18.03.2016 – 23.03.2016
Penang is an island off the coast of North Malaysia, situated only a few kilometres from the mainland, connected via a bridge. We reached Penang via a VIP luxury recliner bus from Kuala Lumpur. During our time on the island we spent three nights in Georgetown (backpacker hub) and two nights in Batu Ferringhi (beach resort hub).
Penang is promoted as the food capital of Malaysia, and hinted to be a major food hub of the world. There was definitely a cool selection of street food and hawker markets, however the selection was small and nothing that isn’t found in any other Asian city.
During our three nights in Georgetown (two at the start and one at the end) we stayed right in the heart of the action on Love Lane. We stayed in a converted old heritage building, with disjointed stairwells and a cool 80s vibe. From Love Lane, the main bars, restaurants, markets and street food options are less than a 5 minute walk.
Penang has a few outdoor hawker style food courts, we frequented a few, and enjoyed things including Crispy Roast Pork (Biancas favourite), Spring Rolls, Popiah and Fresh Juices. Most hostels and guesthouses have bicycles and mopeds available to hire if you wish to explore Penang further. While exploring the area we found Popiah again (think sushi cross with a spring roll) and a shop that sold peanut candy. The highlight of Georgetown outside of food was the vast array of street art scattered around the city.
The two nights we spent at the Shangri-La in Batu Ferringhi were a magic. It was Nathan’s birthday during our stay and were able to enjoy some luxury thanks to some birthday money (thanks Mum and Dad!). When we arrived at the hotel, the staff checked about 3 times that we were at the right hotel, as we looked pretty out of place with our backpacks and shabby clothes. We certainly made the most of our stay; taking up the FREE buffet breakfast, FREE drinks by the pool, FREE afternoon tea and FREE pre-dinner canapes (so much food that we didn’t eat outside of the hotel!). Bianca even organized a cake to be delivered to the room! (FREE chocolate cake). Our stay was capped off by a round of golf at the resort’s own 9-hole pitch-and-putt course.
After checking out we took the public bus to Penang National Park (the World’s Smallest National Park) for a spot of bush walking. It was a pretty uninspiring and for a National Park particularly unclean. After a few hours walk, we were most happy to catch the public bus back to Georgetown for our final night before departing for Langkawi.
OUR FAVOURITE BITS
- Food from the Red Garden Hawkers market and the street food around Love Lane.
- Spending two nights in the luxury of the Shangri-La with FREE food. J
- Seeing the street art scattered around town.
- Staying in Georgetown. Love Lane is the hub for travelers and backpackers.
- Taking the time to walk around the city, explore the back streets and see what you can find.
- Not going to Batu Ferringhi unless you want to stay in a resort and do nothing.
- That the Penang National Park is not worth the visit, unless you’re keen on a 3.5 hour round trip walk to the lighthouse. We weren’t!
- Using the public buses for longer trips, super cheap, clean, convient and airconditioned. (Ask at your accommodation for the right bus number)
Spending my birthday in the Shangri-La was amazing, but Penang is just like the rest of Malaysia and gets 3 stars.
Fingers crossed that Langkawi is better.