Malaysia Holiday Guide - Penang

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First updated : 21 April 2009
Last Updated : 02 July 2012

If you want an initial and more authentic Asian experience Penang is a good place to start. It has not been truly westernized (as yet) at its heart yet caters for tourists wanting an easy to introduction to visiting Asia.  However you may disagree if you visit countries further north of Malaysia.

Penang is a small mountainous island off the western coast of mainland Malaysia.
It's joined to the mainland by a very long bridge. Penang's eastern side is where most of the action happens. It is not all mega shopping malls or sanitized with carefully designed tropical retreats. Sure there are some spots but it's not obvious.
They've actually managed to heritage list and preserve the old town.  Penang is infinitely better than the too modern Singapore for a more genuine Asian holiday.  Don't get me wrong Singapore a nice spot too but it doesn't feel like Asia.

Penang's major city is Georgetown.  Stay in Georgetown for a more active holiday or stay on the northern part of the island at a place called Batu Ferringhi for beaches and a quiet holiday. 

It is the tropics so shops for example don't start to open till 10am-ish and stay open till late. There are lots of things to see and do, they include:
- the traditional pasar malam or night markets for shopping.
Hint: You're bound to over pay anyway so might as well minimise the cost haggle or bargain to your heart's content.
- Komtar building for shopping.
- Gurney Drive for shopping and food.
- Various night spots for clubbing or a drink.
- Batu Feringghi for beach activities that include jet skis. The water is not crystal clear but looked OK.
The list goes on plenty of Penang brochures at the airport and hotel to find out more.  I recommend the Lying Buddha, Penang Hill and Old Georgetown scenic walk.

The various markets are great places to by cheap souvenirs and other things including fake brand name bags and clothes.  Some fakes like watches and bags are very good whilst others only look good from a distance! Don't expect genuine items this place is not for that sort of thing just for fun!  Also - never full price.

Penang is a destination recommended to food so give it try.  Easy to access local cuisine is often very tasty and very cheap although you may be concerned about hygiene.  The food is properly cooked so you should be fine.  Avoid fruit juices if not from a can.  It is the germs on your hands that result in getting sick or the perhaps richness of the food.  Since you can not avoid the richness make sure your hands are clean.  Use a antiseptic wash or cloth before eating.   The water from the tap is suitable for drinking.

Penang isn't burdened with 100s of tourist or historical sites so you don't need to stress about trying to visit all of them.  That said 4 days will allow you to cover everything at a slow pace.

Caption: The picture on top of the page was taken from the restaurant at the top of Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera), it is a vista of Georgetown and the Malaysian mainland. Due to cloud cover its took quite awhile to get a cloudless photo. 

Malaysia travel guide - Introduction
Malaysia travel guide - Penang

Malaysia travel guide - Penang Accommodation & Transport
Malaysia travel guide - Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia travel guide - Cars and Motorcycles
Malaysia travel guide - Malacca (Melaka)
Malaysia travel guide - Genting Highlands

Malaysia travel guide - Final Thoughts




 




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