On my recent trip home to Kuala Lumpur, a girlfriend and I decided to take a 3 days trip up north to the beautiful island of Penang.
If you’ve never been to Penang, you really should! It’s a beautiful little island full of rich history. It’s also world-famous for its unique cuisine. So famous that Penang was recently endorsed as the ‘most important food destination’ in the world by renowned food writer, James Oseland.
Arrive at Penang International Airport. If you are able to, get on an early morning flight for more sightseeing time! Pick up your rental car make your way to Batu Feringghi – a popular seaside area located on the north of the island. The journey will take anywhere from 30-45 minutes from the Penang International Airport depending on the traffic.
MID MORNING |
Arrive at your hotel along Batu Ferringhi. If you are unable to check-in to your hotel room, drop your bags off and enjoy a lovely stroll along the beach front. The long coastline makes an interesting walk particularly with the many hotels along the way. There are many hotels ranging from budget to luxurious in Batu Feringghi. Unfortunately, not all beachfronts are equal along Batu Feringghi. Budget to medium rated hotels have a less pretty beachfront while the more expensive the hotel the better (and also private). We chose to stay at the Holiday Inn, a midrange affordable hotel with all the modern comforts.
Hop back into the car and make your way to the Tropical Spice Garden in Teluk Bahang. The journey will take approximately 10 minutes. The Tropical Spice Garden is spread over eight acres of tropical rainforest. What makes it so unique is that it is right next to the sea! Opt to join a tour or alternatively, you can do a self-walking tour with an audio guide to learn about the various plants and flowers that make up exotic Asian spices. The tours take up to three hours but if you do not have the luxury of time, skip the tour and enjoy a cup of coffee or even lunch at the lovely treetop restaurant, Tree Monkey.
Tip: Wear good walking shoes. Protect yourself with mosquito repellent and dress appropriately. As it is a rainforest, it does get very hot and humid, and there will be mosquitoes!
MID AFTERNOON |
Head further into Teluk Bahang towards Entopia, the newly refurbished Butterfly Park. Entopia offers interactive learning and is great fun especially if you’re travelling with kids. Alternatively, head back to the hotel and treat yourself to a relaxing massage. Masseurs are aplenty along Feringghi Beach so you don’t have to worry about waiting too long for an appointment.
Penang is famous for its local cuisine and fresh seafood. Wander along the beachfront of Batu Feringghi and you’ll see many seafood restaurants/ seaside bars. Bora-bora is our favourite. If the weather suits, grab table on the beach and have dinner to the beautiful sunset.
If you’re feeling adventurous, hop into the car and take yourself to Georgetown (town centre) for a Nyonya dinner. Penang is home to the unique and beautiful people and culture of Baba-Nyonya. Some restaurants you should try are:
Enjoy your last day by the beach side and have a light breakfast (or if you can, just the coffee!) at the hotel.
MID MORNING |
Check out from the hotel and head back into George Town. Drop your bags off at your next hotel. We chose to stay The Blue Mansion on Leith Street. There are many hotels available but I highly recommend any heritage-styled BnB. After the bag drop, take a short stroll down to Joo Hooi coffee shop on Penang Road for an authentic Penang brunch. Must try:
- Duck egg Char Kuay Teow (Fried flat rice noodle with duck egg)
- Cai Kueh (Steamed vegetarian dumpling)
- Popiah (Vegetarian roll)
- Cendol (Green jelly noodles in coconut milk with areca sugar)
Check-in to your rooms and enjoy the surroundings of the Blue Mansion until it is time for the Mansion’s tour. The mansion boasts a beautiful and intricate history and the tour is a must-do for anyone visiting Penang. The tours run daily, three times a day for approximately 45 minutes, at RM17/ adult but is free for guests of The Blue Mansion.
RELATED: The Blue Mansion in photos
MID AFTERNOON |
Head to China House along Beach Road for a mid-afternoon snack. It is also known for its wide array of freshly baked cakes and brewed coffee. Don’t forget to also check out the art gallery upstairs.
George Town town centre has undergone much renewal in the last decade. The gentrification brought about many heritage-styled boutique hotels and artisanal cafes serving great coffee. Unlike before, there are many things to do for tourists and locals alike.
Check out: Soraya at HelloRaya has put together a great list of some things you can do in George Town. This includes a walking tour of the street art and even a food tour!
Treat yourself to a smorgasbord of local delights! Head over to Tien Lai hawker centre on Macalister Road to dine like a Penangite. Don’t expect anything fancy as Tien Lai is a regular hawker centre/ coffee shop with many stores offering a variety of dishes. Some of the dishes not to be missed:
- Ikan bakar (Grilled sting ray with turmeric and sambal)
- O-chien (Fried oyster omelette)
Tuck in to the local breakfast served at The Blue Mansion, or if you’re feeling adventurous head over to Sin Hup Aun in Pulau Tikus for an authentic local breakfast. It’s not unusual for locals to start the day with a hot bowl of prawn noodles!
MID MORNING |
Head south towards Ayer Itam for a quick self-guided tour of Suffolk House, a 19th century Anglo-Indian garden house. Your entry fee comes with a free drink coupon to enjoy upstairs of the house. If time permits, treat yourself to a light lunch before heading off to the airport.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did exploring the island and putting it together. Have you been to Penang? I’d love to hear your experiences so please share them in the comments below!
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