Nestled in the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Penang offers its visitors an intriguing melting pot of urbanised cityscapes and traditional Asian culture. Framed by unspoilt beaches, an abundance of farms and picture perfect mountains, this cosmopolitan state delivers a sensory experience that remains unrivalled anywhere else on the continent.
As a thriving tourist destination, Penang is simply bursting with activities and experiences to excite travellers of all kinds. Our travel guide will help you get to grips with the sights, nightlife, food and hotels on offer, so you can start planning a trip of a lifetime.
- Penang is known to be a food capital, so make sure you explore all of the hawker food stalls; we recommend trying a bowl of Assam Laksa and Fried Koay Teow.
- Carry cash. Most places in Penang prefer cash and a lot of places, especially coffee shops or hawker stalls will not the facilities to accept card payments.
- There are a range of dress codes throughout Penang, for example, some beaches have banned bathing costumes. The best way to avoid getting in trouble or dressing inappropriately is to look for signs and look at what others are wearing around you.
Getting Around in Penang
No matter where your destination may be or what your budget is, Penang has many transport options and travelling routes to help you get there.
“The best way to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town in Penang is to cruise the streets by trishaw. Hire one for the day and let him take you to all of the best sights as you jump on and off snapping photos of restored colonial buildings and Chinese shop houses.”
By Elaine Brindamour, Suma Lifestyle
Image source: shankar.s
One of the most common ways to get from point A to point B is by using the public buses. There has been a lot of thought and improvement put into the Rapid Penang bus service recently, meaning it now offers quick and easy travel with clear signage and informative drivers. Better still, holidaymakers can purchase a Tourist Passport for use on these busses for only RM20, which gives you one full week of unlimited travel on all Rapid Penang routes and services. In terms of cost and convenience, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better.
In addition to the Rapid Penang busses, you’ll also be able to use the Rapid Penang CAT, which is a free shuttle bus service that helps tourists reach the most popular attractions. These mainly operate around the inner city of George Town and run from early morning to midnight every day, meaning you can save your money for the fantastic venues, shops and restaurants in the town.
While renting a car is an affordable option in Penang, you can avoid all the fuss of speed limits and parking by opting for taxis instead. These can be found all around the city and offer reasonably priced fares. Please be aware though that many taxi drivers do not use meters, so it is worth agreeing a set price before you start your journey.
Image source: Phalinn Ooi
Pedal-powered trishaws, also known as becas, can also be a fun and entertaining mode of transport. They offer a more relaxed and cultural way of exploring the streets, allowing you to fully appreciate the scenery and architecture close up. As with the taxis, it is always worth agreeing a set rate with the driver before you set off and for longer sightseeing sessions, it is advisable to agree on an hourly rate. Alternatively, if you don’t mind pedalling for yourself, you can hire a bicycle and carve out your own path through Penang.
By Taxi: You will be able to find the taxi rank located outside of the arrivals hall. Simply request a taxi, pay for your fare at the desk then take it to the allocated taxi rank. A journey to George Town will take approximately 25 minutes and prices range from 14-40MYR depending on which zone of George Town you are going to. Taxi services will include a 50% surcharge for those passengers travelling between 12am and 6am, regardless of where you are travelling.
By Bus: There are 3 bus routes that journey from Penang Airport into the city centre. The first is The Rapid Penang service that can be found on the ground floor of the arrivals lounge, tickets cost 2-3 Ringgit from here. Take the U401 route, which makes multiple stops along the way that should take you to your hotel or near your required location. Buses run every 30 minutes and operate between 06:35 and 23:00.
“Most people discount the fact that Penang does have an excellent beach that faces the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits. Batu Ferringhi is its name. Located at the northern tip of Penang, Batu Ferringhi offers beach goers all you’d expect at a reputable beach – fine pristine sand, beach activities (including para-sailing, banana boat rides and jet skiing) and even horseback riding by the beach.”
By Tom, 2BearBear
Flights to Penang
Image source: dion gillard
Now you know everything there is to know about Penang, the only thing left to do is book your flights and start planning your journey. Visit Expedia for the best rates on flights.
You can get a direct flight from Singapore to Penang and it will take you only 1-2 hours, meaning Penang is ideal for a quick escape. Airlines flying to Penang includeJetstar Asia, AirAsia, Tigerair, Cathay Pacific, China Southern Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Wings Air and Thai Airways International.