[3 MIN READ]
WHERE IS IT?
Penang is located in the northwest coast of Malaysia Peninsular by the Malacca Strait. It is a short flight away from the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur and has been serving as a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists, mainly due to its mouth-watering hawker food.
HOW TO GET THERE?
Plenty of direct flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Especially Kuala Lumpur, there is a flight pretty much at every hour. For me who’s based in Jakarta, unfortunately direct flight options are not that many. There are AirAsia and Citilink flying direct to Penang every day. Not too many options though, but still quite okay.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST?
For a roundtrip direct ticket, cost starts from around IDR 1,500,000 or USD 102.
Hotels in Penang are quite cheap, I’ve stayed at a few and you can easily get a clean accommodation starting from IDR 200,000 – IDR 300,000 or USD 13 – USD 20/ night. My absolute 2 favorites are:
Jalan 50, Lorong Abu Siti, George Town, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Around IDR 500,000 or USD 35/ night
G Hotel Kelawai
Jalan 2, Persiaran Maktab, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Around IDR 1,500,000 or USD 102/ night
I like to book from Agoda because of their discounts, so that’s where I usually book from. Mei Hotel opened in early 2018, therefore it’s still new and very clean. It’s also located in the heart of George Town where the food heaven is. G Hotel Kelawai is right next to Gurney Mall, so depends on where you want to spend more time in, I think both are good options.
There’s really no point of eating at a fancy restaurant in Penang because all their best food is on the street. Well, except for Nando’s. I love Nando’s and always make a stop at one of their branches in Gurney Mall. Hawker food can start from as low as IDR 15,000 or USD 1.2/ meal.
Crazy right?! Bless all the food in Penang, seriously. I’ll be writing another article on all my favorite food in Penang, so stay tuned!
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?
Their warmest month is February and usually rainy months start from March all the way through December, with October being the worst. There was one time when I went and the city was flooded quite badly. Just make sure to check the weather before you go, but I think pretty much anytime is okay.
IS IT WORTH IT?
I really enjoy Penang. Maybe because I’ve been visiting since I was little, but there’s a reason why I keep coming back. It’s not a city with too much to see or do, but I love food, and there’s always delicious food to cheer me up. I do sometimes come for a medical check-up. A lot of Indonesians like to do their check-ups here because it’s way cheaper than Singapore and the doctors’ qualities are top-notch.
CAN YOU GO BY YOURSELF WITHOUT A GUIDE?
Yes! It’s very easy and you can depend completely on Google Map and Grab (Southeast Asia’s version of ride-hailing service). Regular taxis are quite expensive and they don’t charge by meter, so your cheapest option would be to take a Grab. I’m not too sure about public transportation, but if you’re traveling with 1 person or more, Grab will be so cheap. Even if you’re traveling solo, Grab is also very affordable.
HOW LONG DO YOU NEED TO EXPLORE EVERYTHING?
3 days and 2 nights are more than sufficient. There are only a few cool things to do which I’ll point out below. But their delicious food options are endless. If you are spending more time in Penang, there will be other landmarks to visit like temples, and museums, but since people don’t usually go for more than 3 days, below is I think what everyone needs to at least do when they visit:
- FOOD, FOOD, AND FOOD!
If you didn’t go on a culinary adventure, did you even go to Penang? Penang is most well-known all over the world as a city with the best street cuisine. CNN even says Penang is one of the 10 Asia’s city with the greatest street food. A few of my favorites are char kwe tiau and asam laksa. The options are really unlimited though, some of their other famous local delicacies include wantan mee, hokkien mee, curry mee, nasi kandar and es cendul where the queue could take over an hour.
- Visit Pinang Peranakan Mansion
Peranakan, also known as Babas or Nyonyas, is a well-respected community from China that resided in Penang for decades. In Pinang Peranakan Mansion, we could see the Baba’s house that has survived a century, but still looks very well-maintained. The mansion is opened to public to show us a glance of how luxuriously their family used to live, and to show us a few traditions from the past. Other than history, Peranakan Mansion is also full of antiques and would make a perfect addition to your Instagram archives. Most of the floors are covered in wood, making it a perfectly cool place to escape the heat at noon.
- Murals Hunting
Do you know that 3D murals that often have the effect of making you look like you are part of the picture? There are a few in Jakarta now (plenty at CGK Terminal 3 Airport), but Penang seems to have it all. They are very nice to take pictures with because of their rich color compositions and because their cuteness is simply irresistible. Many are located around Armenian Street area in George Town, with the oldest and original ones painted by Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian born artist, back in 2012 as part of the Georgetown Culture Festival. His works portray scenes of everyday’s life using local people as models and his artworks are very unique and allow the outside community to interact with the paintings in their own ways.To make life easier, you’ll also see a lot of becak (pedicab) offering you to see all the murals in their vehicle around the area. I personally think it’s more fun to walk and try finding them yourselves, makes you feel like you’re on a treasure hunt.
- Stay at a Peranakan Hotel/ Mansion
If you’re staying at a regular hotel, it may seem a little unadventurous, which is why I decided to give Peranakan hotel a try. The experience was definitely interesting and there are a lot of beautiful Peranakan hotels all over Penang. There was even a day where I spent mostly at the hotel because it was so comfortable and its interior architecture was very beautiful. Usually rooms in a Peranakan hotels are limited, that means the staffs will have more bandwidth to cater to all guests’ needs, making you feel absolutely taken care of. The hotel I stayed at below was Jawi Peranakan Mansion. Definitely recommended!
- Go shopping at Gurney Paragon MallMalls at Penang aren’t as nice as malls in Jakarta, but occasionally shopping in Penang could be cheaper because you can get a tax refund if you spend a certain amount. Penang also has a few brands that aren’t yet available in Indonesia, so if you’re looking for a change in brand, you can find some cute ones in Penang. Malls are also a good option when you get bored walking in the heat outside, because the city can get really hot and humid during the day.
To me the main highlight of Penang is really their food, so I usually spend most of my time going around the city to hunt some of their best cuisines. I’ll be posting another article soon on where all my favorite food in Penang is located, so keep following the blog to get more updates.