Batu Feringghi is Penang’s main resort area, where a long strip of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops has grown up along the island's best beach. This is where most visitors end up staying, as Batu Feringghi has a choice of accommodation from cheap and cheerful guesthouses to five-star luxury hotels. The resort area also has a wide choice of watersports, including water skiing, windsurfing, parascending and scuba diving.
Hundreds of palms, tropical trees, shrubs, ferns, orchids and other flowering plants grace the 30 hectares of grounds, glasshouses, ponds and nurseries at the Botanical Gardens. A popular picnic spot for local families, as well as for tourists stopping by for having a break from sightseeing.
Penang’s famous butterfly farm at Entopia Natureland is the world’s largest. With garden pavilions and breeding areas for more than 50 species of spectacularly colourful butterflies and insects, which all the same share this ecological space with a variety of other animal species such as invertebrates and small reptiles, up to 4,000 gorgeous living specimens can be seen at any time.
Monkey Beach, known as Teluk Dyung and popular for its calm water, fine sand, picnic tables and troop of half-tame macaques, is an attractive destination for a 2-3 hour walk through the tropical woodland of the Penang National Park, Taman Negara Pulau Penang. Check-in at park office before setting off.
Fort Cornwallis is Georgetown’s most prominent historical landmark. Its star-shaped 18th-century ramparts on the waterfront enclose an array of British colonial buildings including prison cells, a powder magazine and chapel and harbour beacon, and bronze cannons are still mounted on the battlements.
Cheong Fatt Tze, the Blue Mansion, was one of the wealthiest merchants of the 19th century, and Penang Straits Settlement imported artisans from China to build this opulent 38-room mansion. With its five courtyards, carved woodwork, Gothic louvered windows and cast iron, the mansion is a fascinating fusion of East and West culture. The building was restored at a cost of 7.6 million ringgit, and it is crammed with sculptures, antique furniture and tapestries, while now being a unique boutique hotel. However, it is also open for non-residents during guided tours, so book one ahead.
Khoo Kongsi was built just over a century ago, and it is the finest example of a Hokkien Chinese ‘clan house’ complex in Georgetown. Its grand hall is replete with decorative carvings and ornamented columns, and the red tiled roof is crowned with extravagant carvings of demons, dragons and other creatures from Chinese mythology. The hall is surrounded by a complex of shops, houses and other buildings, within a rectangle of defensive walls.
The dazzlingly colourful Sri Mariamman Temple is the cultural and religious hub of Georgetown’s ‘Little India’ quarter, home to immigrants from the sub-continent for more than a century. Encrusted with garishly painted statues of deities, demons and mythical creatures, the Sri Mariamman is the oldest of the city’s Hindu temples, and it is still in daily use. Within stands a valuable statue of the Hindu deity Lord Subramaniam, lavishly embellished with gold and precious stones.
Muslim Indian sepoys (soldiers) of the British East India Company’s Penang garrison built this mosque, Masjid Kapitan Keling, in 1801, and it has been extensively restored and expanded in the two centuries since. Above the yellow domes and turrets of the mosque compound, a tall minaret is towering.
This restaurant at Hotel Jen Penang sets up an own signature by serving a blend of authentic local flavours and international influences. The multicultural heritage, combined in a modern fusion kitchen, allows a gourmet experience within a quite elegant surrounding that still is soothing and relaxing as well.
Via Pre, an Italian restaurant, is located in an old warehouse right opposite to the ferries and, thus, somehow hard to find. While serving pizza and pasta dishes as well mouth-watering desserts like tiramisu, the interior is cosy and relaxing, providing a wonderful ambiance and a great stay.
Tree Monkey is nestled right in the lush tropical foliage, overlooking the amazing coastline, and the restaurant offers you unique jungle dining experience with dishes such as mouth-watering Thai food and Thai Tapas with lots of flavours. The spice garden is conveniently close to the restaurant which allows the chefs to have access to the finest herbs and aromatics.
If you are into great Indian food, head over to the vibrant restaurant Sri Ananda Bahwan in Georgetown, as here, you can enjoy tasteful food for a reasonable price. This restaurant has a few shops across Penang, and the menu offers a wide variety of Indian food, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
At this restaurant inside Hotel Macalister Mansion, you can enjoy a dining experience that is out of the ordinary. The high class restaurant offers modern French cuisine with an Asian touch in a luxurious setting and, thus, serve quality food such as smoked and confit duck breast with duck jus, spring vegetable and Parisian mash; or why not have Pan seared miso cod with braised shimeji. Bon appétit!
This popular family restaurant provides a great variety of food since 2000, and it is famous for its signature dish Laotian Laksa (rice noodle in a spicy and piquant soup with meat or seafood). However, the staff also serves other mouth-watering dishes such as tender ribeye steaks, fresh fish and chicken parmigiana.
Kebaya at Hotel Seven Terraces is an Asian Fusion restaurant with an impeccable servicea, and a refined and elegant, yet simple atmosphere. The chefs are using French cooking techniques and innovative produce to create new twists on the menu, and the quality food is well presented with lots of amazing flavours.
If you prefer vegetarian food, you should head over to Lily's Vegetarian Kitchen, as here, you will find an array of vegetarian dishes for also good prices, ranging from Nyonya over Oriental and Fusion to Western kitchen. Most of the ingredients are organically grown and brought in fresh from farms in the Cameron Highland.
Tis Irish owned restaurant is located in the heart of the Stait´s Quay Marina, offering amazing sea views and sunset experiences. At this authentic venue, you can eat traditional dishes such as pork knuckle, spare ribs and stew, while – every now and then – listening to Irish live music.
At this open-air brasserie at Parkroyal Penang Resort, you can enjoy authentic delights from Asia as well as also Western food – in fact, it has over 40 different dishes in order to satisfy almost every taste. Check in on Saturdays, as they then offer fresh seafood with lobsters and oysters.
The coffee shop of the Eastern and Oriental Hotel serves tea, coffee, cakes and snacks nearly all day long, while also offering a great breakfast menu in the morning as well as lunch and dinner buffets during special operating hours. Here, you can expect high quality food and a great service.
China house is a traditional complex of three buildings that house 14 different spaces from shops over galleries to great cafes and restaurants where you can savour food, music and art all together, and all day long. Check out their cafe counter as they display more than 30 mouth-watering cakes.
SoHo Free House is situated in the heart of Penang’s nightlife scene, and it is known for its slogan: " Happy Hour, Every Hour, Everyday NOW!". The atmosphere and interior resembles an English pub and the place serves good English lager, while – late in the evening – the DJ gets the crowd going with party tunes.
This open air roof top bar (and restaurant) is boasting a panoramic view of Georgetown that you will – anyhow comparable – find nowhere else. Located at the top floor of Bayview Hotels, you can chill and listen to hip music in a cosy and breezy atmosphere while savouring a drink.
Soju Room has become a popular spot among the town's trendsetters, as it provides DJs and music events to entertain the crowd till the wee hours of the morning. Close to the futuristic circular stage as well as at the ultra-modern bar, you can have a huge variety of drinks and, of course, colourful cocktails.
Farquhar’s Bar is considered by manyto be the best bar in Georgetown. Located inside Eastern & Oriental Hotel, this colonial-style hotel bar is serving beer, cocktails, a selection of non-alcoholic drinks and delicious pub meals. Do not miss their signature drink, the Eastern & Oriental Sling.
Little Penang Street Market, at the corner of Farquhar Street and Light Street, is held on the last Sunday of every month, and it showcases crafts, clothes, accessories and jewellery created by Penang’s finest new designers. You can also find antiques and collectables here.
In Batu Feringgi, local salesmen set out their stalls along Feringghi Walk, while craft workers demonstrate skills such as batik-painting, and there are also plenty of spivs selling knock-off big-brand watches, bootleg CDs and software. Colourful paintings, masks and wood carvings, t-shirts and souvenirs are also easy to find.
Queensbay Mall is one of the largest shopping centre in Penang, and it is home to mid-level restaurants, branded clothing stores, electronics shops and even a huge Golden Screen Cinemas complex. Here you can stroll around in stores like D.O.R, Guess Kids, Elle, Forever 21, Nike, Swatch and Scholl.
Gurney Plaza is strategically situated in the famous Gurney Drive promanade in Penang. This shopping and entertainment destination is serving both family and tourists alike, and it houses various well-known brands for shopping and dining: Rolex, A|X Armani Exchange, Mark & Spencer, TopMan, TopShop, H.E. by Mango, Calvin Klein Jeans are some of the brands you will find here.
Chinatown is a unique shopping zone with goods such as jade, traditional costumes, crystals, herbs, traditional Chinese medicines and antiques. Around the area, you will also find early-morning markets, stalls selling all kinds of culinary delights, traditional temples and antique shops.
Little India is centred around Lebuh Pasar, and it is a colourful district filled with shops selling Indian delicacies, spices, saree, gold jewellery and souvenirs, and actors presenting Indian entertainment. This is the perfect place for those seeking a different kind of shopping experience.
1st Avenue is a seven-storey shopping mall set beside Prangin Mall and Komtar on Jalan Magazine. The Mall opened its doors in 2010, and it is a bright and clean complex with a range of high-end fashion stores such as Coach and Victoria’s Secret, but also with affordable mid-range labels such as H&M and Sketchers.
Lorong Kulit Flea Market is a must-visit when in Penang, and the only one that operates daily. The market is full with life and colour, and it is a great place to grab a bargain on anything and everything, as the stalls are selling second hand items such as antiques, watches, shoes, clothes, textiles and household goods.
Penang Batik Factory, established in 1973 and operating since, shows off the manufacturing of traditional and handmade batik. Here, you can not only buy beautiful sarongs, scarves and accessories but also join a guided tour for getting to know the production process of those colourful goods itself.
Travellers need a passport or an internationally recognised travel document in order to enter Malaysia. The documents must be valid for more than six months from the date of departure. Furthermore, certain nationals require a visa, while others are granted one upon arrival (VOA - Visa on arrival). Visit the following website to check whether you require a visa or not: www.evisamalaysia.com/visa-requirements.
Penang is a great place to visit nearly all year long. However, the season between November and January might be best, as the weather is very pleasant and the atmosphere – due to feasts such as Christmas and New Year, when restaurants and bars are full of people – most lively. The time from February to April, in contrast, is less crowded, while the season from May to October is the wettest and, thus, also the most deserted one, when it comes to tourism.
Penang International Airport is located 20 km (13 miles) from George Town city centre. The most cost effective way of travelling from the airport to George Town and surrounding areas is to take one of the bus services (bus line 102, 306,U401,401, 401A and 401E) that leave every 30 minutes. The bus operator is called "The Rapid Penang", and they have their own ticket counter on the ground floor of the arrival hall. Taxis operate on a fixed price coupon system: purchase coupon at taxi desk inside arrival hall, and the price depends which zone you are going to. However, be aware that taxi drivers often try to cheat foreigners and refuse to use the meter, so make sure that the meters is always turned on if not a fixed price is already set.
Taking the bus is probably the easiest and cheapest way to get around in Penang and surrounding areas. The main bus terminals are located in George Town’s Weld Quay and KOMTAR buildings. Bus services around the island include Rapid Penang Bus, and it has an extensive route covering both island and mainland. If you are travelling frequently, you can save money by buying the travel card 'rapid Preferred', as it offers unlimited travel around Penang. For any inquiries, head over to information counters (Rapid Kiosk): Lorong Kulit, Rapid Penang Headquarters Weld Quay & Komtar Penang Sentral & Bukit Jambul
A pedal trishaw is a great way of getting around in George Town or Batu Feringghi – for those who are not in a hurry, as they move not faster than walking speed, but allow passengers to stop anywhere along the way to shop or take photos or videos. There is no set fare, so you must agree a price before setting off – it is easier to bargain for a price by the hour than for a specific journey from point to point.
Taxis are numerous and´they can be flagged down on the street, picked up at ranks or booked by phone or from the hotel reception. Taxi drivers are usually reluctant to turn on the meter (or to admit to speaking English): insist on the meter, or bargain over the fare before boarding. Standard (red) taxis are more numerous and they are not air conditioned. Air conditioned taxis are much more comfortable, but also more expensive. Shared taxis are also used for longer journeys (including trips to the mainland).
Pharmacies can be found in George Town and practically every suburb, township and neighbourhood in Penang; while some of them operate independently, there also are a few chaines: Guardian Pharmacy, Georgetown Pharmacy and Eu Yan Sang (for Chinese medicine), and a subsidiary of the first one is found quite central and close to the shopping area of 1st Avenue. Most of the pharmacies, at least the ones of a chain, are usually open from 10am-10pm, and also on Sundays.
The main post office for Penang is the General Post Office (GPO), located within Bangunan Tuanku Syed Putra along Downing Street in George Town. The post boxes in Malaysia are painted red and some of them date back to the British era. Occasionally, there is a second post box with yellow colour, and these are for express mails.