Adult: 31,000 IDR |2.88 AUD |2.04 USD
The ferry goes directly to Georgetown which is where you’ll most likely be staying. It takes around 15 minutes to get across the way.
Georgetown Street Art.
📍 Various Locations.
🔗 Google Map Copy thanks to Penang Travel Tips.
In 2012 the state government started to introduce Street Art into Georgetown to increase and strengthen the identity of the place – and I’m pretty sure it worked. There is a mixture of wall caricatures that provide historical facts and info regarding the street your on. There are also ranges of street art and wonderful murals – some most famously done by Ernest Zacharevic.
⏰ 09:30 – 17:00
💰 Adults: RM20.00
📍 29, Church St, Georgetown.
🔗 Trip Advisor
I didn’t do a tour but all the reviews highly recommend it. They come in English and Mandarin. The house itself was spectacular, filled with thousands of antiques, a store, displays of bedrooms, kitchens and common areas. It’s rated #2 within things to do in Penang and with good reason.
⏰ 09:30 – 17:00
💰 Grounds: Free – Funicular Railway: RM3.00 (oneway) RM6.00 (return)
📍 Air Itam, Penang Island 11500, Malaysia
🚌 #203/204 — RM 2.00 one way.
🔗 Trip Advisor
Built from 1891, Kek Lok Si is one of the biggest Buddhist temples in Malaysia. Within the temple is a series of monasteries, prayer halls, temples and even a turtle pond! Take the Funicular Railway up to see the Goddess of Mercy statue and cool baby Buddhas (see the pic of pal and I being said cool baby buddahs.)
⏰ 11:00, 14:00 and 15:30
💰 16.00 RM | 5.24 AUD | 3.81 USD
📍14 Leith Street, George Town
The Blue Mansion has 3 daily tours, and I was at the 3:30pm one. The day was hot, but they have fans throughout the building. It doubles as a hotel – so the physical blue aspects that I’d gone to see actually were off limits. The tour itself was interesting, going over not only the history of the man who was Cheong Fatt Tze but how the Blue Mansion helped Georgetown become part of UNESCO.
Although I didn’t manage to see the below, these were also on my list:
- The Clan Jetties – see a detailed blog post here.
- Protestant Cemetery – see a detailed blog post here.
- Penang Hill – see a detailed blog post here
- Penang War Museum – see a detailed post here.
- State Museum & Art Gallery, Ghost Museum, Upside Down Museum
- On the last day, someone advised that the Penang Crystal Museum is the world’s largest natural Crystal Museum in the world – detailed post here
⏰ Fri – Sun: 11:00 – 23:00 | Weds + Thurs: 11:00 – 18:00 | Closed Mon + Tues.
📍 3, Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town
🔗 Trip Advisor | Facebook
📝 Free WiFi with a code after purchase.
What a wonderful phrase… Hakuna Matata serves some of the nicest cold teas and the burger buns are delicious. Grab a combo which includes burgers, fries & a drink.
The Mugshot Cafe.
⏰ 8:00 – 24:00
📍 302, Chulia St, Georgetown
🔗 Trip Advisor | Facebook
I’d call this cafe a Westernised Style. It’s full of cute decor, a few artworks and a glasses shop at the back! The best part I found about this cafe is that it had Soy milk which generally, is rare in Asia.
Steps to Steps
⏰ 11:00 – 23:00
📍 8C Carnarvon Street, George Town
🔗 Trip Advisor
We had a combined massage, scrub and facial here. They have calming music, lovely products and my skin glowed the next day!
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
“Set in Penang, 1939, this book presents a story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love.” – Goodreads.com
The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka
“Nothing in Lakshmi’s childhood, running carefree and barefoot on the sun-baked earth amid the coconut and mango trees of Ceylon, could have prepared her for what life was to bring her. At fourteen, she finds herself traded in marriage to a stranger across the ocean in the fascinating land of Malaysia. “ – Goodreads.com
WHERE TO STAY
🔗 TripAdvisor | HostelWorld.
💰 Dorms: $10 – 12 AUD | $8 – $10 USD | $6 – $8 EUR
Private Rooms: $28 – $43 AUD | $20 – $31 USD | $17 – $27 EUR
📍 53, Lorong Love, George Town, 10200 George Town.
Located within the HEART of Georgetown, it’s a fantastic location.
|Free Water, Coffee & Tea. Watermelon in a bowl each morning. Breakfast is free bread + jam.|
|Private bathrooms within some rooms. Toilet, basin, and shower.|
|dorms have private lockers on the outside of the room for valuables. hard-ish beds, comfy pillows.
private rooms either have a shared bathroom or ensuite.
|Lounge area with two couches, tables, a few books. Strict no-noise (including reading) from 11pm-8am.|
|Ability to buy beers and drink in common area but also bars are all around love lane.|
DoubleTree: By Hilton.
🔗 Website| TripAdvisor | Booking.Com
💰 $95 AUD + | $68 USD + | $60 EUR
📍 56, Jalan Low Yat, Puncak Ria, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
The Hilton was incredibly close to the wedding and so my friend and I got fancy after spending time around Penang. You’ll receive their signature, warm chocolate chip cookie when you check in. It has a complimentary shuttle to attractions (you need to book.)
|Room service, buffet or restaurant dine in.|
|Ensuites. Walk-in shower.|
|Guest rooms, deluxe rooms, family rooms, suites. Outstandingly comfy beds. Balcony.|
|Swimming pool, spa treatments and a fitness centre. Kids’ Club, Teddy museum.|
|Restaurant & Cafe/Bar available. Room Service.|
WHAT I DID
So heading from Melbourne we flew via Kuala Lumpur in which our flight was delayed to Penang. (Thanks AirAsia.) We were staying at the Old Penang Guest House in a private room. Normally, we opt for dorm rooms but as it was a short holiday, we thought we’d just pay a bit extra for the comfort.
The first morning we headed out to The Mugshot Cafe for some coffee and breakfast and then head off to look around town at the street art, get some food and after stumbling accidentally upon the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, we went and checked out Fort Cornwallis. Apart from the two photos we got – there wasn’t a lot to see. For 20.00 MR as well, I felt a bit ripped off. To be fair, it was under construction and we didn’t have a guide, so perhaps your experience will be different?
Afterwards, we went for some food and drink at Holy Guacamole. Now, believe me, I know I shouldn’t be telling you to go to a Mexican joint in Malaysia but just hear me out: the people are nice, live music is fantastic, the beers are cheap and the nachos are A+. Also, everyone loves a pre-dinner snack before heading off for some Malaysian Falafel up the end of Love-lane.
Breakfast we finally got to try some Roti Jala on the way to catch the bus for the Kek Lok Si Temple. If you walk down the main street away from Love Lane you’ll come across the Grand Swiss Hotel which has some fantastic interactive street art. Check it!
The main reason we were in Penang was for my friend’s wedding. It was unbelievable. Held at the Shangri-La, we started the ceremony at 17:30, followed by drinks and the guestbook and then the reception. I’ve never been to a sit-down wedding, and this blew my mind. My friend looked beautiful and I can’t wait to see her photos and videos. I also managed to catch the bouquet – which apparently means that I’m next so if anyone knows anyone, hit me up.
I wish that I hadn’t come down with a migraine so I could have seen more of Penang. Just means, like normal – I’ll have to go back!
Have you been? Did you get to check out any of the museums I missed?
As always, Stay cool.